Productivity As Quality As Well As Quantity

Just a short follow up to the last post — when we talk about efficiency or productivity in education, I know that eyes roll and someone usually starts composing a rant about how kids aren’t items on an assembly line and the point isn’t to push out twice as many in half the time.

This misses the point that productivity is value neutral. It’s an increase in capacity that can be used to do more things at the same level of quality, or do the same amount of things at a higher level of quality.

Given the current funding constraints on higher education, you can’t be for quality education and against looking for ways to increase productivity, at least productivity in the sense of finding more efficient uses of limited time and physical resources. If I read the cost disease theory right (and I may not be), without productivity gains a product is either going to have to cost more over time or be produced at a lesser level of quality. And the time where we could continuously charge more for our product is about to end.

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