The era of the university lecturer as the “sage on the stage” who imparts wisdom to students is over, according to a business education expert who argued that the duty of teaching staff is now to “facilitate a learning environment”.
Robert Reid, senior executive adviser at the Florida-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, said that while the pace of change in higher education is “often glacial”, increasing numbers of academics are now “unbelievably engaged with students, and have used technology such as the flipped classroom model to create an effective learning environment”.
Speaking at IE University’s Reinventing Higher Education conference in Madrid, Mr Reid said that such lecturers “drag their colleagues along because their colleagues realise that the ‘sage on the stage’ is gone and today the faculty member is really a facilitator of a learning environment”.
“They are not the source of information – the information is out there. Their job is to help students assimilate and figure out what does it mean [and] how do we use it,” he added.
During a panel discussion on the future of work and how universities can develop talent for today’s world, Mr Reid said that while there are “still some sages on the stage”, he was “pretty optimistic” about the quality of lecturers at universities.
“There are a lot of people in a lot of places who have learned how to teach in a very different way and in a very effective way. But it’s certainly not 100 per cent,” he said.
Martyn Davies, managing director of emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte, who also spoke on the panel, highlighted the importance of universities’ creating graduates with strong communication and people skills and downplayed the threat of artificial intelligence for jobs.
“I even accuse many of my staff of being robots because they don’t think enough. Do I want robots to replace them? That’s the last thing I want. I want people, I want human beings who can connect and communicate, who come up with ideas,” he said.