Jeff Selingo gave a talk on five forces disrupting higher education.  Interesting set:

“swirl” refers to students attending multiple schools, rather than one.

It’s a good mix, hitting major themes.  I can quibble with parts: “Value” should be “Perceived value”, to emphasize the culturally contested form of this, for example.


Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. skjandrews

     /  November 10, 2012

    I agree with your specifying “perceived value” in this case. I think there is a correlation between college education and higher quality of life in some regard, but it is hard to assess how that happens or why. It may have as much to do with young people learning how to navigate a friendlier bureaucracy than they will later encounter, training them before they have to do it for real. Networking with other students, mixing with people from across the country or even just across the county: all of these are also part of the college experience, some of which also encourages learning that even the swirlers will have to deal with.

    Either way, there does seem to be more of a need for a modular curriculum which can be filled in a variety of ways. MOOCs may be part of this, but, as we’ve discussed, having an entity that would provide some sort of credential as part of that process – which would accredit certain MOOCs for certain disciplinary endeavors (once we figure out which ones they work best in and how) alongside courses transferred from elsewhere. The caveat to this is that most entities willing to put their name on a full credential – especially a BA or BS – want you to spend the last few courses of a major there on campus. At the very least they want to be able to provide a consistent framework that they feel can be defended as rigorous. And I think for it to have value as a credential that is part of what external observers would be interested to see: validation of the transcript as something more than a collection of random badges. You could obviate this, of course, if the degree was in something like integrative studies and it was based on a major and/or project the student herself designed, collecting (accredited) courses from elsewhere according to a rational she defends to a panel of expert advisors – advisors who, like dissertation advisors, then sign off on the integrity of the degree.

    In short, for all the talk of modular MOOCs as the future of education, there is way too much focus on the tech component. The almost completely absent innovation is at the level of the accreditation institution. If the future of scholarly comm is at least in part shaped by policies and practices of T&P committees, the future of the college degree is in the policies, practices, and regulations of degree accreditation institutions. As College Inc, the Frontline documentary on for-profit colleges shows, this (not the distance learning tech) is often their real innovation. That is, they gain life by not having to initiate an accreditation process: they simply buy up failing colleges and universities that already have accreditation. After marketing, recruiting, and learning how to game the Federal Student Loan program, this is their true innovation. On the one hand, calling that an innovation is sort of like calling mustard gas an innovation: On the other hand, eventually they figured out that a little mustard gas would cure cancer so maybe there is a lesson there.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: