Innovating the 21st Century University

04/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Don Tapscott Don Tapscott heads the Global Solution Networks program at the University of Toronto and is Adjunct Professor of Management at the Rotman School of Management. His new book, Blockchain Revolution, comes out in May 2016.

n the current issue of EDUCAUSE Review, Anthony D. Williams and I have a 6,000-word essay discussing the urgent issues facing universities, that left unresolved, would see institutions of higher learning going into a death spiral akin to what we see happening to encyclopedias, newspapers, and music record labels.

For fifteen years, we've been arguing that the digital revolution will challenge many fundamental aspects of the university. We have not been alone. In 1997, none other than Peter Drucker predicted that big university campuses would be "relics" within thirty years.

Universities are losing their grip on higher learning as the Internet is, inexorably, becoming the dominant infrastructure for knowledge -- both as a container and as a global platform for knowledge exchange between people -- and as a new generation of students requires a very different model of higher education. The transformation of the university is not just a good idea; It is an imperative, and evidence is mounting that the consequences of further delay may be dire.

Read the full essay here.