Avoiding a Tragedy of the Commons
Chapter 11: A Different Scenario: The Possible Effects of Internet-based Education Solutions on Post-Secondary Education
106 It’s all over for bricks-and-mortar colleges just like buggy whips and spats, and, more recently, travel agents and stockbrokers; technology will replace them, except for the very few who insist on traditional, outmoded methods. (Sam Rainey, response in Gross, 2010) INTRODUCTION The arguments in this study have been based on the assumption that existing post-secondary institutions and practices are the basis for the significant reform needed to deal with the common pool problem and Baumol’s cost disease issue. Reform may well take place in a number of ways discussed in the previous chapters. One can see examples of the reform movement in course design, assessment, cost savings and a variety of efforts to increase access, retention and graduation rates. But these changes may still be at the margin, falling short of the total redesign needed. A recent paper (Brewer and Tierney, 2010) argues that a changed environment comprised of demographic increases in underrepresented groups (Hispanics and African-Americans), declining fiscal support from states, and pressures from online for-profit competitors creates the need for fundamental change in the traditional higher education sector. The problem is that the traditional higher education sector is slow to accept innovation. Federal and state mechanisms, including research funding formulas, direct institutional subsidies, and student financial aid reinforce the status quo. Accreditation agencies and higher education membership associations exist to preserve the status quo. Brewer and Tierney recommend that colleges and universities and the post-secondary education sector as a whole become much more active, with a purposeful...
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