It's 9 in the morning and the room is full of voices. It's the first day of a weekend retreat of administrators, university presidents, professors, student council members, head of accreditation institutes, and policy makers. They met up to make plans of how to re-structure universities and the higher education market. The rising tuition costs are only one sign that the industry has huge problems. Rising university debt, drop-out rates, unqualified graduates are all signs that universities need to rethink their business model.
The aim is to address the wicked problem in higher education. Rob Han (contributor in this challenge) describes this wicked problem perfectly as
"It's not like fixing one cog inside a big machine. Education, in my opinion, is just a huge interconnected network where many things may need to be altered concurrently in order for some positive change to happen."
The idea we propose relates to how education is tacking care of in the US. It goes beyond the high tuition costs. The business model of universities hasn't changed much for the past 200 years. No other industry is so bloated and still surviving (see book from Kevin Carey from the New America Foundation). The higher education industry is confronted with a wicked problem that can only be solved when stakeholders collaborate with each other.
In the past, one elite university has adopted a new structure (e.g. Harvard) and other's have followed suite, in the belief that top universities will implement best practices. We propose to create a Collaboratory for Innovation, a platform through which stakeholders can discuss to create not only the university of the future, but also processes to accredit and evaluate innovative teaching methods.
This Collaboratory will be blended, as great collaboration begins face-to-face. Over a weekend stakeholders will meet to discuss the problems. During this meeting, no solution are allowed to be offered. Experts spent a considerable amount of time analyzing the problem. Teams should do the same. After this face-to-face meeting, diverse subgroups dig deeper into one problem area, always trying to stay away from developing solutions. After 6 months, another face-to-face meeting will be planned, bringing together all the gathered information. From then on we plan for a solution.
This is a long-term solution, not something that will help students next year. But we can't keep on offering short-term solution created through single-loop learning. This goal of this idea is to rethink what education is and how it should be offered. Your kids will profit from it.