Will killer robot dogs mean the end of universities?

Bob the dog

The answer to this question is, probably no.

But yet we don't see newspapers running articles about the potential threat of killer robot dogs to the status of universities. But we do see them about how MOOCs (sorry David) will destroy all higher education as we know it. For example here is a piece in Forbes. Or one from Nexttrends. Or one from Eduwire.

Why does it always have to be the death of, the end of? I guess it's because 'Will MOOCs be a complementary part of a richer mix of educational offerings from universities?' isn't such a snappy title. I think we've been through the first wave of the digital revolution, we've seen the things that will die off. And actually they don't usually die, they adapt. We shouldn't underestimate the ability of an industry, an organisation, professional people to accommodate digital practice. The 'will die' proponents do humans a big disservice, and portray digital change as an autonomous force which people are powerless before (I'm not mentioning technological determinism here). But if you look closely at that wave of change it is constructed from people using technology. 

This type of change and adaptation is much more subtle and interesting. So run this test the next time you see this type of claim. Could you replace X (MOOCs, tablets, web 2.0) with "killer robot dogs" and it still make sense? If so, the answer is probably the same. Or dinosaurs.

5 Comments

  1. This all depends on your definition of the university. I am optimistic. I think that universities will survive and most will be unrecognizably different and better than they are now.

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