Michael Crow, Alt-Acs, and Speaking our Minds

Reactions to an ELI Conference keynote.

February 2, 2016

ASU’s president Michael Crow gave the keynote address today at the ELI Annual Meeting in San Antonio.

You may disagree with some (or all) of the specifics of Crow’s policies at ASU, but it is impossible not to be drawn in by his candid, outspoken, and forthright manner.

Crow is refreshingly unafraid of saying unpopular things. He is willing to criticize the practices of both his own institution, and of the higher ed system. Crow has zero patience for bureaucracy and over-caution.

Michael Crow is the perfect keynote speaker for a conference like the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. It is a good thing for those of us working at the intersection of learning and technology to be told to move faster and push harder.

We can debate the record, style and approach of Michael Crow (I’m a fan), but I’m wondering if we can have a different conversation.

Do you think that those of us without Michael Crow’s structural position and authority can afford to be as iconoclastic towards higher ed?

My sense is that many of us in the alt-ac community will share Crow’s optimism around the power of technology, learning science, and analytics to fundamentally change how higher education is constructed and delivered. 

Very few of us alt-ac types, however, will feel as comfortable in speaking our minds about the problems of higher ed. 

EDUCAUSE’s president John O’Brien (whom I’m also a fan) commented today that Crow talks about controversial issues in higher education with his “outside voice”.  How often are we willing to speak in our own outside voice, and should we be willing to do so more?

Crow may be fearless - although he also seems to be down to earth, respectful, and inviting of challenges to his ideas.

What do you see as the ability of alt-ac professionals to be as comfortable as Michael Crow in speaking our minds?

How much do we self-censure our opinions when our ideas our out of the mainstream?

How open are we in the alt-ac community to offering critical appraisals of the postsecondary system in which we work?

What are right (and wrong) lessons for alt-ac folks to learn from the Michael Crow's candor?



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