What does it mean to be flattened? According to Thomas Friedman, in his book The World is Flat, the definition of flattened is “when the impact of the Internet and globalization render an industry unrecognizable and in some cases obsolete.” If his theory is true, the traditional higher education structure is in jeopardy.
In 1997, Peter Drucker predicted that the current model was unsustainable:
Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won't survive. It's as large a change as when we first got the printed book.
Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education is in deep crisis.
Mark Greenfield, higher education web developer and consultant, agrees that the standards will have to change in order for higher education to serve students in the future.
Another thing that higher ed is notorious for is inefficiencies. How many of you have thought about, ‘Are there any other industries where the physical plant sits empty for a third of the year?’
The reason for that goes back 100-plus years, when all the students were farmers and had to go back home and help on the farm. Not very many students are farmers these days, but we’re still in that mode.
The real question colleges need to ask themselves is, “How can we better prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow?” Is getting flattened a bad thing? According to Greenfield, it may be the kick in the pants we need.
Watch his talk at #140cuse, below.