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The future of universities

How are universities likely to be impacted by current technological trends? Two publications seek to address this question:

The Tower and the Cloud:

The emergence of the networked information economy is unleashing two powerful forces. On one hand, easy access to high-speed networks is empowering individuals. People can now discover and consume information resources and services globally from their homes. Further, new social computing approaches are inviting people to share in the creation and edification of information on the Internet. Empowerment of the individual — or consumerization — is reducing the individual’s reliance on traditional brick-and-mortar institutions in favor of new and emerging virtual ones. Second, ubiquitous access to high-speed networks along with network standards, open standards and content, and techniques for virtualizing hardware, software, and services is making it possible to leverage scale economies in unprecedented ways.

The Future of Higher Education:

Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today’s knowledge economy, the possibilities are great. Distance education, sophisticated learning-management systems and the opportunity to collaborate with research partners from around the world are just some of the transformational benefits that universities are embracing.

Both publications are technology-centric. I can understand that emphasis, after all, technology is changing the rest of the world, surely it will soon make a more significant impact in education. A view of educational change pressures needs to be more broad. Economic, societal, population trends, rise of education levels in emerging countries, may all apply as much influence in altering education as technology.