Will the Pandemic Accelerate Change in Higher Ed?

Monday, October 11, 2021 - Greg Fowler, a longtime leader in online education and president of the University of Maryland Global Campus, discusses how the pandemic might accelerate change in higher ed but probably not changed the trajectory of institutions.

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Michael Horn:

As we enter the beginning of yet another year with COVID hanging over us, its impact. Hasn't just been on brick and mortar in person learning. It's likely to leave a significant and durable mark on online institutions as well. Those that are serving largely adults,

Jeff Selingo:

Students, that's very Michael. And to help us really understand the impact of COVID and what it will mean for institutions that were innovated in novel ways. Prior to the pandemic today, a future, you were welcoming Greg Fowler, the president of the university of Maryland global campus.

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Jeff Selingo:

I'm Jeff Selingo and I'm Michael Horn.

Michael Horn:

Jeff, it's good to see you. This episode, of course, is the second of our in-person episodes this year, as we record this interview from the ASU GSV summit in San Diego, which makes it a real treat to be in person with you. And for those listening though, just want to reassure you that we have been taking full safety precautions. We have distancing and full effect and masks on when we're indoors and not recording. So not everything perhaps is the same.

Jeff Selingo:

Yeah. And I think it's fair to say, Michael, that we learned a lot recording online and remotely and realize that some of what we were doing during the pandemic are practices that were likely to maintain indeed working remotely and online has taught us all a great deal. And it's clear that in higher ed, those were online prior to the pandemic, had a significant leg up in some respects and making the transition, but they also face a host of other challenges as well. And they're unlikely to go back to normal on the heels of the pandemic. There was a lot of changes brewing in higher ed

Michael Horn:

That's right, Jeff, and to talk to us today about those changes is Greg Fowler, the president of the university of Maryland global campus or UMGC before UMGC, Greg was president of Southern New Hampshire university's global campus or it's online school. So he has a lot of experience in online learning and innovation. More broadly UMGC itself was founded in the 1940s. And today it's among the largest public institutions in the country with roughly 129,000 course enrollments prior to the pandemic, which grew to over 130, 4,000 enrollments this most recent year, it is historically focused on military students as its niche. If you will. I'm not sure that something that large can be called a niche in higher ed, but nonetheless, that's how we often think about it. And UMGC has certainly been among the more innovative institutions. So first Greg, thanks for joining us.

Gregory Fowler:

Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Michael Horn:

So a question that we typically start out with asking our guests is about their own career story. And in your case, how did you get started in higher education and then find your way to the presidency of UMGC?

Gregory Fowler:

I try to tell my story. I often start with something that isn't directly tied to higher education, which is my years in college. I was working at six flags over Georgia and, and I, and I used that because a lot of the lessons I learned about teams and working with teams came from my years. There are a lot of the things we talked about were around. It doesn't matter what team you're on. Everybody is responsible for the park. So there was a little hierarchy there of rides and then shows and then restaurants and all these types of things. But they were like, you could be on the rides team, but if you have trash that you see on lying on the ground, please go pick it up because it's your park too. So I take that lesson a lot to think about how the team operates as a whole, even in some of the work I do now and after college, my first job was with the national endowment for the humanities in Washington, DC as an outreach specialist.

Gregory Fowler:

And the work of the outreach specialist was to help the various populations who were often underserved by grants and other things take advantage of the funds that were available to them. So I spent a lot of time working with various groups, everybody from the Hispanic association of colleges and universities to NAVIO and others figure out how to help with schools, how to help with various populations around the country, museums and all of these other things, which is sort of triggered the work that I think about when it comes to, how do we help those whose voices have not been heard. And that really has driven most of my career since then, I've worked in media relations for a couple of years with the national endowment, for the humanities after that, and then moved to Penn state Erie and the Baron college for a number of years.

Gregory Fowler:

And while I was there, I finished my PhD work, but I also did my first Fulbright to Europe. And that was in 2002 or so, right after they'd done the bolognaise courts, which were a lot of work around, how do we get these various countries tied together and standards that we can actually operate with no matter where we are, which got me thinking a lot about what are the standards of higher education? What type of uniformity is that? What kind of value systems or outcomes can you put in place? So it was interesting when I came back to the United States, um, a couple of years later, I got a call from Western governors university, which was at that time relatively small, about 3000 students and 500 graduates. And Bob Mendenhall, the president at that time said, how many times have you left? Do you think you're going to ever get the chance to build a college and looking back?

Gregory Fowler:

I think that's sort of funny now given my career, but, um, but then it was really about competency-based putting standards in place. So I stayed there for a number of years in the Dean of liberal arts position at first though, spend a lot of time thinking about what this competency look like for the liberal arts. Then I moved into associate provost role that dealt with first student learning and the faculty, and then into program development eventually got an opportunity several years later to work with Hesser college in Manchester, New Hampshire, which was owned by the Kaplan corporation at the time. So I spent a year working with the for-profit industry and then S and H U, which was at the time, I think somewhere around 11,000, 12,000 students had been working in the online space, but was looking for someone to come on and be the vice president of academic affairs to build out the academic portion of the online site, as it continued to grow, because it had gotten too big to be managed by the ground campus. So I spent a number of years first as the VPA. And then of course the various modalities that we put in place took off. And so I eventually became global campus president working on the CBE work, working on a number of the other modalities that we put in place with LR and G and others. And then of course finally ended up just in January of this year, working as the president of university of Maryland global campus.

Jeff Selingo:

So you've been president of UMGC for less than a year. Now, a couple of months at this point. What if you learn so far about the institution and specifically, I think a lot of folks have seen the online first players such as UMGC, or do you mean WGU right. As having a big leg up as the world kind of shifted to remote learning in the fall and last spring. Um, and many schools that have been doing online for awhile have leaned into that messaging as well. Right. I think I was telling you yesterday when we saw each other, you know, in DC, I saw a Metro bus go by with a big ad for old dominion university saying we've been online for something like 25 years or something like that. Right. So you're even messaging that now, but I'm curious to dig in on that a little bit. How has that narrative been accurate? And what about it is inaccurate where your students, faculty, staff, and programs have perhaps had some unique challenges that we might not know about. So we think that online first is good or online early is good, but maybe not so much. So

Gregory Fowler:

Absolutely think that it's very hard to unlearn things. Once you learn them, if you may have had a chance to read Clark Gilbert's book on dual transformation, once you begin to build a system, it's very hard to get people, particularly if it's successful to think differently about things and the online world, where we talk about innovation, it's really hard to innovate when you're trying to scale the sort of big core thing. And without disrupting that, unless you have some mechanisms to do things differently. In fact, that's one of the reasons why, if you take a look at SNAQ the whole premise behind COC, E the cause of online and continuing education being put two miles down the river and given its own governance structure was because it was meant to not disrupt what was happening on the ground campus. That's been very true for even a number of the things that we've tried to do in various places.

Gregory Fowler:

So if you have an online model that's doing full time and courses in a place, how do you start thinking about things like micro-credentials, how do you begin to think about other things and how do you not distract the core business by doing those types of things? How do you think about changing the culture? If you change the culture, if you introduce these types of things. So a lot of the work you see in a number of these institutions, WGU labs, sandbox, a collaborative our attempts to try to say, we want to make sure we don't totally divorce this process, but we also need to give it space to breathe and try things without disrupting that. So I think it's definitely an opportunity to say yes, there was a leg up, but there's also a challenge when you're trying to do new things that in some ways, because your success has been so great, it makes it harder to do so, are there big

Jeff Selingo:

During COVID that are likely to stick it the university of Maryland global campus? Or are there things that you stopped doing that maybe will continue to stay in

Gregory Fowler:

The sidelines? So one of the things we have stopped doing is obviously making all of our team come into the office. And so, um, and that has its implications as well. So this is particularly true. When you're talking about success, coaches, your advising team, some of the admissions team, as they're working out of their homes, it requires us to think very differently about everything from what's the equipment they need. How does that impact the culture? How does that culture impact those student experiences? They continue to move forward. So we've had to think differently about what that might look like in the future, particularly as we begin to expand our role in the civilian population across the country. So as we begin to do those types of things, trying to think a little bit about what does that look like? How do we think more broadly?

Gregory Fowler:

Because we have such a large military population around the globe. How do we do things differently when it comes to that type of thing? And of course, you've got the issues that all of us are working with right now, which are the things like I've got a whole lot of retail space in Largo, Maryland. If all of those people are home, what do I do with the space? How do I change those types of things that we continue to move forward? So these are idols we're thinking about that are more business oriented. I wouldn't say that we've changed our strategy, but we certainly had to think a little bit differently about the tactics and what that looks like going forward.

Michael Horn:

It's interesting. You, you brought up Clark Gilbert's work on dual transformation, which is those that are listening. Terrific book. I highly recommended as well, but you referenced the work that you did at Southern New Hampshire university with an sandbox collaborative in Western governor's university with their w G U labs about creating spaces to incubate things that are different so that you can constantly push the envelope and allow the institution to evolve over time. I'm curious some of the work, like how has that translated a little bit more specifically to what you're setting up at UMG and what are those new things that you all are chasing you, you referenced micro-credentials maybe, and things of that nature. What are those new populations and ways you're going to tackle that

Gregory Fowler:

Many people don't necessarily realize that a large portion of UMG CS student body is the military here in the U S and certainly around the globe there give or take about 177 locations that we're operating out of. And so we've got Europe, Asia, north Africa, the middle east, and a number of places where we've had to think differently about everything from diversity initiatives, to the technology, to the policies and those types of places. So we're trying to use those things to think a little bit differently about other things as well, that goes into play. When it comes particularly with the military around things like PLA digital credentials, some of these things are particularly for our population going to be interesting. When we think about broadening that population, it turns into something very different. So if you're going to deal with non military students that you're talking about a different type of financial aid, you're talking about different circumstances in which they're trying to operate. So these are things we are trying to rethink as we move forward, what adjustments might we want to make to make those things happen? And at the same time, get better at serving things like PLA and other things to military who have experiences that may not necessarily translate directly into credit in the current system.

Jeff Selingo:

So I'm wanting to take a step back a little bit from the university of Maryland global campus. You know, you've been a keen observer. Obviously you went through your career there in higher education, more generally, and you've worked at some really innovative places. So what are your thoughts about the ultimate impact of this pandemic? You know, there's been a lot of chatter out there that no pun intended that this was like the booster shot that a higher education needed to change. And that change happened that would have happened maybe 10 years from now in the last 18 months, what will change in higher ed ultimately, do you think, and, and what's likely to kind of go back to normal or, or stay the same from the old days.

Gregory Fowler:

I continue to believe that there are a number of institutions that are looking at this and being reflective about the work of what comes next. But I also believe that a lot of institutions aren't necessarily ready for that type of change as well. So I think about this in sort of three categories. I think students will have more tools, more resources. We are certainly seeing that they do like certain elements of what happened during the online period that they were on no matter where they were. So things like short videos that they can go back and look at again, chats in real time that allowed them to do different things. Being able to do asynchronous things that allows her schedule to be different. Faculty are discovering that if we do things this way, we can see through the data places where students are struggling and possibly reach out to them in different ways than we might have before.

Gregory Fowler:

So both with students and faculty, I certainly think things will continue to move forward. I pose as a challenge to a lot of the institutions. Are they really going to take the step back and do the reflective work? It will take to become that next generation of an institution. And I don't know that all of them do want to do that nor do I really think they should. This is one of those things where I appreciate the diversity of mission in higher education. And there are institutions that we continue to need to do those various types of things. So I'm not saying everything needs to move in a homogenous direction. I'm not totally sure that institutions as a whole are going to move very rapidly. I think what we see across all types of institutions, political, religious educational, is that they tend to move two steps forward one step back as they do these types of things. I don't think that COVID changed that trajectory. I think that it may have accelerated certain things, but I don't think that we're going in a different direction than we would have. So your statement earlier about this might've happened in several years, I think is very true. So I

Michael Horn:

Want to just double click on that because I sense both acceptance of that reality from you, but also some frustration underneath there that maybe certain principles aren't questioned. And I'm just curious if you got to paint this world and how people would adjust out of the pandemic, what are the things that you think people ought to be leaning in on across the spectrum and what are the things that they ought to be discarding and stuff like that from traditional practice,

Gregory Fowler:

You hear these conversations right now of people during the pandemic who have reflected on their lives, who say, all of a sudden, I don't want to do the job I was doing before. I didn't realize how much time I was using a commuting, all of these various types of things. I wish institutions would do a much more intentional job of that as well, really thinking about what is their mission and are they doing that? I asked this question, um, at SMHU about my, maybe my second year in. And I asked it when I started at UMCC, which was, do we even agree on things like what it means to learn? And do we agree on how learning happens and are we doing those things? And if we're not, then why are we continuing to do them? So getting institutions to take these sort of fundamental steps back and say, who are we? Who do we really want to be? And are we doing things because it's the way we've always done them, or are we doing them because they're the right things to do for the students. As we move forward, you hear this student centered phrase all the time. And I don't believe that many institutions really take a step back and go, what does it mean to really be centered on the students? So that's what I wish if I could paint with the breast, that would be what I do.

Jeff Selingo:

Great. Thank you so much for being with us on a future. You and we're going to be right back after this

Gregory Fowler:

Break. Thank you.

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Michael Horn:

Oh, welcome back to future you. After a conversation with Greg Fowler, who is the relatively new president at UMGC and Jeff, I want to start with asking about what I perceive as the headline from the conversation, which actually isn't about UMG C per se, but more Greg's observations about how much colleges and universities will really change or accelerate change out of the pandemic and his belief that maybe the pandemic has accelerated some of those changes, but probably not change the trajectory. And I want to throw it to you about what's your view are colleges and universities having the deep, reflective conversations they should have around mission and focus and programs and delivery of education and such in your opinion, or what's really going on right now.

Jeff Selingo:

I think they are at the administrative level and the trustee level. I will tell you that I've spoken to a lot of senior leadership teams and trustees over the last six to eight months about this very subject. But what I don't think is happening, I don't think they're in sync with faculty and staff who really at the end of the day, have to deliver on this mission. It's really interesting, Michael, in the pandemic globally, we've been talking a lot about labor, right? What people want to do with their lives, how employers value labor, the deep inequities, for example, on who can work from home and who can't. And what's interesting about higher ed is that we didn't seem to have these discussions, at least in the mainstream media, right? We talked on a episode last season on a reporters round table at the near the end of the season about why higher education was so much in the news.

Jeff Selingo:

And it's because, you know, everybody was experiencing school in some way. They are kids in K through 12 schools or in colleges and you know, much like hospitals and airlines have been in the news a lot too, because they're kind of at the frontline of what's happening now in the, in the pandemic. But what's interesting is if you read stories about hospitals and airlines, you're reading a lot about the labor in those places, but the stories about higher ed are largely about the students, right? We're reading about the stress of nurses and doctors and flight attendants. And I'm not trying to diminish those at all, but we're not reading as much beyond the Chronicle of higher education or inside higher ed the trade press about the stresses on academic labor, both faculty and staff. It's interesting. Somebody recently told me that on their campus, in the UC system, they have this annual meeting about retirement planning that would normally have attracted maybe before the pandemic two dozen employees.

Jeff Selingo:

And one last week brought out nearly 200 people who are planning for retirement on this campus. And so going back to academic labor in particular, you know, historically faculty, we think of them in these three buckets, right? In terms of their service research and teaching. I mean, not in that order, by the way, it's usually research teaching service and maybe teaching service way down that list. But I think that if we want to get academic labor on board, that we need to get them in sync around mission and particularly rethinking the university around the flexibility of delivery and digital education and online education, right. We need to really create room by asking them to do less somewhere else and incentivizing that or else. I think we're just going to continue to see pushback from faculty who just say we can't do any more.

Michael Horn:

Yeah, it's fascinating. Jeff. It also makes me think about the differences between K-12 education and higher education, where I think we've seen relatively more coverage in the K-12 sphere about teacher burnout and such probably not fully capturing the story like we have with airlines and hospitals still, but more so than higher ed, just another distinction, I think in how the media covers higher ed. But one more follow up I'm curious about which is that Greg also implied that maybe many universities shouldn't do a dramatic rethinking of their mission or who they serve. And I'm curious if you share that view. I thought his view could have implications, for example, at the selective end of higher ed in terms of it's okay to serve limited numbers, for example. And so I'm very curious, your take

Jeff Selingo:

Probably pushed back a little bit on that, Michael, in terms of, yes, we have a diversity of institutions, but we also have a replication of institutions in most cases, right? This isomorphism that Michael Crow and others talk about all the time, that really describes colleges that copy each other and their structure and policies. And so, yes, we have a lot of, uh, diversity of types of institutions and size and maybe the research agenda, but at the core of what they do, a lot of institutions are pretty similar. This is one of the reasons I'm working on a project now at ASU that maybe one day on a show, we'll talk a little bit more about, but we're trying to rethink the Carnegie classifications. And, you know, the Carnegie classifications are things that I think that most people don't think about, right? This was created by Clark Kerr in the 1970s to organize higher education.

Jeff Selingo:

And this is where the concept of [inaudible] research. One universities have come in and, and what I've seen in my coverage of higher ed over the years is that everybody's always trying to move up to what they perceive as a higher category in the Carnegie classifications. And my feeling is that this impedes innovations, because colleges must look the same in order to get into certain groups. And so it just results in is never-ending dry for status. And that in turn, I think shapes our reality and encouraging the public to see some colleges as better and not fully acknowledging the wide ranging roles that Greg was talking about, that different institutions are trying to fulfill. And I, I really think that we need more differentiation. So one of the things that we've been working with is a group of educational researchers to develop a different classification system.

Jeff Selingo:

One that identifies the diverse organizational designs that colleges and universities can pursue to achieve a public purpose. So rather than, you know, a hierarchy where categories right now exists, largely based on arbitrary levels of research activity or the types of degrees awarded, we're constructing this system with 17 different measures that capture ways colleges and universities provide access to students, how they deliver education, including online education, how they produce new knowledge. And so we now have developed this array of 13 clusters. These are groups of institutions with similar characteristics, there's no ranking or hierarchy to our clusters. And really what we're trying to do is we're trying to say that there's a difference for example, between the university of Chicago and Walmart academy or Wright state and Amhurst or Penn state. And so, you know, we have a group for example, called national scale research universities, and that captures institutions that have scale in both teaching and research places like Ohio state and Georgia tech and Purdue and Arizona state.

Jeff Selingo:

We have another group that focuses on high-intensity researching universities, and that includes Harford Stanford and MIT. And the goal here again is not to put these in a hierarchy, which I think that the Carnegie classifications do, but to say what Greg says, right? It's like we have a variety of institutional missions and let's lean into those and recognize institutions for those. So again, there's a lot more to talk about this, but I think the time has really come for higher education to have a sharper tool, to really understand and assess the sector beyond what we've historically had with the Carnegie classification. So let me flip it back to you, Michael, what did you take away from his points about kind of revisiting

Michael Horn:

First? Let me just say on your points. I love the taxonomy work that Michael Crow talked about that at the ASU GSV summit. I think it was two years ago now. And I thought it was incredibly important work because I agree, you know, the upmarket alert, if you will, of becoming an R one institution ultimately is alive and well in higher ed. It's one of the reasons the disruption dynamics that we describe in other sectors, we think has applicability in higher ed because of that poll to serve, you know, more demanding, make more money, be more prestigious and so forth. And I also think if you're successful in building this other categorization scheme, we could do a much better job of understanding value based on these new categorizations. I know that's a topic Jeff, we intend to tackle this season around value in higher ed, but really comparing like institutions and what are the excellent institutions in a different category?

Michael Horn:

I think could reset some of this upmarket alert, if you will. And look, I think Greg would agree that multiple missions is key, but your point about intentionally battling isomorphism, I think is a really important one and creating a new categorization scheme to aid in that I think is vital. But the one thing I guess I would say is I was also struck by the question that Greg asked when he was at Southern New Hampshire university, or now that he's arrived at UMG GC, which is as he phrased it, do we agree on what learning is? Do we agree what students centered actually means? And what I took from that is that when people at an institution read their missions or their programmatic missions, and we all know a lot of those statements are fairly, uh, benign and not super specific and all kind of blend into each other in many cases.

Michael Horn:

But within that, there are probably widely divergent views over what the words in those statements even mean. And that has big implications on what you choose to do or choose not to do. And to be clear, this isn't unusual. Like we do a lot of research as you know, in jobs to be done. Why do people hire different products or services in their lives? And when you're doing these narratives of why people make these choices, they'll use different words. And if you don't beat up the word, you think that they're all talking about, same thing. When, you know, instead you say something as affordable, you have a certain reference point in your head of what that means. That's very different from when I say it, or right now we're doing research. And why do people change careers for a new book we're working on? And a lot of the people we talked to, they say, well, I wanted to have more impact.

Michael Horn:

And so we had to ask like five times, what do you mean by impact? Because some people, you know, it's around depth of impact. Some people it's around breadth, some people it's social impact, others it's impact on the business, ROI being a key individual contributor maker versus manager like that individual word has a lot of definitions. And so really drilling down into the specifics as Greg is pushing his teams to do, to be clear about why are we doing what we're doing? Why do we serve this group? Is this actually in service of our mission? I think that to get more precise and more agreement on a campus can actually allow campuses to say our missions are different and we shouldn't be structured the same, right. As the R one institution down the street, we should actually radically change how we're structured because to fulfill it would mean looking very different, for example. So I was quite taken with that answer, Jeff.

Jeff Selingo:

Yeah. So last question, Michael. I mean, Greg's obviously I'm a stewed on change management at large and fast growing institutions, which is really tricky. So what's your take on his answer about how online first or online early institutions were prepared to handle the pandemic?

Michael Horn:

So I'll be honest, Jeff. I had to listen, we're recording this a little bit later, right? I had to listen to the answer a couple of times, cause there was a lot of nuance in it. And what I took ultimately was that right now the surveys and research are showing that the majority of learners have more support for short-term credentials over degrees. That's certainly not everyone, right. It's surveys. So there's percentages in both, but there's a wave of support right now for short-term credentials. And what I took is that these large online programs, these online first or online, early institutions, they were built for offering degrees, not short-term credentials. And just to take one example, if you're recruiting for a short term program and an online degree program that actually may cost the same amount to fill the seat, right? Like the cost of student acquisition may be the same, but in the latter case, you know, for the degree, you're going to get a much higher revenue figure.

Michael Horn:

Obviously then for the short term credential as higher ed is currently constructed and you might actually lose money on the short term program. And so your program would naturally sort of sway toward filling more degree seats than the short term credentials. And what I took from that is if we're serious about innovating and short-term credentials in the, like, you probably need to take an organization out of your current business model and cost structure and figure out how do we get students? How do we serve them? How do we make it more affordable and allow that new organization to prioritize it? And this is where I think the dual transformation aspect of his answer comes in, which is that Clark Gilbert, who was of course the president of BYU, Idaho, and then BYU pathway, worldwide and clay Christianson, doctoral student, actually, you know, he's written this book, dual transformation where he explicates clay, Christianson's observation that to truly disrupt yourself, you need an autonomous team, which is more than a skunkworks.

Michael Horn:

It's a place where you can set up an organization that reinvents the resources, processes, the revenue and profit formula of an organization and the value proposition to deliver something new. And I think Greg's used the word disrupting was to say that can operate simultaneously, but not screw up. If you will, the operations of the core where you've been successful and that gives you the permission and the money and the people to be able to try to execute on this new mission. And that's sort of the art of being able to do both that long-term may disrupt, right? What you do, but in the short term, isn't going to screw up your existing offerings for your existing students and stakeholders. So that's what I took away from it. So I want to segue Jeff, as we wrap up and move to questions, if you will, from the audience, this one I'm going to pull, not from a direct audience question to future you.

Michael Horn:

And for those listening, please keep sending us questions that you want Jeff and meet answer, and we'll we'll dig in, but something that there's a lot of swirl around and you were involved in on the Twitter sphere and there were questions to you around it, which was Netflix debuted this within higher ed circles, very anticipated series called the chair around being a faculty member and department chair at a college. You actually watched it. I confess I'm one of the people that canceled my Netflix subscription. So I have not yet viewed it at some point. Maybe I'll be allowed to come over to your house and watch it, but you actually completed the first episode, I guess, or maybe even the series of,

Jeff Selingo:

I guess I'm assuming they're doing another season, but yeah. Okay. It's a really quick six episodes. There are only about a half hour each or so a great series. Just, it was really funny if you really are kind of deep into academia. I mean, there's some accuracies, uh, you know, as many people pointed out, you know, this is a small, somewhat elite liberal arts college. It doesn't really show the reality of today's higher education system.

Michael Horn:

But I, I want to just interrupt you and say, the question that I think is really interesting is like, when you look at this, a lot of people were commenting about how it does or doesn't resemble higher ed, but I'm more curious, like, what does it say about how the public thinks of higher ed and sort of the image, if you will, more broadly of higher education out there?

Jeff Selingo:

I think what it shows to the public is that, you know, higher ed is self-involved, you know, it's kind of really thinking about itself, uh, too much, right? That, uh, the professors are more interested in publishing once they get tenure, they're not really teaching and you know, and there's these departments that don't want to be relevant to their students. So if you haven't seen the show, the show really focuses on the English department at this fictional Pembrooke university. And basically what they're worried about throughout the whole show is, is losing relevance. And the Dean wants to get rid of some older faculty there, who he feels are not teaching to what the students want these days. There's this reference to the creator economy and how students want to create. And the professors are kind of teaching the old way. And to me, that is the around the public vision of higher education is that our courses, our programs are not relevant to what students need or want in this job economy and that you have professors unwilling to change.

Jeff Selingo:

And that to me is kind of the narrative that goes throughout this, the six episodes that really is problematic for most of higher education. Because I think particularly in the last 18 months, parents who saw their students learning at home over zoom, that's what they saw. They saw professors really struggling to use this online technology pedagogy that is kind of very old, there's this laugh line in the show that somebody said to the one professor, when was the last time you looked at your, your evaluations? And she said 1977. Um, so, uh, right. So it's like that, that to me feeds on this idea that institutions and faculty in particular are not investing enough time, effort, and money in their primary product, which is teaching and learning.

Michael Horn:

That's a daunting but strong place, I think to leave this episode. And so we'll wrap it up there and thanks as always for listening to us on future, you stay safe.

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