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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Out & About: A Change is Coming to Higher Ed

The future of higher education is online. Unfortunately, many faculty and administrators can't see the tidal wave of online learning that is approaching but it is approaching. The cost of higher education is untenable in its current form. Just like manufacturing was 20 years ago, same with financial institutions, insurance...those industries were changed forever by technology...higher education is next. It will be stripped to the bare bones before too long.

As Scott McNealy, Chairman of Sun stated:
Technology has to play a huge role in education. (It's) changed commerce...publishing...banking. It's got to change education big time.
It will change but it takes time for large entrenched institutions to change. Heck, Harvard has just now decided to have its first women president.

Or, maybe a more moderate approach will occur, as advocated by Charles Reed,, chancellor of the largest four-year university system in the United States (the California State University System).

He envisions:
...students becoming more like telecommuters. They might meet with faculty and peers one day a week on campus, and then use simulations, virtual worlds and downloaded information the rest of the week to complete coursework.

I ask, why do they need to meet once a week? And what are those colleges going to do with those huge classrooms and infrastructure the other 6 days of the week? It's got to be expensive to heat or cool all those mostly empty buildings.

Yet, colleges are still on a building frenzy. Driving up costs and hoping to get a large return. It reminds me (as I think I've said before) of Ford building the SUVs when anyone could see a gas shortage coming. But they just forged ahead. Is higher education doing the same thing...

Read the more optimistic article that sparked this post titled Universities register for virtual future

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Tom Haskins said...

Karl:I've been pondering this dramatic change you wrote about for the past year. On my blog: Clues to the College Blues", I anticipate that college campuses will scale back, but remain for the maturation process of teens to adults by way of being party animals, frat rats and extra-curricular joiners. I also expect academia to endure as a breeding ground for research scientists and bureaucrats who can learn by example and mentoring of "their own kind" among college professors.

Karl Kapp said...


I think you are right, the social aspects of college will not disappear and academia needs to remain to breed more academia. You make some great points on your blog Clues to the College Blues. I especially like your comment about students getting caught between greedy employers and greedy colleges. I continually wonder where the money goes on my campus. More buildings, more administrators, more support staff, less and less for education and more for non-educational pursuits.