By John Seery
Kevin Carey’s book, The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, has been receiving a lot of attention in the press lately. Carey boldly pronounces that colleges and universities should be and will be held accountable for their deficiencies, such that their complete demise is only a matter of time. Good riddance, he sneers. Reading that cocksure call, one wonders whether Carey and his enablers will hold Carey similarly accountable for his own professional liabilities.
The main narrative hook of The End of College is that Carey took time away from his job and his family to complete a free online college course called “The Secret of Life,” and he’s mighty proud that he received an 87 percent grade overall in the course.
Because of that transformative experience, Carey thinks himself now able to peer into and predict the future, and to do so with tremendous confidence: Residential, brick-and-mortar colleges and universities will have to close shop, he augurs. Everything will, instead, be online. Education will be free. It will be worldwide. It will be accessible. It will be meritocratic. Gone will be professors. Gone will be PhD degrees. Gone will be Harvard. Carey now knows The Secret of Education.
Advances in technology will disrupt the traditional forms of education, he propounds, and thus the whole U.S. higher education edifice will come crashing down. Replacing traditional colleges and universities will be globalized MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that can be customized for individual learners through self-correcting A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) feedback algorithms. Big Data will know more and more about how you learn, not just how you shop, and Carey is breathlessly excited about this techno-edutopia to come.
But hold it: We’ve heard this MOOC hype before — about two to three years ago (which is an eternity in techno-years). The MOOC run-up has already run its course. The book now reads as woefully dated, as if Carey came late to a Silicon Valley party. The MOOCs Über Alles blitzkrieg, promoted heavily by some early Stanford-based computer science flim-flam artists out for mega-bucks, has already been cooled and even discredited. Many of the big trends Carey gushes over have already come up dry. Many of the Carey’s big heroes showcased in the book, such as Sebastian Thrun, have already thrown in the towel regarding educational MOOCs. Carey apparently at one point drank the Clayton Christensen “disruptive innovation” Kool-Aid but doesn’t seem to realize that his book now reads like a bad hangover.
[ Full article available at The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seery/the-end-of-college-or-maybe-just-the-end-of-kevin-careys-career_b_7186232.html ]