Academia, you can still change the world

The acceptance that higher education is going to change is fairly unanimous at least in the circles I walk. Everyone has different ideas about what that will look like but change does appear to be inevitable. Unfortunately the reasoning behind that consensus seems to be the agreement that higher education is broken. And for the most part my colleagues have a good understanding about how it is broken. What concerns me the most is that our academic community does not appear to have any interest in fixing what is broken or possibly influencing the impending change? I am not even sure they believe they will have to change.

Maybe I’m just naive in believing that this multi century institution of higher education can be forced to change. But I base my concern on the fact that technology appears to be the driving force and the trend for technology disruption appears to be definitive. There is an obvious economic model for higher education that is becoming less and less justified. Traditional government support is not only bailing due to resource limitations but I am sensing a loss of pride in what higher education represents. If the people do not believe that investing in higher education is justified then change will come quickly.

Recent government acceptance that competency based degree attainment was equal to credit hour based degrees is a prime example. I am not saying competency based learning is not a valid option but it just seems like acceptance of this as an equal is moving way to fast. This is what I sense as the loss of pride. And this is where I would expect the higher education community to become more engaged.  I will give credit to those promoting change like the Gates Foundation, but what about our higher education community of esteemed scholars that should be more concerned about their livelihood.

Change is going to come in the form of withdrawal of support. For state institutions it will be reduced appropriations and the promotion of more cost effective online delivery solutions. As these once impressive institutions of higher learning lose their edge I fear that they truly will not be able to respond with a competitive solution.  A crumbling of intellect and infrastructure will threaten sponsored research while lack of attention to changing pedagogy will leave teaching instruction outdated. The traditional academic leadership does not have the skills for the business change that will be required. So what is one to do? Keep your head in the sand or try to change the world. Come on academia, you can change the world.

About ghsmith76

Greg Smith has retired. His last position was the Interim CIO at Western Washington University. Prior to WWU Greg was the CIO at Missouri S&T, and before that the CIO for George Fox University in Newberg, OR. Greg went to the Northwest from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, IN. where he served as the Director of IT for 8 years. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard primarily with the Analytical Group working out of San Francisco,Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Greg's passion as a CIO in Higher Education came from his belief that Technology can benefit Teaching & Learning.

Posted on April 22, 2013, in academic, Education, Higher Education, technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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