Average folks and higher education researchers have conflicting views of academia. Average folks believe that most college teachers are tenured professors and that most students are residential students who play ultimate Frisbee on the quad. Higher education researchers have a different view. We know that most teachers are actually part time adjuncts and graduate students. Residential college is for the top of the pool. Most students are part time commuters or community college students. The mistake that people make is that the most visible forms of higher education (e.g., elite research universities and liberal arts schools) are the most common.
This split between folk wisdom and what the experts know is evident in David Purcell’s comment:
Higher ed and how students are credentialed (see the recent discussions on badges) are clearly going to evolve. In short, I see higher ed bifurcating into “good schools” and “everything else,” not unlike the labor market.The common folk wisdom is that the Internet will make this happen. The experts know that this has already happened and it has nothing to do with online courses or other Internet based learning.