Report - Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

mesa.arizona.edu

Report - Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Education and the Digital Age

Information technology, along with new research in human behavior and brain science,

will have a transformative effect on teaching and learning. It is already clear that

online instruction will open the doors of learning for millions of people who come to

it in varied circumstances for thousands of different purposes. As online instruction

becomes a free-standing teaching mode of its own, the social sciences and humanities

should embrace the opportunity to reach new audiences—audiences who in many

cases do not have access to campus-based education or official enrolled-student status.

Since the ong>Commissionong> began tracking online courses, offerings in poetry, history,

philosophy, and classical mythology have joined those offered in computer science and

technology in reaching massive audiences online. 11 These open online courses vividly

demonstrate the appetite for humanistic learning, which the general public and even

colleges themselves can easily underestimate; and they show that this hunger for contact

with the thought and expression of others across time does not end with student

years, but rather is a lifelong passion.

As colleges and universities develop digital media resources to increase access to a

worldwide public, gifted teachers and scholars from all domains of study will experiment

with these methods and explore their new powers. Clearly, we are on the eve

of a new age of teaching and learning, the dimensions of which we can only begin to

envision.


There is no reason liberal arts education cannot flourish in a new environment

using new tools. The future will still need the human skills

that the liberal arts promote, and perhaps will need them more than

ever: skills in communication, interpretation, linking and synthesizing

domains of knowledge, and imbuing facts with meaning and value.

The Heart of the Matter 35

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