(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Of course, Edley is right and his opponents have their heads buried in the sand. Remember, you heard it here first:
The only question in my mind is how long it will be until an elite player has the necessary vision to defect from the comfortable cartel. Several universities have the means to do this, and could receive philanthropic help to do so. Attention Oxford and Cambridge: it wouldn’t require an American university to pull this off. A British university could put out a low-cost version of this, and unlike their American counterparts, they aren’t swimming in resources.
This is not what Berkeley is doing. At least, not yet. Their approach seems like a more limited foray into the use of technology to lower higher education costs, given that their state government benefactor is completely bankrupt and dysfunctional to boot. I’m amused by the resistance. Guess what Berkeley reactionaries: if you don’t start down this course, someone else is going to do it to you.
I bounced my theory that it is only a matter of time until an elite private university begins offering tuition free online degrees under a Google financial model off of two executives from a private for-profit online university a few months ago. Their response:
“We know it is coming. We are trying to figure out what to do about it.”
Jay has touched on the impact of general fiscal calamity and specifically Obamacare will have in moving states to consider innovative approaches for lowering costs in education. After a recent conference in Las Vegas, Patrick Gibbons of the Nevada Policy Research Institute summed it up:
Dr. Greene didn’t make this point to scare people away from Obamacare. He was pressing a point about the financial imperative of using existing resources more efficiently to provide a better system of public education. We have to reform, because public education is simply unsustainable in its current form.
I wrote recently about the Carpe Diem charter school’s successful use to boost strongly boost academic scores while fundamentally incorporating technology into the education model. The good in all of this is that while creative destruction is painful, the fact is that we can get better schools and better universities out of it. International comparisons show that American K-12 schools spend lavishly and teach ineffectively. American universities, in my opinion, tend to be overpriced, overrated and blissfully unconcerned with student learning or their own ever-increasing costs. If ever there were two sectors in more dire need of a shakeup, I would be hard pressed to think of better examples than American K-12 and American academia.