A decade ago, Ernst and Young led a strategic visioning retreat for the technical college where I worked. Over three days, a mix of college leadership and faculty met in a big room high above the Atlanta scene, looking out over both the city and Stone Mountain in the distance. The room was reconfigured each day with moveable white board walls and comfortable furniture. Toys and books lay scattered around the floor. We spent time drawing our visions on the walls and then looking for common themes.
Their Australian branch has a study out on “The University of the Future.” While focused on Australian universities – the study interviewed 40 Australian leaders from public and private universities as well as policy makers – I believe that the lessons are applicable to higher education worldwide. It noted that higher education is a “…thousand year old industry on the cusp of profound change.”
In the report, they state that change will be driven by five trends:
- Democratization of knowledge and access
- Contestability of markets and funding
- Digital technologies
- Global mobility
- Integration with industry
Any of us in higher education could probably agree that these trends are not coming…they are already here. From the perspective of E&Y, universities will need to adapt, creating leaner business models and concentrating resources on a smaller range of programs. They see universities transforming into three broad lines of evolution:
- Streamlined Status Quo – broad-based public teaching and research institutions
- Niche Dominators – tailored education, research and service for specific customer segments
- Transformers – private providers for new markets
Ernst and Young laid out a framework for assessing and designing a “university future model.”
The model explores higher education as a whole, but it opens up for me questions about each course and each faculty member…and their own approach to teaching. Teaching today should not be about a steamlined status quo. To be future-proof, I would suggest that we lean more towards the concepts behind the niche dominators or transformers. My 30-Day Challenge question for today:
Day 26 – How do I make my course future proof?
By future proof, I mean that I have made my course a space for connections and learning…not a three-credit credential. My course would be relevant (a moving target) and grow in students the digital skills they will need to be competitive in their future…no matter the field or place. My course would integrate ideas developed globally…and help students find their voice in a global world. I do not want my students to “pass”…I want them to be so distinctive that they stand out. My course should be an opportunity for students to brand themselves. My students should embody what Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead stated:
“You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”
To me, this suggests playing in the open…using the affordances of the digital web. While my course might have a start date and a date in which grades are submitted, students would be welcome to stay, continue playing, and play with those that come after them. The course would be in perpetual beta as I and my students continually updated it to keep it relevant.
Maybe it is….