What’s a University?

I’ve been struggling over the years with questions around instructional technology. What took me years to understand is that I shouldn’t be thinking about technology. I should be thinking about schools.

When Wilhelm von Humboldt set in effect the proposal for the first modern university in a Prussia that was an authoritarian state dealing with the consequences of revolution throughout Europe he wasn’t thinking about content delivery. He was thinking about establishing a durable institution that could carve out some independence from the state to create new knowledge and create a place where the Enlightenment could grow and thrive. This required thinking about faculty and scholars at least as much if not more than thinking about students.

Technology can support that of course, but too much of our thinking around that is situating the technology primarily as a content delivery tool, and of course repositioning the student as a customer, not a scholar. Faculty are reduced to the things you can describe as transactional.

Not too sure if we can separate this from the rise in contingent faculty either. If you have your faculty reduced to atomized hourly employees then you have something much less than a university in the long run.

We have to get back to the university. Not too sure how technology will help with that.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar