Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Creation of the Future - The Role of the American University

Reading List

Frank H.T. Rhodes

Chapter 8 - The Cost of Higher Education p. 142-43
Technology Stasis
A second reason tuition has increased at a rate higher than price increases in other industries is that, unlike other business, universities have not yet applied new technologies to reduce instructional costs. Major corporations routinely use worldwide electronic networks to improve efficiency in every aspect of their businesses. Universities also make brilliant use of computers to advance science, to manage their business affairs, and to provide access to data banks; but, in their basic business of teaching resident students, they have not diverged much from the methods of Socrates, except that most faculty members have now moved inside. And student demand for e-mail, personal Web pages, Internet access, on-line databases, and electronic communication with their professors has actually increased costs. Still, as described in Chapter 11, information technology has the potential to increase access, improve quality, foster new partnerships, and reduce costs.But most faculty members, most universities, and most professional practitioners are not yet prepared for the transformation that distance learning will bring. Almost all universities are already testing new ways to apply technology to teaching; however, part of the reason why college costs regularly outpace inflation is that massive change has not yet begun. The social interactions and intellectual cross-pollination of the campus, which are essential components of any meaningful undergraduate education, are not easily replicated in cyberspace.

Chapter 11 - Information Technologyp. 207
Entertainment, communication, shopping, banking, travel, marketing, design, manufacturing, health care, and news: all these and more are being transformed by Information Technology (IT) and the Internet. This ongoing revolution, gathering momentum before our eyes, promises to reshape almost every aspect of our lives. Yet, paradoxically, the research universities, which created and developed much of the new communications technology, have – unlike business and industry – been slow to apply it to their mainstream activities. Certainly, the use of computers has improved research and professional practice in every field, and has revolutionized information storage and access for faculty and students alike, while it has facilitated university business operations and management. The business of learning, however, remains largely untouched by this revolutionary technology. Most instruction is still a cottage industry, little influenced as yet by the benefits and support of modern technology. It is as though an industry had computerized its business and management activities, but left its manufacturing operations and sales distribution essentially unchanged and unimproved.

Increased Access p. 208
Distributed learning is likely to give many more students access to the university and college courses. Nor is it only individuals who will be enrolled; corporations, government agencies, and institutions are all likely to become institutional members of this larger alliance. Changing technology and new skills will require not only a more skilled workforce (the Department of Commerce projects that 60 percent of the workers in the twenty-first century will need computing skills that only 22 percent now have) but a workforce with constantly updated and upgraded skills. (It has been suggested that degrees should have an expiration date!) This will require less emphasis on linear, sequential programs and formal degrees schemes and more on ad hoc, short-term access to knowledge in modules, workshops, and interactive electronic programs. Time, distance, and institutional resources will no longer be barriers to this access as learning partnerships become the norm.

Improved Qualityp. 209
Studies of comparative pass rates for students taught in on-line and traditional settings suggest the superiority of the former. At California State University, Fullerton, for example, the use of a “mediated software” on-line program in remedial algebra increased the pass rate form less than 50 percent to more than 70 percent. This does not mean, of course, that the results of every course at every level will be similar, though all are likely to benefit from increased emphasis on educational outcome as opposed to input.

Expanded scope of curriculum. p. 209
Information technology will allow enrichment of the curriculum. "Visiting" lecturers; improved ongoing evaluation, "visits" to museums, factories, historic sites, and other localities in every part of the world; interactive access to symposia and legislative hearings; discussions with practitioners, leaders, and mentors in every area; CD-ROM access to performances, archives, libraries, collections, and data banks; multimedia visualization; group studies; simulations of medical diagnosis and treatment; scientific experiments; business decisions; and environmental constraints - all these will be readily available.

Increased personalization and flexibility. p. 209
The old degree structure and instructional style assumed that one size would fit all, that a single learning pattern would serve all. New technology will allow the instructor to personalize the courses so as to recognize the differing educational needs, capacity, and interests of the students. Monitoring will be continuous, with the emphasis on capacities and skills, as well as the retention of information. Many students will enter a lifelong learning contract with the institution, providing updated information and continuing access to faculty members, campus programs, and events.

Greater Group Interaction. p. 209
The student will become a member of an extended class, international in its membership, cosmopolitan in its interests. Student participation and group interaction have been shown to increase under this system. The walls of the traditional classroom will collapse, as it ceases to be a confined space, an isolated island, and becomes a node on a worldwide network, in real-time contact with other scholars, practitioners, resources, and remote sites.

Expanded access to vital information. p. 209
The requirement for continuing professional recertification and the growing demand for access to databases (from poison treatment to new synthetic materials) will place growing demands on, and provide new opportunities for, service by the university. Will this reduce costs? Perhaps, although developing courses and databases is costly. What it will certainly do is increase access and improve service for industry, for health care providers, for government officials, and for the public at large, for whom the benefit will be substantial.

Growing Partnershipsp. 210
Information technology will create new institutional partnerships, not only with students, but also with corporations such as publishers and software manufacturers. Information will become a shared commodity, selected, packaged, and employed for particular users and tastes. The design of programs will be two-way, with users as well as providers initiating new projects characterized by their timeliness, responsiveness, flexibility, and competitiveness. Subcontracting for specific courses and services is likely to increase.

Teaching and Technology p. 212
The scale of these operations is dwarfed by that of several mega-universities already in existence, which use remote teaching techniques such as televised courses and the Internet to reach a huge audience with quality instruction, often at a fraction of the unit cost of conventional research universities. Turkey’s Anadolu University, for example has 578,000 students and a unit cost of one-tenth that of the average for other universities in that country. China’s TV University has 530,000 students; Indonesia’s Terbuka University 353,000. Eleven countries have such mega-universities, each with more than 100,000 students. Such programs do not have to be of low quality: Britain’s Open University, which has 157,000 students and a unit cost of 50 percent that of other universities in the United Kingdom, and which pioneered massive distance learning, ranked tenth our of seventy-seven universities in a national survey of teaching Quality.

Chapter 13 - The New Universityp. 230-1
The “learning industry” is about to face the same wrenching “restructuring” that health care, manufacturing, and other industries, as well as welfare and other public services, have already undergone. Mergers, acquisitions, and strategic alliances are likely to become unwelcome additions to the academic vocabulary. So are the terms “downsizing” and “outsourcing.” Those pressures on the university will be intensified by growing demands to retain the growth of t tuition and other costs, which still continue to rise at rates well above the general level of inflation. Whether public or private, universities are now seeing growing resistance to the remorseless rise in tuition and other costs. The cost reductions described in Chapter 8, although they will help reduce cost levels, will not eliminate the larger problem of continuing rapid cost increases. Only structural changes can do that, and those changes will require painful choices and difficult decisions. Universities will be faced with the need to reduce costs by purchasing or contracting out some of their services and “components”, for example, just as industry has already done. Several universities already do this in a modest way, contracting out their investment management, catering services, cleaning services, and computer services, for example. But bigger changes are likely to follow, with contracting for some educational services (elementary language or mathematics instruction, perhaps) and widespread adoption of computer-assisted instructional programs produced elsewhere.

p. 232
The young Stanford Ph.D., recruited to a small, isolated liberal arts college in Nebraska, will remain an active member of a Stanford-based research team, rather than starting from scratch, with meager resources and inadequate facilities.The race here will go not only to the swift but also to the nimble. And the research universities will need to shed their traditional torpor if they are to establish the standards and provide the substance of this new world of learning.

p. 233
Universities tend to share a model of internal governances that is medieval and ecclesiastical in its origins, nomenclature, and offices (deans, rectors, provosts, chancellors, congregations, etc.) and cumbersome and conservative in its operations. It does provide a measure of collegiality that is prized, but it is inflexible and ponderous in an age that requires institutions to be nimble and adaptive. The successful university of the future will be on in which the cherished prerogatives of faculty governance are supplemented by more creative engagement by the governing board and more decisive presidential leadership.

p. 237
The successful university will be academically independent but constructively partnered.
No institution, however wealthy, can”do it all.”

p. 238
The successful university will be technologically sophisticated but community dependent.

p. 239
The challenge for the university is to match the vastness of the opportunities provided by the new technology with the boldness of vision to employ it in wholly new ways. Harnessing all the power of new information technology, both on the campus and in distance learning, the new American university will display a greater dependence on the power of the scholarly community in both teaching and research.Universities have too readily assumed that because quality is priceless, cost is no object, that no support level could ever be fully adequate for their needs. A new commitment to both excellence and cost-effectiveness will be required across the campus.

It is in this context that the unbundling of traditional campus function is likely to merge as a major issue.

Unmanageable U.p. 240-1
The expanded university would embrace more functions and educate more students of all ages, levels and locations: serve more clients in more tasks; enlist more partners; employ more people – an army of new professionals in a bewildering variety of new areas, garnering its support from a legion of different sources. Global in its membership, its clientele, its governance, and its programs, it would be open to the work, networking everything, everywhere, day and night, with the boundaries between teaching, research, and service increasingly blurred. The residential community would be exploded, replaced by scores of overlapping communities, both virtual and real, forming and dissolving around particular short-term tasks and longer-term functions. Freewheeling in its enterprise, it would be accountable o a host of different paymasters; lucrative contracts, pro bono service, for-profit ventures, reimbursed studies, targeted corporate R and D, paid government surveys, franchised agreements, money-losing dreams, profitable contract services would mingle together, jostling each other across the sprawling balance sheet. The campus would become boundless, its reach limitless, its ambitions infinite, its thinking expansive, its focus diffused, its disciplinary barriers reduced, its tension increased. It would be a challenging, restless, undisciplined, freewheeling, sprawling, exciting place.

Unimaginable U. p. 241
In the past, universities have frequently made such decisions by indecision; direction has been determined by indeterminate drift; and long-term policy – such as it has been – has involved a varying mixture of territorialism, opportunism, competition, absent-mindedness, and greed.