Debunking the Myth about a Creative Destruction of Higher Education with Technology as the Driver

Contact North, Mar 11, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The central premise of this post is that "while it is the case that technology is sneaking into the nooks and crannies of the post-secondary system, it is not producing transformative change." Looking at the evidence itself - from the structure of universities to the nature of assessment - the author argues that little has changed in universities. The author also identifies several reasons for the "stasis" seen in the system, things ranging from government funding, collective agreements and faculty resistance. My view is different. I don't think we can look inside the system for signs of change - it will remain static right up to the last moment. We have to look outside for the trends which will produce a 'sudden' crisis in the system. MOOCs, for example, produced little change inside universities - big surprise! - but took the world outside universities by storm, signifying several latent trends building up in momentum. People in universities will think that credentialing and government funding will keep them static - right up to the moment they don't. Mark me on this.

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