Quoted from The New York Times
Law school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation. …
- Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all. …
- The drop in applications is widely viewed as directly linked to perceptions of the declining job market.
Many of the reasons that law jobs are disappearing are similar to those for disruptions in other knowledge-based professions, namely the growth of the Internet.
- Research is faster and easier, requiring fewer lawyers, and is being outsourced to less expensive locales, including West Virginia and overseas.
- In addition, legal forms are now available online and require training well below a lawyer’s to fill them out
- In recent years there has also been publicity about the debt load and declining job prospects for law graduates, especially of schools that do not generally provide employees to elite firms in major cities.
Even lawyers (of the middling kind) are prone to disintermediation. MOOCs will probably have a similar impact on lecturers.
The jobs that survive are jobs that cannot (for the time being) be routinized:
- those at the very top – which demand exceptional skills
- those that require complex personal and practical skills
Candidates to (1) are recruited by competition. Candidates to (2) are recruited through long processes of formal and on-the-job training.
The future of culture is largely digital.
We will, of course, continue to visit monuments like the pyramids and Parthenon on the spot. Digital images cannot replace the experience of being there. But digital artifacts can enrich the physical visit. Good reproductions can also substitute for “the thing itself”. A virtual Forum Romanum and a digital Beowulf allow much closer interaction with the historical objects than is possible in real life.
Web access is fast, cheap and convenient. Families cannot spend years and years traversing Europe in search of culture. For most of us, physical visits must be the exception. Virtual access will be the rule.
If you plan a walking trip, you should check the terrain. Scaling cliffs and wading muddy swamps is no fun when you just wanted a friendly walk in the forest.
Since my college plans to walk towards a future university, we should check the financial landscape. Dealing with debt, overloaded teachers and discontented students is no fun.
Lloyd Armstrong, a professor at the University of Southern California, has a very clear understanding of education economics. He explains the rising costs of HE as follows: (more…)
Norway will be different.
The car bomb that killed eight people and destroyed central government buildings was unexpected and terrifying. But this kind of event was at least known from Kabul, Nairobi and Madrid. The killings at Utøya Island are beyond comprehension.
Saturday evening I drove from one small community north of Oslo (Jessheim) to another small community (Ask), where I live. On the plaza before the town hall at Jessheim there was a red heart surrounded by candles and flowers.
,James G. Neal, Head of the Columbia University Library (New York), has written a call to action for academic libraries.
Below I reproduce the central parts of his article as a set of thirty theses – to facilitate discussion.
In Norway we currently have a debate about the relationship between research, innovation, training and practice in the library field. I am encouraged by Neal’s strong demand for library innovation. I agree with his description of librarianship as an “information-poor” profession (thesis 22). He is not opposed to research and development – but wants it to support decision-making and progressive services.
R&D needs strong links to the practical world: a network of laboratories for experimentation that can help us move ideas much more quickly from concept to market (thesis 23).
Farming was a life-style.
Traditional crafts also used to be inherited. Some of the professions – teaching, nursing, research, the arts – often appeared as callings – as personally fulfilling ways of life.
In the knowledge economy, all forms of work become monetarized. Education is increasingly seen as a financial investement. This investment is usually shared by the state and the student (or her family). Both parties are increasingly concerned about the return on their investment.
Below I show how professions differ in terms of economic rewards. All data apply to US employees with (only) a bachelor degree in the subject.The lesson is clear: the professions that demand advanced mathematical and technical skills come out on top. The profesions that demand social and artistic skills come out at the bottom.
The social division of labor is changing.
As a civic institution the public library is moving away from a place centered on books to a place centered on activities. These activities are increasingly social and digital:
- collective or group-oriented rather than purely individual
- multi-medial and interactive rather than straight reading or listening
The new MacArthur report on participatory culture describes the new environment pretty well.
Changes in learning and teaching are driven by global forces.
Schools and universities do not control these forces. What we control is the timing of our responses.
A degree of risk is involved in any case. Institutions that act too early may be stuck with immature and clumsy systems. But higher education is becoming a competitive market. Institutions that engage too late may see the competition surge ahead.
Organizations operate in many different environments.
Some are deeply rooted in local communities. The employ local people, use local resources and serve local customers and needs. Local organizations tend to know a lot about local conditions – but not so much about the bigger world outside.
Others operate within national environments. They will know more about national markets, policies and trends.
I have just read 2010 top ten trends in academic libraries.
Together with the 2010 Horizon Report, which deals with education rather than libraries, it provides a good scan of the near future (2-3 years).
This authoritative and handy document covers a lot of ground. Below I indicate some patches that appeal to me.