Chiqui wrote an excellent — and fun to read — review of the book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamanetz. Check it out:
The book taps into a number of recurrent themes about the imminent demise of conventional higher education — especially the idea that technology (in this case the internet) renders traditional universities obsolete. Who needs to pay 40K a year to go to Stanford, since everyone can watch Kahn Academy videos on Youtube for free?
Chiqui provides a gentle rejoinder, reminding us that universities are deeply institutionalized certification systems that may not easily be supplanted:
“The future, Kamenetz knows for sure, belongs to personal networks, not to the certifying dinosaurs.But therein lies the rub. To truly undercut universities, one must undermine their certification clout. Kamenetz imagines this will happen because technology allows us to peer into universities and classrooms and see results. We indeed can see results with respect to a narrow domain of skills. But as regards a broader range of more complex qualities – what she calls the “pearl inside the oyster” – results are murky. And it is precisely this uncertainty that will continue to give universities and their diplomas the edge over personal learning networks and their portfolios.”
Anyhow, it is definitely worth thinking about the role of technology in transforming higher education. But, Chiqui’s review reminds us not to forget about the institutional centrality of universities in the process.