Archive for July, 2012

The attempted ouster of UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan has sparked a firestorm of attention to issues of change in higher education, which has been followed by a rush of commentary on how much higher education needs to change, how resistant to change it is, how models for change in business should be applied, etc. For me, it’s been instructive to talk with reporters who are struggling to understand the clash of visions on display at UVA and to see how little they understand about how much higher education is changing. Many reporters and commentators also seem to lack any understanding of shared governance and the academy’s traditional reliance on faculty judgment to guide change.

As I’ve been fielding call after call about UVA, I’ve also seen one press release after another announcing new initiatives to develop more efficient pathways to college degrees and credentials (e.g., flexible online degree programs for returning students, online general education courses that are fully transferable across systems, and new ways to get degrees by earning credit for prior learning or for just passing tests). All these new “disruptive innovations” are motivated in some way or another by the need to increase the numbers of successful college graduates and increase our “productivity.”  Surely, some of these “disruptive innovations,” many of which make use of the latest information technologies, might indeed prove useful in serving some portion of the college-going population. But I can’t help but wonder: where is the discussion about what quality learning really means in today’s world, and where is the evidence that these newly proposed innovations will actually provide students with the learning they need to be college-educated people?  Where is the evidence that they improve productivity and reduce costs? Read the rest of this entry »

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