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Interversity: a concept for a self-organizing, distributed university

This ECCO/GBI seminar was given on the 8th of November 2013.

Universities are historically seen as places of universal knowledge. Because of information overload and the acceleration of innovation, the concept of universal knowledge is becoming an illusion. Even the largest universities today only have some of knowledge. The Interversity proposes a conceptual change. It draws the attention to "what is between us" (from the Latin "inter", like in Internet, interact, interdependent, etc.). Universities today are built on three pillars: education, research and public service. To achieve an Interversity, the pillars need to be addressed in a complex adaptive manner. I suggest two such approaches: 1) the open Interversity is about making academic education and research massive; 2) the integrated Interversity is about developing radical innovations.

Massively Online Open Courses (MOOCs) show how current academic education, which is only attainable for a happy few, can become part of Life-Long Learning, accessible for everyone, everywhere, at every moment. MOOCs exemplify the first pillar of the Interversity. For the other pillars, I consider experiments that demonstrate knowledge creation and micro-spin-offs. The required Project-Oriented (PO) education creates a high demand for tutoring. In a second experiment, the ability to scale PO education is demonstrated, suggesting a PO-MOOC pilot. The open Interversity is about self-organization and coordination. The integrated Interversity works through guided self-organization and control. It requires an Enterprise Architecture (EA) that can artificially ensure the phase transition required for radical innovation. While innovation only happens through organizations, radical innovation only happens in ecosystems. Consequently, the integrated Interversity uses the EA to create a pipeline for spinning off ecosystems.

Slides of the seminar