On smart education (part I)
From Disruption to Agility
Back in May the New York Magazine published an interview with Professor Galloway. In his nonchalant and direct style, he explains and predicts an in-depth crises of Higher Education. It will be like department stores in 2018. Everyone will recognize they’re going out of business, but it will take longer than people think. There will be a lot of zombie universities. Alumni will step in to help. They’ll cut costs to figure out how to stay alive, but they’ll effectively be the walking dead (Galloway, 2020). Even if the interview and his point of view are clearly focused on the US market, I felt apparent parallels to my own world. There was a sort of deja-vu with developments in the sector of Higher Education I have been arguing against these last few years. I started to elaborate concepts to innovate these often unhealthy directions. A steady process now results in a first proposal for a fundamental transition towards Education 4.0. I will share basic transition ideas that are part of the project and open them up for discussion. Part one is asking for a change of thought to start with…
We surely all agree that disruption is the word of the hour. It is used as an argument for everything that is wrong with the world, on the same time, it is also seen as the groundwork for entrepreneurship, change and creativity. Professor Schumpeter has somehow become a real Influencer, a cool international reference, be it in classrooms or in must-read business books of the moment. Following his proposal, disruption could be defined as throwing into disorder, or as creative destruction.
Today this disorder has clearly been created by the ongoing sanitary crises, by lockdowns, by violent shifts in work environments or by forced digital pedagogic delivery methods. Sometimes even too heavily and massively for certain companies or educators. I seriously don’t think that the use of disruption as metaphor for innovation or change may be correct for Higher Education and its working force, not even now.
A lack of courage
No secret, the educational sector is in a desperate need of transformation, but not of disruption. As I wrote in my previous article, we’ve have come to know a lot and payed way too much for it, just to get rid of it all or to destroy it. I proposed to talk about radical, unquestionable and complete inclusion, becauseI know for a fact that providers of Higher Education are not lacking ideas or creativity. They more likely fail to develop innovative longterm solutions going forward for fear of hurting their seemingly lucrative but often obsolete business-models. They lack courage to truly question themselves and the system in which they act. They miss the audacity to build something new (even in parallel) and the agility to execute all of it perpetually.
Like all businesses in general, universities really need to be highly agile, now more than ever. Agility is the ability of an organization to sense, anticipate, and respond efficiently and effectively to constant changes that are occurring, or are likely to occur. Besides innovative, new business and collaboration models, academic programs and their accreditation systems need to follow the current time and its transformation.
An institution’s pertinence needs to be regularly and sincerely analyzed, elaborated or adjusted and finally implemented in well defined micro-cycles. A University and its offer, if based on agile business models, will continuously and rapidly evolve critical structures and attributes that help them to survive, thrive in rough terrain and be of interest for society.
Walsh, J.D., The Coming Dosruption. (11.05.2020), New York Magazine: link
Globe Newswire, The 7 Rules For Reinventing Your Luxury Business Model Post Pandemic. (28.04.2020), Bloomberg