Disruption: Coming Soon to a University Near You - Forbes | College Degrees will be a Thing of the Past | Scoop.it
It's becoming a familiar story, university experiences are increasingly being characterized by: impractical learning, out-of-touch faculty, exorbitant tuitions, time-wasting requirements and diminishing probabilities of employment.

 

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As with any disruptive innovation, there will be winners and losers. Although speculative, I would consider the following to be among the most interesting of the implications we are likely to see:

 

* the emergence of new players: if we no longer need campuses and permanent, tenured faculty, and if the disruptive business model is no longer built around sponsored research, then traditional barriers to entry are no longer reliable, and we can expect to see a variety of new entrants emerge. We could, in fact, see a resurgence of attractiveness for the MA and MS degrees as new entrants offer ever-more-specialized niche learning for professional advancement, as well as for educational leisure.

 

* shakeout and consolidation: competition in the new world of virtual learning will be neither inexpensive to produce, nor for the strategically faint-hearted. As a result, fast-mover advantage, and existing brand recognition, will be enormous assets in the recasting of our higher-educational future. 

 

* new categories of achievement: certificate mania – say sayonara to our single-minded preoccupation with “diplomas.”

 

* global reach will be achieved via technology, rather than the proliferation of local campuses: no matter what the dreams of placing satelite campuses in locations such as the UAE, China or Southeast Asia, a growing reliance on technology will render such bases useful primarily as social centers for special groups of learners, or as “laboratory centers” manned by graduate students and local faculty, rather than places where the superstar faculty reside.

 

* the evolution of kaleidoscopic learning: Tomorrow’s learning will be highly individualized and highly mobile. Beyond mere “mass customization,” the leading providers of learning will be delivering anything, anywhere, anytime, and this will mean big investments into mobile IT and content packaging. The result is that the traditional campus will morph into something symbolic, used intermittently for particular types of gatherings that cannot be accommodated virtually, such as workshops, coaching or mentoring, and will no longer be the prized assets that they are today.

 

* a renaissance of great teaching: as the university business model swings from research for research’s sake, to the delivery of “interpreted” research learnings, there will be a return to an appreciation for great teaching.

 

Disruption is coming, there is no doubt of it! Will it be soon? Will it be virtual? We have little idea at this time as to how it will eventually turn out. What is also clear, however, is that the technology revolution taking place means that when disruption does come, it will be more than mere operational rearrangements; it will be profound and revitalizing. At the moment, America is the envy of the world with its big-branded, well-endowed, research universities, with their cultures of academic curiosity and youthful questioning. Given the changes that we are about to see, not all of these attributes are sustainable advantages. The challenge of administrators in the U.S., and around the world will be to move fast, take big gambles, and preserve the very best of the heritages of the institutions that they lead.