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The Future of Colleges & Universities: Blueprint for Revolution by Thomas Frey



The Future of Colleges & Universities: Blueprint for Revolution by Thomas Frey


    What do you think? Are the current college students the last generation for which “going to college” means packing up, getting a dorm room and listening to tenured professors?


Frey contends that a revolution is coming in the form of:

a) learning will be separated from classrooms b) courses will be created on-demand any-place delivery of courses d) professors independent contractors working for multiple institutions e) accreditation shifts from institution to course and individual and f) textbooks will disappear.


Colleges have staked out their territory as conveyors of wisdom and culture from generation to generation. Is the future role of college to serve as the champion of forward progress and the defender of what is possible? Forces of tradition favor status quo and forces of next generation learning favor non-status quo…will colleges become the checks and balance for the status quo?


Cultural Forces behind Changes that Lie Ahead

  • Colleges are pricing themselves out of existence
  • Customer perceived value – outcomes are defining the value – employment?
  • Cultural shifts – reputation of the college is branded by word of mouth over social media. Desired attributes: community, collaboration, co-creation, empathy, meaning and authenticity.
  • Disruptive technology – online education is set to overtake traditional education


Additional Social Shifts to Consider

  • The “Good Enough” Revolution - SRI International research suggests students learn more from online learning than classroom education
  • The Rise of the Community College
  • Scalable Professions – profs will soon work outside the wall of a single university
  • Scalable courses – i.e. Moodle currently boasts over 26 million users and 2.6 million courses
  • One-way communication is out – people want to participate, contribute and take ownership. Online forums with authors, experts and other readers…not just me and my book!
  • Your Education is Complete – This concept is biggest flaw in current system
  • Credit Fallacy – College credit earned at end of course for competence: Yet what competence gained from economics of knowledge and economics of experience?

So what does this all mean? Once college courses are converted to online it becomes a commodity. As a commodity, it can be reengineered with better graphics, better audio, improved styling, delivered through hand-held devises and marketed to different groups. Corporations will quickly invent faster, better, cheaper models of delivering college education. Colleges have enjoyed government-sanctioned protection of accreditation and degree-granting ability. This is soon to be under attack!


Disruptive Thinking

There will be interface devices that connect digital learning with the human mind.

  • Disruptive technology that connect digital learning with human mind: rapid courseware builders; student profiler & recommendation engine; courseware tablet; personal coaching devices; augmented reality simulators

Online courses will evolve to scalable, interactive products with global distribution—commodities-faster, better, cheaper and better equipping students for the future.

  • Disruptive business models: courseware aggregator; credit bank (consolidates any college level credits into master transcript); open accreditation (aggregates factors to determine viability); homeschooling your college education; future admissions (re-define university experience, high caliber student); research=courseware (research will become the “branded” product); lifetime membership (lifetime memberships for student life); educational colony (classroom space not needed; design around students’ need to work while they learn in companies).


Unlocking the Future (change) Through Research

  • Course development kits will abound to support multiple audience use
  • Tenured professors will freelance courses
  • Courseware rating systems add integrity to rapidly evolving system.
  • Research colleges will develop courses around their research which become a broadcast medium.
  • Educational colonies will form and re-form under a common theme whose buildings are remodeled into project spaces.
  • Colonies teams will be used for practical application of knowledge (run a business) where members create life long relationships.
  • Diplomas will be individualized.

Universities dance with the ordinary will end. They will now prepare “humanity for worlds unknown, preparing our minds for thoughts unthinkable, and preparing our resolve for struggles unimaginable.


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