Thursday, February 09, 2012

Megatrends for New Academia

Teeth grinding at the idea, but really no better way to express this than "new academia" (think: new media). The Chronicle's coverage of the New Media Consortium's 10 megatrends for technology and education yields three big points. Frankly, the NMC buried the lede with a ton of networking kumbaya in the first points of the list.

Point eight, in my opinion, should be much higher:

The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere

It speaks to what makes the difference in regular media -- the value-added nature of news. To repeat a meme, if The Book of Knowledge makes everything searchable, the sage becomes the person or organization who can make the facts make sense.

Which leads to part nine:

Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia — and worldwide.

Our credentials are all we have -- because learning, not unlike music and eventually video-based media, is escaping the previous gated communities. I have to wonder if a millennium from now society will look back upon the way that the university held knowledge and teaching and compare it to the days in which the monks, scribes and priests held religion before Gutenberg broke open literacy.

So if you were building to a crescendo, point 10 should scare hell out of universities:

Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.

This point goes on to focus on the publishing aspect -- think libraries and university presses. They need to see a wider vista. There will always be a market for brick and mortar -- whether it is records or books or instruction. But we are on the cusp of a generational change in just how much traditional higher education is required.

Tower. Borders. Blockbuster.

Local newspapers. Local network affiliates.

Cassandra, maybe.

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