Change is not only coming to higher education; it has arrived. In Teaching Naked, Bowen (2012) discusses the impacts that are coming to university campuses and links them to similar revolutions in the distribution of journalism and music. Two recent articles I read pose differing opinions of how universities are reacting to this change. Some universities seem posed to lose their perceived value of prestige (Kinsley, 2016) by offering more and more open online courses, often for free and some even for credit. Other post-secondary institutions, particularly those that have lost status compared to their higher-priced competitors, are reacting by actually raising tuition (Askner & Bothner, 2016), using the notion that a higher price indicates higher quality, not unlike how Champagne can fetch prices higher than sparkling wines of similar quality from other regions. Similarly, there is a battle for control of access to academic research, to the extent that Russian neuroscientist has created a controversial site that allows free access to over 47 million academic papers that normally would be only available behind expensive paywalls (Resnick, 2016)
What does this mean for the post secondary system? Does the fear of the unknown actually create more rapid change within colleges and universities (Wheeler, 2016), which are build on a foundation of innovation and expanding thought? Bowen (2012) suggests that colleges should challenge assumptions like time-based teaching and even look at how space is configured and accessed to react to not only a change in technology, but in learning itself. I am actually quite excited to see what the post-secondary world looks like in another 20 years, and whether or not some of the new innovations like badging, gamification, and adaptive learning (Wheeler, 2016) have taken hold fully.
I see so much potential in the emerging trends of education, particularly in how this translate to life-long learning and professional development. Will we get to a place where the workplace and the classroom are fully integrated? Will we still feel in 20 years’ time that the knowledge students get in their first year classes will be largely irrelevant by the time they graduate (Dougherty, 2016). Perhaps the whole notion of graduation and degrees will have changed, and employers will be looking for more competency based evaluations and endorsements like those that populate our LinkedIn profiles will carry true weight. Is the google degree that far off?
I believe that we will get to a place where it is no longer questioned that content is freely accessible and that the value in paying for an education is in the understanding of how to interpret that knowledge. Open content is being delivered by open courseware, and now even syllabuses are being shared in the open realm (Karagnis, 2016). The curators of open content will have a responsibility of not only maintaining the resources, but also for being the new gatekeepers that allow us to find the most relative information out of the cloud.
I started a massive online open course (MOOC) last year (ironically, it was a MOOC on how open education is changing the post-secondary space) through Stanford Online, and quickly realized that although the content was relevant and engaging, participating in discussion threads with thousands of others from around the globe meant being constantly bombarded by attacks on my inbox with the latest response to a thread, many of which even started to include spam and clear advertising links! Sifting through the noise became too much of a distraction, so I abandoned it a few weeks in.
I have a colleague who likens what is happening with higher education to handing someone a library card and telling them everything they need to know can be found in the New York Public Library and to go and help themselves. Without systems in place that will allow us to filter, and people available to discuss the meaning of what we find, even if they are at the end of a phone or on an ooVoo chat, we will be lost.
I, for one, am happy to pay a bit for that filter and a smaller community of learners around me, no matter how far apart physically we may live.
Askner, N., Bothner, M. (2016) Status-Aspirational Pricing: The “Chivas Regal” Strategy in U.S. Higher Education, 2006–2012. Administrative Science Quarterly. Retrieved from http://asq.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/29/0001839216629671.full#sec-14
Bowen, J.A. (2012) Teaching Naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Dougherty, I. (February 16, 2016) Money won’t fix what’s wrong with post-secondary education. iPolitics. Retrieved from http://ipolitics.ca/2016/02/16/money-wont-fix-whats-wrong-with-post-secondary-education/
Karagnis, J. (February 18, 2016) How a “Syllabus Commons” Could Change Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/How-a-Syllabus-Commons-/235330
Kinsley, M. (February 5, 2016) How the Internet will disrupt higher education’s most valuable asset: Prestige. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-web-will-disrupt-higher-educations-most-valuable-asset-prestige/2016/02/05/6bddc1ee-c91e-11e5-a7b2-5a2f824b02c9_story.html
Resnick, B. (February 17, 2016) Why one woman stole 47 million academic papers — and made them all free to read. Vox Science and Health. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2016/2/17/11024334/sci-hub-free-academic-papers
Wheeler, D. (January 13, 2016) Technology and the Imminent Disruption of Higher Education: Is Fear the Path to the Dark Side? Academica Forum. Retrieved from http://forum.academica.ca/forum/technology-and-the-imminent-disruption-of-higher-education-is-fear-the-path-to-the-dark-side