Will your university exist in 20 years? Perhaps not, writes Zephyr Teachout in a fascinating piece in the Washington Post.
Teachout makes the argument that the Internet is positioned to revolutionize higher education, much like it has already impacted news gathering organizations, specifically newspapers.
The popularity of cheaper online classes has been skyrocketing in recent years, putting pressure on universities to rethink how they do business.
Teachout writes: "Online qualifications cost a college less to provide. Schools don't need to rent the space, and the glut of doctoral students means they can pay instructors a fraction of the salary for a tenured professor, and assume that they will rely on shared syllabuses.
"Those savings translate into cheaper tuition, and even before the recession, there was substantial evidence of unmet demand for cheaper college degrees. Online degrees are already relatively inexpensive. And the price will only dive in coming decades, as more universities compete."
Teachout suggests that there will eventually be aggregation of online classes, similar to the Internet model of news, where "the article" is separated from "the newspaper." This will lead to fewer researchers and professors.
Teachout writes that "at noon on any given day, hundreds of university professors are teaching introductory Sociology 101. The Internet makes it harder to justify these redundancies. In the future, a handful of Soc. 101 lectures will be videotaped and taught across the United States.
"When this happens — be it in 10 years or 20 — we will see a structural disintegration in the academy akin to that in newspapers now. The typical 2030 faculty will likely be a collection of adjuncts alone in their apartments, using recycled syllabuses and administering multiple-choice tests from afar."
Teachout writes that "within the next 40 years, the majority of brick-and-mortar universities will probably find partnerships with other kinds of services, or close their doors."
Thanks to Pam.