As colleges begin using massive open online courses (MOOC) to reduce faculty costs, a Johns Hopkins University professor has announced plans for MOOA (massive open online administrations). Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg, author of The Fall of the Faculty, says that many colleges and universities face the same administrative issues every day. By having one experienced group of administrators make decisions for hundreds of campuses simultaneously, MOOA would help address these problems expeditiously and economically. Since MOOA would allow colleges to dispense with most of their own administrators, it would generate substantial cost savings in higher education.
"Studies show that about 30 percent of the cost increases in higher education over the past twenty-five years have been the result of administrative growth," Ginsberg noted. He suggested that MOOA can reverse this spending growth. "Currently, hundreds, even thousands, of vice provosts and assistant deans attend the same meetings and undertake the same activities on campuses around the U.S. every day," he said. "Imagine the cost savings if one vice provost could make these decisions for hundreds of campuses."
Asked if this "one size fits all" administrative concept was realistic given the diversity of problems faced by thousands of schools, Ginsberg noted that a "best practices" philosophy already leads administrators to blindly follow one another's leads in such realms as planning, staffing, personnel issues, campus diversity, branding and, curriculum planning. The MOOA, said Ginsberg, would take "best practices" a step further and utilize it to realize substantial cost savings.
Of course this would not work. But I do think it raises an important point in the ongoing discussion about higher education. Just as the "one size fits all" won't work for administration it won't work for the classroom. Certainly we all need to think about what we are doing, how we are doing and how much we are charging for it. But looking for the answer in anything massive and open will probably lead to more colleges failing quicker.