Posted by: crudbasher | April 15, 2011

Gales Of Creative Instruction – Jerry Bowyer – Forbes

Wow. This article talks about how Higher Education is being made obsolete in it’s current form by technology. Obviously there is a lot of room for argument about if the author is right, but I found his description of how universities used to be quite compelling. Apparently colleges used to be more of a marketplace for connecting teachers and students. The students even paid their teachers directly.

As I have mentioned many times, I think the great power of the Internet is to connect people directly. You don’t need a middle man or company to do that anymore. I also think a large part of what is driving people to universities is the degree they will get, not the teachers they will take or what they will learn. That is a shame and ultimately will be the undoing of the current university system. In it’s place will be something a lot closer to universities of 300 years ago.

I highly encourage you to read the whole article, it’s not that long but it is thought provoking!

Annotations after the break.

  • A scathing critique of higher education. The model is breaking.

    tags: education highered disruptive technology bubble profound nell

    • Two-hundred thirty-five years ago Adam Smith reflected on the very dissatisfactory years he had spent as a student at Oxford University. He concluded that the poor quality of instruction was a natural consequence of a change in the school’s business model.

      Old Oxford was a marketplace. Students paid tutorial fees directly to teachers. The teacher was the provider, the student was the customer and the college was merely the exchange, a kind of medieval Nasdaq for pure intellectual capital.

    • No doubt Smith as a young student would have been much happier studying under professors whose teaching was so compelling that it led to excessively zealous student devotion instead of what he actually got, professors who had given up altogether the pretense of teaching. Wouldn’t many parents prefer a little ideological diversity to the mindless hive of PC leftism which dominates the modern university?
    • No bureaucracy as sclerotic as the higher education industrial complex will change on its own. Change comes in the form of what the great Austrian Joseph Schumpeter called “gales of creative destruction.”
    • Something better always comes along and destroys what came before. In this case the combination of the microchip and widely available bandwidth are destroying the current education model. Great financial entrepreneur Sir John Templeton, founder of the Templeton family of mutual funds, saw this coming. He wrote a memo in 1995, shortly before his death, in which he predicted not only the housing bubble and collapse, but an educational collapse as well:
    • Most of the methods of universities and other schools which require residence have become hopelessly obsolete. Probably over half of the universities in the world will disappear quickly over the next thirty years.
    • Templeton saw two forces destroying the university system: increasingly competitive markets, and computer technology. The electron cloud is already taking us from new Oxford back to old Oxford.
    • The Think Tank world of free education is a separate topic that deserves a separate column in and of itself, but suffice it to say that you and your iPod (or desktop) can listen to the smartest people in the world give interesting lectures on the most important topics for free, or you can pay lots of money to hear an inarticulate and resentful grad student ladle out early 1960s French intellectual fads in one of collegedom’s cavernous freshman lecture halls at a time of his, not your, convenience.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. […] Now keep in mind why this matters. Radical change never happens when things are ok. It is always born out of strife and massive disruption. In the previous 20 years universities have gotten fat on government loans and as long as students kept getting jobs, nobody really questioned the return on investment. Now they are and the trend is being accelerated at Internet speeds. Can universities change at Internet speeds too? Actually that’s the wrong question because it assumes schools actually know what is happening and know what to do about it. Most are so immersed in traditional thinking they will never see it coming. This is what Schumpeter termed Creative Destruction. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: