Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Digital media and the end of college

A lot of thoughts and inputs converging lately. Here are some of the inputs:

1. Via email - I received an email last week making it clear our national leadership within the USCM understand the future of campus ministry will prominently feature digital media as a tool and platform towards evangelism and discipleship.
2. Via podcast - I listen to a podcast pretty regularly called "This week in Google", which sounds both narrow and nerdy. However, the conversations covered by the three hosts (and one weekly guest) range from the practical (tips on using Google Voice, for example) to the theoretical and futuristic. It is the latter which fascinates me and keeps me listening. I posted about one such topic (how technology allows us to learn from anyone in the world at almost any time) and it's ministry implications on my test blog a few months ago.
3. Via RSS Reader - Seth Godin posted recently about "The coming melt-down in higher education". This flows right out of #2 above. What if the college campus as we know it radically changes...or becomes obsolete?
4. Via News - The level of debt around the world is threatening to radically change financial priorities and realities for the indefinite future, from government all the way down to the individual.

And now for the thoughts:

First, the internet disrupts everything it touches. It has changed the music industry, the porn industry, the movie industry, the retail industry, the news industry, the telecommunication industry, and the travel industry... to name a few. How long until the internet disrupts the college "industry"?

Second, bubbles eventually burst. There is a lot that could be said about the reasons behind the ever-upward ratcheting of college tuition, but it is looking increasingly like there is a college "bubble". There have been tulip bubbles, stock market bubbles, a bubble, and most recently a housing bubble.  Costs can only get so high, and people leveraged so far with debt, before things collapse.  And after the collapse and disruption, things may look very different.

What if the internet is the thing that makes the college bubble finally burst? And what will "college ministry" look like in this new world? Is this new reality coming? How long until it gets here? What can we do to prepare?

Ah, if only we knew the future...

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