higher education

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"My World" rumors persist

From Ars Technica:

Rumors of Google’s plans to create a virtual world that rivals that of Second Life have popped up once again over the weekend. The company could now be collaborating with Arizona State University to test the 3D social network, which may be tied into Google’s current applications of Google Earth and Google Maps.

By targeting the higher education social networking crowd (at least initially), can we expect this to take education by storm? Whereas Second Life is based on an invented (and inventable!) world, My World appears grounded in the real world –and more purpose-driven. Would such a grounding help to bridge virtual learning environments with reality?

Laureate's push into Asia

Lloyd Armstrong at Changing Higher Education posted comments on Laureate Education CEO Doug Becker‘s move to China… to create something new, backed by financiers that include Paul Allen, George Soros, and the endowment of Harvard University:

I have long believed that real innovation in higher education will not come in the US, but from some area such as China or India where there are enormous higher education needs, and greatly constrained resources compared to those needs. It is there that the very expensive US model of higher education will run prove most ineffective. Apparently Doug Becker, Chairman and CEO of Laureate Education, is of the same opinion. He has just announced that he and his family are moving from Baltimore ( the home of Laureate) to Hong Kong so that he can establish a new Asia headquarters there.

Make sure to read Armstrong’s full post.

If the bulk of US tertiary institutions continue to stagnate due to legacy structures and cost disease, will the next leading higher education providers emerge in Asia?

A New Paradigm of Knowledge Production

My doctoral dissertation, A New Paradigm of Knowledge Production in Minnesota Higher Education: A Delphi Study, is available for purchase online or for online preview:


Download now and save! For the month of September, the PDF edition is available for download at the discounted price of $30.00 $15.00 (50% off)!

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What do you know?

The StarTribune ran a positive piece that raises awareness of David Shupe’s eLumen Collaborative, a Web-based, enterprise-level application for tracking student competencies. The project began as a response to a simple question that higher education institutions and graduates have a hard time answering: What, precisely, did graduating students learn, and what competencies have they developed?

The software allows for faculty-driven assessments via dynamically-generated rubrics, with the possibility of incorporating student-driven assessments as well. Will this signal a new trend in assessments for the 21st century? …or, do we need to push for something beyond rubrics? …beyond assessments?

Report on the second Horizon Forum

Last Friday, 26 leaders from Minnesota’s PreK-17 spectrum gathered for the second meeting of the Horizon Forum. Dr. Tom Tapper, superintendent of Owatonna Public Schools, presented a compelling argument that public education is nearing obsolescence. He states:

Today, the system of public education has a choice: it either leads change, or is led by it. The essence of our society is dynamic and is becoming innovative in nature. Changes in public education will follow, to refuse change is not an option, however, how we change is. The power to decide lies within it.

Dr. Arthur Harkins (University of Minnesota) followed with a presentation on undergraduate knowledge production and its innovative potentials in the College of Education and Human Development. The College, also, needs to decide whether it will lead or become obsolete, and that it has several alternatives:

  • Help upgrade the USA culture, starting with families and schools
  • Help massively (and selectively) encourage emigration of outstanding families and individuals to the USA
  • Advocate funding of all ‘performing’ students fro PreK through 17 to create required human and social capital. (no student debt)
  • Utilize advanced technology

The next Horizon Forum meeting will be on at 12:00pm on December 12 in Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota.

The current topic of the third forum is Human Capital Development and PreK-17 Education. More details on this upcoming event will be posted soon.

(Thanks to Tom Elko for providing notes from the meeting.)

Building a Leapfrog University v5.0

Arthur Harkins and I yesterday released “version 5.0” of our Building a “Leapfrog” University series. The document provides recommendations gathered from the University of Minnesota community on steps the University may take to transform into one of the top universities in the world. The recommendations generated by this activity run parallel to and complement the University’s own strategic repositioning process.

Future development of this memo series and its leapfrog concepts will now be conducted entirely online at the University’s community Wiki in “open source” tradition:

We invite your comments, corrections and additions to what we have written as well as direct input to the Leapfrog Wiki. We especially request your thoughts on the application of innovative and dynamic design principles to the University’s future

For your reference, previous release versions are available online at


  • Arthur Harkins, University of MN,, 612/743-7528
  • John Moravec, University of MN,, 612/325-5992
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LA Times: Colleges see the future in technology

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story on the adoption of technology in California’s higher education institutions. Gaming and simulation technologies are being explored to provide “more individualized instruction” that cater to both emotional and learning needs of students. Carol Twigg at the National Center for Academic Transformation is looking at online education. Writes the times:

Twigg’s outlook is based partly on her center’s four-year effort with 30 colleges to redesign high-enrollment courses. The 30 projects involved such things as deemphasizing lectures and relying more on online tutorials and discussion forums, along with using computerized grading to give students speedier assessments of what they were learning well and what they were getting wrong.

The result: Student learning rose in 25 of the 30 projects. And in the other five cases, performance remained roughly even with the level in traditionally taught classes. At the same time, the cost of providing instruction was reduced an average 37%.

I’m not quite sure how student learning is measured, but if this research is accurate, the trend of rising college costs may be reversible…

Inside Higher Ed: Harvard poised to leapfrog

Inside Higher Ed reports Harvard is investigating interdisciplinary (and some would argue transdisciplinary) models of knowledge production and distribution. The school’s Science Committee issued a report with recommendations that include: transforming undergraduate science education in a hands-on environment, adjust graduate student funding structures to encourage interdisciplinary research, and infuse interdisciplinary practice into the new Allston campus.

More from the Harvard University Gazette

The Memo v4.0: Building a "Leapfrog" University

Date: May 17, 2006

To: All Participants

From: Arthur Harkins and John Moravec

Subject: Building a “Leapfrog” University: Renovating Undergraduate Education (Version 4.0)

“A Noble Quest” (as suggested by Robert Giampietro, retired VP, Target Corp.)

A new paradigm founded on the convergence of globalization, the rise of knowledge societies, and accelerating change is emerging. This calls for an entirely new mission for all levels of education with a new mindset and vocabulary for action. The Leapfrog Paradigm emerges when societies, organizations and individuals employ innovative means to surge ahead of the competition. Consider the Leapfrog Paradigm in Minnesota, and:

Imagine a second “Minnesota Miracle”…

  • Where Minnesota is the leader among knowledge and innovation economies
  • Where no Minnesota student fails in schools and colleges
  • Where Minnesota’s citizens are the global standard for leading edge human capital development and application

Imagine the University of Minnesota…

  • As the leading university in the world within a decade
  • As one crucial link in a chain of free education opportunities for PreK-17 learners
  • Bolstered with advanced networking technologies to support continuous innovation from the freshman year onward

Imagine Minnesota students…

  • Having completed a University of Minnesota graduate degree by age 21
  • As innovators, leaders, and visionary change agents
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