Global Education in
the 21st Century:
Competition and Being Future Compatible
Diana Oblinger, Academic
Program Manager, IBM Corporation
[The following is an abstract of
the keynote address given by Diana Oblinger at the Closing
General Session of the 1998
Conference on Information Technology in Miami Beach, November
The points I hope you will remember when you
leave here to return home are that:
has changed the way we live, work, and educate. It has
created a networked world and a global community. As a
result, people need lifelong skills but many providers
will compete for that market;
ability to learn 21st century skillsas
individuals and as institutionswill determine how
competitive we are in the future; and
by returning again and again to the philosophies of a
Learning College will we be able to provide what our communities
Having spent time with different institutions
and working with educators in other parts of the world, Im
constantly reminded that our perceptions often reflect a particular
outlook on the world. That outlook does not necessarily represent
reality. In fact, we know that nothing is more dangerous
than an idea when it is the only one you have.
How close are our perceptions to what is happening
in the world? The truth is that most of us grew up with a
very "U.S.-centric" view of the world. We put a
man on the moon. The U.S. is the most affluent and most productive
country on the face of the earth. Certainly we have much to
be proud of. However, the global landscape has changed.
Since World War II the U.S. dominance of the
world economy has been shifting:
WW II the U.S. economy has fallen from 40% of the world's
output to 22%.
in 5 of the largest companies are quartered outside the
U.S., Japan, Germany, France and the U.K.
of the world's consumers live outside the U.S.
growth is more rapid outside the U.S.
It is significant that 95% of the worlds
consumers live someplace other than the U.S. One-third of
U.S. economic growth depends on exports. That means that
even if our economy is healthy, if things are not going well
elsewhere in the world it can affect us. A case in point is
the recent Asian economic crisis and its spread to Russia
and Latin America.
There are many ways to measure dominance in
the global economy. We can look at the location of leading
companies in any number of industries and discover an interesting
1970, 55% of the largest companies were in the U.S.; today
it is 31%.
the 18 largest chemical companies, only 3 call the U.S.
the 64 largest commercial banks, only 9 are U.S. based.
the 11 largest food companies, only 5 are in the U.S.
the 26 largest motor vehicle & parts manufacturers,
only 6 are in the U.S.
The point is that by any number of measures,
U.S. dominance in the world market has eroded.
And what does the future hold? Part of the
answer depends on demographics. We are witnessing the "graying"
of America. The same is true of Western Europe. We are getting
older. And, with each passing year, we represent a smaller
and smaller proportion of the worlds population.
So, even though we have been enjoying a booming
U.S. economy and we should be proud of many, many things,
it is not time to become complacent. As Kay McClenney reminds
is upon us.
We have the opportunity to use it not for summing up, but
as a summons."
If we look around ourselves, we may receive
that summons. In the world of global education, for example,
we see a number of powerful trends:
institutions are expanding rapidly;
is strong growth in proprietary and for-profit education;
are becoming more selective;
development is linked to government and business interest
in education; and
development of skill standards is underway.