If We Profs Don't Reform Higher Ed, We'll Be Re-Formed (And We Won't Like It)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Although normally a pretty upbeat and optimistic person, I end a lot of my different talks these days with a pretty scary, even dystopic slide: "IF WE PROFS CAN BE REPLACED BY A COMPUTER SCREEN, WE SHOULD BE.” That gets people’s attention. And it makes people mad. My meaning is often misunderstood at first—and that’s what I want. I want profs in the audience to be outraged that I’m saying they can be replaced by a computer screen. And, if they think they are not replaceable by a computer screen, I want them to articulate why. If they can make a good case for what they add, then my conditional statement is answered negatively: No, I cannot be replaced by a computer screen because of . . . Making that case accurately and persuasively (to the public, to legislators, to donors, and mostly to our students) is the single most important thing any professor can do because, if we don’t, it will be made for us. And we won't like the result.

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