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Higher Education in Development: Lessons from Sub Saharan Africa
Higher Education in Development: Lessons from Sub Saharan Africa
Kate Ashcroft
Information Age Publishing, 2011
300 pp., $45.99

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Rick Ostrander

The Next Revolution

Global Christian higher ed.

My plane touched down just before midnight at Entebbe airport, by the shores of Lake Victoria, on a warm humid evening in May 2013. My host grabbed my suitcase and walked me through a drab, tired-looking airport terminal and out to our waiting vehicle in a dimly lit parking lot. I had arrived in Kampala, Uganda for a four-day visit to Uganda Christian University.

The year before, I had taken a very different trip. Exploring the epicenter of the "digital tsunami" forecasted to revolutionize higher education, I had journeyed to Silicon Valley and toured the gleaming, gun-metal gray halls of Apple's world headquarters in Cupertino, California. At the time, talk of the digital revolution was everywhere. Experts predicted the end of the traditional university as the work of the teacher is absorbed by online "facilitators," students cobble together their own customized education like they assemble playlists on their iPod, and universities survive as digital dispensers of education rather than residential learning communities.

That rhetoric hasn't disappeared, but it does seem a bit more muted. Online education continues to expand, and moocs grab the headlines, but the rate of growth in online degrees has slowed. Moreover, recent events at Amherst, Duke, and Harvard indicate that professors are increasingly willing to challenge the growth of online educational consortia. While professors generally are open to adopting digital methods, the notion of moocs replacing traditional education anytime soon seems a bit overblown.

What many students and their parents are looking for in a college is not simply a degree but a fully-orbed college experience that shapes them as intellectual, emotional, and spiritual persons. Just as the publishing industry seems to be reaching a balance between electronic and paper books, I suspect that higher education in the U.S. may be arriving at a blend between digital learning and the old-fashioned sort. There are many varieties of higher education, ...

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