As someone who deeply values teaching and learning, I have been reading a number of articles and books that explore the role, values, responses, and potential of universities in the face of calls for reform (both market reform and otherwise). The role of emerging technologies is a key area of interest for me in this discussion. Below are interesting articles and quotes that are worthy of reflection and further investigation:
Blum, D., & Ullman, C. (2012). The globalization and corporatization of education: the limits and liminality of the market mantra. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25(4), 367–373.
Burka, P. (2012). Storming the Ivory Tower. The Texas Monthly. Retrieved on November 12, 2012 from http://www.texasmonthly.com/preview/2012-10-01/feature
Schwier, R. (2012). The corrosive influence of competition, growth, and accountability on institutions of higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 24(2), 96–103.
The Burka article is a fantastic summary of what transpired in Texas during 2011-2012 with regards to reform initiatives, with a focus on the University of Texas at Austin. Blum and Ullman (2012) introduce a special journal issue focused on neoliberalism and education. Schwier (2012) explores how competition, growth, and accountability might interact with universities, and what relationship they might have with instructional design and technology.
“What do the forces of competition, growth, and accountability have to do with instructional design and technology? I think we are complicit in perpetuating these agendas in higher education. We have long been associated with improved teaching and learning efficiency, and of course distance learning is seen as a tool for competing successfully with other institutions…And distance learning supports an accountability agenda because it is, in many cases, seen as a product… Consequently we help our institutions treat education as a commodity—as credit units sold for dollar amounts. Is it any wonder we hear complaints about students who act like demanding customers?” (Schwier, 2012, pp. 101)
“And instructional design and technology has more to offer on the quality side of the ledger than on the efficiency side. We understand more today about what it means to build exciting and successful learning environments than we ever have before, and we understand how to take advantages of the affordances of emerging technologies. But our designs do not always result in greater efficiency; nor should they.” (Schwier, 2012, pp. 102).
“Instructional design and technology professionals need to be able to argue for vibrant teaching and learning environments, to promote strong cultures of teaching and learning in our institutions, and not act as content hacks or live in fear of failing to measure up to externally defined efficiency criteria.” (Schwier, 2012, pp. 102)
“In the neoliberal state, healthcare and education have been transformed through the market mantra, into products that individuals can buy and sell.” (Blum & Ullman, 2012, pp. 368)
‘While the liberal state only slightly lessened the role of ascribed status (the idea that people succeed both as individuals and as groups, through the status ascribed to them through their race, gender, or class status), the reality is that the twentieth century has been character- ized in the Global North by a combination of achievement and ascription, making success about both “who you know and where you are from” as well as “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps”.’ (Blum & Ullman, 2012, pp. 368)
“Schools have accepted the bulk of the blame for our economic problems despite the reality that educators have been virtually disempowered at every level. The truth is that our worldwide economic problems have little to do with the school-based preparation of human capital, but instead are deeply tied to the limits of market capitalism.” (Blum & Ullman, 2012, pp. 372)