I am starting to get the feeling folks want us to change here in higher education. Moody’s (yep, the credit rating agency) downgraded higher education’s outlook in a report from January 16. Here is a summary of the story: http://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-2013-outlook-for-entire-US-Higher-Education-sector-changed–PR_263866. They essentially said our business models won’t work going forward, and we can’t keep raising tuition to fuel double-digit cost increases.. hmm.
It’s a different take than last year’s Carnegie report about business education, and how we have divorced business courses from liberal arts courses to our collective peril. Thomas Friedman had a NYT article a few days ago where he envisions a world in which students learn via MOOC (massive online open courses), take credentialing tests, and are declared “educated” when they pass those courses. That means they take the best courses from the best professors at the best schools, and then take a test. Wow.
What can we provide at traditional schools to show unique value? Well, since content is now being commodified, we have to provide a unique student experience and that means contact they could not get online. And we do a lot of that already here– building those relationships and individualized learning paths– but it is clear to me we need to institutionalize our efforts at this. MOOCs are threats, sure, but I am also energized by the focus they are forcing us to have. I am really happy to be at an institution that has all the right resources for special student experiences.
But reading about being downgraded.. well, that hurts!