In the current issue of EDUCAUSE Review, Anthony D. Williams and I have a 6,000-word essay discussing the urgent issues facing universities, that left unresolved, would see intuitions of higher learning going into a death spiral akin to what we see happening to encyclopedias, newspapers, and music record labels.
For fifteen years, we’ve been arguing that the digital revolution will challenge many fundamental aspects of the university. We have not been alone. In 1997, none other than Peter Drucker predicted that big university campuses would be “relics” within thirty years.
Universities are losing their grip on higher learning as the Internet is, inexorably, becoming the dominant infrastructure for knowledge — both as a container and as a global platform for knowledge exchange between people — and as a new generation of students requires a very different model of higher education. The transformation of the university is not just a good idea; It is an imperative, and evidence is mounting that the consequences of further delay may be dire.