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Faculty Must Innovate

PULLMAN, Wash. — University educators should hear the “footsteps” of private industry, accept the World Wide Web as a fact of life and help design new educational delivery systems for the future.

If they fail to do so, land grant universities will be like the Titantic, plowing towards disaster, according to Andrew S. Gibbons, associate professor of instructional technology at Utah State University.

Tuesday (Oct. 27), Gibbons keynoted the WSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics all-faculty conference.

He also likened today’s system of higher education to the automobile industry, which failed to respond fast enough or well enough to the emergence of the Japanese automobile industry, which revolutionized the way cars were built and what kind of vehicles were built.

Gibbons warned that competition in higher education is increasing, including competition from private industry where companies are forming their own universities in cyber space.  He said early creations are coming in business and computer programming, but predicted that the trend will spread to agriculture and other fields.

Private industry developing alternative products is highly competitive. Increasingly, students have alternatives to traditional universities.  He challenged CAHE faculty to lead, follow or get out of the way.

Universities that fail to meet the challenge will see their state budgets shrink, he said.  Gibbons counseled faculty to emphasize instruction, not technology.  “Our job is to build the cars and trucks that travel on the new educational highway,” he said.

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