Posted by: crudbasher | June 2, 2011

Great Article About the Higher Ed Bubble

I just came across this great article from Campus Technology magazine. The author lays out a very clear case that we are in a higher education bubble. I would define this as a service or product being extremely over priced, for no reason other than a common belief in it’s value. Dang that’s pretty harsh isn’t it? Well to use the buzz word of the last two years, the economic model we are using for college is “unsustainable”.

Read the article and see what you think.

(oh and the author gets bonus points for using a storm metaphor for the changes coming to education, heh)

  • Great summary of the higher ed bubble

    tags: education profound bubble Professional Development nell

    • American higher education–the jewel in the global crown of universal education, with nearly a quarter of the total number of higher education institutions in the world, and including graduate programs that are the envy of the world–is facing the prospect of being the next bubble to burst. Technology is both a culprit and a promising ally.
    • The bubble is financial: tuitions rising significantly each year despite economic conditions and students taking on student loan debt they then cannot pay off. It is practical: the degree no longer guaranteeing a job and a majority of employers saying that college graduates lack the skills for today’s marketplace. It is cultural: college professors in four-year colleges traditionally educating “for life, not for a specific job” even though today’s college students need job-related education. It is economic: the nature of work in a knowledge economy requiring skills unlike those of graduates of just 15 years ago. It is institutional: a professoriate confronted with so many changes and demands with insufficient background or support to make changes beyond their ken or abilities. The question, “Is college worth it?” has gained a currency that should be troubling to college and university administrators.
    • The undergraduate programs are therefore the vital core of the entire higher education enterprise. Yet, they are least prepared to deal with the education bubble.
    • Why is this so?
    • we teach as we were taught. “Pedagogy” means a study of or the practice of teaching. Yet, we are in an era of focus on learning and many of us understand why this is necessary.
    • But how do we change when all we know is the predominant but tacit learning theory?
    • Still, we faculty members don’t even know (excepting our education colleagues) what behaviorism is or what alternative learning theory to change to.
    • The business model for undergraduate four-year colleges is based on the assumption that a teacher has to be involved directly or proximately in all learning. As a result, personnel costs are high but still increasing constantly because of the cost of benefits.
    • Uncertainty about and resistance to information technology throughout the four-year college undergraduate enterprise in this country means that the one direction that higher education could be following productively to ameliorate the effects of the bubble is closed off. The very technology that has altered so many conditions–speeding up change, creating a new economy, distributing learning opportunities–and is therefore part of the problem, should instead be the main solution.
    • What do we know, then, about avoiding the education bubble?
    • We know that we faculty members need more than technology workshops.
    • For years, we have chipped away at “talk and test” and berated faculty members who did not become, instead, “guides on the side.” This pattern now seems an absurd trivialization of the issue. It is time to stop blaming faculty members for not making a transition that is actually the responsibility of the entire institutional enterprise. We can keep chipping for decades and make no progress at all because that chipping ignores the underlying problem.
    • Using technology, in sum, means students do more of the work of learning and fewer faculty members are necessary. Technology can take on the management work of faculty while leaving faculty members to design and guide.
    • Re-conceiving an entire learning design for the institution–when we faculty are not even aware of the design we have now, its rationale or its underlying assumptions about human nature–is impossible. You can’t move from here to there if you don’t know where “here” is.
    • No one knows, until it happens, that a bubble will burst. So much is invested in current efforts that the impulse is to try harder at doing the same things–in our case, imposing “accountability” measures, increasing the frequency of standardized testing, and raising the stakes for institutional or programmatic re-accreditation.
    • We also know through an oft-cited Association of American Colleges and Universities study that most employers are not happy with college graduates today. The study points out a number of failings: inability to work with unstructured problems, inability to work in teams, inability to write convincingly or even relevantly, and other issues.
    • Can institutions that have invested so heavily in a guiding concept of learning transform themselves? Probably not. Institutions work to preserve the status quo; preserving the status quo is perhaps the main goal of any institution: After all, one fundamental purpose of “institutionalizing” anything is to make it permanent.
    • Not changing the curriculum will continue to reduce the value of that part of the college experience and also continue to diminish the employment possibilities for students who go through the legacy curriculum. The major re-shaping of higher education around a new learning epistemology that is best for this century is yet to begin.

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


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