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Prof. Dan Ryan from Mills College posted another thoughtful piece on #FutureHigherEd, posing the question what will the regulation of academic quality look like in a Flat World?

We can imagine the emergence of both disruptive skill/knowledge certifying enterprises that operate at the individual level and certification accrediting enterprises that operate at the program level.  To generate a healthy ecosystem of such “regulators” we will need to think not in terms of government regulation of educational institutions but rather of some collective regulation of regulators.

Ryan has in mind a collection of marketplace solutions that together will: :

  • free institutions to be more innovative in how they deliver learning
  • provide clearer signals to potential students about what institutions are most effective
  • provide clearer signals to employers, etc. about what people know
  • push one another to create ever more efficient and effective ways to assess teaching and learning and the organization of education
  • free individuals to acquire skill through multiple channels but still obtain recognizable credentials.

In short, these are reforms that should foster innovation.  It was the first thing that occurred to me in 2012 when the MOOC phenomenon started to reshape my thinking about technology-enabled learning:

Letting learning outcomes speak for themselves in a Linked-In network of referrals, accrediting course repositories rather than institutions, and crowd-sourcing ratings to help students choose among competing courses and curricula are all experiments that are under way.  Whatever their outcome, the future of accreditation will not be the same.

I was pretty critical of accrediting agencies back then, but over the past four years I have found myself returning over and over again to the idea that the same Flat World rules that inspired Dan Ryan can also breathe some new life into this necessary part of education:

Accreditation is, well, boring. Accreditors are the green eye shade players in the drama of higher education.  It’s hard to get excited about green eye shades, but today—improbably—I  find myself excited by accreditation. To be more exact, I am excited about what will replace it.

 

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Today’s #FutureHigherEd post is by Mills College professor Dan Ryan, who teaches a course on how to use design thinking to improve higher education. Prof. Ryan asks whether an idea can be innovative if someone else is already doing it.

It’s a question that is interesting in its own right. The bottom line is that it is not only OK, there’s virtually no other way to make progress. A few years ago, Mike Brown at Brainzooming wrote about how to steal (borrow) creative ideas with a clear conscience:

Ryan’s students went looking for innovative ideas to borrow from other schools and came up with an interesting list, including:

Mike Brown thinks this is the basis for creative instigation, the process of searching intentionally for ideas that can instigate your own creative activities as you sculpt, adapt, and reassemble them into solutions that are meaningful and relevant to your circumstances.

Do you think this is a missed opportunity for educational innovators?  My experience is that ideas originating off-campus (or, shudder, from other industries) have a hard time competing with local ideas.  Think N-I-H: Not Invented Here. Why is the N-I-H syndrome such a powerful force? How much better off would we be if we routinely built on the work of others?

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Today’s post from the openIDEO #FutureHigherEd Challenge is from my very own institution.  It concerns Georgia Tech’s Commission on Creating the Next In Education (CNE), a group that has been asked to look out ten years or more (well beyond any planning horizon) and recommend investments, experiments, pilots, projects, partnerships, and ecosystems that would help guide the choices of future leaders to maintain or even improve the Institute’s  mission to provide the best and most valuable education to new generations of learners:

Georgia Tech’s mission to define the technological university of the 21st century is not strategic boilerplate. It is a beacon. It is tempting to conclude that future success will follow from continuing the successful strategies of the last 130 years — that the same beacon will attract new generations of scholars and students. That may be true, but it is equally likely that the Georgia Tech student of 2030 will be different in fundamental ways from the student of generations past. The changing landscape of a Georgia Tech education is evident to anyone who looks at the numbers.

Armed with extensive data and a charge from the Institute, CNE will have a rare luxury: adequate time to develop ideas that might be acted upon. The mid-21st century is well beyond Georgia Tech’s current planning horizon. The Commission’s role is not to engage in premature planning but rather to consider the ideas, experiments, and novel ways of organizing that can inform future strategy…

“The Commission will lead Institute-wide discussions of fundamental questions surrounding topics such as the knowledge 21st century students should gain and how sustained lifelong learning differs from the transformational learning experience of recent high school graduates. In a sense, CNE is an opportunity to deepen the knowledge needed for the Georgia Tech community to pursue strategic ‘options’ that can be exercised over the next 20 years.

Do you know of any other efforts that have this scope and charge?  If so, how did those projects turn out?  Is there advice you can give to the Georgia Tech team as it enters its ideation phase?

Bryan Alexander

Let me share some stories about higher education from this week.  These aren’t technology stories, not futuristic accounts.  Instead each anecdote illustrates the enormous financial pressures squeezing most of American colleges and universities.  None of them are unusually dramatic: no closures in this post, no queen sacrifices.  Just the steady ratcheting up towards crisis.

Item: the University of Massachusetts Boston told 400 adjuncts that they might not be rehired this fall.  That is about one third of the campus instructional staff, and more than half of the non-tenured faculty:

There are 1,271 total full- and part-time faculty, according to university officials. About 775 of those are nontenure track, about 400 of whom have received notices that they might not have jobs in the fall.

Note that this comes after fall classes are already on the books.  See, things are in flux:

Although many adjuncts have already been scheduled for classes…

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL–(Marketwired – May 10, 2016) –  Campus Technology Conference, an higher education technology event produced by LRP Conferences, LLC, an affiliate of LRP Publications, today announced Richard DeMillo, Ph.D., computer scientist, author, and executive director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, will be the Opening Keynote presenter for the 23rd annual higher education technology event. Setting the tone for the four-day event being held Aug. 1 – 4, 2016 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, DeMillo’s presentation, A Revolution in Higher Education: Tales From Unlikely Allies, will explore the complex issues confronting contemporary institutions and how unexpected partners are working together to transform higher education.

Source: Campus Technology Reveals Dr. Richard DeMillo to Keynote 2016 Conference

MSR Selingo Demillo

Affordable access to quality higher education has been a cornerstone of American life since the nation’s founding. American higher education is admired around the world as a model of excellence and innovation, but there is a consensus today that higher education in the U.S. is not on a sustainable path. My books Abelard to Apple and Revolution in Higher Education (both from MIT Press) chronicled the events that led to the current state of affairs and describe an optimistic but much changed ecosystem for higher education.

There are no simple solutions to the problems plaguing colleges and universities. A small band of innovators has taken up the challenge, launched a revolution and has started to remake higher education. The result will be a new, more sustainable ecosystem. Technology holds the key to innovation in higher education. I want to describe the world that the innovators are building, using as examples the innovations like the ecosystem pioneered at Georgia Tech, powered by online education, unexpected partnerships, business reinvention and a willingness to disrupt the status quo. What will the University of the 21st Century Look like? It will be very different from the ones we attended.

Join Jeff Selingo, best-selling author of College (un)Bound and There Is Life After College for our on-stage discussion in Redmond at Microsoft Research of what the revolution is all about.

Video courtesy of Microsoft press here.