University of Central Oklahoma strives to create 'a bunch of colleges of one,' President Don Betz says

As technology changes the way its students learn, UCO is moving toward a different model of teaching and learning, Betz said — one where professors focus less on lecturing and more on helping their students become lifelong learners.
by Silas Allen Modified: July 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm •  Published: July 15, 2013

— At a time when any student with a laptop or smartphone has tremendous access to knowledge, University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz said faculty members are working to turn their students into “a bunch of colleges of one.”

As technology changes the way its students learn, UCO is moving toward a different model of teaching and learning, Betz said — one where professors focus less on lecturing and more on helping their students become lifelong learners.

Students who graduate from UCO today are entering a workforce that's changing rapidly, and it's impossible to predict exactly how any student's field will change over the course of their career, he said.

The best way to prepare students to adapt to that environment is by preparing them to continue learning for the rest of their careers, Betz said in an interview with Oklahoman reporters.

As quickly as the workforce is changing, the body of knowledge in any particular field is keeping pace, Betz said. UCO's biology professors have told him that the body of knowledge in biology doubles roughly every 18 months, he said.

Because new knowledge is becoming available so quickly, students need to be ready to be their own instructors, advisers and evaluators, when they graduate, he said — essentially becoming a college unto themselves.

Being able to adapt to those changes will be crucial to students' success, whether they start their own business or go to work for an organization that already exists, he said.

“We know that your field will change,” he said. “We can't know exactly how it will change.”

The Internet offers students access to information about nearly any subject they could be covering in class, Betz said. So it's becoming less important for professors to offer lectures filled with names, dates and facts, and more important for them to give context to what students have learned.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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