Google U

Zephyr Teachout has a good column in tomorrow’s Washington Post predicting the disaggregated university. It’s very much in harmony with what I wrote in What Would Google Do? – that complete chapter here. I also gave a talk on the topic via Skype to the Media Education Summit in Liverpool this week; the audio (not very good) is here. The bottom line of all this: Education will follow the path of newspapers, toward a disaggregated, distributed, more efficient future based on abundance rather than scarcity, with control at the edge.

  • I’ve thought for a while now that the next bastion of the Establishment to fall to the Internet will be the universities.

    Just as the biased left-wing mainstream media have been cast aside, so in good time will the biased left-wing academia. With no monopoly on knowledge or communications, we no longer need these guys — and their performance does not justify their existence.

  • In the age of Google, etc…..all educational institutions are unnecessary.

    Homeschooling is spreading like wildfire.

    If my kids end up going to that wasteland euphemized as *college*….I’ll have failed as a parent.

    • Eric Blair

      I just ran into an old high school aquaintance who I found out home schooled her kids. I never thought she would have done that, but there it is. This is an important idea. Remember it.

  • zywotkowitz

    If this happens, you can expect the Obama admin to take steps to prop up the overpriced legacy universities.

    Also, there is already a trend of fundraising from abroad and making scholarly compromises in return.

  • The WA Post article’s premise, which Jeff obviously agrees with, is overstated. Notwithstanding the hostility to higher education that Buzz Machine’s first three commenters demonstrate, the four-year traditional college “experience” will remain an essential hallmark of American life for quite some time.

    Need I spell out the reasons why? Better yet, have some fun and watch Animal House again. College is the American rite of passage, like it or not. Yes, it’s wildly overpriced, yes,it can be hazardous to your health, offensive to your righteous bearing (here’s looking at you Captious Nut), and yes there are redundancies such as Intro to Sociology. But instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, universities will just adjust. Freshmen will watch a live feed from their dorm rooms while sucking on a bong.

    So you get my drift.

    Seriously, there remain such things as seminars, where the free-flowing discussion will be hard to replicate over the internet. In sum, colleges aren’t going anywhere, because they inhabit an essential physical space, for much the same reason that Wall Street still exists.

  • Mike Manitoba

    To hell with universities. Just send every high-school graduate his own weight in dimebags and booze, the complete Bob Marley and Grateful Dead discographies, a hackey sack, a social disease, a year’s worth of booty calls, and Amazon gift cards (for purchasing Kindle books to impress buxom English Lit coeds), and loose ‘im upon the world.

  • The statement that many Universities will not survive in future and there will be much more serviced by on-line generic content may well be true. However, I believe that those that the value they create is NOT about learning content, it is about enhancing capabilities. Where content is used to create context in which to learn capabilities like analysis, thinking influence and building/leveraging social bonds, there is value for the student and their employers. I believe the future of Universities depends on what the universities offer and the quality (not the quantity) of the professionals they generate. By generating competent professionals who cherish the unpredictability of the world and who have the capabilities to figure out the best options to implement will generate on-going demand. However, if there is a focus on servicing students that need be spoon-fed or focus on summarising what happed instead of looking forward, then there will not be a demand -such skills are not what employers want and will not accelerate success for the students.
    I believe Universities have a great opportunity to make a difference to performance in the workforce if they align the theories with what professionals need to implement in practice and if they can make the links between their research and value creation.

  • For some time I’ve been exploring how courses can be disaggregated in a technical sense into a set of component syndication feeds, and then re-presented as a bundled set of feeds.

    For example, here’s a worked example from several years ago with an MIT open education course:

    More recently, I’ve started looking at how educators might be able to start curating collections of video content that can then be shared, and bundled into new collections, using social bookmarking tools, and viewed on a TV via Boxee:

  • Hi Jeff,

    Most interesting, yet disturbing, if that is the right term. What is missing in these schemes (google U.) is the human contact, civility, body language, nuance of voice and emotion. People are raised on a limited set of notions and might have hard times adapting.

    Captivated by WWGD,

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