Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Will current university system survive in 10 years?

I am always a big fan about thinking how to make everything works better and differently. And I am a firm believer that different things always mean good. For example,I fully support both Hilary and Obama even though I am not a democrat. Why? Because they will both make a historical moment in the American history, either the first female president or the first black president. Well, back to the topic, will current university system be able to survive in next 10 years?

I had experienced both university system in China and in US. And I see there are a few critical problems:

1. Customer vs. Student.

University is the only place where I won't be treated fully as a valuable customer like in any other business after I paid a hefty amount of money. Forget elementary school or high school or even undergraduate study since most of them it's your parent paying the cost. Graduate study would be the most appropriate segment to look at . As an MBA student, had you ever experienced the same customer service as with other business? Yes, professors are professors but also remind you it's my tuition fee paying part of their salary.

2. One-for-all vs. customization

We all experienced that kind of student life: sitting in a class with at least 10+ students, no matter case-based or lecture-based environment. Everyone prays for a good professor. If I am paying the same amount of money, why I can't get the same professor as the others in a different section? I have no interest to learn six sigma then why I still need to pay for the class? There aren't enough professors or professors have limited time. How about this? Everyone can select the professor he or she wants for certain course. The more student a professor have, the higher salary that professor would get without increasing the $ student pay for. If Professor A isn't as good as Professor B, why they should receive the same salary? Tenure may be great for academic research but sucks for any job. Babson MBAs, you know what I am talking about.

3. Niche, Niche, Niche, with Internet.

Everyone is different so is every professor, even for professors teaching the same course. Tom maybe great in teaching Macroeconomics of developed nations while John may be great in developing nations. Instead of compromise, why can't I either select the professor I prefer or just learn the best part of each? It's both good for the professors since generally people doing the best in the field they enjoy the most and for students since we can get the best of breed. With Internet, it's very possible. Both Tom and John could publish their podcast or video clips etc or skype-based class. It won't let many professors lost their job. Rather, it will give every professor an opportunity to develop a best niche to focus on. How about teaching marketing classs for Chinese MBA students who want to sell enterprise software in Canada? How about teaching finance for students who prefer professors previous had worked in public accounting firms? Just like Internet itself, variety is the beauty.



It may sound disruptive but I don't think there is anything in the world could avoid change. No way.


Just posted this idea to Ignite Boston! organized by O'Reilly Media. See how it goes.

http://events.oreilly.com/pub/e/736


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1 comment:

Scott Berkun said...

Great topic - found you on the Ignite speaker list. Look forward to your talk next week.