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What does the future of transportation have anything to do with the future of higher education?

I recently read about the idea for the Tesla Network, and I’ve been trying to figure out if this business and technology story has anything to tell us about how we might construct the future of higher ed.   

At some future (I’d say by 2030) Tesla will redefine how we think of the relationship between owning and consuming transportation. What will happen is that owners of Tesla vehicles will be able to choose to have their cars participate as autonomously driven ride-sharing vehicles. This Tesla Network will mean that your car will earn you money while you aren’t using it. A self-driving Tesla will be ordered in the same way that we order an Uber today.

Some people will want to continue to own or lease their own cars, so that they have the flexibility to use them when and where they want. They will reduce the cost of that car ownership by placing their vehicle in the self-driving ride-sharing sharing pool. My bet is that Tesla will get to this vision first, as the company is building more self-driving data than its competitors. Certainly Uber is also trying, as will Google and maybe Apple and every other legacy auto manufacturer.

The question is - can we take this Tesla Network example and apply it to higher ed?

Is there a way that the producers of higher education can re-conceptualize our work away from producers of graduates (degrees)  and knowledge (research) , and towards the outcomes that degrees and research create?

The Tesla example shows that in the world of transportation, it is an outsider that is creating the future. Toyota or Ford or GM or Volkswagen could have been out-front in creating electric cars built around autonomous driving technology, but they haven’t been.

Can we imagine a way that incumbent (legacy) postsecondary institutions can be more like Tesla, and less like Ford or GM?

As a member of incumbent higher education, I don’t want some company like Tesla to come along and make college cheaper and better. I want us to do that work.

Can you get your head around what the future of transportation can teach us about the future of higher education?

Is it possible that the Tesla for higher ed can can come from within higher ed?

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