Friday, January 12, 2007

Is the game over for higher ed?

Where is all this going to go???
The world is changing very fast and from what I see higher education is really out of touch with trends in technology, society and business. I am beginning to wonder if traditional higher education (as we know it) can even respond to current trends in business and society fast enough to make a difference. I have been wondering, is it possible the game may already be over?

I think the future of higher education may be in virtual worlds. I think a Second Life-like "metaversity" could be a possible new way to approach higher education.

A virtual university could get its start as a "low market" disrupter serving folks unable to attend physical universities. In this way the metaversity would compete against non-consumption. It would not be seen as a threat to traditional institutions of higher education.

Traditional institutions of higher education may even see emerging metaversities as a blessing. They would allow brick and mortar universities to focus on higher profit students and move up-market without feeling guilt about folks who cannot afford the high cost of spiraling tuitions in traditional universities. Without competition, virtual metaversities would be free to prove themselves. Meanwhile Moore's law would be doing its thing expanding the capabilities of virtual worlds. At the same time social networking tools would also be maturing challenging the traditional socializing function of physical universities. The value of metaversities would increase. Fuel prices would also be going up. Increasingly the huge cost overhead of maintaing the physical plant involved in physical universities would become the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Folks who graduate from virtual metaversities would be at a competitive advantage in a connected workspaces characterized by virtual collaboration. Graduates from traditional universities would be disadvantaged in a Web 3.0 world.

The high-tech graduates skills and increased capabilities could hasten the move up-market of metaversities. Eventually you might see traditional universities close like last century's steel mills.

IMHO the only hope for universities is to embrace the customer and concentrate on the soft skills. But, meeting customer needs does not seem to be what we are doing well. From what I can see, that is our one best hope. From what I can see, that is not happening.

Of course by the time all this stuff I am talking about happens I will be outta here, in a physical world sense!

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