Academic Libraries: Making Place for Goog-azon-bucks

Pew InteriorIf the student is at the center of the higher education business model, the library is where she is sitting. The library is changing around her and her colleagues. Library leaders are transforming academic libraries into 21st century agoras – open meeting and working places – rather than gated cul-de-sacs for storing paper.

This transformation was explored at the Re-think It: Libraries for a New Age Conference at Grand Valley State University. Hundreds of public and academic librarians from across the country met to share ideas on the reinvention of libraries about people not paper, about access not control. Speakers included Elliot Felix, Lee Van Orsdel and Lennie Scott-Webber.   Continue reading

Dissolving walls and synchronizing watches

Studio ClassroomMy campus planning course explores the future of campuses and prepares emerging professionals for these practice settings.

For the first half of the semester I experimented with making the room bigger – dissolving the walls that bound the traditional classroom. On March 3, 2015, for example, our session on the future of the campus included more than 40 students and guests in time zones from Western Europe to British Columbia. The synchronous discussion engaged students with the perspectives of academics and professional campus planners. Continue reading

Future of the Campus in a Digital World

2 by 1 by 3As the need for synchronous place and time evaporates, the physical campus must provide values that are not available by other means. Campuses need to be transformed as if their survival were at stake.

Future of the Campus in a Digital World. is my assessment of the state of the campus at the close of 2014.  It is in the form of a 10 page pdf.  I hope you will share it with your colleagues and let me know your thoughts.

Campus Closed

Campus ClosedIt is just a matter of time until your campus will be closed. Usually it will be temporary. Sometimes it will be permanent.

Whether by snow and ice, wind, fire, flood, civil disorder or bankruptcy, you may be certain that your campus will be closed. It is just a matter of when and how long the closure will last. Even a brief closing provides a glimpse of higher education without the comfortable assumption of shared space and time – the familiar functionality of a campus. Continue reading

Offices are Personal, Workplaces are Functional

Office rectangle.squareFaculty offices are little changed from a time without the web, browsers and cell phones. Most administrative workplaces are just as quaint. This might be appropriate if faculty members could be in their offices, administrators could function at the speed of paper, and students did not expect 24/7 access. Times have changed faster than the campus has adapted.

Responding to this challenge is more difficult than improving teaching spaces. It is more problematic than transforming libraries.   Offices are personal. The perquisites of status and identity as well as the culture of the academy are threatened. Continue reading

The Band Plays On

Band PlayingTwo distinctly different views of reality were on display at the 2014 Society of College and University Planning conference: traditional and nontraditional – bundled and unbundled. The cognitive dissonance was there for all to see and hear.

The traditional view bundles residential experience with marching bands and the book-lined study. The nontraditional view unbundles all of this, offering credit hours and progress toward a degree without dorms, touchdowns or libraries. This all makes sense as long as they are serving different audiences – different customers interested in different value propositions. When they need to appeal to the same customer this cognitive dissonance will take the form of economic competition to squeeze what Rich DeMillo calls the middle. Continue reading

Digital Visible

Hunt Library Int.2.wcThe physical implications of the digital transformation of higher education are becoming visible. Classrooms and libraries are being retooled in response to changes in basic assumptions that have guided campus development for more than a century. Student housing and campuses are evolving in response to social media and the changing use patterns of members of the campus community.  From classrooms to libraries to residence halls, digital transformation is changing the physical presence and requirements of each institution.

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Classrooms: Bigger, Flatter, Faster and Fewer

Even in the digitally driven future of higher education, three-dimensional classroom spaces will be needed.  They won’t be used in the traditional manner and they won’t be the traditional kind.  They will be bigger, flatter, faster and there will be fewer classrooms for the same number of students.

Lectures will continue, but already they occupy less class time.  Pedagogy is changing in and outside of the classroom.  In the classroom, change is not disabling the lecture; it is enabling discussion, teamwork and practical applications. Whether fast or slow, the rate of change is limited by each institution’s culture.  Differences in institutional culture will become evident in the structure of classrooms and what happens there. Continue reading

The Full Bundle

Student circle.umn.2013In the regulated monopolies of cable television, the consumer has little choice and gets the full bundle.  In the emerging landscape of higher education, the consumer has many choices.  From the piece-by-piece approach of DIY-U, to traditional institutions adding MOOC’s to hybrid models such as Minerva, conventional business models that depend on old-fashioned bundling are under threat.

Buying college used to be like buying cable – to get the degree you wanted, you had to buy courses, schedules and features you didn’t want.  Higher education bundling requires additional payments without direct personal benefit, just like paying for 500 TV channels when all you want are local stations, ESPN and Comedy Central.  Cable is still bundled, but the unbundling of higher education is gaining momentum.

Objective measurement of the costs and benefits of higher education will drive part of the unbundling process.  The rapidly evolving array of on-line options is enabling unbundling and fostering further pedagogical innovation and experimentation.  Employers are looking for talent beyond degrees, and accrediting organizations are not keeping up.  Many of the current full bundles will look like bad investments of time and money. Continue reading

Campus Forever?

Northrup reversedIt is hard to find anyone who thinks his or her own undergraduate campus will cease to be.  It is as if these places will go on forever.

At a recent SCUP conference I asked attendees to tell me why their campus would or would not exist in 2040.  One said their campus would morph into a “multi-purpose innovation / business / research park”.  All the rest said their campus would survive – at least until 2040.

The reasons fell into four categories:  too big to fail, enough demand, adaptable enough and unique mission.  Can this be right?

To survive, campuses must be more than a collection of familiar physical artifacts and stage sets for live action reality shows. Continue reading