The Complexity of Educational Ecosystems
From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki
SFI ACtioN Topical Meeting
Co-hosted by Boeing
June 4th & 5th, 2018
Santa Fe Institute
Before the end of this century, the Universities of Bologna and Oxford will celebrate their millennial anniversaries. Although the university model has spread across the globe, its fundamental structure has remained relatively unchanged. The University systems' stasis is sharply contrasted by the radical changes of other human institutions during the same period; the overwhelming majority of humans participate in governments, companies, and family structures that would have seemed alien a thousand years ago.
Despite its steady history, higher education now seems poised for disruption. New technologies are impacting both the demand for education, as well as its supply. On the demand side, technologies enable an increasingly networked economy, in which the premium on select cognitive skills and abilities grows exponentially. Simultaneously, emerging technologies can rapidly fluctuate the demand for, and return to, specific skill sets; the demand for skills replaced by a new technology typically dwindle, while the demand for skills needed to operate productive new technologies can skyrocket. These developments impact the optimal content and timing of education.
Concurrent with the above changes in the demand for education, technologies are also impacting the supply of education. Advances in telecommunications technologies have altered the comparative benefits of student-teacher colocation, opening the door to distance learning, MOOCs and SPOCs. Relatedly, new data sources and collection methods are radically changing our ability to assess learning objectives and the learning process. Finally, new sensory technologies, such as AR and VR greatly expand the possibility of simulated experiential learning.
The extent to which higher education will be disrupted by these technologies is significantly moderated by the nuances of higher education's complex ecosystem. This meeting will use a complex systems framework to unpack the implications of new technologies on the higher education system.