Universities Ripe to become Woodstocks of Education?

March 8th, 2013

Living in a decade where number of graduates graduating in a year might be more than the number of graduates ever graduated in the human history, time has come for Universities and Colleges to re-evaluate their role in the future of education & pursuit of knowledge.

Congrats on graduating. Sorry we cannot hire you!

Graduate Inflation!

Graduates are suffering from what I call “dual forces of inflation” - on one hand we have too many graduates and on the other hand value of graduation is dropping by mile a minute. Jobs based economy is being sidelined by creation & collaboration based flat work environments.

Access Knowledge is no longer the concern!

Access Knowledge is no longer the concern!

With Knowledge Democratization happening across the industrial nations, how can Universities reinvent their role and continue to be relevant?

 

Universities are ripe to become Woodstocks of Education.

 

This blog is inspired by Thomas Friedman’s article about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) in New York Times.

Harvard Professor Michael Sandel visits Korea after a ton of Koreans learning from his “Justice” course via their national television. Professor Sandel lectures in Korea infront of 14,000 people – an opportunity that only opened up because of remote access to his amazing material to thousands of Koreans.

After a sold out album, rock group U2 did their U2 360 Tour in all the major stadiums for two years for their fans who already enjoyed their music album.

How different is what Professor Sandel did to what U2 or any Music group does? Not a whole lot.

 

What do I mean by Woodstocks of Education?

  • Students could visit various Universities to refine their knowledge learned via remote sources. Universities will start to shift to the next stage of learning – refining, polishing, experimenting and boot camps. 
  • Student Qualifications to come to these events will be based on frequent demonstration of their knowledge via standardized tests that are common for the current systems. With this, focus in current institutions is moved from providing “access” to knowledge to what can be done with the learning.
  • Professors with best online courses will attract the most attention and will also attract the brightest of the brightest students. So, unlike a music rockstar visiting your home town, students visit the Professor’s affiliated University to have that rich and immersive interaction.
  • Currently Universities are offering networking and incubation opportunities on top of their existing programs. The focus and emphasis will start to shift towards these new models over time. For example, while incubation, acceleration are in a sense 21st century version of vocational training programs, these will get upgraded to become the main staple of their existence.

Biggest knock against MOOC is lack of social interactions, networking abilities, co-located learning & collaboration. With Universities refining their models to foster “educational festivals”, that concern might be easily addressed.

With all these potential changes, its hard to imagine if the practice of getting “graduation degree” will stay the same. Employers need to look for something else other than a degree to assess their entry level employee qualifications. Could Entrepreneurship or some refined form of that play a role or filtering mechanism in future?

- This blog is intended to be provocative, drive discussion, ideation and ultimately action!

- @Vsistla