University World News has published an article by Dara Melnyk and Daniel Kontowski, the developers of the new SAS MA program in Experimental Higher Education (X-HE). Their article, “Experimentation in higher education must become the norm”, is devoted to the idea of controlled experiment in university education.
A proper educational experiment should have a clear hypothesis, grounded in data and theory. Theory can guide you to go beyond the conventional and give you the tools to break the rules. Experimentation invites rule-breaking, at least as a possibility.
Of course, breaking the rules is justified only if you understand them. There are too many visionaries who declare the end of disciplinary learning without considering the role of academic disciplines, who destroy university hierarchies without offering a functional alternative and who otherwise disrupt traditional formats for the sake of disruption itself.
What we need is an honest, sympathetic and paced dialogue between conservative principles and new ideas. We need this dialogue within universities as much as between them.