(2017-09-09) College And The War On Expertise

Ryan Craig: College and the War on Expertise

We are living in a world where expertise is being challenged as never before

At the same time, we’ve recently seen several surveys indicating that the white working class and Republicans have lost their love for higher education. This remarkable change has two sources: (1) negative media coverage of campus protests; and (2) the crisis of college affordability. What do these stories have to do with each other? The common thread is a creeping sense that college degrees demarcate the line between the “Elite” and “Real America,” and that American higher education has become synonymous with elitism (and vice versa).

the War on College may be fueling the War on Expertise

higher education finds itself in a Game of Thrones-like situation. Just as the Lannisters, Targaryens and Starks are consumed with an intramural fight while an existential threat approaches from beyond The Wall, colleges and universities are consumed with this War on College over campus protests and affordability while the War on Expertise threatens to undo much more than college as an institution

colleges and universities need to embrace faster + cheaper alternatives. Yet another reason I can’t wait for a world of unbundled degrees and faster + cheaper pathways to good jobs: people like John Muir – a college dropout – will be less likely to be dismissed out of hand.

will require an unprecedented embrace of assessments and micro-credentials for the expertise and skills demonstrated by those assessments. Combatting the existential War on Expertise will require America’s higher education institutions to assess and certify any and all expertise.

But while colleges and universities have begun adopting micro-credentials, they are often rolled out as part of newer programs with limited enrollment

Contrast this with the approach of employers and industry associations that are rapidly embracing micro-credentials across their entire organizations. According to Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO of leading digital credential service provider Credly, “many employers and associations now view micro-credentials as more precise indicators of knowledge and skills than traditional degrees and companies are already seeing them drive better hiring and promotion decisions as well as improved employee retention. They are looking to educational institutions to scale up their use of micro-credentials so that individuals can navigate the labor market with a common currency and a more transparent signal of what they know and can do.”

Ryan Craig is Managing Director at University Ventures and the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education.


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