[EDUCATION] Is the innovators’ dilemma coming to higher ed?

An interesting fact:

“In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today….[…]… Four years after Dow invented his average, a group of 14 leading research institutions created the Association of American Universities. All of them exist today.” (fromThe Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak)

The article goes on to talk about where Higher Ed’s staying power has come from: 

“I think that rule is going to change, and soon. Many factors explain the endurance of higher education institutions—the ascent of the knowledge economy, their crucial role in upper-middle class acculturation, our peculiar national enthusiasm for college sports—but the single greatest asset held by traditional colleges and universities is their exclusive franchise for the production and sale of higher education credentials.  (fromThe Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak)

The question arises: how long will those credentials continue to be worth so much money? Every day we read in the paper about a new educational entrepreneur (yours truly included) who wants to offer valuable and relevant educational opportunities outside the University walls, to bring it to a wider and underserved cohort, and for a more realistic cost.

I love teaching at Brandeis University and hope to continue doing it for a long while to come. At the same time I believe there is a major unmet demand from Computer Science students and career changers for a super intense introduction to what I like to call Applied Computer Science, with a strong focus on doing and building products. I feel that what we are trying to achieve is a clear part of the trends covered in The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak)

On the importance of learning to work in teams

David Colletta shared this link in comments to my recent post about team work. David’s link was good enough that I thought I should excerpt it to increase the chances that my colleagues and students at Brandeis see it.

Here’s an excerpt from it:

“However, the most rewarding experiences I had were when I was actively collaborating with others on the H-Store and Relational Cloud projects. We achieved more than I could have by myself, I learned more than I would have by myself, and most importantly: it is more fun to work with others. You have people to commiserate with when papers get rejected, celebrate with when you submit them, and to help you with tough problems. […]

“[…] To make this happen, you need to be willing to make compromises, build relationships and find mutual interests. You either need to work on someone else’s idea, or convince someone to work on your idea. Ideally, when you find a really great collaborator, you will discuss and revise a concept until you find a version that you both like. I think making these sacrifices is worth it, and in retrospect, I should have done more of it.” (from Farewell to MIT)

I am a passionate believer that a solid undergraduate education must include such experiences. To belittle them as “vocational” or “you can just learn that on the job” is short sighted and short changes everyone.

My personal knowledge is of Computer Science but the same I am sure can be said for other disciplines as well.