Sweet Briar the Latest College to Get Flattened

I have been talking about higher education getting flattened for several years. My use of the word “flattened” comes from Tom Friedman’s book The World is Flat and is defined as “When the impact of the Internet and globalization render and industry unrecognizable, and in many cases, obsolete.”  We can now add Sweet Briar College as the latest example of a college getting flattened. There has been considerable media attention paid to the announcement last week that Sweet Briar College is closing.  Many people questioned if this was the only option given Sweet Briar’s had $84 million in its endowment. Others said the closing was not a surprise. You can count me in the latter group. As Peter Drucker said almost 20 years ago: Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. … 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 must adapt to the realities of the 21st century. We need to become more focused, more efficient, and provide better value.  Sweet Briar is not the first college to be flattened. They won’t be the last. Articles about Sweet Briar Sweet Briar: The Crack in the Faberge Egg MARK CUBAN: This is just the start of the college implosion Does Sweet Briar College Want To Survive? The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors College enrollment: Trouble signs Is Sweet Briar’s Closure a Warning Sign for Other Small Colleges? Shut Down Without a Fight  ...

Higher Education Gets Flattened at #UBtech

Next week I will be giving one of the featured talks at the UB Tech Conference in Orlando called “Higher Education Gets Flattened” and the timing couldn’t be better. I have been talking about this topic for the past 6 years but two interesting developments in recent weeks illustrate some of the fundamental changes coming to higher ed.  First was the news that students in competency-based academic programs would be eligible for federal financial aid.  This is a big deal, and will help enable a shift from “time served to stuff learned.”  Second was the announcement that Coursera is bringing online courses to 64-campus SUNY university system.  SUNY will be using Coursera as the platform for “Open SUNY” which hopes to enroll 100,000 new students in the coming years.  Consider the following quote: Coursera suggests that MOOCs could serve as for-credit courses, and SUNY — which currently enrolls nearly half of a million students — believes that one day students could earn upward of 1/3 of their credits from outside sources, such as MOOCs. IMHO, the historical importance of companies like Coursera is that they represent a move from a vertically integrated model to a horizontal model.  While the unbundling of higher education has been underway for quite some time, it has been primarily in student services such as housing and dining. Now we are seeing the unbundling of the core of the academic enterprise with companies like Coursera aggregating classes from multiple universities into a single platform.  As I talk with my colleagues who work in higher education,  many are completely unaware of the changes going on, and how...

The Flattening of SUNY

Two important news items came across my desk yesterday that has me thinking again about the flattening of higher education, something I started writing about back in 2007.  My use of the word “flattened” comes from Tom Friedman’s book The World is Flat and is defined as “When the impact of the Internet and globalization render and industry unrecognizable, and in many cases, obsolete.” We are seeing evidence of this in higher education including IT staff being laid off by the hundreds on a single campus, academic programs and tenured faculty being eliminated and, the one that hits closest to home, web positions being eliminated. The first news item was an announcement from SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher which provided details on how SUNY plans to share services among schools and the creation of SUNY Campus Alliance Networks.  To quote from the official SUNY announcement: Campus Alliance Networks call for collaboration on administrative functions – among leadership and within information technology or human resources, for example – while increasing efficiency and enhancing educational opportunities by making the business and academic resources of other campuses in the region available to students, faculty, and staff at each site. The second news item was a white paper from Deloitte called “Higher education must adapt to avoid ‘perfect storm’”. This report details how higher education is starting to function as a market economy and that higher education institutions must transform the way they do business. The report lists 10 areas that colleges and universities need to address to improve their performance. The first of these details how higher ed institutions are over budget and...

jboye and the end of the web

I’m looking forward to attending my 3rd jboye conference on May 3-5 in Philadelphia where I will be giving the opening keynote in the higher education track with my talk called It’s the End of the Web as We Know It (And I Feel Fine!). As I explain in the video clip below, the main theme will be about change and the implications when rapid technology change collides with the need to completely rethink our higher education system. I’d love to hear you feedback on the following questions: What will be the impact of the mobile web on higher ed? When will we see more traffic from mobile devices than pc’s? What are the implications for our profession when higher education gets flattened? (implodes) What role will the web team play in developing new pedagogies as higher ed adapts to the needs of the 21st century? (See Our Education System Was Built for a World that No Longer Exists) How much of our work will be outsourced (See Developing a Headache) This will be the 46th time I’ve given this talk. And while each version has been somewhat different, I’ve decided to make a major overhaul to my approach based on the fantastic book Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte. This is a must read for anyone who is interested in public speaking.  My approach is going to change from giving presentations to telling stories. I would encourage anyone involved with higher education web development to attend this truly unique conference.  It combined the best of large conferences (top-notch speakers) with the best of small...

Our Education System Was Built for a World that No Longer Exists

I was on Twitter earlier this week when the following tweet from Nick DeNardis (via Karine Joly) got my attention: I spent the next 15 minutes watching a very compelling TEDxNYEd Talk by Will Richardson. I have watched dozens of TED Talks and while they are all great, this one is now my personal favorite. If you work in education, if you have kids, or if you are simply concerned about our future, you must watch this video: Will had me at the first chord (literally). I loved the opening story of his daughter learning to play “Don’t Stop Believing” on the piano. That was me back in the early ’70’s when I was told I couldn’t learn how to play “Joy to the World” by an old-school piano teacher. I ultimately gave up piano lessons, I decision I regret to this day. If only I had an iPad and the Internet back then. Who knows where my musical career would have gone, especially since music was something I was very passionate about. While some people viewing this video will focus on the question of “testing”, for me the larger picture is what matters here. Yes – our education system was built for a world that no longer exists. As one of my favorite quotes goes: “The question isn’t if there should be laptops in lecture halls, the question is if there should be lecture halls in universities.” Memorable quotes from this talk include: This is the coolest moment to be a learner. Our kids can learn whatever they want, whenever they want and this is a big shift...

The Axe Man Cometh Preview #higheredlive

On Sunday, November 14 at 7:00 PM (eastern) I will be appearing on Higher Ed Live with Seth Odell.  The title of this episode is “When the Axe Man Cometh” and is based on a series of blog posts and speeches I have given over the last four years on “Higher Ed Web Development Gets Flattened, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New World Order”.  By flattened I mean when the impact of the internet and globalization render an industry unrecognizable, and in many cases obsolete. For example, this has happened to the music industry and the newspaper industry, and yes, I think it will happen to higher education as well. Let me share with you the genesis of my thoughts on this topic. In spring 2006, I was reading “The World is Flat” by Tom Friedman and I was stopped dead in my tracks when Friedman specifically mentioned how web programming would become a commodity and was a likely profession to get flattened.  A short time later I was reading Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” where he said that everyone needs to ask themselves three questions: Can someone overseas do it cheaper? Can a computer do it faster? Am I offering something in demand in the age of abundance? IMHO – the answers to questions one and two for higher education web professionals are yes. Many people have been predicting that higher education as we know it today does not have a future. The quote  I frequently use in my presentations is from Peter Drucker who has been called the greatest management thinker...