Abelard to Apple
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Abelard to Apple

The Fate of American Colleges and Universities

By Richard A. DeMillo

How institutions of higher learning can rescue themselves from irrelevance and marginalization in the age of iTunes U and YouTube EDU.

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Summary

How institutions of higher learning can rescue themselves from irrelevance and marginalization in the age of iTunes U and YouTube EDU.

The vast majority of American college students attend two thousand or so private and public institutions that might be described as the Middle—reputable educational institutions, but not considered equal to the elite and entrenched upper echelon of the Ivy League and other prestigious schools. Richard DeMillo has a warning for these colleges and universities in the Middle: If you do not change, you are heading for irrelevance and marginalization. In Abelard to Apple, DeMillo argues that these institutions, clinging precariously to a centuries-old model of higher education, are ignoring the social, historical, and economic forces at work in today's world. In the age of iTunes, open source software, and for-profit online universities, there are new rules for higher education.

DeMillo, who has spent years in both academia and in industry, explains how higher education arrived at its current parlous state and offers a road map for the twenty-first century. He describes the evolving model for higher education, from European universities based on a medieval model to American land-grant colleges to Apple's iTunes U and MIT's OpenCourseWare. He offers ten rules to help colleges reinvent themselves (including “Don't romanticize your weaknesses”) and argues for a focus on teaching undergraduates.

DeMillo's message—for colleges and universities, students, alumni, parents, employers, and politicians—is that any college or university can change course if it defines a compelling value proposition (one not based in “institutional envy” of Harvard and Berkeley) and imagines an institution that delivers it.

Hardcover

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262015806 344 pp. | 9 in x 6 in 14 b&w illus.

Paperback

$18.95 T | £14.99 ISBN: 9780262518628 344 pp. | 9 in x 6 in 14 b&w illus.

Reviews

  • This book will provoke debate.

    Charles R. Middleton

    Times Higher Education

Endorsements

  • Both those who welcome and those (like me) who view with alarm the linking of undergraduate education to student career goals should read this wide-ranging and deeply informed analysis of the issues.

    Stanley Fish

    Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law, Florida International University, New York Times columnist, author of How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One

  • This thoroughly engaging book provides a view of higher education that is future-oriented and technology-savvy yet rooted in the sweeping historical pageant of the world's universities. It brings more than a little tough love to our sometimes self-satisfied American research universities while acknowledging and encouraging boldness in facing today's challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities. It is a unique volume and should be read by all who care about the future of higher education.

    Charles Vest

    President, National Academy of Engineering, and President Emeritus, MIT

  • Using a plethora of examples, quotes from intellectuals, and his own analysis and experience, DeMillo beautifully and forcefully argues for change. University administrators, including the Presidents, Provosts, and the Deans, will find this book an asset as they consider curricular and structural changes in the face of the immense popularity of the Internet.

    Aditya Mathur

    Professor of Computer Science, Purdue University