The Post-Internet University and the Promise of Elearning
Professor Martin Irvine
[Preliminary Syllabus:
Syllabus will be a work in progress with participation of seminar members]

See Seminar Description and Introduction


  • Philip G. Altbach, et al., eds. American Higher Education in the 21st Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).
  • James Duderstadt, A University for the 21st Century (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000).
  • Matthew Pittinsky, ed. The Wired Tower: Perspectives on the Impact of the Internet on Higher Education (Financial Times-Prentice Hall, 2002)
  • Many readings from Web sources and EReserves in the library

Possible Group Seminar Projects (for discussion):

  • Group creation of website with bibliography, data links, and research on the political economy and business of the post-Internet university and the possibilities for elearning.
  • Investigation of potential for CCT and other GU grad programs for specific and targeted elearning programs and elearning content with a business model for self-sustaining operations.
  • Develop and manage an online survey to quantify potential student acceptance/adoption in specific contexts, subject areas; attempt to find acceptance for graduate courses and find highest demand areas.
  • Develop idea and plan for a new company or service that would solve industry problems, utilize existing and emerging technology, and meet a demand in a specific demographic for life-long learning needs.

Syllabus Outline

Aug. 28
Intro and Overview
Case study
Describing/defining the “post-Internet university”: Internet assumed, embedded in everything we do, influx of idea of "knowledge economy," universities and intellectual capital, social capital
Intro to issues: higher ed and economy, political economy data and statistics (US, world) the post-Internet university (Duderstadt), the business of the university, disciplinary regimes, reproduction and sociology of higher ed (Bourdieu)
Elearning: opportunities, challenges, barriers
Education and learning demand and constraints on supply: what could elearning do to provide greater access to knowledge
Kill the “e”—now assumed everywhere, learning always hybrid, a continuum

Sept. 4
Historical Contexts for the Post-Internet University: Background and history of the university system and higher education industry
Making of the modern university, Europe and US
US private and public system, land grant act
Post-WWII “multiversities”
Expansion of disciplines
Disciplinary cultures and internal rivalries: “Two Cultures,” “Third Culture” and interdisciplinary battles
Question for analysis: does recent ICT extend, change, and/or reconfigure the power centers in higher education disciplines? Where are centers of academic and institutional power most resistant to forces of transformation (law, social sciences, medicine, etc.)?
Sept. 11
The Higher Education Industry
How higher education works as a business
Size of industry, economic realities
Political economy and collision of economic forces: scarcity economics and ubiquity/abundance economics
Post-secondary education statistics (NCSE/Dept. of Ed)
The guild system and disciplinary reproduction
Demographics, US and world: levels of ed., costs, wealth effect
Wriston's Law and intellectual capital
Elearning business models

Sept. 25
Total Economic Impact of Higher Education
Economic realities of higher education
Private and public goods, costs and financing
Rise of for-profit universities and education management companies
"Cultural capital," "intellectual capital," and wealth concentration: university assets and connectedness to entire economy
Cost of IT in higher education
Higher education and technology: paradox in universities as major producer of tech intellectual capital, incubator of Internet technologies, yet not as thoroughly transformed by IT as corporations and private sector
Oct. 2

[No class. Assignments.]

Oct. 9
Disrupting the Higher Ed Guild and Academic Reproduction System
Realities of institutional power and disciplinary guild systems for careers and professions
Learner-centered elearning disrupts power centers that invest authority in professoriate and disciplinary guilds
Pierre Bourdieu's theory of social and institutional reproduction
The realities of institutional power and self-reproduction
The realities of academic hierarchies and social class, university degrees, social power networks in universities

Oct. 16
Post-Internet Teaching and Learning
Pre- and post-Web
Hypertext, hypermedia, Internet and web and learning environments
Interpretation and media
Teaching, Learning, Technology
Pedagogy and disciplinary practice
Learning in communities of practice: the social context of learning
From Distance Education to Elearning
Current and Emerging Technologies for Elearning
Information access, digital libraries, intellectual property, copyright
Oct. 23

Possible Futures for Elearning (1)
The easy part: what’s possible with technology
Learning environments
Always postponed future of interactivity
Software models and systems architecture
Case studies:
Blackboard and corporate elearning software
MIT Open Courseware initiative
Successful elearning and blended/hybrid models (Open U, Phoenix, UMD)
Oct. 30
Possible Futures for Elearning (2)

The Hard Stuff: institutional barriers, business models, learner adoption
The Market: is there a marketplace for elearning provided by universities?
University guild system and barriers to guild induction with elearning.
Emergence of education service providers, education management organizations
Copyright and intellectual property: competing forces of control and democratization of access
Digital Libraries: the written knowledge base and challenges to creating digital libraries
Corporate Elearning and Knowledge Management vs. university/academic learning models

Nov. 6
Elearning companies and the shape of the Post-Secondary Learning Industry:
case studies
eCollege, UPhoenix (Apollo Group), Blackboard, Sylvan, Universitas21 and Thomson Learning
For-profit education companies and investment speculation: publicly traded companies, capital markets, market opportunities, conflicts in business and education

Eduventures data
Current industry problems, barriers
Nov. 13
The Global Education Industry

Higher education issues worldwide
Globalization, education, and economics
Education as major U.S. export service, international schools and for-profit education companies
World Bank, OECD, and other international initiatives, data, investments
Nov. 20

Group discussion of research projects. 
Nov. 27

[No class. Thanksgiving break. Continuing work on research projects.]

Dec.  4

Presentations of research projects.