As I travel around discussing my book, Harnessing America’s Wasted Talent: A New Ecology of Learning , I see a widely diverse group of people. This past week, I participated in panel discussions at three meetings. And, after the third, I realized that, despite the diversity of audiences, there had been a surprising convergence of thinking on the need to re-think post-secondary education significantly. Using Clayton Christiansen’s analysis as represented in” Disrupting College”, a report prepared for the Center for American Progress , some of the re-thinking will take the form of sustainable change (like Carol Twigg’s Center for Academic Transformation, go to www.agb.org and click on Annual Meeting to see her presentation) and some will be truly disruptive in nature (see www.straighterline.com.) .
Regardless of how it is tempered, however, talk about change is in the air. People are saying things out loud that used to be unsaid, then whispered. I have created a list of organizational and reform ideas for post-secondary education that arose in each meeting and that were discussed seriously. Although it is not an encyclopedic list, it represents several elements in the “change thinking” that is gaining momentum. I will list them here and then blog on each over the next few weeks.
· Focus on attainment, not just completion
· Learning outcomes lie at the heart of quality assurance in the 21st century
· Increased productivity (one example - www.knext.com )
· Increased effectivess (www.mckinsey.org - sso.mckinsey.com/UShighereducation)
· Increased efficiency - www.snhu.edu/ (3 year BA in Business- honors)
· A false dichotomy - Focus on both skills and intellectual development
· Third party benchmarks for learning assessment
· The transformational role that the IT “tool”, social networking, and OER bring to the table.
· A new economics of assessment.
Over the next several weeks I will try to present each of these, and some of them in combination, to deepen our conversation about the changing world in which higher education operates and some of the changes, potentials and possibilities it presents. I look forward to any feedback or conversation that comes.