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What is college, really? It's some combination of access to three things: information, feedback, and certification.

The internet totally took care of the information problem. It's no longer the role of a university to provide access, but to create new knowledge through research.

The internet helps take care of the feedback problem, and I think web-apps will keep coming that match people with each other to give feedback on their efforts. So colleges are in danger there.

The internet can also take care of the certification problem, because the value of the certificate (diploma) is pretty much completely tied to the brand value of the certificate-giver. I can see an online university establishing a name for themselves in the future.

Colleges should focus on things that the internet can't do, like providing spaces for people to meet up and learn together.




Regarding information, not quite. One of the few things I really missed immediately upon graduation was access to expensive databases like LexisNexis, JSTOR, ACM Digital Library. You'll be at a great disadvantage trying to conduct real research without such access.

I sometimes must ask a friend still in academia to download a PDF of some slightly older CS paper for me.

I also miss the wonderful university libraries. The public libraries are not nearly as good especially for more specialized matters.


Definitely true - I didn't think about access to proprietary databases or the excellent libraries.

I wonder if universities will have to go even deeper than they currently are to compete with the internet, or if the proprietary databases and large libraries will inevitably be made irrelevant by the internet.


You missed "discipline". College gives you deadlines, in case you're not the kind of person who can provide their own.




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