Alan Jacobs, Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College, writes in The Atlantic on the growing phenomenon of online education, calling it “The Great Unbundling of the University.” An excerpt:
For a long time now, universities have flourished by offering a bundled package of knowledge and credentialing. People attended university in order to learn stuff that they couldn’t learn elsewhere — because the experts weren’t elsewhere — and to be certified by those experts as having actually learned said stuff. The bundle has been a culturally powerful one.
But now: unbundling. Clearly, many universities have come, or are coming, to the conclusion that their primary product is the credentialing, and that they can give knowledge away either as a public service or as brand consolidation (choose your interpretation according to your level of cynicism).
Read the rest.