Summary of Scenario A: Find Your Own Path

Open sources learning & rapid change

Open sources learning & rapid change

Everyone is an expert, but no one is a gatekeeper. 

Institutional prestige has been devalued.  Value now resides in the ability to meet the needs of the individual, fueled by the collective “wisdom” of the crowd.  The power of a degree is diminished as workplaces shift to microdegrees and endorsements that signal the ability to perform specific tasks, or the mastery of a specific, narrow knowledge set. 

Validity of both skill and information is a function of its market share; core research functions not oriented toward the marketplace are largely obsolete—still churning out insight to declining and increasingly disinterested sponsors.

Information is widely available, but authority is in the eye of the beholder. 

The public sector’s role in general, and education in particular, is greatly diminished as better funded, more nimble, less regulated private entities provide services formerly offered by the state. 

Invention and reinvention are rampant. The consumer is fickle and what is in vogue finds itself easily discarded with the next “trend.” This goes as much for governance models as it does for consumer goods. Liberal democracy finds itself in defensive mode among a sea of local models that all seem to sort of work, from beneficent autocracies to social network enabled virtual communes. 

Traditional institutions of higher education struggle to keep up with the pace of change and the diversifying nature of information.  Education has shifted from institutionally focused degrees to build-your-own degrees from online sources. Those degrees, however, take too long, don’t align with economic need and have rapidly lost their prestige.  External validators take the place of accredited institutions in guaranteeing quality and skills.  In many cases, degrees have been replaced entirely by endorsements from previous work, or from competencies certified by groups of similarly skilled individuals.