From DSC:
The article below caused me to reflect on the idea of using Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as a way for students to get through college these days. Although I appreciate that others are trying to help students get through college — an admirable goal for sure and one that I wholeheartedly share — I don’t like the means/method being proposed here. Why? Because I’m concerned that ISAs don’t offer any incentives for colleges and universities to lower their prices in the first place. The burden of debt is just spread out into the future. In fact, one could easily imagine the costs of obtaining a degree to continue to increase, because the immediate impact of the debt isn’t felt right now…it’s spread out over one’s future. The problem becomes invisible again, making it once again easy for those working within higher education to ignore.

So I hope this method doesn’t take off (as I understand it); instead, I hope that we can figure out better ways to reduce the price of obtaining a degree. Technology should be of use here.


Students Get Tuition Aid for a Piece of Their Future — from by Jillian Berman
Income share agreements seem poised to take off, as costs and debt loads rise


To help pay for ever-growing college costs, more students may soon be trying a new approach: selling rights to their future earnings.

Long discussed in college policy and financing circles, income share agreements, or ISAs, are poised to become more mainstream. A handful of backers currently exist that in effect have invested in college students’ futures by advancing them thousands of dollars in tuition money to bridge gaps in financing when student loans don’t quite meet all of their expenses.

Under the terms of a typical ISA, students agree to pay a percentage of their future earnings for a predetermined period in exchange for help up front with their tuition. Now, more students may have the opportunity to enter such deals, as lawmakers in Congress are working on possible ground rules for the agreements.





Next-gen schools thriving in Detroit — from


  1. Student Centered:
    Designed to meet the diverse learning needs of each student every day
  2. High Expectations:
    Committed to ensuring that every student will meet clearly defined, rigorous standards that will prepare them for success in college and career
  3. Self Pacing and Mastery Based Credit:
    Enables students to move at their own optimal pace and receive credit when they demonstrate mastery of the material   <— From DSC: More choice, more control.
  4. Blending Instruction:
    Optimizes teacher- and technology- delivered instruction in group and individual work
  5. Student Ownership:
    Empowers students with skills, information, and tools they need to manage their own learning
  6. Scalable:
    Designed to serve many more students if it demonstrates impact
  7. Financial Sustainability:
    Sustainable on public per-pupil revenue within four years



Blended learning -- the best of both worlds


Blended/hybrid learning: Combining the best of both worlds



Accreditation on the block as lawmakers look to innovation — from EvoLLLution NewsWire


Accreditation and federal financial aid policies are in line to be overhauled as lawmakers start to debate the possibility of mainstreaming some of higher education’s most recent innovations.

During a recent hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, numerous federal senators pointed toward competency-based education and hybrid models of online education as examples of strategies that could revolutionize higher education. However, they were concerned by the role of federal financial aid rules and regional accreditation boards in keeping these innovations from reaching the wider higher education marketplace.

It is expected that a number of bills will be introduced in the coming days to overhaul the regulatory systems that govern American postsecondary education.  Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) plans to unveil a bill to move accreditation responsibilities from the region to the state. This would allow greater market access to non-institutional education providers, which are typically unaccreditated and cannot compete with traditional institutions on an even footing.





The Yearbook is a unique publication produced annually by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) that highlights some of the outstanding trends,

people and events over the past year in education technology. The first part of the Yearbook gives readers market awareness by outlining how much money schools spent on education technology, where the funding came from and what technologies have been garnering the most attention.

The second part features 40 education innovators who are using technology to inspire their students, improve learning and better the K-20 education system. We hope that this 2013 Yearbook issue provides inspiration to our readers to continue on their quests towards innovation in education.


From DSC:
My quote in the Center for Digital Education’s 2013 Yearbook reads:


“Educational technologists need to be bold, visionary and creative. They need to be in tune with the needs, missions and visions of their organizations. We have the opportunity — and responsibility — to make lasting and significant contributions within our fields and for the organizations that we work for.”



U.S. teams up with operator of 0nline courses to plan a global network — from by Tamar Lewin

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Coursera, a California-based venture that has enrolled five million students in its free online courses, announced on Thursday a partnership with the United States government to create “learning hubs” around the world where students can go to get Internet access to free courses supplemented by weekly in-person class discussions with local teachers or facilitators.

The learning hubs represent a new stage in the evolution of “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, and address two issues: the lack of reliable Internet access in some countries, and the growing conviction that students do better if they can discuss course materials, and meet at least occasionally with a teacher or facilitator.

“Our mission is education for everyone, and we’ve seen that when we can bring a community of learners together with a facilitator or teacher who can engage the students, it enhances the learning experience and increases the completion rate,” said Lila Ibrahim, the president of Coursera. “It will vary with the location and the organization we’re working with, but we want to bring in some teacher or facilitator who can be the glue for the class.”


From DSC:
Some thoughts here:

1)  When institutions of higher education cling to the status quo and disregard the disturbing trajectories at play*…when we don’t respond, people — and governments it seems — will find other options/alternatives.

* Such as middle class incomes that continue to decline
while the price of higher education continues to escalate

2)  I wonder if this type of setup might predominate in some countries.
i.e. blended learning types of setups in learning centers around the world where people can come in at any time to learn with a relevant Community of Practice, aided by faculty, teachers, trainers, coaches, etc.   Some of the content is “beamed in” and shared electronically, while some of the learning involves face-to-face discussions/work. Will schools become more community centers where we will pool resources and offer them to people 24×7?

Also see:

  • The New Innovator’s Dilemma — from by Michael Moe and Ben Wallerstein; with thanks to Lisa Duty for the Tweet on this
    Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
    Increasingly, we’re worried that a generation of entrepreneurs is facing a “new innovators dilemma” — where innovation is stymied by regulatory and political environments focused on outdated needs and the wrong set of “customers.” The truth is, Silicon Valley investors and techies will get by just fine without addressing our big, societal problems. But if we encourage our nation’s top entrepreneurs to join search engines and social networks, we will miss the opportunity to apply their genius to solving society’s most pressing problems.

    This isn’t about the classic political divide of right versus left. This is about policies and regulations written in a different era that are not easily translated to modern technology. It’s no secret that the challenge stems, in part, from the motivations of regulators and the politics of protecting the status quo.

    Change is difficult. And no one is arguing that the transportation, hospitality, and higher education industries don’t need to be regulated. New approaches, in particular, warrant close scrutiny. But if we are ever going to experience the sort of revolutionary change that technology might afford to virtually every sector of the American economy, we need to be willing to rethink the traditional ways of regulation to make innovation easier and more responsive to the consumers and students these regulations were originally enacted to protect.


Addendum 11/1/13:




An excerpted slide:





A brief thought/response from DSC:
What continues to ring true — we need to give students more choice, more control over their learning; asking, “What do you want to learn today?”







Also see:

Net Price Rising — from by Michael Stratford

Even though colleges have slowed the rate at which they raise tuition, the total grant aid available to students has not been able to keep pace with tuition growth, according to two reports released Wednesday by the College Board.

Public four-year institutions, after years of sharp increases, raised in-state tuition by only 2.9 percent this year, the smallest one-year increase in more than 30 years. Private, nonprofit four-year colleges increased their sticker price tag by 3.8 percent, which is slightly lower than recent tuition hikes.



Higher Education: New Models, New Rules — from by Louis Soares, Judith S. Eaton, and Burck Smith
What are the new rules that will accompany future new models in higher education? Three essays address this question by exploring state higher education policy, accreditation for non-institutional education, and the disaggregation of the current higher education model.




Excerpt from Burck’s essay:

Accordingly, the government spurs “supply” by paying for colleges and universities and spurs “demand” by paying for students. Accreditors determine who can receive these funds. All of this worked well for sixty years. Until, suddenly, it doesn’t.


A JPMorgan Ph.D.? — from by Ry Rivard


JPMorgan Chase plans to give $17 million to start a doctoral program at the University of Delaware, an effort that may raise new questions about collaborations between colleges and donors.

As part of the plan, JPMorgan will renovate a building to house the program, put up money to pay program faculty and pay a full ride for students seeking a degree, according to an internal university plan. In addition, JPMorgan employees may sit on dissertation committees and advise the university on which faculty members should teach in the program, according to the planning document and a top university official.


From DSC:
I’ll add this partnership to the list:

AT&T, Udacity, and Georgia Tech.
Google and edX.
Microsoft and Degreed.
IBM sending Watson to school and partnering with 1000+ universities (see here and here).
JP Morgan and University of Delaware (see this addendum from 10/7/13)

Is there a new trend forming here? Will there be tighter integration between the corporate world and the world of higher education? 

If so, my thoughts re: The Walmart of Education and Learning from the Living [Class] Room could be taking a giant step forward.  I say this because such visions require some serious resources.  It will take a handful of larger organizations with deep pockets — and or many smaller organizations pooling their resources — to enable these trends.  But we are starting to see some organizations with deep pockets forming such partnerships out there.

Is this all a good thing? In some ways yes, in other ways, I’m not so sure. There are a variety of reasons to go to college; getting a job is just one of them. But given the price of education, things are now out of balance; students are now being forced into a more career-focused perspective for their college experience.

Also, given the pace of change, those in the corporate world have a decision to make — should they work with current institutions to enable change, create their own communities of practice, bring further training in house,…other?



Higher education is headed for a shakeout, analysts warn — from by Jon Marcus

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

“A growing percentage of our colleges and universities are in real financial trouble,” the financial consulting firm Bain & Company concluded in a reportone-third of them, to be exact, according to Bain, which found that these institutions’ operating costs are rising faster than revenues and investment returns can cover them.

That’s because, as enrollments decline and families become more sensitive to price, colleges are cutting deeply into their revenue by giving discounts to attract students. The result is that, even though their sticker prices seem to be ballooning faster than the inflation rate, many of these schools are falling further and further behind.


Also see:



Daniel S. Christian - Think Virtual -- April 2012





From DSC:
Match the needs of your institution with your donors’ passions!

In thinking about how to get the funding necessary to accomplish things, it seems to me that more people would give more of their resources if they knew what the specific needs were at a particular school, college, and/or university. This is where Web-based solutions could play a new, important role (and serve as another example of using technology strategically).

I was reminded of this possibility during a recent conversation with a faculty member from our Music Department.  First, some background. My mother was/still is a piano teacher. My folks met due to music and my dad has sung throughout his lifetime.  My siblings have each played 1 or more instruments.  Music has been something that has been extremely positive for my folks’ marriage and was always heard throughout our home.  (Not to mention that music can turn a bad day around for me.)

You can see where music was important to our family, to me…I have a passion for music.  So when I heard of a need that our Music Department had, I was ready to get my wallet out on the spot.  

I wonder how many more people would be struck like this if they only knew what the specific opportunities to contribute/make a difference were.

See below for some
related resources
on this topic.






Also see:


Addendum on 9/12/13:


Obama’s Ratings for Higher Ed — from by Scott Jaschik

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

WASHINGTON — President Obama appears to be making good on his vow to propose a “shake-up” for higher education.

Early Thursday, he released a plan that would:

  • Create a new rating system for colleges in which they would be evaluated based on various outcomes…
  • Link student aid to these ratings…
  • Create a new program that would give colleges a “bonus” if they enroll large numbers of students eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Toughen requirements on students receiving aid.

The White House also said President Obama is “challenging” colleges to “adopt one or more” of practices he called “promising” to “offer breakthroughs on cost, quality or both.” Among them: competency-based learning that moves away from seat time, course redesign (including massive open online courses), the use of technology for student services, and more efforts to recognize prior learning.



Also see:



How not to mint more engineers — from by Lynda Weinman

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Let’s tackle the economics of the situation head on — and not based on theory, but on experience. When opened in 1997, it was a physical school that taught web design. We charged $1,500 per person for a single week of instruction. In those days, the world economy was robust and people came from every continent to study with us, enabling our business to grow and thrive. It was a heady time—until 2001, when the dotcom bubble burst and people and companies lost their budgets.

It was scary to witness the sudden demise of a business model that had worked so incredibly well up until then. In response, we could have simply raised our prices, and targeted a much smaller, more elite audience, hoping to keep our doors open. Instead, we did something crazy. We closed our eyes and leapt into something that was, at that time, unproven: We put our lessons online in video format for $25 per month.

While it took a few years to make as much money as the school did, it eventually far surpassed the earning power of the brick and mortar we started with. Instead of serving 80 people or so a week at our physical school, we started serving thousands in the virtual world, and today that number is in the millions every year.

The solution? Take the teachers who are experts and thought leaders and memorialize their lectures and materials via videos and other rich media to share those ideas broadly. Pay them royalties for this, the same as if they published a popular textbook. Leverage in-person class time for projects, collaborations, discussions, reviews, and presentations—the types of activities that are better experienced in person than online.



The Coming Crossroads in Higher Education: Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association Annual Meeting, July 9, 2013 — from with thanks going out to Mr. John Shank for Scooping this item.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

But I would also make the case to you today that higher education is approaching a crossroads, where leaders will be asked to choose between incremental and transformational change.

Polls show that three out of four Americans believe—and I quote—”to get ahead in life these days, it is necessary to get a college education.” At the same time, three in four Americans also believe that college today is too expensive for most people to afford. That fundamental gap—between aspirations and opportunity—is one we must close.

I believe that higher education is at a crossroads because our current model of student and institutional aid is ultimately unsustainable. It is incapable of meeting the bipartisan goal that President Obama articulated four years ago—that America will again lead the world in college attainment by 2020.

Speaking in broad-brush terms, I believe we will see two ideas take hold in response to these threats to higher education.

The first response is that the system of state and federal institutional grants and loans will start to shift more toward a performance-based and outcomes-based system than is the case today—and one that does more to reward innovation.

The federal government currently provides more than $175 billion a year to postsecondary institutions and students through grants, loans, and direct school support. But together we must do a better job of defining and linking aid to satisfactory academic progress, meaningful institutional performance, and student learning outcomes.

We absolutely must continue to invest in higher education. But we must also use taxpayer dollars more wisely.

This shift in the direction of performance-based funding is already underway.

Further evidence of the policy shift underway is that many states—including Indiana, Tennessee, Oregon, and Missouri—are moving in bipartisan fashion to incorporate elements of performance-based funding in higher education.

Now, if the first response to the challenges of cost, completion, and accountability is likely to be more performance-based funding and new incentives for innovation, a second response is likely to be a leveraging of educational technology to increase student learning as well as institutional performance and productivity.

We still have a lot to learn and perfect about online learning, MOOCs, simulations and gaming, and other uses of educational technology. But there is no question that a digital revolution is already underway in higher education. And its vast potential has only begun to be tapped.

From DSC:
I hear a lot about resistance to change; in fact, as I come from the tech side of the academic house, I experience it on an ongoing basis. 

But I do wonder if the pace of change within higher education might accelerate when more of that $175 billion a year starts flowing elsewhere…?




My comments on Online Education Will Be the Next ‘Bubble’ To Pop, Not Traditional University Learning — from by John Tamny

From a 50,000 foot level…
There is little question that higher education is a bubble. With the hollowing out of the middle class, and the vast majority of the nation’s wealth going to the top 1-5%, how does one think that the average person will be able to afford higher education in 5-10 years (given the current trajectories of decreasing incomes yet increasing costs of higher education)?  Many can’t afford it *now*, even when they want to send their kids to college.

Given the status quo and the current trajectories, things don’t look good at all.  I strongly disagree with that article/piece — and my guess would be that the author of the piece:

  • Is pulling down a decent size salary and he doesn’t have to live from paycheck to paycheck — i.e. he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from
  • Is a proponent of the current status quo
  • Has likely never taught online (or hasn’t for very long)
  • Hasn’t caught the vision of what MOOCs could morph into if something like IBM’s Watson, Apple’s Siri, or Google Now gets baked into the recipe
  • Doesn’t understand that those who thrive in the online learning world have to be highly-disciplined — i.e. they are the type of person who fits the often asked for “self starter” and the type of employee corporations love because they don’t have to supervise them much

But when parents spend a fortune on their children’s schooling they’re not buying education; rather they’re buying the ‘right’ friends for them, the right contacts for the future, access to the right husbands and wives, not to mention buying their own (‘Our son goes to Williams College’) status.

This may be true. But even the 1% will change their perspectives if employers start picking their talent primarily from predominantly online-based programs.  If Christensen and Horn are correct (which I believe they are), the innovations in the online world will continue to outpace innovations in the face-to-face world. Given time, the online-based programs could be mind-blowing. (That said, I still think blended learning is the most effective choice, as it combines the best of both worlds).

But the bottom line here is that for most Americans, there had ***better be*** a higher education bubble!!!

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