"Higher education's bubble is about to burst"

Glenn Reynolds has an excellent essay up at the Examiner.

The buyers think what they're buying will appreciate in value, making them rich in the future. The product grows more and more elaborate, and more and more expensive, but the expense is offset by cheap credit provided by sellers eager to encourage buyers to buy.

Buyers see that everyone else is taking on mounds of debt, and so are more comfortable when they do so themselves; besides, for a generation, the value of what they're buying has gone up steadily. What could go wrong? Everything continues smoothly until, at some point, it doesn't.

Yes, this sounds like the housing bubble, but I'm afraid it's also sounding a lot like a still-inflating higher education bubble.


Things haven't collapsed yet, but they're looking shakier -- kind of like the housing market looked in 2007.

For insights on a possible future in post-bubble academia, Glenn points to a book called DIY U. by Any Kamenetz (4 stars on Amazon):
My question is whether traditional academic institutions will be able to keep up with the times, or whether -- as Anya Kamenetz suggests in her new book, "DIY U" -- the real pioneering will be in online education and the work of "edupunks" who are more interested in finding new ways of teaching and learning than in protecting existing interests.
UPDATE: Another book by Curtis Bonk seems to have a similar message (and gets more stars on Amazon): The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. From an Amazon reviewer:
Bonk shows us that transformative change is coming, and it won't be stopped. He explains that technology, openness, and unprecedented access to knowledge are removing control of the learning process from institutions and placing it into the hands of the individual. This change is nothing short of revolutionary.

A riveting narrative, "The World is Open" will undoubtedly draw comparison to Friedman's seminal work "The World is Flat," but this book is perhaps more important.

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