For many kids, the prospect of a college education became really exciting when the major of Video Game Production was invented. Now, there was a reason to go to college! Even for people who do not like video games, this notion that a new field of study could be developed that would enthrall kids who were not interested in traditional academics, is appreciable. The prospects for next century learning were well put into place with programs such as these, and many others in the fields of computers and technology.
Now that the next century is fully upon us, higher education and technical learning are becoming more synonymous and the traditional four year liberal arts education may almost seem outdated in comparison to what is on the horizon. Traditional liberal arts education will, of course, maintain a strong place in higher education, the possibilities and individual interests encompassed by such an education are perfectly suited for many students.
However, there is a strong emphasis on technology learning at the college level, and the funding is following this trend. In New York, the expansion of Cornell University’s new Institute of Technology, NYC Tech, is leading the forefront of how liberal arts colleges are expanding and encompassing 21st century learning. This university is on the forefront of a few intersecting areas: tech learning, entrepreneurship, and a hub of real life tech start-ups and billion dollar investment firms. The effort at crafting a curriculum to feed this perfect storm of opportunity will be also be a model for other schools as they try to increase their offerings in 21st century learning pursuits.
What Cornell is doing is creating a learning environment centered on three distinct areas of technical learning. The first is Connective Media, the second is Healthier Life, and the third is Built Environment. Each encompasses different areas of technology and practical applications, creativity and entrepreneurship, collaboration and independent research.
The programs associated with Connective Media would focus on communications and technology; Healthier Life would focus on how technology can improve life and wellness for people. Built Environment would focus more on technological and engineering innovations that will improve the environment for people. Each area brings in traditional subjects of Communication Arts, Medical and Environmental Science, Languages – areas that students naturally tend towards while in high school and can be combined with technological learning initiatives.
This is going to be a goal for many such programs, and very likely, an opportunity for learning that will excite many students. It will also be an area of education that will receive funding for development of these programs and for the scholarships necessary to draw in students. Already, there is a significant focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning opportunities and providing ample funding for students to have excellent resources and programs in these areas. This is one trend that will continue, and for students to consider their future options in a Institute of Technology style college as well as other traditional options.
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