Embracing failure to spur success: A new collaborative innovation model — from educause.com by Kim Wilcox and Edward Ray


The implied message is clear: We’d prefer not to talk about what isn’t working at the postsecondary level.

We’re in a competitive sector, and there is misplaced pressure on all higher education institutions to achieve top placement in U.S. News & World Report and other annual rankings, regardless of whether or not those rankings make any sense. We all feel significant pressure to make sure that our constituents—from board members to faculty to parents to legislators—are happy with the direction of the institution. And we also know that those constituents can be impatient in waiting for substantive change to produce positive results. Honest discourse on new initiatives that seem unproductive or in need of modification is likely to lead to unpleasant conversations that few of us would relish.

This is not the way to foster innovation and improvement in higher education. The best innovators in the world typically follow the mantra that failure is acceptable, helpful, and sometimes even necessary to ultimately achieving an objective. Many of the products we rely on today, from Post-it Notes to pacemakers, resulted from mistakes or failures in the search for other innovations. And just about any founder of a successful Silicon Valley start-up has a track record of ventures that failed.

Successful innovation requires experimentation and learning from failure.

At the University of California, Riverside, and Oregon State University, we are engaged in one effort to achieve these goals: the University Innovation Alliance. The UIA is a consortium of eleven major public research universities that are working together to identify new solutions to challenges found throughout the higher education community, and then to share information about failures and successful solutions among institutions.


From DSC:
Some images that are along these lines:







Cross-college collaboration — from insidehighered.com by Megan Rogers


Faced with increasingly tight budgets, liberal arts colleges are looking to share resources to reduce costs and expand programs. But when the end goal is collaboration and not a merger, how should administrators decide which services are appropriate to share?

St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, both liberal arts colleges in Northfield, Minn., have received a $1.4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to increase collaboration over the next four years, but are drawing the line at sharing career services departments. And it’s hard to imagine the colleges collaborating in areas where they are competitors, such as fund-raising or admissions, St. Olaf President David Anderson said.


From DSC:
In order to survive within higher ed — and if things migrate to more of a team-based approach to content creation and delivery — I’ve often wondered if the following will occur:

  • The necessity of sharing/pooling resources — especially those involving the creation and delivery of courses (i.e. one college contributes X courses, another contributes Y courses)
  • The requirement to form partnerships for most institutions of higher education (vendors, especially), as the unbundling of higher education continues
  • The need to form consortia




“Learning in the Living [Class] Room” — as explained by Daniel Christian [Campus Technology]

Learning from the Living [Class] Room  — from Campus Technology by Daniel Christian and Mary Grush; with a huge thanks also going out to Mr. Steven Niedzielski (@Marketing4pt0) and to Mr. Sam Beckett (@SamJohnBeck) for their assistance and some of the graphics used in making these videos.

From DSC:
These 4 short videos explain what I’m trying to relay with a vision I’m entitling, Learning from the Living [Class] Room.  I’ve been pulse checking a variety of areas for years now, and the pieces of this vision continue to come into fruition.  This is what I see Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) morphing into (though there may be other directions/offshoots that they go in as well).

After watching these videos, I think you will see why I think we must move to a teambased approach.

(It looks like the production folks for Campus Technology had to scale things way back in terms of video quality to insure an overall better performance for the digitally-based magazine.) 

To watch these videos in a higher resolution, please use these links:

  1. What do you mean by “the living [class] room”?
  2. Why consider this now?
  3. What are some examples of apps and tech for “the living [class] room”?
  4. What skill sets will be needed to make “the living [class] room” a reality?



Alternatively, these videos can be found at:






A JPMorgan Ph.D.? — from InsideHigherEd.com 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?



Microsoft joins Degreed’s crusade to ‘jailbreak the degree’ – from gigaom.com by Ki Mae Heussner


Degreed, a San Francisco startup taking on traditional degrees and diplomas with a digital credential that reflects lifelong learning, has recruited its first corporate partner to its corner.

This week the startup said it will launch a partnership with Microsoft Virtual Academy, the tech giant’s online IT training site, which will give students who complete the program’s classes a way to display their achievements on Degreed.


From DSC:
AT&T 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?



EdX announces partnership with Googlefrom web.mit.edu; w/ thanks to Mr. John Shank for the Scoop on this
Google and edX to collaborate on an open-source learning platform and research, among other things.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

As part of the collaboration with Google, edX plans to build out and operate MOOC.org, a new website that will help educational institutions, businesses and teachers build and host online courses for a global audience. The site — slated to go live next year — will be powered by Open edX and built on Google infrastructure.

EdX, founded in 2012 and headquartered in Cambridge, is a nonprofit organization comprised of 28 leading global institutions, called the xConsortium. According to EdX, its aims are to transform online and on-campus learning through novel methodologies, gamelike experiences and research, among other things.


Also see:




Today, Google will begin working with edX as a contributor to the open source platform, Open edX. We are taking our learnings from Course Builder and applying them to Open edX to further innovate on an open source MOOC platform. We look forward to contributing to edX’s new site, MOOC.org, a new service for online learning which will allow any academic institution, business and individual to create and host online courses.


Also see:




Also see:






From DSC:
Creating media-rich, professionally-done, well-designed, interactive materials can be expensive — especially if back-end analytics, programming, AI, etc. are called for.  Such capital-intensive work may require the use of teams…of partnerships…of alliances…of consortia. 

Once created though, such materials could be made available at a low cost, as the costs would be spread out on a large number of people/institutions — i.e. The Walmart of Education.



IBM cranks up big data analytics training programs as government continues cloud moves [infographic] — from cmswire.com by David Roe

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

IBM is clearly concerned about the big data skills shortage. It has announced the addition of another 9 universities to its big data training program. The economic importance of the program was also underlined this week by the announcement that it has just secured a US$ 1 billion federal contract for cloud computing.

Big Data, Analytics Skills Shortages

The problem for IT giants that are currently muscling into the big data market is that the development of the technology has been so rapid the number of big data/analytics projects currently underway far outweighs the number of people that have appropriate skills.

In fact between now and the end of 2015, IBM estimates that there will be 4.4 million jobs worldwide in big data support. At the moment it is not clear where all the people required to fill these positions are going to come from.

Gazing through mud: The campus and you in 50 years — from evoLLLution.com (where LLL stands for lifelong learning) by John Ebersole, President, Excelsior College

Both types of institutions will be fewer in number as consolidations and closures continue, at an accelerated pace. Those that overcome the academy’s inherent aversion to change and risk are the most likely to survive.

Let’s remember that the half-life of knowledge is falling at an astonishing rate. What is relevant today, especially in technical fields, can become obsolete within a matter of a few years, if not months. At the same time, there is an explosion in information. It has been noted that we’re now exposed to more information in one year than our grandparents were in a lifetime.

In summary, the units extending the reach of universities in the future will no longer be on the fringe. Their academic and professional development offerings will instead become central to the institution’s mission.


From DSC:
Some additional reflections:

1)  Curated streams of content — broken out by discipline/topic — will be key.  Lifelong learning. Keeps you relevant/informed throughout your career.  A potentially-prominent format might be learning “channels” — populated with information from bots, presented on “Smart TV’s,” with quick access available to a human Subject Matter Expert (SME) or tutor upon request.   Perhaps there will be different levels of SME’s, tutors, mentors, etc. with corresponding $$ rates. 

2)  Interactive video — such as we’re beginning to see with Touchcast — could be very powerful in online-based learning materials.

3)  Educational gaming will likely be a powerful, engaging format.

4)  We could likely be moving towards more of a team-based approach –as one person likely won’t be able to do it all anymore (at least not at a level that will successfully compete).  The higher production qualities and sophistication necessary to compete may force many institutions to pool their resources with other institutions (i.e. more consortia).

5)  The unbundling process will likely continue throughout higher ed (i.e. think of iTunes and the album/CD).


MOOC-Skeptical Provosts — from insidehighered.com by Ry Rivard


The provosts of Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago are in high-level talks to create an online education network across their campuses, which collectively enroll more than 500,000 students a year.

And these provosts from some of America’s top research universities have concluded that they – not corporate entrepreneurs and investors — must drive online education efforts.

But the provosts are now questioning universities’ need to partner with external providers in the first place.

“The main thing for us is… how can the CIC schools be proactive in terms of innovation and learning?” he said. “How can we be of more benefit to students jointly?”

Right now, the high-level talks among administrators has yet to trickle down to faculty. Provost Adesida said the Illinois faculty will play a big role in deciding whatever comes next.   “We don’t move without consulting with faculty,” Adesida said.


From DSC:
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think MOOCs are done baking yet…but…

  • Funny how a little serious competition causes some eyes and ears to be open to change.
  • Funny how Thrun and Koller/Ng had to leave traditional higher ed in order to develop Udacity and Coursera, respectively.
  • Funny how when one’s peers finally move forward with something, then one thinks that now they need to move forward with that same thing. 
  • Funny how folks are suddenly interested in innovation when their wallets/enrollments/businesses are being impacted.
  • Funny how higher ed wakes up from partaking in its own conversations/journals/publications/research when the true “customers” now have choices.

I wonder how much more innovation we might actually see from insider higher education if a big player does purchase Coursera…?



  • The Academe-Academic Complex – from HuffingtonPost.com by Peter Weddle
    Now, to be perfectly clear, a college education is absolutely essential for many jobs in a modern economy. It is not, however, sufficient for sustained or even initial employment — at least as that education is currently delivered. What’s missing? An equally rigorous education in the body of knowledge and set of skills required for effective career self-management. Why? Because for the past 75 years, America’s colleges and universities have been graduating career idiot savants. They’ve taught their students a whole lot about this or that field of study, but absolutely nothing about how to make a career in those fields.

    From discovering one’s inherent talent to setting effective short and long goals, from dealing with the inevitable obstacles that arise in a career to ensuring one’s expertise stays at the state-of-the-art, there is more than enough to be taught, more than enough to be learned in a career self-management course of study, and it’s high time the academe-academic complex embraced it.
  • Mozilla’s debuts Open Badges to showcase out-of-school learning and skills — from edsurge.com


My reflections on “MOOCs of Hazard” – a well-thought out, balanced article by Andrew Delbanco

From DSC: Below are my reflections on MOOCs of Hazard — from newrepublic.com by Andrew Delbanco — who asks:  Will online education dampen the college experience? Yes. Will it be worth it? Well…

While I’m not sure that I agree with the idea that online education will dampen the college experience — and while I could point to some amazing capabilities that online education brings to the table in terms of true global exchanges — I’ll instead focus my comments on the following items:


1) Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are recent experiments — ones that will continue to change/morph into something else.
They are half-baked at best, but they should not be taken lightly. Christensen, Horn, Johnson are spot on with their theories of disruption here, especially as they relate to innovations occurring within the virtual/digital realm.  For example, the technologies behind IBM’s Watson could be mixed into the list of ingredients that will be used to develop MOOCs in the future.  It would be a very powerful, effective MOOC indeed if you could get the following parties/functionalities to the table:

  • IBM — to provide Watson like auto-curation/filtering capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, as well as data mining/learning analytics expertise, joined by
  • Several highly-creative firms from the film/media/novel/storytelling industry, who would be further joined by
  • Experts from Human Computer Interaction (HCI)/user interface/user experience design teams, who would be further joined by
  • Programmers and interaction specialists from educational gaming endeavors (and from those who can design simulations), joined by
  • Instructional designers, joined by
  • The appropriate Subject Matter Experts who can be reached by the students as necessary, joined by
  • Those skilled in research and library services, joined by
  • Legal experts to assist with copyright issues, joined by
  • Other specialists in mobile learning,  3D, web development, database administration, animation, graphic design, musicians, etc.

It won’t be long before this type of powerful team gets pulled together — from some organizations(s) with deep pockets — and the content is interacted with and presented to us within our living rooms via connected/Smart TVs and via second screen devices/applications.

2) The benefits of MOOCs
  • For colleges/universities:
    • MOOCs offer some serious marketing horsepower (rather than sound pedagogical tools, at this point in time at least)
    • They are forcing higher ed to become much more innovative
    • They provide great opportunities to build one’s personalized learning networks, as they bring forth those colleagues who are interested in topic A, B, or C
    • They move us closer to team-based content creation and delivery
  • For students:
    • They offer a much less expensive option to go exploring disciplines for themselves…to see if they enjoy (and/or are gifted in) topic A, B or C
    • They provide great opportunities to build one’s personalized learning networks, as they bring forth those colleagues who are interested in topic A, B, or C
    • They provide a chance to see what it’s like to learn about something in a digital/virtual manner

3)  The drawbacks of MOOCs:
  • MOOCs are not nearly the same thing as what has come to be known as “online learning” — at least in the higher ed industry. MOOCs do not yet offer what more “traditional” (can I say that?) online learning provides: Far more support and pedagogical/instructional design, instructor presence and dialog, student academic support services, advising, more student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction, etc.
  • MOOCs are like drinking from a firehose — there are too many blogs/RSS feeds, twitter feeds, websites, and other resources to review.

4) It would be wise for all of us to be involved with such experiments and have at least a subset of one’s college or university become much more nimble/responsive.


Also see:

College branding: The tipping point — from forbes.com by Roger Dooley


Change is coming to this market. While there are multiple issues of increasing importance to schools, two stand out as major game-changers.


From DSC:
Important notes for the boards throughout higher education to consider:

Your institution can’t increase tuition by one dime next year. If you do, you will become more and more vulnerable to being disrupted. Instead, work very hard to go in the exact opposite direction. Find ways to discount tuition by 50% or more — that is, if you want to stay in business.

Sounds like the scene in Apollo 13, doesn’t it? It is. (i.e. as Tom Hanks character is trying to get back to Earth and has very little to do it with. The engineers back in the United States are called upon to “do the impossible.”)

Some possibilities:

  • Pick your business partners and begin pooling resources and forming stronger consortia. Aim to reduce operating expenses, share the production of high-quality/interactive online courses, and create new streams of income. Experimentation will be key.
  • Work with IBM, Apple, Knewton and the like to create/integrate artificial intelligence into your LMS/CMS in order to handle 80% of the questions/learning issues. (Most likely, the future of MOOCs involves this very sort of thing.)
  • Find ways to create shorter courses/modules and offer them via online-based exchanges/marketplaces.  But something’s bothering me with this one..perhaps we won’t have the time to develop high-quality, interactive, multimedia-based courses…are things moving too fast?
  • Find ways to develop and offer subscription-based streams of content


UK universities forge open online courses alliance: FutureLearn Consortium will offer uni-branded MOOCs starting next year — techcrunch.com by Natasha Lomas


Today’s [12/13/12] news means even more MOOCs will be offered next year, as 12 UK universities are getting together to form a new company that will offer the online courses — under the brand name of FutureLearn Ltd. The universities are: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, LancasterLeedsSouthamptonSt Andrews and Warwick, along with UK distance-learning organization The Open University (OU).


Tagged with:  

From Boardroom to Classroom — from insidehighered.com by Alexandra Tilsley


By joining forces, the three universities hope to leverage the languages they don’t all have, affording students more options, and to deepen existing programs by, for example, facilitating collaboration between instructors of the same language at different institutions.



From DSC:
Higher-level courses at smaller colleges might want to look at this as well.  If an economically-feasible minimum threshold can’t be reached on one campus, open it up to a consortium of institutions (similar to Semester Online).



New consortium of leading universities will move forward with transformative, for-credit online education program — from 2U.com
Semester Online™ will be first of its kind featuring rigorous, innovative, live courses

Excerpt (emphasis DSC)

LANDOVER, Md. — Nov. 15, 2012 — Today, a group of the nation’s leading universities announced plans to launch a new, innovative program that transforms the model of online education. Consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis. The new online education program, Semester Online,will be the first of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous, online courses for credit from a consortium of universities. The program is delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, formerly known as 2tor.


From DSC:
Interesting to see the impact of competition…



Addendum on 11/16/12:

Elite Online Courses for Cash and Credit— from insidehigheredy.com by Steve Kolowich


A consortium of 10 top-tier universities will soon offer fully online, credit-bearing undergraduate courses through a partnership with 2U, a company that facilitates online learning.

Any students enrolled at an “undergraduate experience anywhere in the world” will be eligible to take the courses, according to Chip Paucek, the CEO of 2U, which until recently was called 2tor. The first courses are slated to make their debut in the fall.

After a year in which the top universities in the world have clambered to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for no credit, this new project marks yet another turning point in online education. It is the first known example of top universities offering fully online, credit-bearing courses to undergraduates who are not actually enrolled at the institutions that are offering them.


From DSC:
It’s not a stretch to think that we’ll soon be able to take part in this type of thing from our living rooms…

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV



Also relevant here/see:
Attend the Global Education Conference
from your living room

Addendum on 11/19/12:

A liberal-arts consortium experiments with course sharing — from The Chronicle by Jeff Selingo — 4/4/12

But advances in technology can now link together institutions that are separated by thousands of miles. An experiment by a group of 16 liberal-arts colleges and universities in the South might serve as the blueprint for other small institutions looking for ways to maintain a core of academic programs but offer enough variety to attract students.

The initiative will get its start in the fall with a half dozen to a dozen courses at four institutions that have committed so far to the classroom technology, which costs upwards of $250,000. In an effort to maintain the feel of small liberal-arts classes, professors on the home campus of a course will teach in a classroom outfitted with conference capabilities and students on other campuses will take part in real-time, synchronous discussions.

From DSC:
Also see:



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