"By the end of 2012, South Korea intends to connect every home in the country to the Internet at one gigabit per second. That would be a tenfold increase from the already blazing national standard and more than 200 times as fast as the average household setup in the United States."
--from The New York Times's "Home Internet May Get Even Faster in South Korea," 2/21/11
5 Reasons Why Innovation in Higher Ed Will Come from South Korea (and Other Asian Countries Investing Heavily in Universal Gigabit Broadband):
1. Campus As Place Disappears: Universal gigabit connections will catalyze and accelerate the uncoupling of higher ed and place. Teaching and learning will become unbundled from non-academic services (such as housing, food, entertainment, student health, counseling, socializing, etc.), when the comparative advantage of place-based courses disappears.
2. Face-to-Face At a Distance: Gigabit Internet will erase the fidelity advantage of face-to-face interactions. Super high definition video and audio will support peer-to-peer, group, and instructor interactions that feel like face-to-face meetings.
3. Communication = Environment: Gigabit connections will operate in an ecosystem of screens of every size, in every room, and in every hand (mobile). High definition communication will become ubiquitous to the point that it is embedded in the environment, taken for granted, no longer even noticed. Communities of students will be able to gather and collaborate without planning or effort.
4. Experimentation Becomes Normative: The next big leaps in the delivery and quality of higher education will require a universal gigabit infrastructure. Experimentation, and the people doing these experiments, will stay in or migrate to the countries that are investing in the infrastructure.
5. Unpredictable Disruption: The form and content of the disruptive innovations in the organization, construction and delivery of higher education are not predictable. What is knowable is the fact that this disruptive innovation will require infrastructure like universal gigabit web connections.
I don't believe that the U.S. will be able to compete with South Korea on broadband. We are too big, too decentralized, and too partisan. We've lost this one.
The only question remaining, I believe, is which of us will eventually move to countries like South Korea to participate in the coming higher ed revolution.