Infotainment: The Future of Higher Education?

Just like the music industry and Hollywood filmmaking - where the audience is abandoning the traditional ways of monetizing content in favor of online delivery (a form that the legacy businesses find difficult to control) - the business of higher education is also currently being disrupted by a new online form of delivery.

In a provocative June 13th, 2012 post to The Atlantic Kara Miller, the host of WGBH Radio's "Innovation Hub" and an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, observes that many slow-moving Old World schools and educators are just beginning to realize that fundamental changes are afoot.

For example, in the New World of education, Prof. Miller predicts that simply giving a good lecture may matter less than putting "on a show that wins the war of attention."

To illustrate this point, Prof. Miller tells the story of a classroom full of models, hired for the taping of an online University of Phoenix lecture by Professor Clayton Christensen - so the camera could record reactions from pretty young faces. Prof. Miller also talks about how lectures increasingly rely on elaborate props for the benefit of the distractable online audience, like a recent recorded lecture given by Prof. Michio Kaku from CUNY that included a laser-spewing robot.

As education increasingly movies online - and what many are calling "education 2.0" becomes a reality - will the revenue models of traditional college tuition collapse? Will parents and students balk at paying $40,000 per year when the student is studying at home and competitors are offering similar courses for free - or at a fraction of the price?

And finally, as Prof. Miller observes: "The seminal question is whether anything will be lost when professors start to seem as polished as Diane Sawyer and lecture halls become populated with Discovery-Channel-like graphics."

Thanks to Sheri Candler for spotting the link.

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