As we stare down the dawn of a new year many of us will undoubtedly make new year’s resolutions. Staring at the scale after weeks of eating Christmas cookies, many of us will vow to lose weight. Staring at our bank accounts after weeks of holiday shopping, others will promise to save more money.
For those of us who work in higher education, 2012 was a turbulent year. Many of us endured more budget reductions, some of us fell prey to MOOC mania, and all of us felt the increased pressure to hold the line on tuition. In light of all of this, what will (or should) be higher education’s new year resolutions for 2013?
I have a few thoughts…..
1) Embrace the middle road when it comes to MOOC’s
Much of the coverage of MOOC’s throughout 2012 focused on polarizing views. In one camp were the “MOOC’s spell the end of higher education’s monopoly on learning” proponents. In the other camp were the “MOOC’s are a fad and represent the dumbing down of higher education” opponents.
In 2013, I’d like to see more higher education leaders and institutions embracing what I personally think will be the future of higher education- a hybrid approach which blends the best of traditional pedagogy with high quality MOOC-like experiences. I’d like to see all of this take place within an environment devoid of hysteria; a thoughtful, data driven, and cautious environment. MOOC’s can alleviate many of the curricula and scheduling bottle-necks that have hampered both institutions and students for millenia but they are certainly no replacement for the type of serindipitous learning that takes place through high-quality, face-to-face interactions with teachers or other students.
2) Get a hold on cost accounting
Many institutions have very poor cost accounting systems. It’s the ugly truth. When budgets were flush this mattered little. However, in the past few years, as legislatures have tightened the purse strings, the shabbiness of the cost accounting systems at many institutions has forced campus leaders to make decisions based on much anecdotal (and possibly politically driven) evidence. In 2013, I’d like to see institutions begin to explore and invest in nimble and precision-based cost accounting systems.
3) Show students the money by unbundling the fee bill
Many of the non-instructional services offered on a typical college campus (busing, student recreation center, career services, etc.) are highly subsidized.Wrapped up in the ambigious fees and tuition amounts on a typical fee bill are a slew of services that many students pay for but may not even use. Most schools offer these services because they think it helps them compete with other schools, but why not compete on price? In 2013, I’d like to see institutions begin to charge for such services on a fee-for-service basis. And yes, this may mean that some of the services offered in the past may no longer be sustainable. But why not let students make a choice?
So there they are, my suggested new year’s resolutions for higher education.
If you know of any institutions that are already embracing these ideas, please let me know. I’d love to learn more about them.