The question that academics should be asking (and answering) is this one: “What value do I add to a college students’ experience in a world where information is just a Google search away?”
The answer to this question requires academics to admit, out loud, that research may not be the best way to add value to a students’ experience in the wider world.
The answer to this question requires academics to admit, out loud, that the systemized expansion of the administrative class in colleges and universities may be a value subtraction rather than a value-add for students.
The answer to this question requires academics to adopt a posture that ensures that acquiring tenure is not about research that no one reads, publishing in a few august journals that can’t be accessed via Google, and then maybe teaching some classes.
The answer to this question requires academics to position themselves as true advocates of student learning, rather than giving lip service to the thought.
The answer to this question reduces class sizes, increases educational quality (higher education, that is…there are other questions to answer for K-12) and reduces the impact of the administrative class—and renders opaque the ‘black box’ of administrative decisions.
The answer to this question allows real, lifetime, impactful learning to occur inside of the institutions that we all know and love. Learning that becomes less about lecturing and information transfer (that’s what Google and Youtube are for) and becomes more about coaching, encouraging and watering minds.
There are a few academics who are asking—and answering—this question, but not nearly enough, not nearly loud enough, not nearly often enough, to bring the genuine change that students—both now and in the future—will need to meet the challenges of an ever more confusing 21st century.