Techno-skeptic Andrew Keen on the Failures of American Universities

“Universities are two or three hundred years behind the curve,” said writer and entrepreneur Andrew Keen (without any evident irony) when we spoke with him at the recent DLDnyc conference. Despite a technologized economy “rushing at about a million miles an hour,” Keen believes our institutions of higher education still “move with glacial speed.” But he doesn’t think that keeping up with technology will necessarily solve this problem. While the “Digital Vertigo” author is a confirmed techno-skeptic, he recognizes that the failures of higher education in America are not necessarily caused by the misuse of technology. Rather, he believes universities are suffering from a deeper cultural and intellectual malaise.

“Universities are two or three hundred years behind the curve,” said writer and entrepreneur Andrew Keen (without any evident irony) when we spoke with him at the recent DLDnyc conference. Despite a technologized economy “rushing at about a million miles an hour,” Keen believes our institutions of higher education still “move with glacial speed.” But he doesn’t think that keeping up with technology will necessarily solve this problem. While the “Digital Vertigo” author is a confirmed techno-skeptic, he recognizes that the failures of higher education in America are not necessarily caused by the misuse of technology. Rather, he believes universities are suffering from a deeper cultural and intellectual malaise. “I don’t think universities are preparing kids properly for a world of invention and reinvention. They’re not preparing kids to be entrepreneurial,” he said. He also fears a future in which the quality and accessibility of education are stratified, with a privileged high end of “Harvards and Princetons and Yales,” the disappearance of middle-tier institutions, and a bottom-end of “bad online education.”

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