Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Universities?

On June 8, Harry Keller shared Philip E. Auerswald’s article, “First Newspapers, Now Universities: It’s Transformation Time” (Washington Post, 8 June 2010), with the ETCJ staff. As a result, Harry and two other ETC writers, Judith McDaniel and John Sener, submitted articles responding to Auerswald:

Harry Keller, “Universities Vanishing?
Judith McDaniel, “View from an Online Classroom
John Sener, “Chill Out at a Tailgating Party

Here are the opening lines from Auerswald’s article:

The commencement season that has just drawn to a close has been, once again, a wonderful time to celebrate our enduring rituals of collegiate education.

Now prepare to say goodbye to them.

This isn’t to say that traditional four-year colleges are going to disappear overnight. They won’t…not any more than major-market newspapers have. But leaders in higher-ed have reason to pay serious attention to the disruptive changes technology has forced upon journalists and other knowledge workers: our industry is next.

[click here to read the rest of Auerswald’s article]

One Response

  1. See also, in perhaps-not-so-odd echo to Philip E. Auerswald’s “First Newspapers, Now Universities: It’s Transformation Time:

    Universities need radical overhaul, says David Willetts, by Angela Harrison. BBC. 2010-06-10:

    England’s university system needs a radical overhaul to give more value to students and taxpayers, the universities minister has said.

    Willetts idea of using distance education to reduce costs is not to encourage universities to develop online course materials that could be used by stutdents at other universities where a given course is not available. On the contrary:

    …Mr Willetts is promoting the idea of students studying for a degree at any university in England, with lectures and classes being held at their local further education college or other institute.
    “That means that you don’t have the costs of living away from home but you do get a prestigious degree and that’s actually how we spread our access to higher education,” he said.
    This would also help meet rising demand for degrees, he argued.
    It would also be a far cheaper option. …

    I.e. students should train in traditional classrooms at local institutions, then take the exams set by the university they’ll get their degree from. As has been the case for decades with extramural courses (which David Willets quotes as model).

    To be fair, both in this article and in the recorded interview with David Willetts available from it, objections are raised to his proposals.

    However, with scare-mongering about online activity like Nicholas Carr’s (1) getting complacent echo in mainstream media, there is a definite risk that decision makers might opt for “distance education” à la Willets when it comes to cut funding. And not only in UK.

    (1) See Jim Shimabukuro’s The Internet Helps Us to Be Smarter – A Reply to Nicholas Carr.

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