Friday, June 03, 2005

On taking back the university

The Internet allows, in fact someday will force, us to do what we do not do well, listen to our students. It amazes me that at the same time student fees are going through the roof we are spending university resources installing wireless networks and installing Tivo-like digital video recorders in the university president's house. Our university is a confusing maze of little fiefdoms where students as well as employees struggle to get through their academic day and yet they are seldom consulted about how to improve it. We waste the taxpayers dollars on redundant resources and our customers are virtually powerless to do anything about it.

All that is changing and changing thanks to the Internet. By empowering students, faculty, staff and the public through emerging technology tools like weblogs, podcasts and RSS; the students, faculty and staff are taking back the university. The old top-down principles of handing down decrees from the ivory towers are changing. This vertical method of controlling the message where the administration is on top and the students and employees are on bottom and the information flow from the campus community to the world is tightly controlled is gone. Now everybody has an equal voice on the Internet and we can all participate in how to make the university, and all the universities of the world, better places to learn, collaborate and exchange ideas. This is the global conversation for academia and it is very, very long overdue!


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