Universities will be 'irrelevant' by 2020, Y. professor says

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  • TheoryIsGreat
    Feb. 26, 2010 6:41 a.m.

    Simplistic solutions coming from the World of Business purporting to be educational experts when in point of fact they're little more than hucksters selling empty bottles. Education ... digitize everything, create a world filled with joy and endless fun, and sit back proudly as students flock to the source time and again, absorbing and demanding more. Unfortunately, those ideal students are several generations into the future. Real-world urban and rural USA ... the professor has been in his office far too long ... he needs to meet and listen to our students and non-students ... he needs to explain what "education" will even mean at the point he seeks ... will it be relevant at all to anyone ... to anyone at all? We may have to go to India for professional services ... where a work-ethic exists and is growing.

  • Dr Dan
    Jan. 10, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    It's great to see the heated and emotive comments. Of course, we education professionals understand that there are many different styles of learning and numerous studies support group and social learning which presupposes human interaction.
    There will be more and more online offerings, but as one wise commenter noted "you get what you pay for". And as a writer, I don't want to spend months writing a text book that is free for everyone to download (not YET anyway).

  • Frank
    Sept. 12, 2009 10:50 p.m.

    Nothing will replace personal instruction. Especially when it comes to the arts. English teachers are worthless as they only want to talk about symbolism. Math professors are needed because some of those concepts are hard to wrap your head around. But as far as music, art, graphics, drama, ect... these are things that would be hard pressed to be taught over the web.

    Besides, Pheonix online doesn't hold the same clout as any other university.

  • LeeG
    Aug. 3, 2009 7:53 p.m.

    Prof. Wiley, while so familiar with academia, is missing the point. People do NOT go to college, paying the tuition and fees, spending the time in class and on homework & projects, reading the required texts and taking the required tests, to gain knowledge. They do it to gain credentials: an acknowledgement, recognized by the world at large, of a certain level of competence within a certain field of study. THAT’S what an associates, or bachelors, or doctoral degree represents.

    People incur that cost in time and treasure for a reason. A school board looking to hire a history teacher wants to be sure the individual has some knowledge of history. I suggest that a BS from State University will get far more respect than hundreds of hours watching the History Channel, even if it could be documented.

    If it is only ‘knowledge’ that anyone seeks, they can find that readily, in a Public Library, in Adult Ed classes offered by most school districts, on the Internet, at public lectures commonly given at universities, at bookstores, and at many, many other venues.

  • charles darwin
    July 19, 2009 4:16 p.m.

    college sell Admit ticket to classs

    yes, come to class

    no, cannot come to class...

    yes-no coming to class.

    Knowledge belongs to the world: All people of the earth.

    If we can Video the dog, cat, fish snakes: We can of course tape a professor giving a class on math, science.

    Digital courses, digital colleges can be accesss by anyone, anytime anywhere, any computer. by all people of the earth.

  • Skeeter
    July 16, 2009 6:11 a.m.

    "The video quotes educators from years gone by who were alarmed that chalk, pencils, ballpoint pens and calculators would make students lazy and stupid"

    And they were right!

  • lyndellnm
    July 15, 2009 4:47 p.m.

    This is an interesting debate. OK, so the digital age means that the proliferation of information becomes easier and, perhaps, more accessible to all. Articles, texts, and even recordings of lectures.

    But hold on for a minute, you don't get a University qualification just by showing up and listening to lectures, or just by reading a whole pile of prescribed texts. Someone has to assess you, through exams, assignments, practical tests, and so on - to say that you have acquired knowledge and can apply it to a predetermined standard.

    Many professions rely on this standard being met. Do you want to be treated by a doctor that doesn't have a University qualification, but says he knows what he's doing because he's read Wikipedia, or maybe downloaded some medicine lectures?

    Change in how universities operate in the digital age is certain. Their demise is not.

  • Rob P
    July 3, 2009 10:40 a.m.

    "Peter Drucker's bleak view of the future of universities and his optimism about the emerging elearning paradigm is now widely known:

    [T]hirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won't survive. It's as large a change as when we first got the printed book. Do you realize that the cost of higher education has risen as fast as the cost of health care?... Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education is in deep crisis... Already we are beginning to deliver more lectures and classes off campus via satellite or two-way video at a fraction of the cost. The college won't survive as a residential institution. (Forbes, March 10, 1997"

  • Re: Stevio
    June 10, 2009 8:31 p.m.

    Wiley cares about BYU but no other university's financial succuess.

  • Stevio
    June 10, 2009 4:17 p.m.

    How backwards is the last statement/paragraph...

    "But BYU, he notes, might be a special case. Students will likely still flock there for the two extra benefits the school offers: a religious education and the chance to meet and marry an LDS Church member."

    Ok, same with religious education, why wont that work online. And to "meet and marry an LDS", hmm, once again, I'm sure there are plenty of LDS dating sites out there.

  • Anonymous
    May 18, 2009 9:07 a.m.

    Academic institutions should be technologically able to meet the needs of their future audience. As we migrate through different generations, we must be able to adapt curriculum to meet diverse learning styles. If we can speculate that traditional classrooms and some aspects of online learning will dissipate into self learning, should we put our energy into improving online social networks to guide our students through the degree process? Should or Will we continue to use faculty involvement is the question. Academic institutions will have to get this right if education will be value added for the learner. Get ready! Get focused...for future learning!

  • JM
    May 14, 2009 10:03 a.m.

    I agree with the thought that Universities etc. need to adopt the new technologies available and old school mentalities will decrease value.

    With the economy and many universities and students who attend them or would like to. Their failure to adopt cost saving measures via using tech and open source information to reduce expenses to students and schools will drive students out of market or into debt.

    Is that math book really worth $300 then irrelevant the next year because of one update, think Kindle's.

    While yes the away from parents and the on site relationship social of Universities are a building factor, there are many in a situation that can not afford room and board so streaming class lectures via live or recorded would allow distance learning but also allow interaction with the instructors and class - think ustream, twitter, online screen shares w/chat.

    Plus todays youth uses these technologies in their daily lives but business's do as well so by avoiding the adoption is a kin to going to the grocery store on a horse.

  • It's all needed
    May 13, 2009 12:53 p.m.

    Open source in software and knowledge is great. However, how do we sort through it all? We have to have someone to rely on; we'll always need experts. And, experts have to make a living. How is it that there will be all this motivation to have the culmination of all your efforts in some field of knowledge simply given away to everyone for nothing? If you have other sources of income and are liberally (not in the political sense) motivated, I can see it happening. But not with everyone. Mr. Wiley gives his time for free to the online high school. He did something similar at USU. But all the while, he was paid a salary to meet at least his basic needs through institutions who, you guessed it, charge to teach people. While social networking is here to stay, the jury is not out folks on how these sites make a sustainable and profitable income. The coming few years will see even more upheaval in how all this free information is served up to you and me. Meaning, the wizards behind the curtain will eventually have to make a return on investment.

  • Future lies in Online Unis
    May 10, 2009 7:40 p.m.

    Many thanks for your insightful thinking. In today's fast changing world full of unpredented challenges online learning offers great convinience to any aspiring learner be it a mum, dad,child and single persons. You can work from anywhere convinient and you also serve on serve on travel costs and time.

  • glenmichael
    May 3, 2009 8:45 a.m.

    Comments from Mr. Wiley are only half right ( or half wrong ). Many a Uni has had to go back to blended learning or transnational ( foreign campus ) to re-invent themselves and stay relevant and maintain prestige. A purely digital solution is unrealistic. Performance needs peer feedback ( not polite online ) but face to face comparisons with students and a mentor or teacher. Also, most irrelevant dated learning that could not be applied to work was "training" from past knowlege, and couldn't not equip you with thinking on your feet. Education is about becoming literate and getting good at reasoning and problem solving.. not about learning software skills which would have served you if they hadn't been outdated by your senior year. Education is more than training.University context ( a part from the playground aspect ) should be demanding competent levels of writing and reading and problem solving, alone and with groups, in classes and online. That's the way you learn to cope with whatever job you end up getting and are able to move up.

  • BFuniv Rector
    April 29, 2009 10:24 p.m.

    I think brick and mortar universities are where leather bound encyclopedias were two decades ago; highly respected - but without an acceptable survival strategy for the emerging Netcohort age.

  • websta
    April 28, 2009 10:35 a.m.

    David, thank you for your insightful thoughts. I am a BYU alum, MA in Humanities from a distance learning program, who worked 13 years in web development for a major university back east before striking off on my own media company. We ended up homeschooling our children. I have been disappointed watching BYU scale back its once-innovative home study program in favor of residency requirements (which is, for example, the reason my wife did not finish her degree and the reason our children have no plans to attend BYU either). I hope that you will successfully spark some innovation at BYU, and elsewhere, and help universities catch up to the rapidly changing world around them. Ten years ago I sat in a statewide distance learning conference held on my campus while impassioned educators argued for non-change, that all they needed was evolution, not revolution, etc. And I watched the school slowly descend into irrelevance, endless bickering over territory, and fended off the oppressive struggle to somehow become the least productive each staff person/department/college could possibly become. It was a disservice to the students, staff and our own future. Thank you.

  • websta
    April 28, 2009 10:21 a.m.

    For the video, you could go to Google video and search for something like, say, 2855786550703993653. Just a thought.

  • David Wiley
    April 27, 2009 11:15 a.m.

    If you Google 'fischbowl what if' (without quotes) the very top link will take you to Karl's page describing and linking to the video.

  • URLs not allowed
    April 27, 2009 10:35 a.m.

    No one can post the link to the "What if" Youtube video because that would be in violation of the "No URLs" rule.

    If you happen to have found it, could you post the search terms you entered?

    I had some success googling: chalk calculators ballpoint pens education

    I didn't get to the Youtube video, but I did find a powerpoint presentation that seems to make the description. (Third item down when I googled.)

  • Anon
    April 27, 2009 10:09 a.m.

    1st thought: Well, of course you want your surgeon to have a degree from an accredited institution. (Note that online degrees CAN be accredited.)

    When it comes down to the final choice, though, I personally don't ask to see his or her diploma. I want a track record: How many times have you done this type of surgery? What is your success ratio?

    Those questions have very little to do with where he or she got her education and everything to do with "on-the-job" training and post-educational study and training.

    2nd thought: Go back to the original story and notice that Professor Wiley didn't actually say all universities will go away; he said that universities that don't adapt to a more shared, online environment won't be able to compete with those that do. (2nd and 3rd paragraphs for those of you who didn't read that far.)

  • Karin
    April 27, 2009 2:05 a.m.

    I am currently a student at University of Phoenix in their MA program for Secondary Education. As I am a US citizen living in Indonesia I did not have many options of where I could get my degree. I have found the low quality of student work accepted at UoP very frustrating. I graduated with a BA in English from a traditional 4-year college in 1995. There I was pushed to think beyond boundaries, challenged to try new ways of doing things. I thought that UoP was a "new way" of doing things. I am trying it, but the half-baked papers that my student teams have submitted that have received A's frankly astounds me. Many papers are written as a group and so I do not have total control over quality. I would have given our last team paper a B-, but the teacher gave it 100%. This was not a one-time kind of event. It's happened in all 6 Master's level classes that I have taken in the last 8 months. The quality of work accepted and given excellent passing scores by professors as is shamefully low.

  • John B
    April 25, 2009 3:24 p.m.

    Mr Wiley is leaving out a huge part of the equation for any large university: research. Research is just as important as teaching in a classroom setting. Even if universities are challenged with the new open learning opportunities that are discussed by the article's author, university research will likely not be affected. It is naive to think that universities will become irrelevant just because the classroom is changing due to the availability of learning materials and alternative school systems. Research will continue to make universities relevant.

  • Cherry
    April 25, 2009 2:55 p.m.

    I feel online schools can be adventitious for both high school graduates and adults. As an online learner myself I know I enjoy the many advantages online learning provides me such as keeping my full time job, cutting babysitting costs, and lower tuition. I actually teach a lesson about online learning to my classes where students are provided with both the pros and cons of learning over the internet. Many students have never considered college, but when provided with the benefits and costs they are looking forward to attending various online universities.

  • anon
    April 25, 2009 8:47 a.m.

    This is great as a way that people who -- for whatever reason -- couldn't otherwise access education to more easily do so. My school offers some of its lectures for free online in an effort to achieve that goal. (Search "Academic Earth" + "David Blight" to watch every lecture for my awesome History of the Civil War class.)

    But whenever I hear someone complain about the fact that nothing they learned in school is applicable to their professional life, I cringe a little. College, in its best form, is only in part about the specific factual knowledge acquired. More significantly, it should be about the experience of learning -- not just seeing lectures and reading books, but engaging with smart people and engaging in activities that foster intellectual development outside the classroom. That is what is so appealing about the best schools, and what most people misunderstand. Yes, of course, you can learn all the hard facts at most any school that a student at a great school learns by knowing what to read and watch and by locking yourself in the library. But that's only half the point.

  • awsomeron
    April 24, 2009 1:03 p.m.

    I think he is wrong, however the Internet and other forms of Education will become more and more vital.

    There is the factor of the Social Growth that happens when we go to College. Just like there is Social Growth be Junior High and High School.

    Going to a College does not an expanded mind make. It is harder today, because we can always call people on our Cell Phones, Text, and other wise keep in touch or in some cases in control. It is hard to form New Relationships if the Old Ones do not get off the phone.

    It used to be that when you where off to college you where really off to College. Now not so much.

    People resist change, some people where scared of the Telephone when it was New and becoming comon in Households. Many older people where and still are scared of Computers. While some of us Ran to embrace the New World and access to the World it offered.

    I know lots of kids that research things other then Girls/Boys and Video Games mine among them. My daughter has a Blog. Girls/Boys need to be explored thats Normal Behavior.

  • Anonymous
    April 24, 2009 11:52 a.m.

    Alright, let's just close K-12 schools as well since they learn everything via the internet and texting. They can learn virtually at the age of 14 because we all know that they'll be focusing on school work and never Twitter and YouTube. The average American student knows practically nothing and that's WITH a controlled educational curriculum. Take that away and they'll know a heck of a lot about dating and fashion and video games, but nothing about the real world or any of the things they need to know. What 14 year old kid is going to research things other than girls and video games anyway? For college students it is a bit different, but I think they need a guided environment where they can learn how to work in groups on real-world projects. Even adults need to learn how to socialize and work together, not rely on a virtual world of information to teach them what they need to know. I'm in college now. As much as I hate going to class, I think it's good for me. Otherwise I'd just sit on the computer all day every day.

  • Mark
    April 24, 2009 10:50 a.m.

    If you tested every college student 6 months after they took a course, how much would they retain (i.e truly learn)? I think a large amount of formal education at the university level is memorization that quickly becomes forgotten.

    My experience with on-line courses has been tremendously positive. I particularly like that online courses typically allow online conversations that turn out to be very thoughtful and educational - as students have the time to think before posting!

    These comments are a living testament to the value of online education - imagine if all 130 of us were in one room trying to have this conversation.

    The costs of a college education are far outpacing the average person's ability to pay. Something has to change.

  • Jorge Aldrovandi
    April 24, 2009 10:46 a.m.

    Usted tiene toda la razn.
    El conocimiento ya circula fuera de las universidades
    Voc tem toda a razo. O conhecimento acontece j fora das universidades.

  • Josh
    April 24, 2009 8:37 a.m.

    Utterly absurd. Distance learning has been around for years and I'm not sure we've seen any decline in college enrollment. It's simply not the same experience and many, many people enjoy the college experience. The social value is tremendous and cannot be replicated by the distance learning model. I don't care if you can sit at home and have 3-D holographic images projected in your bedroom - it is NOT the same thing as actually being there. College ain't going away in ten years. What an absurd thing to say.

  • Anonymous
    April 23, 2009 10:07 p.m.

    Wiley is naive and his comment is irresponsible. HE is the one who is irrelevant.

  • really?
    April 23, 2009 8:52 p.m.

    "Universities will be 'irrelevant' by 2020, Y. professor says"

    Yes and oil will run out by 1970, we are headed for an ice age, and the sky is falling.

  • University, its a wonderful expe
    April 23, 2009 8:50 p.m.

    For me University was a mind expanding experience. The philosophy classes, the math classes, the history, the political science, and yes the electrical engineering classes.

    A great advantage of being taught in a classroom setting is that you tend to study subjects and are forced to hear points of view you wouldn't put up with otherwise.

    Some of these views are no doubt presented to challenge the person, other times they make a lot of sense.

    I wouldn't trade my education, university or self taught for anything.

  • awsomeron
    April 23, 2009 8:10 p.m.

    Some times the Truly Gifted do not make it through School. Either distractions stop them, or they fold up the first time things get hard. Because it has always been easy for them.

    My youngest Son 20 is going to Community College and doing okay with an IQ of around 90-95 and a couple of learning disabilities. Nothing has ever been easy for him. However We have never told him don't or No. With Us it has always been advice and consent from High School on.

    I have always told him, work hard and you will win most, lose some and take it on the average.

    Not Long ago when I went to and Graduated from Heald College, nothing was easy for me. With the exception of the Business and Marketing Classes. Math had to be taken as Review 1st and Higher Math had to be taken twice. Computer Math, Stock Tracking and Spreadsheets, I did okay.

    Some Classes can be taken on the Computer. I had a really sweet teacher in Medical Transcription Class. All and all we came out in the upper 3rd of the pack.

    Anything that fits and is accepted and works is okay.

  • LazyProf
    April 23, 2009 5:23 p.m.

    A few things happening in Higher Ed:
    1.Exponential increases in university budgets, all of which go to administration
    2.Mushrooming class sizes that prevent meaningful interaction with students ("Hey, you can do SO MUCH with clickers")
    3.Grade inflation that has made "A" at best the equivalent of "Pass"
    4.Ubiquitous availability of, and unethical copying from, solution manuals

    A few reasons why online will succeed in some form:
    1.University presidents will want it because (they think) it will reduce expenses
    2.Students will demand it because of flexibility, quality, and adaptive content appropriate for various backgrounds and learning styles.
    3.Industry will demand it because activity reports will provide much better details of student work habits and competence than transcripts.

    Regarding disparaging comments about "Ivory Tower" employees, I have no problem conceding my "parasitic" role in society. Still, I hope that the incrementally improved salaries of graduates will lead to state revenues that will offset my salary. In spite of my threats to ride on my tenure and work only 9 hours per week, I still work long hours developing, among other things, online courses that anyone with some motivation will be able to take for free.

  • Doodles
    April 23, 2009 4:01 p.m.

    I think online education is fabulous. I, for one, learned more reading all the points of view in the comments on this article than I did reading the report created by the professional journalist who interviewed the professional educator. So much for insisting that face-to-face is the only model that is viable.

  • Wally West
    April 23, 2009 2:18 p.m.

    re: The Marriage Factor | 6:59 a.m. April 21, 2009

    I knew it! The M.R.S. is the most popular degree @ the Y.

  • Anonymous
    April 23, 2009 1:06 p.m.

    Hmmmm...well, weberly is now adding degrees to his pedigree, but, since this is the anonymity of cyber-space, I guess we'll just have to take him or her at his/her word. You don't really sound much like a lawyer.

    I can only say that my experiences and impressions are diametrically opposed to yours. Including the "sumptuous" comment and the "6 hour" workweek, particularly given that professors are some of the most highly trained professionals and the central 'producers' of the products (learning and scholarship) in the academic industry. By the way, you do realize that "surgeons" go through a great deal of schooling before they ever pick up a knife - the idea of "on the job training" here is ludicrous.

    As always, people seem to feel the need for gross hyperbole in order to make their point.

  • Online HS a joke
    April 23, 2009 12:53 p.m.

    My sister went abroad as a nanny for half her junior year and had to take high school classes online--she almost didn't graduate (a year later)! When she was supposed to be working on her online classes, she ended up chatting with friends, looking at YouTube, etc.

    One of the most important aspects of the school system is STRUCTURE. How many employers let you come and go as you please? Let you do your work if you feel like it? The problem is, as others on this board have mentioned, that many kids don't want to go to school. They go because they have to. If someone gives them an easy way around it, they'll take it--there are plenty of more fun things to do.

    There are so many distractions nowadays, and parents seem to be very willing to let their kids participate in anything and everything their hearts desire. What this leads to are wishy-washy individuals who can't stand to do the same thing for 5 minutes, let alone 5 years. To me, that sounds spoiled.

    More accessible information and education? Yes, by all means. Free ticket to failure? No thanks.

  • To: K
    April 23, 2009 12:43 p.m.

    The reason universities abroad only have their students take classes in a concentrated area (Math, Science, etc.) is because students choose what 'line' they will study when they start high school. In essence, they begin their college preparation at age 16. That way, they can be more focused once they're actually at a university. They also have the option to quit school at 16, go to trade school, etc. Maybe an option for our less motivated students? It would certainly improve the learning environment for those who are motivated.

    To Look Ahead: Microsoft looks down on academia? Yeah, that's why they require new hires to have MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science.

    The greatest things I gained from my university education were an ability to think critically and the opportunity to associate and learn from individuals with backgrounds vastly different from my own. I do not believe that these valuable skills could be learned sitting at home in front of my computer. With no faculty mentors or fellow students to challenge my thought process, or show me a different way to think about the world?!

  • Lamont Cranston
    April 23, 2009 12:42 p.m.

    I can see where an institution where critical and/or rational thought as well as exposure to new & different ideas might not be thought of too highly by someone tenured in Happy Valley.

    Blind conformity works so much better or so I've been told.

    Seriously, there needs to be more people interested and receiving degrees in the humanities, arts, & Sciences (social, physical, etc...).

    Its depressing to think that institutions have become conformity factories for people who think an MBA, MD, DDS, or a JD is the way wealth and happiness.

  • PhilC
    April 23, 2009 10:28 a.m.

    Providing education is so very broad that it is bound for continued exploitation and change by market forces. I am here at a major Mid-Atlantic institution as an IT staff professional. We resonant with the need for change and have taken some major steps to join the revolution. We also have about a century and a half in which we built strong expectations and even stronger alliances with alumni, government and business. We do things very differently and can adapt to create value on several fronts. Competition to provide more innovative methods to deliver education is critical for the improving in the future and I balance the change paradigm with my opinion that a bricks and mortar institution will always be useful as a cultural experience. Finally, our desire to provide what I'll call proper accreditation is what will ultimately allow us to prevail in whatever form we choose.

  • To Anonymous | 9:59
    April 23, 2009 10:05 a.m.

    Just so's you know, my four years in Academe were one year as a teaching fellow and three as an associate professor. Before that, I was awarded a bachelors in biology/chemistry, a doctorate in law and a masters in law (LL.M. -- master of laws -- comes after Juris Doctor in law). That adds up to some eight years of college education, though with indecision regarding a major, working my way through school, and a couple dropouts for missionary and military service, it took me 14 years, during which time I was never far from an academic setting.

    I know what I'm talking about. And I can easily justify my "sumptuous" characterization, comparing my associate professor office, even my teaching fellow office, to my first cubicle in industry. And I stand by my 6-hour productive workweek characterization, as well.

    You can hide your head in the sand all you want, but the university system is already dead. It just hasn't started stinking bad enough yet for the taxpayers who fund it to bury it.

    But that's coming. Soon.

  • To Cosmo 10:35
    April 23, 2009 9:48 a.m.

    Homeschooling is not always the answer either. Parents cannot be experts in math, art, music, English/language arts, science, theatre, chemistry etc.
    I also noticed that some of those home schooled have a difficult time socializing with their peers. They have a strange shy quietness. Just my opinion based on what I have seen.

  • Love my online classes
    April 23, 2009 9:45 a.m.

    Clearly many commentors here have not taken online college classes. A transition like this can't happen soon enough for me. Classroom instruction is confining and rigid, with less interaction than in online classes. There is more discussion required and more feedback given in my online courses than in any of my campus classes. And the availability is unmatched. I can hold a job--with shiftwork if necessary--and still "go" to class. I can go to work or care for my home, spend an evening with my kids or my husband, be involved in community or church service, and STILL go to class when it fits my schedule. I get almost daily feedback from my profs that is personal and pertinent; I am required to engage in live online "discussions" about every single lesson, which receive classmate and instructor responses. I do projects, field studies, and research, write papers, and take quizzes and exams. My classes are regionally accredited, and nowhere on my transcript does it differentiate between online and traditional instruction. Online higher education is by far the more valuable of all my college experiences.

  • This is moronic
    April 23, 2009 8:43 a.m.

    If any of you actually put any stock in this, I'd say you're about as ridiculous as David Wiley himself. The fact is that at Community Colleges, State Universities, and Private Universities only get more and more competitive every single year, with ever increasing numbers of applications and enrollment numbers. Because of this, colleges can afford to charge higher and higher tuition costs every single year, this money is put towards expansion in order to accommodate their (currently) ever-increasing demand. Eventually demand might slow down, but only at the fringes; this will lead to less Universities, which will offer more standardized, higher quality education. The world will not suddenly turn to "online education" in order to solve the problem of tuition costs. Want to know why? Because if you apply for a middle management job in an American city at any semi-respectable firm paying upwards of even $30,000 starting and your degree is from "University of Phoenix," your application will be shredded. Students from these institutions will not even be given a chance to be laughed out of an interview. Don't kid yourselves, Universities are here to stay for quite some time.

  • NY
    April 23, 2009 8:19 a.m.

    While colleges are increasing their online instruction, there is one thing that will always maintain the traditional, on site, model: Online degrees simply are not as marketable as tradition degrees. A huge problem with online education is that there is no way to monitor who is actually doing the work. I could sign up for a class and pay my best friend a few bucks to do my work for me. Those who get their degrees in person will always out compete those who get their degrees online. In fact, I have known managers who wouldn't even bother to interview interview online degree holders). Take a few classes online if you want, but getting an entire degree online is worthless unless your CURRENT employer will promote you for having done it.

  • awsomeron
    April 23, 2009 12:14 a.m.

    What I get out of this is, BYU is already irreverent, that is why the line is so long to get in. Any School you can be A Moral at will always be there. Yale, Harvard, both at onetime Divinity School and at least Harvard still has a School of Divinity.

    The best thing to do here is wait till 2020 and see what is happening. I will be 74 then. In 2029 I will be 83, will the Big Rock Hit My Island and will UH, a fine party school not be under water.

    I think Alternatives will become more and more and more vital, as the Cost of Education goes Up and Up.

    The only place to prove its worth is in the Market Place. and if the Degree is accepted. So if you have people with Online Degrees, stacking shelves at Safeway then you will know their Value.

    I was 32 and Single when I first went to College, mostly to study the G.I Bill as a 2nd Job before time ran out on the Benny. Did well with the grades, lots of distractions. Had a lot of fun, obtained a lot of Credits.

  • K
    April 22, 2009 11:37 p.m.

    One thing odd about US university. You have to take classes in various fields of study for most majors. Some humanities, a language, some social science, some science no matter your major. Abroad a chemistry student does math and science only in college. With so many professionals coming into math and science fields from abroad I wonder if we are shooting ourselves in the foot taking away from subjects relative to the field in order to become more well rounded?

    I loved graduate schools cause almost all my classes were directly relevant to my career choice. Undergrad I felt was a waste of time and money, merely an exercise of putting in my dues.

  • Question
    April 22, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    Can anyone find the YouTube video mentioned in the article and post it?

  • Anonymous
    April 22, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    To weberly, well...I come from a background in industry before entering a PhD program. Your 4 whole years of college education did not give you a very accurate idea of what profs do or how much they work. Honestly, most undergraduates don't know what goes on outside of the classes they attend - I certainly didn't. "Sumptuous offices?" I have no idea what you are thinking about - and probably neither do you. Debates like this online generally attract the ill-informed and disgruntled. As others have posted, online education has its limitations and will never entirely replace the important face to face interaction of a classroom.

  • John
    April 22, 2009 8:13 p.m.

    I think it's ok to get through the first two years of generals this way, but I would have missed some great experiences in my major if it had been all virtual learning. Plus freshman dorms were a lot of fun.

    Networking with professors, associations with fellow students (that have benefited me in networking in the CPA world), working in real group environments, etc. All of things don't exist in a virtual university.

    According to this professor, we should all be working from home as well, but it will never happen 100%, because we need human interaction!

    Woe be to the elementary school that tries to implement this. I send my kids to school for social interaction; otherwise, I could teach them myself.

  • introtomarketing
    April 22, 2009 7:33 p.m.

    The world will be devided- people still shop in shops for the social interaction, while the other half/third/quarter prefer online, Universities will be the same- some people love to write letters- now they are fine with emails and using MSN Twitter etc, others prefer to talk to people. The market will be more segmented. There is no one solution

  • too late, look across the pond!
    April 22, 2009 6:32 p.m.

    Wiley is incorrect, a bit too late, and apparently culturally isolated. Many "relevant" and established universities outside the United States already provide free education to their citizens and have for hundreds of years. I think they have demonstrated their "relevance" and continue to do so. --Cheers.

  • Condor
    April 22, 2009 6:14 p.m.

    The teacher or author of the material makes all the difference. I did some class where the lecturer just read out the notes and scribbled on the blackboard. No questions were allowed and so there was no interaction. Other lecturers were brilliant and you would not want to miss their lecturers because of all the insights that you got that were not in their regular "course notes".

    I personally think that that the path suggest by David is not the one that will evolve. I think there will be virtual universities that you attend in a "Second Life" type environment. In other words you actually attend the classes and interact with students and university staff but through a virtual environment. I think this is technically achievable in the next 10-15 years.

    Of course, this will only be available to those people with the resources to pay for these new virtual environments. Sadly, this will probably split the haves and not haves even more.

    Food for thought.

  • Response
    April 22, 2009 5:58 p.m.

    To Look Ahead,

    Gates, Allen, Jobs, the founders of WordPerfect, and the rest GOT their ideas from Universities! That is where the research and development is happening! That IS the future!

    It is obvious from your comment that you have never attended a university. There is much more going on than regurgitating lectures. There is cutting edge research that is beyond your ability to comprehend.

    Universities are the future. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just spewing sour grapes because they couldn't cut it in a challenging educational environment.

  • Look Ahead
    April 22, 2009 5:42 p.m.

    I know for a fact that MicroSoft looks down on acedamia.
    Bill Gates and Paul Allen had it right when they left college.

    The philosophy at MS is that Universities teach what was, and therefore is out-dated the minute from the get-go.

    They don't want people who can simply regurgitate a lecture, but actually want indepentant thinkers who believe there is always a better way, and always think out-of-the-box.

    The LESS main-stream -- the better.

  • i55590@yahoo.ca
    April 22, 2009 4:58 p.m.

    Hopefully we can adapt and universities as well. EDU is very sensitive to Web 2.0 right now with massive attention on e Learning. I think the traditional approach to EDU will undergo a paradigm shift - but the higher academic streams will still exist - on line universities will proliferate.

    Take a look at Educause...they are pretty savvy on Gen Y and Z. However Kurzweil can always play the "singularity" card... :)

  • At the rate
    April 22, 2009 4:47 p.m.

    our global society is deteriorating, we may all be irrelevant in 2020. That is if we make it that long. The world is at the most volatile spot in the "pride cycle" right now. There is nowhere to go but downhill from here on out. Oh, and have a good day.

  • To weberly | 11:50
    April 22, 2009 4:13 p.m.

    Thanks for making my point (By 2020?) for me -- surgeons do not learn surgery in university classes. Rather, in on-the-job training during their surgical residency, their first job.

    A medical residency is probably the best current model for the future of education -- aspiring teachers, lawyers, engineers, etc. would apply to a residency program that would evaluate their acadmic qualifications and accept them into a training program that acutally teaches them how to do their job. Residency qualifications could be obtained in a number of ways, including the virtual world.

    And, by the way, I did 4 years in academe. I know whereof I speak.

    College professors really do have a 6-hour productive workweek. Yeah, yeah, many spend 60-80 hours a week in their sumptuous (and they really are sumptuous, compared to those in industry) offices, but what is their job? PROFESSORS should PROFESS. Otherwise, they are managers, or researchers, social theorists, you know -- parasites.

    Teaching is what we, the taxpayers, pay them so willingly and so well to do. We believe they're educating our kids.

    Mostly, they're not.

    Therein lies the problem.

  • I hope Mr. Johnson
    April 22, 2009 4:08 p.m.

    I hope Mr. Johnson reads some of these comments (like the one above) to see part of what he's wrought. There is a reason we have education - sadly, too few take advantage of it.

  • True Learner
    April 22, 2009 3:58 p.m.

    It's hard to see universities disappearing completely, but I think they are already fairly irrelevant in their teaching methods and content. Students are already expecting change. In my experience at least, the education I received in my computer science degree five years ago was definitely outdated and irrelevant. A jumping point, maybe, but I learned much more on my own, outside of my colleges classes, than I ever did in the classroom.

    Some arguments have been made for the purposes of universities to be teaching students how to learn and solve problems, not necessarily feeding them knowledge. To me, it seems that learning skills should be taught and mastered long before a student reaches college age. And you don't need a classroom setting to teach this. Study and learning are individual matters. Although having 30 kids in the same room is good for socializing, it is not the only way, or even the best, way to share ideas with others.

    And as a business owner of a software company, I don't care one drop if my employees have a degree. I do care if they can do their job! And the two aren't always synonymous.

  • Gary
    April 22, 2009 3:52 p.m.

    It may be true that US institutions will be irrelevent as the US adopts an online "McDonalds" approach to education. Just offer easy online classes and your "school" can make tons of money.

    Learning is all just about getting a "grade" right?

  • Anonymous
    April 22, 2009 3:39 p.m.

    Education Leads to Liberalism.

    When you speak of professors with minds wide open, do you refer to esteemed professors like William Ayers, Ward Churchill, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, etc?
    I could go on.

    However, There are a good many (worldly, enlightened) professors who view the United States as the root to all evils. These individuals have quite a history of attacking the virtues of capitalism and even democracy, while remain silent about many of the inhumanities of the more baser of governments.

    I would posit that because someone has traveled and visited a few third world countries does not put them necessarily on the path to enlightenment and qualified to fill young skulls full of mush with pedagoguery.

  • Sam
    April 22, 2009 2:51 p.m.

    Pretty funny -reading this article I see an add at the top of the page, "Moms Return to Online Schools - graduate degrees in two years." Yeah, now that makes a serious argument against online education right there.

  • sovereign individual
    April 22, 2009 2:42 p.m.

    Schools/universities will go the way newspapers are going now...people are tired of the leftist tenured hippies.
    Oh, they'll cry and wail about being 'face to face' or the 'experience' of university, but it's just their fear of the inevitable change.
    The information is slowly leaking out, you can't keep it behind unionized guilds any longer. Your days are limited...it will be glorious.

  • RB
    April 22, 2009 2:41 p.m.

    Another point to made about education...

    My 4th grader came home with a list of spelling words. Words like: Stop, go, light, turn... 4th grade?

    I had those words in the first week of 1st grade, watched B&W TV, and the only computer I ever saw was a mono-tone blinking light on Star Trek.

    If education is so much better and more advanced today, why are our kids being dumbed down?

    We had reading groups A, B, and C.
    I ace'd math but was a horrible reader. [the C group]
    My friend Tom actually flunked 2nd grade, imagine that?

    Today, educators seem to be too focused on how a kid feels about himself, an less about Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.
    [and yes, I do still happen to spell it by sounding out the "...might eat tobacco in church" jiggle]

    Give me a kid with the education of 40 years ago, anyday.

  • Stop Being So Simple
    April 22, 2009 2:11 p.m.

    This debate, and many of these comments, are so very typically simplistic and one sided (college expensive, instructors liberal, etc) - have some original thoughts, folks!!
    Nevertheless, we must concede that online schools are growing in prominence? But by 2020? Really? Traditional colleges are still filled to the brim, scholars are still producing great research and teaching (yeah, many do!) and many people actually get a great deal from their education (yes! also true!) while the online community faces some serious shortfalls in quality, talent, and legitimacy. Online teaching, in other words, still needs to grow up if it is really to be viable - I've been editing some online "doctorates," and they fall far, far short of legitimate graduate degrees. Likewise, I've taught at a for-profit college, and again, it feel far short. Online may still grow into a viable educational alternative, but then, typically, people will begin to argue that classrooms need to come back, students learn more face-to-face, and this whole tired debate will completely reverse itself. Sorry, I disagree, brick-and-mortar colleges have been around since the middle ages and will probably stay for a while more.

    April 22, 2009 2:03 p.m.

    Interesting but I think he misses a crucial point. The ONLINE experience highlights a problem that has always been there identity fraud and degree credentials. It is accentuated with the attitude "Now anyone can get a degree in their spare time."
    As the market is flooded with subpar education, however, how will I know if job candidates are qualified for the position? How will I know if this individual even took the online classes? These problems will come up more and more as more people earn "degrees" that aren't "audited."
    Accreditation is the system that must grow to meet these demands. Education is not just about getting knowledge (which is what the author seems to suggest). For a professional job you should have to prove you have that knowledge. Accreditation is not something that can be dismissed as irrelavant.

  • weberly
    April 22, 2009 11:50 a.m.

    I find the idea of online courses a good one but not for some professions. I do believe that having a surgeon working on me without the proper training would not only be dangerous but, also well past asinine. I think that there is a place for this but,if your job might just determine whether or not someone lives .....then you might just need to be in a class room. It is just as easy to get someone to do your work as it is to do it your self. I don't want a life I care about to depend on the "D.r's" ability to google.

  • themanbat
    April 22, 2009 11:46 a.m.

    Sure sit down institutions will be obsolete by the year 2020. Just like we had interplanetary airliners and all drove flying cars by the year 2000. This guy is writing science fiction. There will always be a market for an educational environment where people come together to work towards a common goal. I'm not saying study at home programs won't rise, but they won't replace. That's like saying home exercise DVD's are going to replace Gyms and Health Clubs. Some people can be successful with the home program, but most people do much better when they gather at an institution and don't have to rely purely on self motivation.

  • Anonymous
    April 22, 2009 11:43 a.m.

    This article seems to miss a number of issues. First it calls colleges 'generic' but taking a nationally available online lecture is much more 'generic'. On top of that, if these lectures are available for free, there will be no incentive to make lectures, leading to a select few available lecturers. And, though I agree that most students would pick the structureless curriculum available online, I cannot imagine employers preferring a degree (or lack there of) from a distance learning center where there is no way to ensure mastery of any subject, over a degree from a university. And finally, as an alum from a top tier university, I can honestly say that the two greatest things about such a university are the other students (from which I did most of my learning) and the equipment/resources available there. Neither of those will be available to the distance learners. I certainly think that online curriculum (like that from MIT) is great for brushing up or bolstering your education, but it will not replace the education you get on the MIT campus.

  • Zionear
    April 22, 2009 11:37 a.m.

    Youtube and Stickam are doing more for education then many university's nows days.

  • Zionear
    April 22, 2009 11:36 a.m.

    Finally They are starting to come around.
    I wrote a paper about this topic Last spring, and sent it to the BYU-I student council.
    He is right if universities don't change they will be gone, but if the offer valuable learning experiences that can' t be had anywhere else then they will still be around.

    There is no reason why Universities can not reach out around the world and have students all over the globe. The technology is there.

  • Common Sense
    April 22, 2009 11:04 a.m.

    Maybe it is time for education to actually prepare students with skills needed in the real world. Here is a small example clear down to the elementary level. My 5th grade daughter did a report. She worked on it at school and wanted to finish it at home. We bought a little flash drive for her be able to save her work. We have Microsoft Word as does 90% of the business world. But of course the schools have MAC's so the documents don't save and work in Word. These are the people in charge of educating our children? Education is broken from the elementary level to the university level. That is why the universities are becoming irrelevant. I don't see anything wrong with a broad educational experience. I don't think universities should be just an on the job training site. Please just give our students a real education including some education they can use in the real world.

  • carrie
    April 22, 2009 10:40 a.m.

    wise up or get left in the dust.

  • Tyler
    April 22, 2009 10:15 a.m.

    I'm surprised by the lack of distinction between content and mode of education apparent in this debate. As a former student of Univ of Phoenix and current BYU senior, I can tell you that the content is similar between institutions; there's nothing unique or exclusive about the texts and presentation materials available.
    What is different is the mode of conveying those facts. I found that my non-trad school experience complete inadequate in helping me develop tools for critical thinking even though the content was the same.
    I most value the opportunities to have disciplined scholars criticize my work, push me to think on new levels and make connections between ideas. That's something that an iPod can't do.

  • Jud
    April 22, 2009 9:41 a.m.

    No amount of high-tech boffola will ever replace a dedicated teacher in a room with a group of students. The synergies and insights thus produced are irreplaceable. Mr. Wiley is wrong.

  • Nathan Owens
    April 22, 2009 9:19 a.m.

    Today's universities may have an organization that maintains their prestige, but one is mistaken if they believe they can fully understand the more advanced material without direction. People could potentially understand the basics, general education courses, even possibly an associates degree's worth on their own. Understanding any field sufficiently to be able to contribute to it, is something that takes a more complete education. A more complete education is something I believe everyone should strive for. If you do not understand material well enough to recognize how conclusions were reached, you can not be critical enough to be anything other than blind believers. Blind believers are a threat to society.

  • Joshua David
    April 22, 2009 9:11 a.m.

    In an ideal society. the amount of progress and improvement, a source of knowledge provides to as many people as possible sould get complete and instatanious edification. And if the system we have in place to measure and reward this affect that knowledge and innovation has upon our society, is hindering the application of such virtues. Then that system must be revised and improved. This is called reform....or progress?...or liberal?

  • Tim Farnham
    April 22, 2009 8:30 a.m.

    Clayton Christensen in Innovators Dilemma states that it takes a long time before new technologies are significantly disruptive to companies who typically have a vested interested in not changing at all (especially true in higher education with its tenure, accreditation and culture). We tend to overestimate the impact of technology in the short term while underestimating it in the long term. Christensen says it is rational for incumbent companies to ignore disruptive innovations since they compare so badly with existing technologies or products, and the deceptively small market available for innovation is typically tiny at first. Examples are the Apple and IBM desktop PCs displacing the darlings of Wall Street mini-computer manufacturers Wang, Prime, Digital Equipment, Harris all out of business in only a few years.

    Four things are needed to radically transform education this time around:
    1. Have recognized outcome assessments for certification/accreditation (i.e., CPA)
    2. High-speed Internet (150+ Mbps to the desktop) for high-resolution virtual reality and content at a reasonable price (available in less than 5 years)
    3. High-performance workstations for under $2,000 (available within next two years)
    4. Incentives for students / parents to use innovative access.

  • re: 2020
    April 22, 2009 7:48 a.m.

    You clearly don't appreciate education one bit. If you think college is for parties, you went for the wrong reasons.
    Universities will never go out of style. Kids learn to become adults there. Watch how freshmen act compared to seniors and you notice a huge change.

    Many people like me hate the constant flooding of technology that is needed to survive in school. I have my laptop and cell phone (which I rarely use because I hate lugging it around everywhere). This guy can leave BYU and "teach" from his home for all I care, but people like me love learning and being at a university and getting the spirit of education all around. You DO NOT get that sitting at a computer at a park. There are no social gatherings, dances, clubs, groups, meeting people on the way to class, etc.

    I'm in the middle of my second degree of three, and I WILL NOT do a lame online university....pathetic!

  • Mary Ellen
    April 22, 2009 7:33 a.m.

    I taught management courses online for 8 years through a University. In the beginning, I felt good about it. I came up with relevant lectures, links to more information on the web and tried to have provocative questions to encourage more discussion. I stopped teaching two years ago when the university mandated a cookie cutter curriculum. The goal seemed to be more about taking students money (many which weren't adequately prepared for college) than actually promoting learning. Long distance learning only works when the students have self-discipline. I believe we are wrong as a culture to place stigmas on people who don't graduate from college. College isn't for everybody and this influx of insufficiently prepared students is "dumbing" our higher education. More technical opportunities need to be made available. That being said, I still strongly believe in using technology to enhance life-long learning.

  • Eugen
    April 22, 2009 6:34 a.m.

    Wiley is a saint in that he delivers a prophecy to all the children that otherwise would be blocked from higher education, now thay can too. This will revolutionize education, the combined knowledge and output will increase significantly on a global scale.

  • Lacking the Interpersonal
    April 22, 2009 6:32 a.m.

    As a college professor I find some of these ideas very exciting. Considering the state of our K-12 education and the violence in the schools, part of this plan provides some better options for true education of the individual rather than teaching to the middle of the classroom. However, this idea if taken as an all-or-nothing direction has a serious lack of interpersonal learning. Recent generations who have grown up in this technology-based world have fewer interpersonal communications skills. I fear for these generations and their inability to speak up and out, to interact with others, to engage in meaningful and thoughtful dialogue with others. Where will they develop their true voice? Blogging, texting, and emailing is not the same as speaking your thoughts in front of others. How will they learn the necessary skills to talk, listen, and consider what they are hearing and then instantly engage in personal human interactions that exchange differing ideas? Recently college campuses in the USA have been moving away from the formal lecture mode, learning more methods of blended teaching methods (blending digital with interpersonal models). Blending is better than a full discard.

  • Ridgerunner
    April 21, 2009 10:09 p.m.

    Bill Gates anyone? Never graduated from college and it is probably a good thing he didn't. Why? conventional wisdom (thinking) was not available in any university in the field he invented! I used to work for a pharmaceutical company and at least in my industry, we did our own research, no university has ever invented a new medicine! That is not to say universities are totally irrelavent, I am just saying they are not the end all, be all that some people believe. Most (not all) technological inventions have come from private industry, not universities.

  • marilyn
    April 21, 2009 9:58 p.m.

    I wanted to watch the U-tube video mentioned in the article. Has anyone found it? I had a college professor who said the Internet was a passing fad, when I predicted that it would dramatically change the way education is delivered. It seems education is being delivered more often over the Net and not just for Internet based classes. I love being able to email my assignments to my instructor and become impatient when a teacher wants a hard copy.

  • One question
    April 21, 2009 9:56 p.m.

    Has anyone thought about what will take the place of the research that universities provide? A university doesn't just teach, it discovers new knowledge as well. How will that be replaced?

  • Mark
    April 21, 2009 9:53 p.m.

    Anyone who thinks college professors only work 6 hours a week probably think Steve Young only worked 3.5 hours a week too!

  • re: By 2020?
    April 21, 2009 9:29 p.m.

    Wow, you're pretty good at spouting off stereotypes of professors. Many professors care very much. And let me let you in on a little secret: most professors (and I know a lot of them first-hand, as I'm a PhD candidate) work very long weeks. Just because there is only, as you put it 6 hours of instruction time, most are putting in 60-80 hours of work toward their profession. Lush offices? Hardly, professors' offices are no different than in the business world, just not as cushy. The only professors getting anything close to the kind of treatment you are describing are in fields such as business, and that only because the job must be close to competitive to the private business sector to attract good candidates.

  • re: RB
    April 21, 2009 9:19 p.m.

    How is one to get caught up with the state of technology in the first place without education? I think there's a reason Boeing isn't interested in hiring a high-school kid who tinkers on his own with the intention of on the job training for him. Yes, learning is a lifetime endeavor--all the universities have ever claimed to do is provide a launching point. A university graduate (from a reputable institution) will at least have some basic knowledge of the area and, more importantly, the ability to learn. Let's face it, learning is a skill that must be cultivated through practice. Without a challenging proving-ground one is unlikely to reach their full potential.

  • To: College Drop-outs
    April 21, 2009 9:14 p.m.

    The fact that the truly gifted have been drop-outs of the traditional system is nothing new. But what you're not accounting for are the tens of thousands of people involved in realizing the dream these figures set in motion who all depended on the skills and knowledge obtained from their college experience. Sure, computers are revolutionary, but how far would they have gone had the internet not been developed into a feasible tool by MIT grads? And how great would the internet have been for business had another university researcher not developed encryption? Your argument is hardly evidence for the downfall of the university system.

  • Name Entered
    April 21, 2009 7:22 p.m.

    A University, whether actual or virtual, exposes students to a wide range of ideas. I constantly reassure my students that the Earth is now beginning to enter a cooling off period which should end by 2020.

  • College Drop-outs
    April 21, 2009 7:12 p.m.

    It's nothing more than a piece of paper, like a receipt from the candy store.

    I read recently that 70% of the jobs in the next 20 years will be related to technologies that don't even exist today.

    The biggest movers and shakers in the world were not government funded, University Reasearchers, but a bunch of College drop-outs.

    They, and they alone have changed the world the most in the last 20 years.
    Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Ralph Lauren, Richard Branson...all college loosers.

    How and Why? Because Academia was to big, too proud, too smart and too set in their paradigms to see the world differently, and then adapt.
    They did.

    Bye-Bye dinosaurs.
    Social, Economic Darwinism.
    Only the strong survive.

  • Armen Alvarez
    April 21, 2009 6:38 p.m.

    I truly know that the money talks!!! The online campus is more unexpensive and the difficult level and the credebility is something that universities as WGU can guaranteed! I am believe in this article! We don't need to wait until 2020 is happening now!

  • RB
    April 21, 2009 5:29 p.m.

    Great article and I couldn't agree with the Prof. more.

    30 years ago, I went to the University of Utah and Weber State COLLEGE. We didn't have computers, cell phones, digital cameras, lightweight composite materials or the internet back then...they hadn't been invented!

    I've spent the last 25 years working for Boeing designing and building the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world.

    Myself, and those Doctors giving you drugs and cutting you open, have had to learn and re-learn as the technologies have changed. Not a minute of it has been in a college class room, or by a formal Educator or formal instructor.

    Times and Information and the methods of transfering that information are constantly changing at lightning speed.

    "The glory of God is Intelligence" - whatever the source.

  • Doug
    April 21, 2009 4:43 p.m.

    As a teacher of online courses, I see that some students thrive because the can teach themselves. Other (non-autodidacts), drop like flies and learn nothing. I can envision a world where education is relegated to those of have the "online learning" gene, and they will thrive. Those who lack the DNA, well, someone has to serve lunch at the fast food diner. That guy handing you a burger and fries might have been Alexander the Great, but alas, there was no Aristotle. All my online friends are Turing Machines. Your, too.

  • Henry Drummond
    April 21, 2009 4:37 p.m.

    I fear our evangelists friend is a bit behind the time. Lectures and all kinds of materials have been available for years online. There are free books and free online classes. In fact the idea of "distance education" is older than he is. It really has little to do with why graduates from the better universities are in such high demand.

    I see little sense in seeking out a third rate educational experience from these online courses when you have so many second rate institutions like BYU available to you.

  • One
    April 21, 2009 4:34 p.m.

    At the rate the world is going high tech, I'm not so sure univ's will be around in 10 years. My concern is more about accuracy and truth. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing in the minds of those who don't research and check their sources; and ask themselves why. And calculators did make children stupid...without a computerized cash register, many can't even count change.

  • Like-minded Professor
    April 21, 2009 3:36 p.m.

    Universities cannot presume to compete with Google and Wikipedia - e.g. examining students for readily-avilable knowledge truly is out-dated.

    Instead, they must focus on optimizing the benefits of propinquity: on fostering learning activities that can improve the mind (e.g. critical thinking) that often are better accomplished where other as-interested parties are gathered together in close geographical proximity.

    Also, expert information processing theory suggests that the high-performance knowledge upon which expertise depends, is most often achieved in a close-coaching setting - - again, propinquity. (This is why in most crafts,e.g. medicine, sports, trades, etc., effective substitutes for apprenticeship with masters are difficult to effect.)

    So let's assess these ideas in a sufficiently-broad context.

    University change? Yes. University obsolescence . . . . doubtful.

  • Wiley, Wiley, Wiley
    April 21, 2009 3:18 p.m.

    Whatever good points Wiley has to make are clouded by a typical practice in academia: Making a controversial statement to gain recognition. Unfortunately, Wiley will be subject of conversations, not education reform.

  • GRad Student
    April 21, 2009 3:16 p.m.

    Response to Know-what ... Not all professors are like the ones you had ... and it only takes ONE caring person to help another person make positive changes in their own life ... Education is about being able to SEE that you have more choices than those who weren't able to attend college. That way you are more able to make the choice that' s right for you.

  • Murat O.
    April 21, 2009 2:14 p.m.

    Universities today are not just about teachable information but capitalizable knowledge. Universities will never be irrelevant, especially for the second part, as long as the tie between academy and industry stay strong. Can anyone tell me a cheaper way of producing science and technology for the private industry or the governmental agencies (like Dept of Defense)? Dont take me wrong, I am (partially) against entrepreneurial university and I am aggrieved about quality professors running after grants instead of teaching. Yet, there seems to be nothing standing against the capita-l-iberalism. Can open content rebel? Who knows! But, I am little bit skeptical because the social forces posed by capita-l-iberalism still say no gain no pain.

  • WC
    April 21, 2009 2:09 p.m.

    Wiley makes a bold statemtn but perhaps false. I agree with him that virtual information is fast becoming commonplace in educational instutitons. However to call universities obsolete is to neglect the fact that university isn't just the classroom. Surely you are there primarily for an education but also for an experience. People mee their best friend, wife, husband etc at university and dooming this social experience is a bit of a stretch. Additionally perhspa some low-middle level classes can be digitized but what about upper level classes where hands-on research is necessary in order to carry out your dissertation or 4th year thesis? I don't believe the technology is there as yet to truly replace the human presence and its benefits. Would we want a doctor to operate on us based on a degree he took online in which he only saw some pictures of the procedure? Or would we want one who has been mentored by a qualified surgeon and has personally assisted or performed one in their course of study?

  • Federico
    April 21, 2009 2:08 p.m.

    Does anyoneknow the URL of the "What if" video in Youtube Wiley refers to? I've spent 30 minutes searching for it and can't find it.

  • Adult education
    April 21, 2009 1:49 p.m.

    The last couple of years I'm been stuck at home with a medical disability and been using the time to catch up on all manner of courses from chemistry, history, mathematics and geology. I have a 4-year honors degree from a reputable university, and can state without hesitation that the best of those online video courses exceeded by far in content and presentation much of what I received in school.

    I'm not sure about how testing is coming along but if that problem is solved traditional education may well be on the way out.

  • Knowwhat
    April 21, 2009 12:00 p.m.

    Thinking about many professors that I listened to would have been just as valuable a listening online. I found many professors to be boring, monotonous and full of themselves, not interested in helping students learn but just diseminating their own expert information. My son attending a university now sees this same pattern. He went to discuss a part of a lecture with the professor and was treated like a fool and the professor acted like he was wasting his time. This is why they will become obsolete. I'll bet most of you can only name one or two professors that had any impact on your education.

  • Jane Q. Public
    April 21, 2009 11:57 a.m.

    Are you sure that they are not telling the truth about these economic situations, and that it is not YOUR political biases that are saying they must be wrong?

    Because to me, that sounds like the more reasonable and likely scenario.

  • The bigger picture
    April 21, 2009 11:55 a.m.

    Most of these comments have a very valid point. Though, something I am seeing in most of these posts is consideration of only one type of learner or subject matter. Some people benefit more from constant interaction between an in-the-flesh teacher (I am one of those). Some people can learn just fine on their own through an Internet classes. However, it does take an organized, self-motivated person to learn information and skills like that. There are also some subjects/skills that cannot be learned effectively through such impersonal mediums as the Internet. Teaching, for instance, requires: observation by an expert teacher to develop public speaking skills; time in front of real students that care more about lunch time than what you have to say so that one can get used to that kind of environment; time to learn and develop classroom management techniques as well as developing the guts to effectively administer discipline with 30 defiant teenagers. Internet classes could never replace this kind of specialized instruction. However, Internet classes do have their place in knowledge-based (as opposed to skill-based) disciplines.

  • Good students
    April 21, 2009 11:51 a.m.

    Students interested in learning material will succeed just as much if not more at a self-paced program with free information such as is described as they would in a classroom setting. Disinterested students can skate by in either setting without really learning the material.

    I wish schools were already like this. I've learned more from online lectures and my own reading of books than I ever learned from the archaic process of listening to a professor pontificate and then regurgitating their opinions in a paper for the purpose of getting a good grade.

  • To LightandLiberty
    April 21, 2009 11:41 a.m.

    Your discussion of the need for a classroom with a teacher confuses form with substance. Learning is dependent on the student far more than the teacher. Some face-to-face teaching is important, and at grade school ages, is really necessary. But, the subject matter determines what context works best. Playing basketball as a team can, of course, only be learned by playing as a team. Scientific experiments require the right equipment. But, learing does not require someone at the front of a lecture hall or classroom to be the source of information in many subjects. Learning requires a student who is actively engaged and seeking answers to questions.

    Assuming that self-directed learning does not require work is based on a false assumption. Some people may lack the self-discipline to really get an education, but this is true whether they are in a classroom or on their own.

  • Linus
    April 21, 2009 11:40 a.m.

    It is so easy to spot the comments made by "establishment" defenders. "I paid an arm and a leg to jump through the diploma hoops, so everyone should have to do the same."

    As a former public school teacher, I can assure you that a degree or a certificate does not a teacher make! The ability to teach is a gift, and is often possessed by graduates of the school of hard knocks. I was excited when the legislature considered opening opportunities to teach to those with practical experience, certified or not. I was disappointed when nothing came of it.

    I say "three cheers for Wiley!" Keep thinking, Sir, because (obviously) that's what you're good at.

  • Heidi K.
    April 21, 2009 11:38 a.m.

    An open source educational environment will fail us in the long run. First, it lacks teaching discipline. In the working world, sitting through long presentations and meetings is an habitual practice that we all must suffer through--and most of us learned our patience by attending long lectures in school. Also, the interaction between students in a classroom is an important way to learn how to apply the information written on the page/screen. If learning shifts to an independent theatre students will lack discipline, important personal interactions that spark creativity, and lose the high educational standards that keep us competitive in this global marketplace.

  • By 2020?
    April 21, 2009 11:33 a.m.

    Colleges and universities are irrelevant today!

    Years ago, they priced themselves out of the market by treating professors and administrators like rock stars or oriental potentates. Those lush offices and 6-hour workweeks get expensive.

    Even when they're teaching, they aren't the slightest bit concerned, either with pedagogical skills, or with staying current in their fields of "expertise."

    College students learn no useful skills. The only currency of any value in colleges is regurgitating a professor's thoughts -- no matter how uninformed or irrelevant -- to get a good grade on a test. Not a very useful skill, unless you intend to stay in academe.

    Graduates are educated in their profession by their first employer.

    So, other than great parties, what's the use of college?

  • Home School Success
    April 21, 2009 11:21 a.m.

    The suggestion that home schooled children are socially retarded is the opposite of my experience. I know many, many home schooled children who are almost all among the most balanced, confident, mature and well educated youth I have had the privilege of knowing. While there may be some bad examples, the vast majority of those I have observed personally make me wish our public schools could do as well. Taking responsibility for one's own education is fundamental to home schooling, and brings an early maturity and confidence lacking in many of the other youth with whom I am acquainted.

    Social skills are not dependent on public education, but on healthy interactions with others with well-developed social skills. Most home schoolers that I know are involved in many activites that provide better socialization than a typical public school classroom ever could.

  • Do both?
    April 21, 2009 11:01 a.m.

    I'm sure you can do both. How much engagement between professors and students occurs in a 900 person class? Not much. Can Bio 100, Econ 110, and many entry level classes be put online? Yes. Can the upper level classes meet in person. Yes. Do a hybrid of both. I value the in person experience I'm getting in my on campus MBA program at Arizona State - but not all of it needs to be in person. One of THE most valuable courses I took was a hybrid - Thanks Norm Nemrow for Acc 200 at the very relevant BYU (which is head and shoulders above ASU academically, but that can be left for another post).

  • Education VS University
    April 21, 2009 10:55 a.m.

    The problem with Universities is that they are more interested in the prestige of being a University than in providing Education. Take BYU for example, professors get up talk for an hour about their research even though it hardly applies to the subject of the class, then they assign you five hours of homework and expect you to go to T.A. sessions where the TA goes through the assignment question by question showing you how to do it. The student gets an "A" on the assignment and repeats the next week. Every few weeks a paper is due, which the TA grades. Then you take a test which the professor wrote 25 years ago as a new professor, or he borrows from a teacher who teaches the same course. Students cram the night before, take the test pass and forget everything the next day...that's why we have the much dreaded "comprehensive final" Which is becoming more rare because so many students can't handle them because in reality they didn't learn anything the whole course. But they get the credit, and the professor gets to do their research.

    It is a joke, and needs reformation.

  • SJ
    April 21, 2009 10:48 a.m.

    I am currently enrolled in an on-line graduate program from a school in the SEC. My last semester was extremely brutal. Things many of their professors do to overcome the distance aspect include: providing the lectures on DVD and posting the lecture notes on-line. To gain the benifit of discussion, they divide the class in to discussion groups and we had to post answers and comments to a weekly question or topic. The discusions often got to the point where the instrutors had to tell us to move on because we were still discussing topics 2-3 weeks later and we needed to focus on the current week.

  • Education leads to liberalism
    April 21, 2009 10:47 a.m.

    In response to the many posts about professors being liberal, many faculty have had to live in foreign lands, study social and political problems, and the like in their work. What one finds in exposure to so many points of view and experiencing life from so many different cultures and perspectives is that it opens your mind from the "small world" most folks gained from their childhood sheltered family/church lives.

    To live amongst the poor in Costa Rica or study the drug lords of Mexico or trace the history of GM's labor challenges forces academics to "live" in the shoes of other people, undertsand their motivations, etc., and you realize the world isn't as "black and white" as Fox News or the Bush Administration would have you believe.

    I have some econ professors who are so dismissive of global warming, the benefits of recycling, or the improtance of renewable energy -- all asserting that these ideas are "bad" economics, I question their expertise on what they're teaching me. That is, their political biases seem to promote closed mindedness, which is antithetical to education.

  • LightandLiberty
    April 21, 2009 10:38 a.m.

    It takes a lot of work to get a diploma from an accredited college. Some diplomas are worth more than others. However, one thing is certain. A diploma without work is not worth anything, no matter how many credits are on it. The problem isn't that there aren't enough educational opportunities; the problem is that there aren't enough students prepared to take on the opportunities available. A classroom with a teacher will never be replaced by an online teacher. Think of it this way. What good is it for someone to be on a college basketball team that isn't prepared to take on the expected skill level and rigors associated with it? What good is it to get into college, go online, etc., if you are not prepared to succeed in that class. I would love to coach against a team that had been taught by a coach online how to play and compete! Enough said!

  • Cosmo
    April 21, 2009 10:35 a.m.

    Many professors, as well as teachers K-12, will buck these ideas, insomuch as they will lose their power to indoctrinate, and not be competitive. Just as the afformentioned K-12 teachers are screaming about home schooling. As much as we need to eliminate 85% of government, we also need to re-think why we maintain and old dead dinosaur, we call our education system.

  • tko211
    April 21, 2009 10:23 a.m.

    Wiley makes some interesting and challenging points. People can go ahead and ignore the fact that change happens. People can ignore the fact that changes these days are more rapid and make more impact to older institutions. As a quick example: Remember all the brick & mortar music stores of the past? My point- Wiley is more correct than one might think!

  • To: To K
    April 21, 2009 10:23 a.m.

    The problem with the past is we don't learn from it.

    Tomorrow's youth with become resistant to those in authority and establishment and you will see more conservative students rebelling at liberal education and leadership. Just like the 60's only in reverse. That is why all students won't prescribe to one idealogy they are exposed to.

    Actually I said those allowed and given the opportunity to instruct students are disproportionally liberal.

  • @ To: K 11:17 | 9:33 a.m
    April 21, 2009 10:20 a.m.

    The failure to learn from the past is exactly why our country is having the problems it is having right now, and why we will have greater problems in the future. You fail to learn from the past mistakes, you fail to learn from successes in the past, you fail. Your liberal friends think that they know better than everyone else in the past or the present and they are doomed to failure. Simple as that.

  • Similar Parallel
    April 21, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    Sounds like universities have the same problem that newspapers do, they don't like the truth, are left-leaning, and are institutions where socialist collude.

  • Wiley's Fomer Colleague
    April 21, 2009 10:16 a.m.

    Wiley is an ignoramus. He assumes that "knowledge" and "education" are things commodities that can be stored on a hard drive, downloaded onto an iPod, and transferred into the passive brain of a student. That is equivalent to thinking that health can be packaged, stored, downloaded, and ingested in a pill form. Wrong. Education, like physical health, is an dynamic, active, living, changing experience in relation with other people, at least one of whom has demonstrated him/her-self as having achieved a higher level of education (intellectual health). It cannot be packaged and ingested no matter how amazing technology becomes! Education and knowledge are organic, social, and experiential. Wiley doesnt get it, which is why he reveals himself to have a substandard education and a lack of knowledge. He should be dismissed as nothing more than a peer wacko with Steven E Jones, formerly of BYU.

  • Student
    April 21, 2009 10:04 a.m.

    It is the student that matters most in the equation, not the university. A good student can learn in a bad environment. In contrast, a bad student will struggle in a good environment. I have had courses at many different colleges, including the University of Phoenix (eight week courses, four hours each night, two nights a week). I have seen negligible difference between the independent study, online, distance learning, and traditional classrooms. How the information is dispensed is not nearly as important as how the information is received. I have learned equally at all of the institutions I have attended, traditional university setting or not. The difference is me.

  • Mike
    April 21, 2009 10:02 a.m.

    I agree with Me | 6:06 a.m. The quality is just not there. The virtual experience does not compare with being in front of an expert. However I have also noticed that this is true of classes taught by grad students versus tenure track faculty, so if you're going to spend your entire undergraduate career in front of a grad student, maybe there is no difference.

  • me
    April 21, 2009 10:01 a.m.

    You know we have had sunrise semester by the University of Chicago when TV was predicted to radically change things. And the British Open University (and other international OUs) were also predicted to do the same. The irrelevance of universities has been predicted for a long time. In 1899 Dewey noted that the invention of the printing press changed knowledge from a solid to a liquid. Electronics has vaporized it.

    David is seeing through a glass darkly. The future is actually brighter than he predicts. but for sure it will be different. Perhaps rather than predicting the future from the perspective of the wired world, he might be more accurate if he were to predict it from the perspective of society and organizations -- wait, wait, he will predict that those are going to change also because of wired world. Did Ender's Game do that already?

  • I'm With Scott
    April 21, 2009 9:59 a.m.

    Universities aren't just about courses, they're also about people. Much of what a person learns in the social setting of a university cannot be duplicated on-line.

  • Anonymous
    April 21, 2009 9:55 a.m.

    Interesting ideas, all of them, and I agree education needs some innovation -- but what about the experience and mentor factors? One thing about personally running into a professor in class two or three times a week is that, hopefully, this is a person who can teach you just as much by example and personal tips as they can out of the latest edition in their textbook. Good teachers motivate and inspire and teach by experience and allow for experimentation, and it's easier to do all that in person ...

  • Minhaaj
    April 21, 2009 9:45 a.m.

    David Wiley and Leigh Blackall are probably the only one who seems to have a vision about education which is really solid and pragmatic. Education is a right not a privilege and i am happy to be collaborating with them to orchestrate a world with free education.

  • Matthew
    April 21, 2009 9:44 a.m.

    A couple of points here:
    1) Many (too many) college students are only in it for the diploma to open employment doors. These students aren't after an education, often don't get one, and are well served by University of Phoenix or whatever gets them a diploma.
    2) A university is an environment that is intended to stimulate learning and the exchange of ideas. This process, under the guidance of good professors, results in receiving an education. It doesn't mean you learn everything, or anything, that you need in any given job. It means that you can more quickly and easily acquire the knowledge and skills you need for any job or endeavor.
    3) Many universities today are guilty of letting those in point #1 corrupt point #2 and reduce its effectiveness.
    4) The traditional education provided by a traditional university is as valuable and valid today as it was 50, 100, or 200 years ago. If done well and right it will produce an informed, insightful, productive, and enlightened individual that can do better at any given task than a non-university educated person of equivalent native ability.
    Inovation is fine, but preserve the core university concept

  • Innovation
    April 21, 2009 9:39 a.m.

    We are blessed with great schools in Utah. BYU and the U of U and consistently ranked in top categories in many fields. BYU is usually in the top regarding value (tuition vs quality).

    We have innovative universities like Western Governors creating a new educational model that is competency based instead of credit based. In other words there are exams and assignments students must pass or complete to prove their knowledge in the topics relevant to their field of study, regardless of how they learn the material: books, ipods, OJT, etc.

    Another innovative university is George Wythe U in Cedar City. It's a small liberal arts college still pursuing accreditation. It has some sound philosophies surrounding education and it's purpose. They teach that we must study history and the classics to learn how to think and behave. Learn the fundamentals of society and key concepts and principles that make nations or communities great. Once you learn how to think, then you start your chosen career training.

    It's amazing, In the future everyone will have an iphone and there will be an app to learn anything. We are almost there already!

  • To: K 11:17
    April 21, 2009 9:33 a.m.

    To answer your question; the reason most instructors are liberal is because they are smarter and more pertinent to today's world. That is the purpose of an education: to prepare us for tomorrow. As you know, the problem in living in the past is that there is no future in it.

  • EngProf
    April 21, 2009 9:30 a.m.

    This guy's whole model rests on the assumption that students come to college because they are curious and dedicated to learning. Sorry. There are students like that, but most are not. They come to college because they don't want to get a job or their parents made them. Without the structure of class-time and regular assignments, they would never open a book. The function of college is to create a play-pen for learning. I do not see this changing in the next ten years.

  • Zoneseek
    April 21, 2009 9:20 a.m.

    While his comments are interesting-and he may have a point-I think the author is leaving out the need for classroom instruction and discussion. Believe it or not, there are professors out there that challenge the students in the classroom setting to verbalize and organize information. Ideas and facts are "bounced" off each other. I have learned both in the classroom and online-the truth is sometimes we NEED that live involvement to really learn. The author assumes that all professors dryly give info in monotone fashion such as the teacher on Ferris Buhler.

  • total nonsense
    April 21, 2009 9:18 a.m.

    What a ridiculous blowhard. Harvard and Yale will never be irrelevant, but it is true that second-rate BYU is already irrelevant.

  • re: 7:44am comment
    April 21, 2009 9:12 a.m.


  • Utah State Grad 2009
    April 21, 2009 8:52 a.m.

    For those of you who think that internet classes are easy...think again. I am an older college grad, (36) I have found in my experience that the face to face classes are fairly easy while the ones on line are difficult to say the least. Just because a professor sits in front of you to lecture does not mean that they will always impart greater knowledge.
    Utah State has gone high tech compared to other Universities in that they use their professors in Logan or Vernal and broadcast them to different satelite campuses statewide. For example, my campus is in Tooele, yet I get the same professors as students in Logan. I have had a rich educational experience, with some of my classes being online, (I enjoy the online challenge of school as well.)
    For those of you who commented that you can't learn things in 6 weeks time, you can't learn things in 14 weeks time either... it is called cram & purge. You cram it in for the semester, your brain not able to hold info purges it, unless you will need it for another class. :)

  • Sorry but..
    April 21, 2009 8:47 a.m.

    this is an old argument that has little merit. Online degrees are becoming more mainstream but traditional colleges and universities will still be around in 10 years.

  • Mike Rose
    April 21, 2009 8:40 a.m.

    It takes at least ten years of rigorous and relevant practice to master and be fully productive in a profession. Reading books, and listening to lectures are cheap ways of learning facts but don't necessarily help people practice using knowledge in ways that pay.

    Besides improving people's productivity and work quality education has a much larger economic effect in regulating and dividing the supply of labor. Since many professions require a government mandated license which includes a 4 year college degree

  • re: K
    April 21, 2009 8:28 a.m.

    I could take the easy cheap shot and pose your question like this: why is it that everybody who decides to really research things out and think them through becomes a liberal? Your complaint carries the connotation that anybody with a lot of education is liberal, therefore remaining conservative requires a certain level of ignorance. I mean, it's not as if there are hiring strictures against conservatively-minded professors.
    The truth is, however, that there actually is balance in the classrooms. You have bought into the media-machine's argument that college professors are all liberal. I am a PhD candidate in Ohio and looking around I can assure you that there are plenty of very intelligent, conservative professors and grad students. One or the other political leaning tend to congregate within certain fields, but students are exposed to all those fields through general education requirements. That's the advantage of a university over a trade school--you get exposed to various points of view and from there can decide on your own political leaning. Think about it, if it were really that unbalanced, wouldn't more college graduates be liberal?

  • Nostradamus
    April 21, 2009 8:25 a.m.

    Wiley's university is already irrelevant.

  • david jay
    April 21, 2009 8:22 a.m.

    For the person who stated that his education was virtually useless, You stated what was usefull about your education. It got you the interview! The fact that you were employed showes that you learned something. The purpose of a classic education is to teach the student to learn. I am enrolled in an online Masters program. I don't know how "valuable" this degree will be, but the school is accredited by the North Central Association. I do know that the curiculum is almost exactly what I would study on my own. This way I get credit for it. I think this article is right on the money. Just reduce the costs soon please.

  • Free textbooks and lectures
    April 21, 2009 8:22 a.m.

    I'm not so sure we can evolve to a point where everything is available for free online. Just like anybody else with a marketable skill, people competent to write such books or deliver such lectures need compensation. This is not selfishness, it's necessity. We certainly don't expect doctors to maintain free blogs where they virtually consult with patients for free. When was the last time you heard of a marketing consultant offering free guidance, or an accountant who'll do your taxes for free. Just a rule of thumb...if a book or lecture is free online it tends to be either severely out of date, or misinformed.

  • Meet Market
    April 21, 2009 8:20 a.m.

    At least BYU will remain the meat market it has always been. Personnaly I think diplomas in general are quickly becoming obsolete.

  • Universities
    April 21, 2009 8:18 a.m.

    are not technical schools. A major part of the experience is the cross mingling between disciplines and the students requirement to move between them. The whole basis of a 'liberal' (in the traditional sense) education. The other aspect that cannot be duplicated remotely is experimental research in the hard sciences. I suppose that some of the other disciplines might be able to perform some sort of dispersed research, but it isn't going to work when you need a lab.

    Someone will still need to be the 'authority' to set standards of performance (i.e. grades and scores) or the degrees granted will be like those of any diploma mill. Those experts will still need to make a living.

    Changes are coming but the University is not doomed.

  • Anon
    April 21, 2009 8:18 a.m.

    We learn from the teacher, the teacher learns from us and all students benifit from discussions and disagreements. Often when a person does not understand a topic it comes from an angle that the other students did not think of. Ergo, they didn't know they didn't understand. I believe in a mix of online lectures that are always open, and rich classroom experiences that are live.

  • Life Long Learning
    April 21, 2009 8:11 a.m.

    The idea of distance learning is at the tipping point of mainstream acceptance. The old idea of college being something you did in your early 20's and then your formal education was done, is over. Life long learning needs to become our societal goal and the established norm.

    The real value of this virtual approach is keeping current in emerging knowledge in all sorts of disciplines and contexts, NOT JUST higher education.

    Individually this A la carte approach will equip workers to compete, and encourage them to stay engaged with their ongoing education. At a societal level, a flexible, adroit workforce is exactly what we need to be competitive in our rapidly accelerating world.

    Open access democratizes knowledge for the masses, not just the privileged few. This is exciting stuff!

  • BYU will be irrelevant by 2020
    April 21, 2009 7:44 a.m.

    Wait, it already is.

  • Anonymous
    April 21, 2009 7:30 a.m.

    Innovation will occur, but universities will not become irrelevant. Nice try.

  • Educational Compromises
    April 21, 2009 7:13 a.m.

    I got a degree in the highly technical field of Electrical Engineering. Pretty much EVERY TOPIC (including language arts) that I thought was irrelevant to my job at one point, has come back to bite me in the butt.

    As one commenter made the oft-repeated supposition that because everything they learned was of no use to him, I can only suppose he has a job that has no actual application or use to society. I find that every topic I SHOULD HAVE learned has eventually been something I wished I'd learned better.

    I think all these virtual courses are a great supplement to education--I do not think they should supplant them, however.

    One needs both human and self-directed learning, in order to succeed.

    The simple human factor is important. I once sat in on an interview with a fellow who was very booksmart, and I asked him a question about what one does if the process he learned was broken. He was a PhD and couldn't answer the question--he was insistent if the process didn't work the way he'd been taught it couldn't be done. He wasn't hired.

  • The Marriage Factor
    April 21, 2009 6:59 a.m.

    This will ensure that BYU always exists, always. And to some, it is more important than the education.

  • Scott
    April 21, 2009 6:50 a.m.

    The learning experience in a real classroom with other real students and an instructor, cannot be duplicated in any Virtual situation - i.e. by the student sitting at home or on a park bench looking at his laptop and text-messaging.
    This BYU professor is off his rocker. As a BYU graduate I am appalled at his opinion. I believe he is wrong.

  • Interesting
    April 21, 2009 6:41 a.m.

    I thought this was very interesting observation. choice is good but as with everytthing else that is free $ you have to watch out for bad information. I can start blogging on ecconomics, but it's not going to be worth anything but what do you know?

  • Prestige
    April 21, 2009 6:21 a.m.

    How will these virtual classrooms and schools overcome teh prestige factor? I've taken both online and in classroom courses, and by far there is more respect for in-classroom programs than internet courses. There is a reason why the University of Phoenix spends millions on ads promoting their online courses - they are trying to overcome this factor.

  • Me
    April 21, 2009 6:06 a.m.

    One of the concerns I have with going totally virtual is the lack of truly learning. University of Phoenix mentioned and other online for-profit schools are alluded to. Well UOP online classes are either 5 or 6 weeks long (depends if it is undergrad or grad) with very few if any lectures. I really do not believe the quality of education is there. Maybe for some, but still how do you really learn math, statistics or programming in that time....you cant? An entire degree based on weekly papers and very few tests, I wonder. UOP is by far the largest single user of Government student loans in the US. They give pay raises to those who sell (enroll) more student and those who retain more students. They and other schools like this are in it for the money, they have shareholders. With Dr. Wiley I don't see how education can be sustained if its all free. I don't think we live in the era of Star Trek yet where there is no money.

  • Enter nameER in AF
    April 21, 2009 6:01 a.m.

    Oh yeah. And power to the people!!! Education that can be had in Roosevelt or Rwanda is a great thing!!!!!! My daughter got 1910 on the SAT and should have one year done before she goes back to the US and gets her degree in Utah. Think of the savings of one year's rent, books andthe cost of all of the silly activities that she will love after she gets there. Universities will always exsist because I believe they are the playground for young adults to learn how to be out of the house and still be in a controled environment. I look for a mix of everything.

  • Lifelong Student
    April 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

    David Wiley's remarks are thought-provoking words of wisdom, but not prophetic. The concepts he discusses have been around for several years, but often dismissed as heresy. As a lifelong student, I admire Dr. Wiley for his critical thinking and for challenging conventional wisdom. I am inspired by the professor who says... we can do better.

  • Not so fast
    April 21, 2009 4:45 a.m.

    While higher education is as nearly as entrenched religion, students themselves tend to be slow to demand innovation. Institutional higher education is the GM of 2040.

  • ER in AF
    April 21, 2009 4:13 a.m.

    I live in Rwanda and my wife is getting her History degree online. We had a devil of a time finding one that does History. Most online higher ed organizations grant empirical based degrees such as business or the like. I work with a bunch of Marines and they turned me on to 2 universities that have a wide spectrum of classes and more importantly acrredited degrees. They are American Military University and Grantham University. Due to the mobile nature of the military the universities can be accessed anywhere and often are more open/understanding of special needs. You don't have to be military. That's just their focus. AMU is like a traditional univ and has specific dates semesters start/end. Grantham allows whatever speed you want with maximum limits but no minimums. If you are speedy you go as fast as you want. I compared them to BYU and the U and they're comparable. $750 for 3 credit class and $4,500 a year. AND!!! they have free books and shipping as long as you finish the class. Don't be fooled, it is kicking her butt, the classes are ligit and difficult. Good Luck!

  • Craig Williams
    April 21, 2009 2:37 a.m.

    David Wiley's description of open education is exactly what I see in the homeschooling movement. Kids and adults who homeschool share everything they have with others and educate much more openly.

    I attended public schools as a kid, but I agree that they are becoming increasingly irrelevant to a society where information is so openly available.

    Kids today don't need to go anywhere to learn. They could very well take online classes from multiple universities all over the world from their own homes. They just need a way to have their courses and work recognized and graduate them that is unbound from the idea that you have to graduate from a particular institution. Mr. Wiley - any sugestions how to do this?

  • Been There
    April 21, 2009 2:19 a.m.

    Lectures (literally 'readings') haven't made sense since the printing press made books available to all students. The solution then is not taking lectures and putting them on Ipods. I taught a 'distance learning' course at a Utah university once, and it wasn't what education is about. If what we do in the classroom can be digitised and put online, it should be, but that's not teaching; it's just one more evolutionary step in the presentation of content. Universities will survive IF the educational experience they offer can't be reproduced elsewhere or by other means. That's my goal in the courses I teach now.

  • Omar
    April 21, 2009 2:08 a.m.

    I wonder if my experiences with college were unique! I graduated with a B.S. degree and took a job in private industry (bioscience). I discovered very little of what I learned in college was useful in the real world. I left college armed with a lot of outdated, irrelevant and useless facts. I found that knowing science was not nearly as helpful to me as learning how to work with other people, skills I had to learn on the job and on the run. I learned much more from reading self help books than anything else! The best help to me was; "the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Steven Covey. Looking back now, most of the time and money I spent in college ended up having so little value to me and taught me nothing about how to succeed in the real world. All my hardwork and money I put into getting the "sheepskin" did for me is get me the first interview! The rest I learned from being quick on my feet. I wonder if others experienced this as well!

  • Prophet
    April 21, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    Nice opening statement, why don't you try calling him a prophet?

  • Fan of Innovative Pioneers
    April 21, 2009 12:20 a.m.

    David is also a founding Board member of Open High School of Utah, an innovative new Charter school opening this Fall. The school is virtual and delivers it's curriculum online using open source content. David donates his time to this school to share his passion for innovation and 21st century methods of delivering education. Thanks, David, for bringing quality options to students and parents.

  • K
    April 20, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    What I'm sick of is lack of balance in the university lecture hall. Why are most instructors so liberal?

    I also am upset at the costs higher than inflation, often with tax money going to state schools and so little instructor classroom time. We are funding one sided research and their agenda. But why is the student funding all that? Let the alumnae fund that stuff. And let's get rid of tenure.