Mindful Learning and the Role of Higher Education

The readings about mindful learning reminded me of a class that I took for learning building simulation software. In that class, I learned different kinds of simulation programs which were recently released. Since they were in a new area and many new simulation programs had released every year, the instructor of the class was not knowledgeable about all the programs that we had to learn. He talked about this situation on the first day of the class and emphasized that our class would be a collective learning session rather than a lecture, and he would be learning the programs with us as well.

As the instructor explained, the class did not have much lecture time, and the instructor’s role was more like a coordinator. The assignments were self-learning the software by using the tutorials given by the instructor, and solve the given problem utilizing the self-learned simulation tool. During the class time, students had discussions about useful functions of the software sharing each other’s simulation results. The hour-long discussions made me feel studying at an ancient Greek institution. The paintings that describe the institutions, such as the School of Athens or Aristotle’s School, have different scenes from the classrooms of today, in which students always have discussions.  

Aristotle’s School (source: Wikipedia)

Although I learned a lot from this class that was enjoyable as well, this experience made me question the role of higher education. Today, the development of online communication has facilitated learning a new subject. Questions raised during the learning can be easily addressed in online forums, which also offers similar types of experience to the discussions we have during the class. It seems that taking a class or the presence of an instructor will not be mandatory anymore for learning something. Then, what would be the role of higher education in the future? Would that be guidance on learning, filtering knowledge among the excessive information on the web? Or offering an on-site platform for better discussion, motivation, networking, and certification, like a part of the actual roles? How would the future of higher education be changed?