University Presidents on Irrelevance

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, May 16, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Wiley mixes the results of a survey of 1,000 university presidents with some lessons from scripture to argue (reasonably) that there are, and will always will be, some wealthy elite colleges with well-prepared students that have nothing to worry about from new models of education, but that these institutions can have a powerful voice in effecting change. He also remarks, in passing, that "MOOCs and their like are not the answer to higher education's problems" because they require the best and most motivated students, not those who have never been, or who have been and failed. "Don't expect to see them displacing your local community or technical college any time soon." Except that - I would say - the less likely you are to need a specific degree or credential, the more likely a MOOC or MOOC-like approach is already being used to provide training and education. Meanwhile, in brighter news, these university presidents are beginning to see the writing on the wall. "We're staring fundamental change in the face," said Stephen R. Portch, a former chancellor of the University System of Georgia. "Our system is bankrupt, and we've got to have a new model." See also coverage from a new Pew Research Center survey on whether college is worth it.
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