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Higher Education in the Digital Age
Updated Edition
William G. Bowen
With a new foreword by Kevin M. Guthrie and a new appendix by the author

One of The Times Higher Education Supplement’s Books of the Year 2014, chosen by Steven Schwartz

Paperback | 2015 | $16.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691165592
232 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 4 line illus.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400866137 |
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Two of the most visible and important trends in higher education today are its exploding costs and the rapid expansion of online learning. Could the growth in online courses slow the rising cost of college and help solve the crisis of affordability? In this short and incisive book, William G. Bowen, one of the foremost experts on the intersection of education and economics, explains why, despite his earlier skepticism, he now believes technology has the potential to help rein in costs without negatively affecting student learning. As a former president of Princeton University, an economist, and author of many books on education, including the acclaimed bestseller The Shape of the River, Bowen speaks with unique expertise on the subject.

Surveying the dizzying array of new technology-based teaching and learning initiatives, including the highly publicized emergence of "massive open online courses" (MOOCs), Bowen argues that such technologies could transform traditional higher education--allowing it at last to curb rising costs by increasing productivity, while preserving quality and protecting core values. But the challenges, which are organizational and philosophical as much as technological, are daunting. They include providing hard evidence of whether online education is cost-effective in various settings, rethinking the governance and decision-making structures of higher education, and developing customizable technological platforms. Yet, Bowen remains optimistic that the potential payoff is great.

Based on the 2012 Tanner Lectures on Human Values, delivered at Stanford University, the book includes responses from Stanford president John Hennessy, Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner, Columbia University literature professor Andrew Delbanco, and Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller.

William G. Bowen is president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University and founding chairman of ITHAKA, a nonprofit dedicated to sustainably integrating technology into scholarly research and teaching. He is the author or coauthor of many books, including the acclaimed best seller The Shape of the River, Crossing the Finish Line, and Lessons Learned (all Princeton). Kevin M. Guthrie is president of ITHAKA.


"A slim and highly readable volume. . . . The collection of voices provides a thoughtful and provocative discussion of the emergence of online education."--Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation

"Higher Education in the Digital Age is an elegant exposition of old-fashioned, gentlemanly and humane views and values, couched in concerns about the value of new educational technologies and their pedagogical and economic potential. It is worth reading for its beautiful prose and for its clear commitment to the continuing importance of teaching and pedagogy in higher education."--Miriam E. David, Times Higher Education

"Bowen's thought provoking book should be required reading for anyone having a stake in our educational future."--Rich Lewine, NACADA Journal

"[A]s an introduction to the assumptions that underwrite many of the decisions that shape higher education today, this is an important book. . . . Higher Education in the Digital Age makes visible a perspective that all of us with investments in the societal value of education need to grapple with, a language we need to understand in order to engage in the contemporary conversation about the future of higher education."--Bonnie Stewart, British Journal of Educational Technology

"One of the few places where the information revolution has not improved productivity or reduced costs is higher education, but that is all about to change with the rise of online learning. The former president of Princeton explains how education will and should change in the face of these huge technological wins. Conversational in tone and full of wisdom, this is a great book."--Fareed Zakaria GPS Book of the Week

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Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by William G. Bowen:

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Kevin M. Guthrie:


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