Big Changes In Higher Ed

Universities are scrambling to get out front of the Internet and revolutionary change in higher education.

A Stanford University student walks though the halls of the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California. (AP)

A Stanford University student walks though the halls of the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California. (AP)

The old saw goes that things that can’t last don’t last.  Traditional American colleges and universities may be in that category right now.  They cost too much.  Young Americans are graduating with punishing debt.  And the Internet is offering a big alternative.

The superhot phrase of the academic season is MOOC:  Massive Open Online Course.  Top schools are racing to offer them.  Sign up, dive in, learn – from anywhere.  Goodbye campus and quad.  Maybe.  How will this really work?

This hour, On Point:  a college system at the breaking point meets the Internet revolution.

-Tom Ashbrook


Jeff Selingo, editor-at-large at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

John Mitchell, Stanford University’s vice provost.

Mark Taylor, chair of the religion department at Columbia University. You can read his provocative op-ed on the future of higher ed here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Newsweek “Mythomania about college has turned getting a degree into an American neurosis. It’s sending parents to the poorhouse and saddling students with a backpack full of debt that doesn’t even guarantee a good job in the end. With college debt making national headlines, Megan McArdle asks, is college a bum deal?”

New York Times “Widespread hiring freezes and layoffs have brought these problems into sharp relief now. But our graduate system has been in crisis for decades, and the seeds of this crisis go as far back as the formation of modern universities. Kant, in his 1798 work “The Conflict of the Faculties,” wrote that universities should “handle the entire content of learning by mass production, so to speak, by a division of labor, so that for every branch of the sciences there would be a public teacher or professor appointed as its trustee.””

Campus Technology “If you were to gather together a thousand academics, researchers, university IT and instructional technology leaders, institutional librarians, technology and media company executives, authors, journalists, futurists, association presidents, and other interested people and ask them to consider the possible impact of the Internet on higher education, the outlook you’d get would closely resemble the rich patchwork of perspective offered in a recent report from Elon University’s School of Communications, as part of its “Imagining the Internet” project. Most of them would say there’s a lot of change coming.”

TechCrunch “In the past 20 years, Stanford has only established two Vice Provost offices, for undergraduate and graduate education, both of which “fundamentally reshaped education at Stanford.” University   spokeswoman Lisa Lapin tells me the Vice Provost for Online Learning intends to do the same.”

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