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Higher Education in the Digital Age

Higher Education in the Digital Age

in collaboration with Kelly A. Lack
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Higher Education in the Digital Age
    Book Description:

    Two of the most visible and important trends in higher education today are its exploding costs and the rapid expansion of online learning. Could the growth in online courses slow the rising cost of college and help solve the crisis of affordability? In this short and incisive book, William G. Bowen, one of the foremost experts on the intersection of education and economics, explains why, despite his earlier skepticism, he now believes technology has the potential to help rein in costs without negatively affecting student learning. As a former president of Princeton University, an economist, and author of many books on education, including the acclaimed bestsellerThe Shape of the River, Bowen speaks with unique expertise on the subject.

    Surveying the dizzying array of new technology-based teaching and learning initiatives, including the highly publicized emergence of "massive open online courses" (MOOCs), Bowen argues that such technologies could transform traditional higher education--allowing it at last to curb rising costs by increasing productivity, while preserving quality and protecting core values. But the challenges, which are organizational and philosophical as much as technological, are daunting. They include providing hard evidence of whether online education is cost-effective in various settings, rethinking the governance and decision-making structures of higher education, and developing customizable technological platforms. Yet, Bowen remains optimistic that the potential payoff is great.

    Based on the 2012 Tanner Lectures on Human Values, delivered at Stanford University, the book includes responses from Stanford president John Hennessy, Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner, Columbia University literature professor Andrew Delbanco, and Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4720-4
    Subjects: Education, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Part 1 Costs and Productivity in Higher Education
    (pp. 1-42)

    AS MY WIFE keeps reminding me, I have a Don Quixote–like tendency to flail away at windmills—to take on topics such as race in America and affirmative action; the insidious problems with college sports at all levels, including Division III and the Ivy League (which cause me to cringe whenever the NCAA refers to its legions of “student-athletes”); and, yes, the unforgiving economics of labor-intensive industries, such as the performing arts and higher education. But, my DNA is what it is, and so I am now adding to this list the potential implications of online learning for college...

  6. Part 2 Prospects for an Online Fix
    (pp. 43-96)

    HAVING PROVIDED WHAT I hope is a useful context, I will now discuss the prospects for using new technologies to address the productivity, cost, and affordability issues that I have described. I regard the prospects as promising, but also challenging. To succeed we will need to adopt a system-wide perspective, be relentless in seeking evidence about outcomes and costs, change some of our mindsets and our decision-making processes, and exhibit more patience than is our wont. None of these conditions is easy to satisfy! My focus will be on the contributions from established universities already serving large numbers of students....

  7. Discussion by Howard Gardner
    (pp. 97-108)
    Howard Gardner

    I AM HONORED to have been invited to comment on Bill Bowen’s first Tanner Lecture. The lecture is witty, insightful, authoritative. I had the privilege of reading the lecture in draft form and I can assure you that it contains an entire education about the financing of universities. In fact there is an additional education in the endnotes alone, more than seventy-five of them.

    During the 2012 presidential election, Big Bird was in the news. Whether or not you were a regular viewer ofSesame Street, you probably know the game featured there: “One of these things is not like...

  8. Discussion by John Hennessy
    (pp. 109-122)
    John Hennessy

    LET ME PROPOSE, as a beginning point, that we should all accept the premise that a residential liberal arts education is the gold standard to which higher education should aspire. The challenge we face in an increasingly economically challenging time is: how do we preserve as much of that gold standard as we possibly can? We understand, just like gold jewelry, there will be 24-karat, 18-karat, and 10-karat organizations, and then there will be those that simply have a little gold plate on the outside. I would like to ask what we can do to preserve the best possible program...

  9. William G. Bowen’s Responses to Discussion Session Comments by Howard Gardner and John Hennessy
    (pp. 123-128)
    William G. Bowen’s

    THERE IS SO much here that I cannot possibly respond to everything that has been said. Let me first offer a few comments that may be controversial and challenge some of our accepted thinking—including some of my own. The first observation I would make cuts across the two sets of remarks by our commentators. It concerns the stratification issue in higher education.

    The difference in circumstances between Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton—the top-tier places in terms of wealth—and everybody else is dramatic, and so it is not surprising to hear what John reported about Stanford’s ability to provide...

  10. Discussion by Andrew Delbanco
    (pp. 129-144)
    Andrew Delbanco

    GOOD MORNING. I want to add my thanks to everyone already mentioned and, indeed, to everyone involved with this series of lectures. Daphne and I talked over the plan for this morning’s session, and we agreed that I should go first since there’s some risk that I may sound a down note on which we wouldn’t want to end. But perhaps it won’t be quite as down as you might anticipate.

    First, however, I want to add a more extended thanks to President Bowen not only for these very helpful lectures but also for his innumerable contributions that, for many...

  11. Discussion by Daphne Koller
    (pp. 145-156)
    Daphne Koller

    GOOD MORNING. That will be a very tough act to follow. I am going to try to respond to a few, not all, of Professor Delbanco’s points in the comments that I will make, and hopefully, we will tackle some of the rest in the discussion. Let me begin at a very similar point to Professor Delbanco’s talk. Professor Bowen started his second talk saying that he was initially skeptical about the value of online learning but has come to believe that perhaps now is the time when this technology will actually come to fruition and help us come up...

  12. William G. Bowen’s Responses to Discussion Session Comments by Andrew Delbanco and Daphne Koller
    (pp. 157-162)
    William G. Bowen’s

    IT IS EVIDENT that Daphne is a true believer! And when I referred earlier to the missionary spirit, here you see it incarnate, and it is wonderful to see. What I think is especially admirable is that in Daphne, the missionary spirit is blended with an understanding that you do have to test things and to look for evidence. As I have said, a big barrier to greater acceptance of online learning is the lack of evidence concerning both learning outcomes and cost savings. Assembling evidence takes thought and it takes patience; it is also very, very important.

    Let me...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 163-174)