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Insights[edit | edit source]

The phrase ivory tower usually carries pejorative connotations. From the 19th century, it has been used to designate a world or atmosphere in which intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life. For cynics, it connotes a willful separation from the everyday world; esoteric, overspecialized, or even useless research; and academic elitism, if not outright condescension. If we set aside some of these more negative associations, the ivory tower metaphor still captures one of the key flaws in today’s system of higher learning: in a world of unprecedented connectivity, especially among today’s youth, colleges and universities continue to operate as largely autonomous islands of scholarship and learning and have thus far failed to use the Internet to break down the walls that divide institutions, professors, parents, and students.

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