Thursday, March 07, 2013

What Will "College Town" Mean in 2025?

Fort Collins is proud of its recent ranking as a top "college town." Recently, I have been wondering what a "college town" will look like in 2025, so the article in our local paper provoked this short post.

I have blogged about this before- education (including higher education) is being disrupted. I don't know how this will evolve, but wonder if Fort Collins and other cities on this list are thinking about the second half of Schumpeter's creative destruction? What will a city need to do to attract creative, innovative people and organizations,  if students get their education through online courses, tapping into any class... any where... any time?

I have been trying to follow and study this trend. So far, it is the universities that are thinking most about this, and they are thinking about it mostly as a technology/marketing problem. I think they should also consider it as a business model problem. The universities (including those with faculty that teach about disruptive innovation) are acting like the incumbents they are, hoping that change happens slowly and gradually and that they can maintain their market position (and tenure). They don't seem to be thinking about what a university will look like when the students don't live here anymore. What about libraries, dorms, and yes, football stadiums (yes, my dear, that is correct plural)? Where should universities be investing? And what about faculty? Or selective admissions?

It seems that many beyond universities should be thinking about this too. What about the communities they serve? Or the businesses that serve student populations or hire university graduates? Are they thinking about what will change if the students don't live in college towns anymore? Not yet.

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