Education or Training?

As I was planning this course, I found this article criticizing MIT for their approach on Open CourseWare (OCW), which is MIT’s approach to sharing its vast library of courses with the world beyond its hallowed halls in Cambridge.  One issue that the resonated with me, for the purpose of this course, was the distinction between education and training:

I believe that education and training are different. To me, training is an essential commodity that will certainly be outsourced to digital systems and be dramatically improved in the process. Education is much more subtle and complex and is likely to be accomplished through mentorship or apprentice-like interactions between a learner and an expert.

By design, this course includes a lot of training.  There is training in Excel as well as Visual Basic programming all designed to give students an exposure to these relevant tools.  But if it were only about training, students would receive a book on Excel and be pointed to tutorials, be on their way.

But that would be insufficient.

It’s not enough to know how to write a VLOOKUP function.  It’s also important to know how and why to apply it.  For that, there needs to be a considerable amount of more general education as well as time spent discussing how to use the tools to think through problems.


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