Schools That Learn LO22991

tabeles (
Mon, 25 Oct 1999 17:14:43 -0400

Replying to LO22972 --


a very thoughtful and perceptive response. yes, I must agree that there
are many who are striving to make changes in their institutions, at all
levels from K-16 and beyond. I think that K-12, currently, provides an
exciting arena for developing new ideas at the organizational level.

Where there are unresolved issues is at the post secondary or 13->16
institutions and some of this will spill backwards. The first issue is the
focus of the Colloquy in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education which
debates the issue of whether a virtual university can ever be certified as
equivalent to the traditional image of the "halls of ivy". In reality we
are seeing a host of new "industries" evolving including the extension of
K->12 to K->16, the reaffirmation of tradition in the medallion
institutions and a host of new alternatives which are very different from
any forms which have traditionally existed.

In some ways, with the increased presence of adjuncts, we are seeing The
Academy return to a model similar to the old coal mines. if an adjunct
drops on the spot, there are many who will step in to fill the void. We
are seeing technology such as being pushed by commercial insterests,
including the traditional institutions which are changing the roll of the
academic much like modern mining equipment transformed the coal fields and
the factories. Interestingly we are also seeing the equivalent of new
"technologies" such as non-credit education, IT programs aimed at
cirtification on company specific technologies, globalization and even new
forms of specialization such as those arising from the separation of
content and process. And we have the old industries, the liberal education

These are not the type of changes, the Ivan Illiches and the Niel Postmans
etc who focused on the student and tried to make learning student
centered. These are structural changes in the arena. Post secondary
education hasn't adopted the idea of Peppers and Rogers with their 1 to 1
future because they are still thinking programs and not individual
education. they are still thinking certification and requirements (the
latter keeps jobs, employs grad students and gets your psych subjects
...grin...) and they are doing this while the walls are crumbling and the
bastion has been breached as sure as Japan was opened up when Perry sailed
into the harbor.

It is not, IMO, that universities can not find a model. Rather, they have
to figure out what business they are in and, particularly, what business
they are not in before they can even consider the organizational issues
which make the system work.

In most businesses the management knows what business they are in and most
employees can define what their rolls could, should or might be. In higher
education, a lot of academics are counting the years before retirement
and/or figuring out whether tenure will be around and what that might mean
as the rules change.

It reminds me of some Numchuck wielding ninja making fancy moves while
Dirty Harry pulls out his magnum and says, "Make my day". What do you do
when the rules of engagement are changing?


tom abeles


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