Tony Bates outlined some changes to education – it is getting more expensive and funding by the government is decreasing. Institutions are becoming more and more reliant on tuition and international students. When you have small institutions offering high cost services the market is ready for disruption.

Watch to the recording here.

Why we Need to Change.

We need digital thinkers – people who can do what AI cannot do. Tony talked about Facebook as a failure of education because of it’s roots. We need to teach students about the social implications of what they are doing.

What skills will students need? We need to encourage active listening by getting students to find information using devices in their classroom. Jobs like programming may be automated in the future, so we should not be focusing on those skills.

Content will become less and less important in higher education. What will be important is the skills to use content. focusing on student support is more important than content because content is everywhere. We need to teach students how to critically evaluate content and apply it. How can we create supportive learning environments?

Any process that can be standardized can be automated. What roles are critical for educators? Informatics skills and digital literacy are important for our students. Students need to find, evaluate and apply content. Our role as educators is to ensure quality. There is a need for content, but the focus should be on skill development.

Decision making in different decisions is highly contextual. He gave the example of medical decision making being risk adverse whereas in business it is important to take risks.

Skill Development

We need to focus on where we need to provide feedback (qualitative aspects). Skills are developed over a lifetime not within a specific course. When a student comes into a University we need to look at what we do over their program to develop skills like problem-solving. There are a variety of teaching approaches that make work, but Tony like knowledge management. All of these approaches can be done in different modes.

Modes of Learning

Instead of replacing things we are asking people to do more, which does not work for students or faculty. Faculty need better training to move away from old pedagogy to new ways of teaching. Innovation is happening in pockets and not spreading across institutions, which is problematic. A team model is helpful, but not salable.


Simple tools and redesigns are needed that involves active learning. Ask yourself why students should come to campus – what are you doing in class that cannot be done online? He argues that everything should be digital unless it is can only be done in class.

Tony talks about needing a redesign of our learning spaces both in physical and online spaces. We need environments that encourage active learning and access to information.

Educator Training

I don’t want to get on an airplane where the training is optional.

Tony Bates

We need to do a better job training teachers to teach.

Strategies for Change

Faculty need training on how to teach. It should be mandatory.

There is a systemic problem that devalues teaching. Institutions need to support and reward good teaching. Faculty need to be able to work from secure and supported positions.

Faculty should be rewarded for good teaching not just research.

Lifelong learning is needed – micro-credentials may be a good idea.

Can we create different kinds of institutions? There is a need for political vision for that to happen.

We need to put pressure on governments and institutions to change. Tony thinks we need to support younger professors to be innovative.

There are many structural issues. A strategy needs to last at least five years to make meaningful change. We need more long-lasting senior administrative leadership.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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