Summary of Scenario D: Drowning in Riches

Open sources of learning & managed or slow change

Open sources of learning & managed or slow change

The system has failed, but nothing arrived to replace it.  Now students can’t turn to any single source to complete their education.  Institutions remain stuck in a model that no longer meets the needs of their students or the workplace. Mimicking the symptoms of depression, they turn inward, willing only to reflect on their lost stature, which further deteriorates their motivation for change.  This situation has frustrated innovation and experimentation in business as well.  Information is free, thanks to an explosion in open source research and the dizzying array of websites, tutoring programs, videos, and tools touting the ability to teach everything from theoretical physics to flax spinning. 

In this environment, institutions have lost control of the marketplace and now everything from knowledge and research to essential skills has to be cobbled together from a variety of sources, some online, some proprietary, some open source.  Quality and validity is a major challenge, and consistency of work products is highly variable.  With so much information coming from so many sources, just making sense of it all is a major endeavor, for which their is energy or investment. 

Perhaps more importantly, despite all of this information, floundering public and private institutions don’t have the capability any longer to fund or catalyze the transformation of data into value. Inefficient processes slow down innovation and change even further, which makes disseminating advances difficult even for the most innovative individuals and organizations.

Those who curate, manage, sort and repackage information find economic security.  Unfortunately, the role of cicerone for this galaxy of diffuse knowledge is filled by a multitude of groups, and organizations, institutions, businesses and governments have to pay premiums to capture and collect the information that they need just to remain functional.  Students, left largely on their own, cast wide nets and present themselves to employers as astute consumers of the vast wealth of information that is available.