The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University

The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University

The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University

The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University

Synopsis

In recent years, the powerful social, cultural and economic changes wrought by digital technology have led many to forecast the end of the university as we know it. This book employs extensive research and case studies to explain why these predictions, even if perhaps somewhat premature, are on solid ground. The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University shows how the internet, high-speed electronic communications and personal computers necessitate a radical rethinking of what is meant by 'higher education'. The book calls into question both the traditionalist's scepticism about the benefits of new technology, and the corporate e-learning advocate's failure to grasp that education is more than what happens on a computer screen. The author provides concrete data and models for more democratic, restructured systems of instruction that not only take advantage of advanced learning technologies, but promote the globalisation of higher education. This is an essential read for anyone concerned about the future of higher education.

Excerpt

Higher education has been in a 'crisis mode' for so long now that any attempt to sound the alarm one more time is apt to evoke only sighs and yawns. The modern higher educational system, particularly in the West, has survived two world wars and the Cold War, the Sixties 'cultural revolution' (which started in Berkeley, California in the early 1960s with a general rebellion against the university itself), the hyperinflation of the 1970s, and the 'political correctness' movement of the 1990s. The impact of all these batterings and shocks has been remarkably weaker than one might have anticipated. Today's typical college classroom, excluding perhaps its décor and architecture, does not look or function much differently from the way it did in the 1920s. Can one imagine any other crucial pillar of culture, or sector of the economy, that has not changed much in eighty years? It is almost impossible to imagine.

This fierce resistance to change can easily be construed, particularly by curricular traditionalists, as justification of the principle that what is time-tested is also true. But there is little evidence that higher education, particularly in the United States, is really serving its clientele, particularly when one figures the ratio of costs to benefits. Higher education has gone through various 'crises' because periodically someone, or some constituency, discovers that the expectations are absurdly far from the reality. But people stick with their existing higher educational system in the same way that a man and a woman persists in an abusive relationship. The painfully familiar seems preferable to the frighteningly unfamiliar.

This time around, however, the 'crisis' may have significant effects. The advent of digital or computer-mediated learning is not merely some kind of internal 'experiment' within the broader educational environment. It is a social, economic, and cultural shift of

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