2017

The Future of Universities in a Block Chain World

Universities have been central to intellectual and creative discourse for a millennium, and yet during the last two decades, powerful economic, technological and social forces have increasingly challenged their survival. Professor Diane Sieber argues that the future of the university may look very much like its origin: decentralized, just-in-time learning with flexible curricula and outcomes-based rather than credit-hour-based credentialing. In the near future, block chain technology will allow learners to design a personalized education that constellates inexpensive online resources and experiences, and to connect directly with employers through smart contracts. Universities that can adapt quickly will weather this change; others will collapse in the face of accelerating technologies and less expensive alternatives. Diane Sieber is a professor in the Engineering College at the University of Colorado, where she lives in a student residence hall with global engineers who speak many foreign languages. She also inhabits the intersection among information technologies, history, philosophy, literature, online games and punk rock.