Discussing the “Revolution in Higher Education”

Recommending Rich DeMillo’s excellent new book.

September 27, 2015

Revolution in Higher Education: How a Small Band of Innovators Will Make College Accessible and Affordable by Richard A. DeMillo. Published in August of 2015.

Rich DeMillo’s Revolution in Higher Education situates the discussion about new technologies and new methods squarely within our postsecondary productivity crisis. Any discussion of higher education should start with issues of costs, access and quality - and should be grounded in the structural challenges faced by colleges and universities. DeMillo, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities, is well situated to analyze the important trends and major challenges that impact every aspect of U.S. higher education. 

There is no doubt that MOOCs are an interesting story, but the emergence of open online learning is but a single aspect of a larger project of rethinking the core tenets of our postsecondary industry. These tenets include the belief that a school’s status should be derived by its exclusivity, and the conclusion educating more students without a commensurate increase in resources (professors, classrooms, labs) is necessarily antithetical to quality educational outcomes.

DeMillo’s methodology is to talk to the educators who are challenging the dominant scarcity narrative in higher education, and then to place those conversations within the historical context that colleges and universities operate. Along the way we learn a great deal about accreditation, the challenges faced by HBCU’s, and the potential of adaptive learning platforms paired with competency based degree models to challenge long-held postsecondary practices.

DeMillo claims that Revolution in Higher Education was not written for higher ed insiders. It is higher ed insiders, whoever, who I think would benefit most from reading and discussing this book.  We tend to (at least I tend to) underestimate how much we don’t know about the history and workings of our own industry.  Revolution in Higher Education would be a good book to start with for any campus contemplating going through a large strategic planning process. (And DeMillo is wonderfully incisive about the limitations of strategic planning).

Both critics and fans of postsecondary disruption will be given plenty to react to in Revolution in Higher Education. Whatever you think of open online education, or the directions that presidents Crow and LeBlanc are taking ASU and SNHU respectively, your ideas and opinions will be better informed after reading this book.

What are you reading?



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