The University of tomorrow is …?

I’ve just read this article and wanted to share a couple of thoughts I had while I was reading it: “It’s the end of the university as we know it”

The title is clearly clickbait, testing your resolve to read beyond the tweeted headline, knowing full well ‘the end of the university’ will get people interested (or enraged that this kind of talk is still going on … MOOCs anyone?). That the URL is not the same as the title implies they might change the title at a later stage … “/the-future-of-the-university-is-in-the-air-and-in-the-cloud/”?

Here are some soundbites from the article:

“Shocking as it might seem, there is one catch-all answer that could be the remedy to many of these concerns: Cut the campus loose. Axe the physical constraints. The library? Classrooms? Professors? Take it all away. The future of the university is up in the air.”

Another, when looking at the history of how and why universities are set up like they are:

“It is untenable for universities to continue existing as sanctums for a small group of elite students, taught by top scholars.Technology isn’t only refashioning the ways in which we live and work, but also changing what we need to learn for these new schemes of existence: It’s returning us to a need for specialized learning, for individualized education that is custom-tailored to one’s needs. A world in which most of our learning is more self-directed and practical is, in many ways, a return to an apprenticeship model that existed before industrialization.”

Predictions on the future of learning, at universities at any rate:

Online “cloud” teaching is cheaper; universities can offer such online-based (or majority-online) degrees at the lowest rate—making for a cheap(ish) degree, available to everyone with access to the internet, and taking place completely digitally. Meanwhile, other students will pay a premium to interact with professors and have more of a traditional campus experience. At the highest end, the richest or most elite students may get the full Oxford tutorial experience, brushing elbows with the best of scholars; they’ll just have to pay through the nose for it”

Read the article, let me know what you think – agree or disagree with the tenet of the article, that this is the end of the university?

Image source: Dave Herholz (CC BY-SA 2.0)

  • Sweeping generalisations and a rather populist tone. The sort of tech evangelism that gives our field a bad name and only makes the traditionalists even more entrenched. Scaring people into action doesn’t work. We need to find ways of using technology. there is no university of the future – there are however many different paths to learning.

    • Thanks Alastair. So, what are your suggestions then? Where’s a good place to start, what kind of changes can individuals make to a corporate (for that’s what it is, even if managed by academics) culture? Is there, in fact, a solution staring us in the face or is the list too numerous and far reaching to be achievable?

      • I don’t think there will be one model but a lot of different models that offer higher and further education is different ways leading to a much wider range of credentials than today’s degrees. Universities need to take initiatives in this rather than just reacting to moves from the corporate sector. More university-industry collaboration, more competency-based degrees, micro-credentials and a move towards seeing university as a place (physical or online) that you return to regularly rather than simply 3-4 years of your life on a campus.