I have just read a deeply profound, and shocking, blog post, written by the leader of a significant Australian business.
Written after the news that major Australian media organisations Fairfax and News Ltd are dramatically downsizing, and in the year that Encyclopaedia Britannica stopped producing encyclopaedias, Kodak stopped producing cameras and EMI stopped producing music, it takes a look at the changing dynamics of the business marketplace – where Borders, Blockbuster and Yellow Pages all lose out to their online competitors.
Here’s an extract, from the blog post in question (modified to hide the business it discusses):
There is little or no standardization and only minimal attempts to collect evidence that could be used to improve [the business]. New developments are slow and costs go up every year.
New online providers will challenge the model, developing standard [products], high quality delivery and more effective [metrics]. The online mantra – better, faster, cheaper – is coming to [this industry] and no one knows where it will end. One thing is certain, [businesses] had better start preparing now.
And who’s it from – one of the big retail CEOs (Harvey Norman? Myers? David Jones? Dymocks?) or a manufacturing business, or a publisher?
It’s important because of who’s saying it, and what they are talking about
I think it is significant because the author in question is Professor Steven Schwartz, Vice-Chancellor at Macquarie University.
And the business in question is the business of higher education. Here’s the quote in full:
Higher education is next. Stuck in the 19th Century, higher education in many places is a craft in which an artisan-academic prepares bespoke courses. The academic decides on the course content, delivers it and assesses the student’s learning.
There is little or no standardization and only minimal attempts to collect evidence that could be used to improve delivery and assessment. New developments are slow and costs go up every year.
New online providers will challenge the craft model, developing standard courses, high quality delivery and more effective assessment. The online mantra – better, faster, cheaper – is coming to academe and no one knows where it will end. One thing is certain, universities had better start preparing now.
If you’re thinking about the future of education, then you should read Professor Schwartz’s thoughts:
If you’re in the education business – whether that’s delivering education, or delivering to the education system - reading this will help you get ready for your future.