University in the New Millennium: Threats, Opportunities and Change

I’m excited to be presenting on one of my research passions at the 2014 national conventions of both ACPA-College Student Educators International and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. My session on the future of higher education (see below) is something I’ve presented on before, but I’ve been able to update this presentation with about 50-60% new content as my understanding of the topic has evolved.

One of the concepts I wanted to highlight that I haven’t focused on as much in the past is the “unbundling” of higher education. I was influenced on this topic, in part, by a PechaKucha given by Kris Renn at the 2013 Association for the Study of Higher Education conference in St. Louis this year. Kris’s talk was titled “Higher Ed Air” and used the analogy of the airline industry for what’s happening in higher education. Much like the airline industry has begun to charge for new “extras” that were previously included in your ticket price (ex. checking a bag, meals/snacks, etc.), institutions may start “unbundling” their own packages. Lab fees? Extra. Counseling services? Extra. Library services? Extra. Student Activities? Extra. Faculty office hours, even? Extra. As someone who has worked in a part of the university, student affairs, that often gets viewed as the “extra,” this is more than a little unsettling.

One model that is included in Kris’ presentation takes an interesting angle on the topic. Michael Staton, an entrepreneur in the edtech space, has developed a “wheel” of educational outcomes:

Unbundling_NewIf you move from the upper left quadrant clockwise, one moves from those outcomes that may be more easily replicated online, and hence unbundled, to those that are more difficult to replicate and unbundle. Knowledge acquisition is the low hanging fruit, but personal transformation, which is underpinned by student development, is much more difficult. What is heartening to me is that student affairs work, which is strongly responsible for this quadrant, may become an increasingly important feature as a differentiator for a more traditional residential, or at least blended, college experience.

If you’re looking for some of the resources I’ve drawn from in my presentation: