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By Tim Hunt

Seat time vs. skill

Uploaded: Jun 6, 2013

University of California President Mark Yudof is headed back to the classroom after leading the UC system and the University of Texas system. In an interview conducted by Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton, he offered one interesting thought about the future of higher education.
When asked whether extended education is a threat to the university model, Yudof responded, "I don't think it should be. I think we need to look at the (extended education) certificates. I think we need to look at e-learning. Higher education is to a significant degree based on seat time (the amount of time a student sits in a classroom seat). I think you will see more movement toward competency education."
Amen and amen. Since when is seat time important—what is critical are skills and sharpened thinking.
With higher education cost continuing to soar and college debt topping consumer debt, there needs to be much more competition in that system.
With many universities now streaming lecture classes on the web, it makes little difference whether you're in a dorm room in Berkeley or at a coffee shop in Fresno. Basing education on demonstrating competence fits hand-in-glove with distance learning. Who would rather sit in a comfortable chair in an environment you choose instead of having to get to a crammed lecture hall with 500 other students.
If the traditional universities do not adapt and do so quickly, those that are not in the top tier may find their enrollment becomes problematic. I already have seen reports that second tier universities have been encountering enrollment challenges.

GOOD CALL by the city's team managing arts to start special events at the Firehouse Arts Center on the first Fridays. The events start early enough to attract a crowd to the center and then allow those interested in music to catch the downtown association's Concerts in the Park a couple of hours later.
It should also help the Friday restaurant business, both take-out and dine-in with an earlier open microphone activity.
The decision also can attract residents who haven't attended the events at the center that charge admission to experience the city's arts jewel downtown.
The concert season opens tomorrow evening as does the Firehouse events.


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