Dr. Gray,
I like your vision of a world in which college education becomes more individualized and self-directed.
Yet I have to wonder when you say that there is growing evidence that there is relatively little learning going on there now during the college years (paraphrased).
I suppose I could believe this in the field of Journalism, for I keep waiting for an interviewer to respond to DT with "Is there a statement there?"
Yet in various technological fields the rate of innovation continues at a pace that even I, a fan of the scientific mode of thought at least, find somewhat disturbing. Intelligent robots were interesting and entertaining when I encountered them in science fiction in my youth; but I never dreamed that I might live to see the reality. Recently I heard that geneticists had succeeded in inserting a piece of genetic code into a bacterium that had no business being in any lifeforms on Earth ever. They did it just to see if they could do it.
I use these examples to show that I'm not exactly intending to pat the Colleges on the back for the good job they've been doing; I'm more inclined to think these are two examples of science gone awry. Still, in order to be able to do these things, you really have to know what you're doing, in terms of learning science and technology anyway. Where else could they be learning this if not at colleges and universities?