As part of a wider strategic planning initiative on the part of the college, a faculty committee has created a preliminary set of goals on how to update a Knox education for the 21st century.
A major focus is deciding how to deal with the “transforming but also disruptive” rise of technology in the classroom, as well as increasing intercultural and out-of-classroom experiences.
Some of the ideas in the proposal would be fairly radical. For example, there is debate over possibly offering graduate degrees or certifications in areas such as arts management or public health. Knox could also start offering online courses or courses offered outside of the regular term schedule, which would be aimed at Galesburg residents and alumni.
The use of “flipped courses,” in which lectures are watched online and classroom time is spent working on problems or engaged in group work, are being considered, as are small participatory online courses (SPOCs).
The credit system could also be changed in order to better reflect the longer amounts of time some courses require — this would likely affect science courses with lab components and introductory language sequences.
Most of the report, however, is still lacking in specifics. Strategy 3h, for example, calls for the school to “develop a leadership program for students to help them better understand the integrative nature of their Knox education” with no details on how that goal is to be achieved.
A common concern expressed by the faculty at Monday’s meeting was that the school’s system for granting tenure is still biased towards rewarding professors who publish research instead of spending their time developing the innovative classroom strategies that the report endorses.
Other concerns raised included a lack of coordination with the school’s new marketing campaign, inadequate facilities to offer new and innovative coursework and questions about whether the proposals are truly transformative enough or are merely tinkering with the status quo.
The report is by no means finalized and students will be encouraged to share their ideas on what a 21st century Knox education should consist of during a series of open forums that should be held starting later this month.