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Social Media, Networks and Digital Culture

Is This the Death of the University?

H. P. Kuklinski, C. Cobo, C. A. ScolariIs This the Death of the University? Knowledge Production and Distribution in the Disintermediation Era. In the 21st Century, an increasing number of citizens have access to Higher Education. However, the imbalance between free contents available on the Internet and expensive enrolment fees, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon universities, could cause long term problems for the Higher Education system. If the on-line experience is reasonably similar in activities and quality to the teaching provided in the classroom, why not consider a disintermediation of Higher Education, as has occurred in other business models such as the culture industry. What would happen if citizens and governments rejected university degrees that certify these institutions as a unique source of learning and professional legitimation? It is well known that there is currently an active debate in the European Union about recognition and validation of informal learning (Council of the European Union, 2009). The aim of this debate is to design new accreditation methods that are not limited by the constraints imposed by formal education institutions. In this context the analysis of and reflection on disintermediation practices in Higher Education is more an academic necessity than an intellectual game. All the communication and cultural industries have already debated this phenomenon: Why should Higher Education avoid the discussion on disintermediation? This article explores questions such as: To what extent is this phenomenon reshaping the traditional role of the university? Will it cause a crisis in the educational institutions? Will this disintermediation of education evolve towards the disappearance of institutions like schools and universities? In the following pages we reflect on these topics and propose new categories for understanding them.

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