The single best piece of writing in recent memory on the large scale structural forces shaping higher education and the role of technology in impacting these forces is the first chapter of The Tower and the Cloud, “The Gathering Cloud: Is This the End of the Middle?”
You can read Katz’s chapter here, or better yet go and get the whole volume. I’m focussing on Katz’s introductory chapter, but the whole book contains a series of wonderful essays that flush out the ideas raised by Katz in his chapter and are worth the investment to read.
Rarely does a piece of writing stick with me like Katz’s chapter has, one-year on from when I first picked up the Tower and the Cloud at last year’s EDUCAUSE conference. We live in such a fast world of micro information, tweets, disposable blog posts, quick YouTube videos, online presentations, and RSS feeds. We ed. tech. people like the new new, we like innovation, we are suspicious of the status quo and firmly believe that if technology has changed everything else it should (and can) change the academy as well.
Katz’s writing is an important antidote to the “right now” nature of much of our information consumption, communication and work in learning technology. He takes the time to tell the long story of the development and growth of higher education, and then situates the disruptive innovations slamming into our institutions as part of this larger story.