Rockefeller Foundation President and former president of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr Judith Rodin spoke with ISB Founding Dean Pramath Sinha about the evolution of higher education and the role of technology in education while also giving details on the Foundation and its direction in the 21st century.
Given your experience with Yale and with Penn, how has the higher education evolved? Have you observed any trends?
There are two trends that have really been transformational – the use of technology in education and the interdisciplinary perspective. Worldwide, technology in higher education was seen as creating virtual courses and I think the early stage showed that that was not as interesting as using technology on campus and creating what we ultimately call the “24-hour classroom,” where every course had its own Web site and interactive technology. It is no longer the didactic classroom where you are with a professor for six hours a week. Now it’s occurring 24/7. The students are interacting with one another over the material while virtually they are interacting with the professor. The whole quality and nature of education has been transformed by technology in unimaginable ways. Now with the technology improving, virtual instruction is creating another groundswell for globalisation as well. But it’s not replacing the physical campus. It’s not replacing the importance of the physical interaction. Technology is just amplifying, extending and accelerating the learning and that has been profound and it’s really a mega trend in education.