In previous posts, I have written about the unbundling effect of migrating education content into the open network online. As I explained in the previous post, I picked up the word from Nicholas Carr’s book The Big Switch in which he has a chapter titled “The Great Unbundling.”
The underlying mechanism in the online cloud that forces the unbundling is that little pieces need to be free to connect. Ideas, meaning, varieties of concepts emerge as different patterns among little pieces. In the network platform online, it is the law: nodes and links, which are little pieces and their connections. Bundles of little pieces locked into just one arrangement as a fact of their bundling stall knowledge emergence online. Unbundling is also crucial to online findability.
Yesterday I discovered the following description of bundling on this list: “Ten threads have influenced the makeup of Western higher education’s tapestry in this millennium . . . .” The quotation is from a new book Educause released this week: The Tower and The Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing. In the first chapter, the book’s editor Richard N. Katz explains a change the cloud demands of the tower:
5. Academic activities are bundled. . . . Bundling academic offerings into programs and courses of instruction enables (and masks) a complex system of cross subsidies that make it possible for institutions to provide for study in those disciplines that may be impractical or out of favor. This insulates colleges and universities to an extent from pressures to be fashionable. From a narrower consumer perspective, bundling allows these institutions to offer—or even require students to take—instruction they have available rather than instruction that students (or employers) may want.
UPDATE: As I have read farther into the Katz chapter, I have discovered that (starting on page 14) there is a subsection on “Unbundling,” which Katz discusses as one of “four disruptive forces [that] are bearing down on higher education at this very moment: unbundling; demand-pull; ubiquitous access; and the rise of the pure property view of ideas” — as described by University of Virginia Vice President James Hilton. For a look at these sources, the full text can be downloaded as a pdf: The Tower and The Cloud.