David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Vision: 2015 . . . And Beyond

December 29, 2014

Now is the time for 2015 predictions and higher education is not immune.  Eduventures went way out on a limb this week and made their predictions for 6 higher education trends in 2015: competency-based direct assessment; spending on higher education technology; online learning growth; debt; non-alumni philanthropic support; and outcome metrics.

You can't really blame Eduventures for their uninspiring predictions.  Higher Education moves at a snail's pace after all, so actual innovation won't have much of an impact for 2015.

Still, this doesn't prevent me from making eight predictions for 2015 Higher Education.  Call it my "Vision: 2015 . . . and beyond."  My predictions are like graduation rates: expansive beyond the norm's expectation.

1) Career preparation, not academic development or intellectual growth, will become so dominant in the eyes of the government and the public that at least one institution will announce that it will eliminate the college transcript and instead will start to produce the college résumé.  Credit hours and grades will be replaced by bulleted responsibilities and accomplishments achieved at the college.  Eventually, a dying LinkedIn will get into the game, partnering with a major university to brand the college résumé: the University of Nebraska, LinkedIn.

2) Security and safety issues will become so prevalent at colleges and universities that a major university will hire a former police chief as its president.  The Board of Trustees will justify their controversial choice to an angry faculty by pointing out that no-one has ever been more embattled and dealt with more politics than a former major city police commissioner.  And they will be right.  Within weeks, however, the president will have resigned the post, citing "an inability to work with the most entrenched employee pool ever!"

3) Dual enrollment of high school students at a major university will become so pervasive that the university will drop its traditional names of schools named after subject areas (School of Arts & Sciences; School of Business; School of Medicine) and will resort to the names of the regional high schools. The University's School of HomeSchool will demand its own building, logo, and administrative support.  The University's administration will cave, resulting in a school more socially inept than the School of Engineering ever was.

4) The Big Five football conferences will finally break free completely from the rest of the NCAA, and embracing their independence and their underwritten funding by alcohol companies, will form their own league: the National Major Collegiate Alcohol Association (the NMCAA).  All of the football players will be paid, none will attend classes, and the associations with their representative universities and colleges will exist only as 24/7 tailgating parties.

5) Ph.D. programs in the humanities will attempt to re-invent themselves by merging with Education Leadership programs (the Ed.D.).  The result will be the highly sought after H.Ed.D., a terminal degree that will see thousands of tomorrow's educational leaders citing the Hemingway model for budget balancing: prune, prune, prune.

6) Teachers and students will be replaced by cell phones in the ultimate nod to the power of technology for education.  In giant lecture halls across the country, the professor will be a Verizon flipphone sitting on the desk lecturing for hours on end to hundreds of smartphones and i-phones spread out randomly through the students' seats.  At least half of the phones will be on sleep mode. 

7) Textbook publishers, combating trends towards open source text options, will grow jealous of financial aid lenders for their free, albeit bad, publicity. They will launch a public relations' campaign meant to highlight the rising costs of textbooks in order to make it on Fox News.  Fox News will be especially outraged by the $250 accounting textbook it features, and will blame President Obama, who will counter that with a daughter almost in college he is "painfully aware of textbook costs."

8) By the end of the year, higher education will look essentially the same.  See my original comments above.