Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Newspapers are dying. Are universities next?

Writing in the current issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kevin Carey argues that both industries are in the business of creating and communicating information. and may be subject to the same market moves.

Newspapers are fading away – the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are gone, and the San Francisco Chronicle may not last the year. The New York Times’ debt has been downgraded to junk. The Tribune Company, owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, is bankrupt, as is the owner of the The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Universities today are as confident as newspapers were ten years ago, and the confidence by some may be justified. Says Carey, “Tony liberal-arts colleges and other selective private institutions will do fine, as will public universities that garner a lot of external research support and offer the classic residential experience to the children of the upper middle class.”

However, regional public universities, by contrast - the higher-education equivalents of the city newspaper - may be in real danger. To survive and prosper, says Carey, universities need to integrate technology and teaching in a way that improves the learning experience while simultaneously passing the savings on to students in the form of reduced tuition.

Students understand that there are better ways of learning than being the passive recipient of a one-way, one size fits all, teacher-focused model where the student is isolated in the learning process. When an entire generation is boycotting the formal model of pedagogy, the writing is in the wall.

No comments: