In the forthcoming Macrowikinomics, Don Tapscott and I will be arguing that we’ve gone beyond wikinomics to a more encompassing societal shift as businesses and communities bypass crumbling institutions and old ways of doing business. A lot of things are set to change: the way we produce and consume energy; how governments and financial institutions operate; how we education our children and care for the sick; how we tackle global issues like climate change and bolster nascent freedoms in undemocratic nations.
Of course, the university is among the institutions we are tackling. As a bit of sneak preview, we have a feature article in the Educause Review. Here’s a clip:
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. Many people have written about this topic, in EDUCAUSE Review and other publications. 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.
Now is also a time of great opportunity, and there is a steady stream of proposals for change. Some say the web enables distance learning and the elimination of campuses. Others argue that we need more technology in higher education or that colleges should be opened up and be made free to all. There are renewed calls to abolish tenure and even to replace traditional departments with a new set of problem-focused disciplines.10
The trouble is that most of the ideas being bantered about don’t address the fundamental problems with the university or show a way forward. Rather, change is required in two vast and interwoven domains that permeate the deep structures and operating model of the university: (1) the value created for the main customers of the university (the students); and (2) the model of production for how that value is created. First we need to toss out the old industrial model of pedagogy (how learning is accomplished) and replace it with a new model called collaborative learning. Second we need an entirely new modus operandi for how the subject matter, course materials, texts, written and spoken word, and other media (the content of higher education) are created.