Public Higher Education is trapped in an unsustainable situation with teaching costs consistently going up at the same time that public funding is going down. This comes at a time when students of all income levels need higher education like never before, and the country needs more college grads in general, and those with science and technology training in particular. On the positive side, this also comes at a time when digital technologies have developed to a point where they truly can be applied to work their general magic of bringing cost savings and greater efficiencies not just to administration but to the core academic functions as well.
Who better than to lead this roundtable in Reinventing Higher Education than two top talents out of Silicon Valley: Kim Polese, a longtime tech entrepreneur and business leader, and Mohammad H. Qayoumi, President of San Jose State University.
Howard Rheingold’s roundtable on Reinventing Learning kept returning to a theme that’s a variation of writer William Gibson’s line that: The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.
Howard and all of the innovators in the discussion seemed to agree that the cornucopia of new digital learning tools based on the Internet has never been better and that pioneers in this space are enjoying unprecedented learning experiences. However, the learning experiences of the vast majority of people within most educational institutions remain largely unchanged and are barely taking advantage of the new possibilities.
So the bulk of the session focused on how to move more of the best practices of this new peer-to-peer learning into the more mainstream educational institutions, and how we might accelerate a broader systemic change to new kinds of flattened learning institutions that might emerge in the next 5 to 10 years.