Ruth Kerr

From learning innovation to digital distance education



Higher education is currently challenged by a shifting demographic, declining public funding, the rapidly changing needs of the job market in a global knowledge society, questions of rising costs and affordability/value for students, as well as competition from new non-academic and for-profit players in the Higher education marketplace. In line with the platformization of society, narratives around Higher education, and its digital future, embrace disruption theory, the uberization of teaching, the Netflix effect on the Higher education (He) industry, alternative credentials, and the partial substitution of universities’ role by tech giants. There is also an increased focus on preparing career-ready graduates for the 21st century workplace via the teaching of competencies and skills in in-demand areas and collaboration with industry. This review article looks at four recent works that try to respond to these challenges facing He. They propose diverse reflections on how to achieve an effective and resilient evolution of Higher education. Their strategies may vary but the direction is online, and all of them bring the narrative firmly back to the institution and system level, highlighting the intrinsic value of a formal university education, and the benefits of that education to the individual and society. This review provides a synthesis of key issues for the future of Higher education explored in all four of the books selected for review. It then summarizes the governance approaches and main issues explored in each one.


  • Learning Innovation
  • Digital Learning
  • Digital Governance
  • Moocs
  • Institutions


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