Will Higher Education Tip?
By Arnold Kling
A school in this Google model derives its identity from its faculty and curriculum, or its “software” while de-emphasizing the importance of its infrastructure, such as its classroom, library and other campus facilities. In other words, it is possible to provide a first-class education in a school without a full range of campus facilities (or maybe even a school without a traditional campus) as long as the curriculum gives students access to the right kind of critical thinking, formation and training. It used to be that to provide a first-class education required institutions to assemble all three components: faculty, library and classrooms. The Google model suggests that it is possible to re-conceive that structure entirely by shifting the focus to curriculum (and the necessary faculty to teach it) and then adapting whatever “hardware” is available to give the curriculum a platform.
Read the whole thing. Many years ago, I wrote that colleges are the only information-aged businesses that are making a big point of investing in physical plant. Weedman would call this the “hardware” model. His guess is that there is also room for a software model for higher education. I agree. And I think that once it gets traction, there will be a lot of tipping toward the software model, leaving the legacy colleges and universities with major problems. Kind of like Borders Books.