THE FUTURE OF HIGHER
(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)
This 3-volume online book on the future of lifelong education for everyone in the world has been translated by Professor Fan Yihong Professor of Education Leadership, Institute of Education Research, Xiamen Universityand her team at the Institute of Education Research, Xiamen University for pulication by China Ocean University Press in 2006 and 2007, in P.R. CHINA. . Note translation into Chinese at the end of the sections of the first volume here online.
Special apprecation is due to Fan Yihong for her dedicated work and for her saying at the UNIQUAL 2005 conference at the Norway University of Science and Technology that "students... are getting very inspired by the bigger vision presented by (Rossman's)_book for the future of higher education and are trying to get ready for more broader collaborations with researchers and educators from different parts of the world
"The "we" used in this book also recognizes the assistance of Thomas Maxwell (this project was first online at the University of Maryland,) Alfred Bork, Arun Tripathi, Michelle Rossman and more others than can be named, including faculty and students in Hawaii and elsewhere who have used sections or chapters in class, and of course to the variety of information and discussions on the World Wide Web. Little of this online project could have been accomplished with out the expert technical assistance of Stan Wood at the University of Missouri, Columbia, CARES. For space reasons, only one name is used in text citations where there is more than one author
I especially thank Takeshi Utsumi and his colleagues around the world who have taught me so much and who continue to do so daily; and also all of the participants in online discussions of these issues as on the DEOS listserv from Penn. State University and the WAOE listserv. I appreciate many comments and suggestions from readers, including those received during an online conversation with people in Asia. An interview article about the hopes and intentions of this project is appended at the end of the acknowledgements section. Presentation at Classical University of Lisbon conference on university futures: <http://cie.fc.ul.pt/seminarioscie/universidade/pross.htm>
This is a sequel to The Emerging Worldwide Electronic University, (Praeger 1993). A revision of some of it that appears here as an introductory chapter was published in the January 1998 issue of SIMULATION, the journal of the Society for Computer Simulation International. A version of chapter 2 was presented at the World Brain Workshop at the University of Calgary, Canada, in June 1997. Special appreciation is due to Professor H. J. A Goodman for that invitation and for his assistance in updating material included in my first volume. Also British experts Alan Mayne on H.G. Wells and Jan Wyllie, author of Global Learning: Constructing the World Mind; library scientists Boyd Rayward from Australia and Dean Glynn Harmon of the University of Texas; physicists Gustav Mayer-Kress (German) and Francis Horber (French but at the Einstein Inst. In Switzerland) and many others at the workshop. I also acknowledge Wildman and Gridley's "World Brain as a Metaphor for Holistic higher Education" from the World Wide Web.
Special appreciation is due to many people at UNESCO, especially Marco Antonio Dias who is writing in Spanish on the future of higher education, and many at the University of Missouri who counseled me on one chapter or another, especially Chris Fulcher, economists Uel Blank and Ken Miller; Andrew Twaddle on world medical care, Elmer Kiehl, former Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bill Wickersham on governance and peace; and to those who participated in the Global Knowledge 97 conference in Toronto, sponsored by the World Bank and the Canadian government and those like Yolanda Gayol at the World Bank symposium which preceded it.
Parts of chapter 7 were put online for discussion by the U.S. Peace Institute Foundation. The sections on Africa, and especially chapters 17 and 18 were critically read by Magnus John of Sierra Leone and of the British Open University. Sections of chapters 17 and 18 were prepared for a panel organized for a World Bank Symposium at Pennsylvania State University in May-June, 1997. I appreciated the counsel of participants there, especially Peter Knight of the World Bank and Michael Moore, head of the American Research Center on Distance Education. Central concepts for this book were prepared for the first conference on international distance education at Pennsylvania State and were published in an interview in the American Journal of Distance Education and in my article, "Collective Intelligence and Teamwork: Some New Faculty Roles in Distance Education" in Internationalism in Distance Education: A Vision for Higher Education, the report of that 1994 conference edited by Melody Thompson. I wish to thank my wife, Jean, and daughter, Kristen, for manuscript assistance. And of course I should thank the Internet Society and everyone who is cited in the bibliography!
Many of the individuals who ought to be thanked are given credit in footnotes. I appreciated the suggestions on enhancing `the brain and memory' from Ben Houston of Canada, who I met at the 2001 Global Brain conference in Belgium. Chapter One, volume One, profited greatly from suggestions by President Emeritus John Campbell of Oklahoma State University and from Paul Miller, former president of the University of West Virginia and Rochester Tech.
The opportunity to serve as member of the board and chair of the Long Range Planning Committee of the University of the World project gave me the opportunity to 'pick the minds' of government leaders and educators from five continents who were planning on the education of the future; such as Kjell Samuelson of Sweden, Lord Perry of Walton and the British Open University, the systems theorist James Grier Miller, Ambassador Jose Chavez, James Maraj of the Commonwealth of Learning, Rashmi Mayur of India, President Peter Meincke and many others at Educom conferences. It is impossible to list all those on five continents who have spent comments and suggestions as this has been updated, but their guidance and help continues to be greatly appreciated.
-- Parker Rossman
The Future of
Higher Education Project:
go to previous
I first encountered Parker Rossman's work in the early
nineties via his groundbreaking The Emerging Worldwide Electronic
University: Information Age Global Higher Education (Rossman, 1992).
When I saw that his current project is a freely accessible online
book-in-progress on the future of lifelong and higher education, I asked
if he were available for an interview so that Technology Source
readers could learn about and participate in this project. He graciously
consented to the interview.
James L. Morrison [JM]: Parker, I note on your website
that you have three book-length volumes concerning the future of higher
I, The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education and Virtual Space;
II, Research On Global Crises, Still Primitive?; and Volume
III, Future Learning and Teaching.
What struck me in particular was your note asking readers
to contact you if they saw errors, or if they could contribute Web site
URLs or items of information that were pertinent to the material. As
these notes indicate, you clearly regard this to be a work in progress.
Certainly this project is in keeping with the free online scholarship
movement described by Peter Suber in our September/October issue (2002).
It is also a great way to develop the manuscripts relatively quickly,
although this "moving target" will be difficult for people who
need to cite your work in their papers. What do you expect to accomplish
via this technique?
Parker Rossman [PR]. My objective is to examine the
ways a global virtual education system can come into existence, and to
raise questions about needed research and more comprehensive planning on learning, teaching, and
overcoming the problems (such as hunger, bad health, war, and
revolution) that stand in the way of providing education for everyone in
the world. I realize that education for all is impossible, but perhaps
only in the sense that the US, out of necessity, accomplished what was
"impossible" after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I assume that
H.G. Wells was right when he said that civilization is in a race between
education and disaster. So I am willing to be audacious—as someone
retired and with no axe to grind—to initiate a project that might at
least stimulate thinking and discussion.
For thirty years or more I have been studying the
university, higher education, and academia in the developing world. In
the 1980's I began to see the emergence and potential of a global
virtual university, which culminated in a book (Rossman, 1992) that was
widely read and used, and led to my being invited to lecture in various
countries. Then the next year Praeger published it as a paperback in
their Contributions to the Study of Education series (Rossman,
1993). Developing world delegates to the 1997 UNESCO
conference on higher education in Paris complained that it was too
expensive for them. So I said that I would put a sequel online, free to
anyone in the world. I asked that in return they send me feedback and
suggested links. And I have now accomplished this.
JM: Doesn't your online manuscript deal with far more
than higher education? Your classification is a bit confusing to me,
because each volume looks like a book. Why not say that you have three
books on the Web?
PR: It must be one book if it is to be holistic. It
should introduce all of the needs and problems that must be dealt with
at once as we enter a time of lifelong education. "Education for
all" must include programs for pre-kindergarten children, for
primary and secondary school age learners, and for college students. It
must also include continuing educational programs that foster job
skills, career planning, and hobbies, as well as special interest
programs for senior citizens. Instead of talking about a "global
university," the time has come to explore possibilities for a
global virtual education system.
JM: Then why do you keep speaking of the "future of
PR: It is also my assumption that the university,
however it changes, will continue to be the major research center for
all education. It will be a crucial locus of educational vision and the
gathering place of scholars and educators. There will continue to be
residential campuses for those who can afford them, and higher education
institutions will continue to be the springboard for online education
for all—all places, all ages, all needs, lifelong, in the world. Now
is the time to begin online planning on how to accomplish that.
JM: Aren't you taking an anti-corporate stance when
the global programs you propose must have the financial support of
commercial businesses that are already tremendously influential in
PR: No anti-corporate stance is intended. Elite and
avant-garde profitable products will continue to thrive. As in many
potential areas of conflict or competition, we do not face an either/or
situation. Alongside the elite must be the best that can be provided for
billions of people. Big business has a well-established role, but it
will continue to devote itself to areas where money can be made. Any aid
given to poverty areas will likely be seen as charity until
experimentation provides mass-produced products that can be profitable.
JM: What are your other assumptions?
PR: I begin with other theses that are also debatable
and that propose conversation about larger-scale planning. In fact, I
wish that this project could stimulate online global conferences—at
least on the scale of the 1997 UNESCO conference that anyone in the
world could audit online, and with developing world educators encouraged
to participate online as in the 1997
Global Knowledge Conference I describe in Volume 2, Chapter
4. Anyone in the world should be helped, not only to listen in,
but to set up and participate in spin-off discussions.
Therefore, one assumption is that larger-scale online
discussions are now an urgent need. There are many online mailing lists
on many aspects of education, globally and locally, but they are not
coordinated, nor are they integrated into a global planning process.
Their archives are not cross-indexed.
A second assumption is that within two decades we will have
powerful new technologies that will make it possible for us to do things
never before possible. For example, one might consider the computing
power that thousands of inter-linked supercomputers will be able to
provide in concert with a more intelligent "Internet3" or
"Internet 4." We need to
begin preparing for these new possibilities now, rather than only trying
to keep up with current or emerging technological tools.
Third, it will soon be possible to accomplish the UNESCO
goal of "education for all." The Internet, Web, and their
successors can bring essential education to nearly everyone in the
world, when and where it is needed, across an individual's lifetime.
Furthermore, much education can be automated—and
inexpensive, as Alfred Bork and Gunnesdottir (2001) have
demonstrated—for those who cannot afford to go to a campus, or to
purchase expensive courses online. The poor will be able to obtain basic
education, literacy (including multimedia literacy), political savvy,
entrepreneurial skills, and agricultural skills; those with ability will
be able to move on to advanced education online. The technology
available in a particular neighborhood or village of a developing nation
will determine what learning resources can be initially provided
(battery-powered CD-ROM and radio can, for example, be used until
Internet connections are established).
Another possibility is the ability of educators to conduct
global-scale research and be more holistic and transdisciplinary,
bringing together many pieces of research and experience that are now
separate, but that exist around the world (see National Science
Foundation/Department of Commerce, 2002).
This is especially true as educators seek to cope with crises that limit
educational opportunity in the developing world, such as hunger, mental
and physical health, poverty, warfare and revolution, and ecological
problems. We must approach crisis-scale global problems simultaneously,
rather than one at a time. It is now possible for helping agencies to
better coordinate their efforts.
I see a global virtual university already coming into
existence. Maybe it need not be organized and planned, but it is
evolving on a biological model. The five models I propose in Volume
1 to stimulate discussion and the imagination, might all be part
of one virtual institution. This
idea of what consortia might do for the developing world is discussed in
(liberal arts colleges), 1.7
(for-profit institutions), 1.8
(major research universities), 1.9 (a
local need based consortium of community colleges), and 1.10
(land-grant university professional schools, especially those that
prepare teachers and physicians).
JM: What kinds of constructive criticism or negative
feedback are you getting?
PR: Well, the list is long. I try to cover too much.
Some of the data and information is out of date. Web URL addresses
disappear, which limits my ability to include links to the latest
research in order to avoid providing excessive detail in the text. Also,
different readers come with expectations that are not met. In discussing
technology, for instance, how can we address those who are technological
experts, and those in the developing world whose knowledge is as yet
limited? My project seems out of focus in that it struggles with the
nature and future of the university in a time of lifelong education, and
with the added problem of how to provide education for everyone in the
JM: How much of this project do you do by yourself?
PR: Only a little bit. I have many partners who do
not know that I am leaning on them; for example, authors of books and
articles that are cited and that I link to. I depend on mushrooming Web
pages. My project is already useful to some educators, particularly in
the developing world as I point them to such references. Those who give
me feedback—and even small suggestions and possible links—are
essential partners. I make use of many education mailing lists. However,
the project cannot continue to be useful over time unless it is taken
over by a team, and that probably means some sponsoring agency or
university. Meanwhile, it is a worthwhile experiment in seeing how far
one person can go. In the long run, this idea of a regularly updated and
enlarging online global textbook would probably require an international
team on each chapter. So I am just trying to see what the problems are
and are going to be.
I am stimulated by history. Years ago, Charles Ferguson
(1938) published an experimental book entitled A Little Democracy is
a Dangerous Thing. He decided to create it democratically. This was
before online and electronic books. He invited everyone involved in
producing the book to participate. Even the janitor at the press was
invited to read the book and make comments and suggestions. So also were
all the editors, printers, and wholesalers; their suggestions were
included as footnotes in the text. Late in the last century Jay Bolter
(1991) in Writing Space pointed out that new technology now makes
it possible to have "growing books" that are regularly
updated, and hypertext books that could leap in many different
directions, not having to be linear like the printed page. In the 1990's
Dean William Mitchell (1995) of MIT created an experimental
"growing" online book on urban architecture into which
colleagues could insert text, criticisms, and so forth. The idea was
exciting and highly significant (at least to me), but it soon got too
voluminous and out of hand, even though it had a team working on it. So
it is no longer online. Projects like an encyclopedia that need to be
kept up to date generally have each section assigned to a different
scholar or team of scholars.
JM: Are you encouraged that others are getting involved?
PR: One reader has suggested that the most important
thing about my online project is that it is a call for larger and more
sustained conversation—globally—on what the future of global
education ought to be. Personally, I wish it could be developed in a way
similar to the community of technicians that has continued to work on Linux,
without official sponsorship and funding. Recognizing the perils in my
experiment, I must be prepared for all kinds of criticism, even
antagonism. Perhaps, now that I am retired, I am better prepared to face
antagonism and scorn than those who have jobs and careers to consider.
Even if my project could be seen as a sort of annotated bibliography of
some articles and books that I would personally recommend, especially
for educators in the developing world, I am only partly successful.
However, I see the whole project as an initial effort that might later
be enlarged to be more useful to those who need to discuss current
problems and future issues. I see it as nothing definitive, but as an
outline on which to hang all kinds of ideas and topics that might
stimulate discussion, imagination, and conversation.
JM: What are your aspirations for the long term?
PR: Well, if you want me to dream about what this or
some other project might grow into, I would wish the following:
JM: How could such a vast education network and services
PR: Bork and Gunnesdottir (2001) suggest that such a
network can be financed out of existing funds spent on education. To
accomplish that, they anticipate, among other things, financial savings
as software becomes standardized and mass-produced, and as many such
learning activities become automated. If all the software and services
were online, the latest editions might be paid for—like long distance
calls—with a per minute user fee. If the telephone had been invented
today, it would be seen as an impossible task to fund a global network
for a billion telephones. Yet such a network was financed, at first,
with five cents a call. Software, textbooks, and multimedia education
modules need not then be replaced every year. They can be connected to
the Internet and updated. Much more could be said about this once we see
the possibilities of technology that will soon become available. Costs
of wireless connections and downloads can be affordable once there are
billions of learners using the same standardized products. Meanwhile,
the elite will still be able to use new learning programs and
technologies before they can be made available to many in developing
JM: What are your next steps?
PR: A number of retired college and university
presidents (and some younger faculty who see that there are going to be
radical changes for global education) have been making helpful
suggestions. For example, one has called for seminars to discuss my
project, saying "it is the most important existing book on the
future of higher education." (In all humility, I must assume that
he means the most important online book.) So he and several others are
working with me in getting the text criticized and improved. I have been
online with educators on four continents (for example, using the TAPPED
IN virtual campus with World Association for Online Education (WAOE)
sponsorship—another venue for ongoing discussions). I have met online
with students in several classes to discuss a chapter of my online text.
In the summer of 2002 a number of experts—including some from Africa,
Asia and Latin America—are inserting comments into one chapter that is
then being sent to others to add comments, criticisms, and suggestions.
If that experiment is successful and enlarged, then it will help define
several major issues and questions that might be discussed in spin-off
online seminars. One retired college president has proposed a
larger-scale discussion of the entire project, but the most qualified
people like you, Jim, are too busy to do that with the entire three
JM: Parker, via this interview and the subsequent webcast,
many more people will learn of this creative, exciting, and valuable
project. Be prepared for a flood of eager volunteers!
The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View