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Universities in the "Free" Era

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Presentation at SXSW Interactive 2010 about the future of higher education. NOTE: The version of this presentation WITH AUDIO is also on slideshare. MIT, Yale, Stanford, and others put lectures …

Presentation at SXSW Interactive 2010 about the future of higher education. NOTE: The version of this presentation WITH AUDIO is also on slideshare. MIT, Yale, Stanford, and others put lectures online. Chris Anderson argues all university lectures should be free. From Academic Earth to TED, it's free. So what is the value-add of a university education? What models of higher education will survive? How will universities leverage the social web to reinvent themselves?

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  • Following up on Anya Kamenetz’s presentation yesterday and her book, DIYU.

    Six parts to this presentation: 1. Role of Higher Education 2. University System in Collapse 3. Tectonic Change 4. The Disruptors 5. The New Professor 6. Next Steps
  • Need a referent point (points) if later, we are to evaluate the merits of new models.
  • First and foremost, back to Greco-Roman times.
  • Research University. Modern construct. NSF study found as much as 50% of new products come from universities.
  • Holistic growth. “Most of what I learned in college I didn’t learn in the classroom.”
  • Global and local impact. Service learning.
  • Last two are relatively new. Spence, in 1974, first wrote about this.
  • Universities have focused on this to varying degrees.
  • "The most enduring institutions of Western civilization are the Roman Catholic Church; legislative assemblies and other government entities in Great Britain, Iceland, the Isle of Man and Switzerland; the Bank of Siena; and 61 universities.”

    Clark Kerr, Higher Education Cannot Escape History: Issues for the Twenty-First Century (Albany: State University of New York, 1994)
  • Average private tuition in US - $25K, 4 times of public in 08/09. Rising well faster than inflation. State subsidies disappearing. 2/3 of students graduate with debt, which future salaries don’t justify. (e.g. it would take 17 years of higher salaries from private institution graduates to make up for the difference in cost).
  • The interest in, and need for, a pure residential experience is fast disappearing. This model is being challenged by a growing set of voices. The university a single center of knowledge is both impractical and inaccurate.
  • The timing of traditional university education is challenged by the 24/7 information economy and the flat world. 57% of students take 6 years or more to finish degree.
  • We all know experts are never all local. And really, what we know, is that “expert” as a single person, is less and less valid.
  • For a host of reasons, including tenure, universities are worse at change management than any other institution short of the church. And might be worse than that.
  • Zeigert article about ISTJ and ENFP Economists.
  • Broken from both sides of tenure. Already de facto gone. 29% of faculty are in TT positions.

  • Networked learners. Digital natives. Diversity in learning styles have been identified and pedagogy to match them is new. Engaging students where they are has changed.
  • 1. Rise of the interdisciplinary space 2. Limitations of narrow disciplinary perspective (more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing)
  • In Ohio – “Senior to Sophomore” program.
  • Networking technologies (in all senses) have created expert networks where there once were experts. We reach out to our network to learning something, not up.
  • Universities long felt immune from market forces. The choice set for students has increased. Competition between schools has risen.
  • From advisory boards to actual curriculum within the walls of companies and non-profits. Universities have become more open to this and leverage alumni networks.
  • Just look around SXSW.
  • Goes without saying but deserves a mention.
  • We group these disruptors into categories. They bleed into each other quite a bit, but are useful for our discussion.

  • Just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 5 million downloads of Stanford’s iPhone Dev course. 15 million from Stanford.
  • Same deal as iTunes, but open.
  • New associations to coordinate and leverage scale – avoid reinventing the wheel.
  • David Wiley and others become thought leaders in the movement.
  • New communities evolve.
  • Aggregator and filters follow, just like in industry. As the din rises, the action is in the filtering and aggregating.
  • Non-”academic” content. In many ways richer than academic. Tend to be one-off topics as opposed to courses and multi-part content.



  • Google Books is example of standalone content. Online textbooks.
  • Remixable textbooks.
  • Free textbooks.
  • Coordinated cheap textbooks.
  • Goes without saying the online content about subject matter areas is as deep as the user has interest in pursuing.
  • Social networks that allow for students to come together as they once did physically, virtually. In some ways, richer interactions. 500,000 registered users.
  • Sharing.
  • Incentivizing.
  • Coordinating. Hybrid.
  • Out of the box social networking tools make it easy.
  • NEW models for structured curricula. SU has a lot of coverage from Business Week. Taking the TED model into graduate study and certificate program.


  • Tuition Free.
  • Serves thousands and thousands – in the UK
  • One of many. Question for audience – how many are enrolled in U of P’s MBA? 140,000.

  • Prof. Kingsfield. One end of the spectrum. This job is gone.
  • Complete educational anarchy. Has its place, for sure, but still begs the role of the university.
  • The middle way. Seven roles for the “New Professor”. UX and Experience design provides a perfect model for the role of a Professor (and university, for that matter). UX and Design Thinking both drive new ways to help solve problems and develop competencies.
  • Coordinator. Logistician. Classic PM skills make for strong faculty skills.
  • Faculty play similar role a venture capitalist. Helping to seed innovation, guide ideas, see opportunities, map a route for success.
  • Finding and making sense of the wealth of Free information.
  • Providing the resources (not just money, but time, space, equipment, and network) to contribute to student success.
  • Blurring of curricular and co-curricular.
  • How does the signaling model extend to a networked world?

  • Project-based courses (Dalai Lama & P&G Visualization Dashboard). Study abroad. More time in class and out to with hands-on experience. Usually multi-disciplinary. Teaches ambiguity.
  • Leverage the meta-network. For academic and economic reasons. See competitors as partners.
  • …or just train them. T person model.
  • Identify mutual wins. Don’t assume industry is exploitive or has interests that are cross-purpose with the academy.

  • Design curriculum around teaching students how to ask questions, how to find answers. Empower them. Leadership and engagement skills. Communication and social skills.
  • Restructure to encourage team-based work, team research, team teaching. Reward structure in Higher Ed needs to adjust.
  • It needs to be “OK” to have a Professor say that someone else’s content is better than their own.
  • At the core of the academic system’s problems – for quality research, for quality pedagogy.
  • Liz Coleman (Bennington College)
  • Connection to community, global citizenship, but also innovation and market-based insights. Teaching students they can be the change they want to see.
  • Develop and play into the humanist in us that gives back to a community. Enhance and empower the culture in higher ed of contribution to the commons and celebrate it.
  • Maybe the most important thing faculty do.

  • Transcript

    • 1. Peg
Faimon,
Miami
Design
Collabora?ve Glenn
PlaB,
Armstrong
Ins?tute
for
Interac?ve
Media
Studies Miami
University,
Oxford,
Ohio UNIVERSITIES
IN
THE
“FREE”
ERA SXSW
Interac?ve
2010
    • 2. Links
can
be
found
at
hBp://?nyurl.com/sxsw2010edlinks Slides
can
be
found
at
hBp://?nyurl.com/sxsw2010edslides
    • 3. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on SO
WHAT’S
THE
PURPOSE
OF
A
 UNIVERSITY
ANYWAY?
    • 4. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on Convey
knowledge.
    • 5. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on Create
knowledge.
    • 6. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on Develop
the
person.
    • 7. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on Contribute
to
society.
    • 8. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on Signal
ability.
    • 9. The
Role
of

Higher
Educa?on Seed
innova?on.
    • 10. University
System
Collapse BUT
THE
SYSTEM
IS
 BREAKING
DOWN.
    • 11. University
System
Collapse The
cost
is
too
high.
    • 12. University
System
Collapse You
have
to
go
to
mountain.
    • 13. University
System
Collapse There’s
no
control
over
the
clock.
    • 14. University
System
Collapse The
“experts”
are
local.
    • 15. University
System
Collapse Universi?es
change
 one
funeral
at
a
?me.
    • 16. University
System
Collapse Faculty
hire
people
 just
like
themselves.
    • 17. University
System
Collapse Tenure
is
broken.
    • 18. Tectonic
Change WHAT’S
DRIVING
THIS
 BREAKDOWN?
    • 19. Tectonic
Change Change
in
learning
styles.
    • 20. Tectonic
Change Collapse
of
disciplinary
structure.
    • 21. Tectonic
Change Accelera?on
of
K‐12.
    • 22. Tectonic
Change FlaBening
of
knowledge
 hierarchy.
    • 23. Tectonic
Change Students
[+
parents] as
consumers.
    • 24. Tectonic
Change Employers
ac?ve
in
curricula.
    • 25. Tectonic
Change Loca?on
independence.
    • 26. Tectonic
Change The
internet.
    • 27. The
Disruptors EDUCATIONAL
ENTREPRENEURS
 HAVE
STEPPED
IN
TO
FILL
THE
GAP.
    • 28. The
Disruptors Open
courseware. The
Disruptors
    • 29. The
Disruptors Free
online
lectures.
    • 30. The
Disruptors Accessible
educa?onal
content.
    • 31. The
Disruptors Online
learning
networks.
    • 32. The
Disruptors Structured
curricula.
    • 33. The
Disruptors Online
universi?es.
    • 34. The
New
Professor SO,
HOW
DOES
THE
 TRADITIONAL
UNIVERSITY
EVOLVE?
    • 35. The
New
Professor Experience
designer.
    • 36. The
New
Professor Project
manager.
    • 37. The
New
Professor Angel
investor.
    • 38. The
New
Professor Curator.
    • 39. The
New
Professor Resource
Allocator.
    • 40. The
New
Professor Life
coach.
    • 41. The
New
Professor Validator.
    • 42. Next
Steps WHERE
TO
BEGIN
    • 43. Next
Steps Experien?al
learning.
    • 44. Next
Steps Mul?‐ins?tu?onal
collabora?ons.
    • 45. Next
Steps Train
PhDs
to
think
 more
contextually.
    • 46. Next
Steps Strategic
industry
and
 non‐profit
partnerships.
    • 47. Next
Steps Re‐examine
tenure.
    • 48. Next
Steps Student‐driven
inquiry.
    • 49. Next
Steps Facilitate
collabora?on.
    • 50. Next
Steps De‐privilege
ins?tu?onal
conten
    • 51. Next
Steps Reward
failure.
    • 52. Next
Steps Get
rid
of
 departments
 and
focus
on
 ques?ons.
    • 53. Next
Steps Next
Steps Next
Steps Think
like
social
 entrepreneurs.
    • 54. Next
Steps Give
more
than
you
get.
    • 55. Next
Steps Hire
people
who
think
this
way.
    • 56. Links
can
be
found
at
hBp://?nyurl.com/sxsw2010edlinks Slides
can
be
found
at
hBp://?nyurl.com/sxsw2010edslides Peg.Faimon@muohio.edu Glenn.PlaB@muohio.edu QUESTIONS,
COMMENTS,
THOUGHTS?

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