Aligning the business model of college with student needs: How WGU is disrupting higher education — from christenseninstitute.org by Alana Dunagan

Excerpt:

Since its inception, Western Governors University (WGU) has aimed to serve learners otherwise shut out of the traditional system. Now, the groundbreaking institution has both graduated 100,000 students and has over 100,000 students currently enrolled. These milestones demonstrate WGU’s ability to scale its high-quality, low-cost model, signaling a momentous shift in the higher education landscape.

In the mid-1990s, governors of 19 states across the western United States were concerned about bringing accessible college education to rural populations, especially working adults.These governors, led by Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, decided to explore building a new university to address the challenge. As the memorandum of understanding between those governors that officially marked the founding of WGU stated, “The strength and well-being of our states and the nation depend increasingly on a strong higher education system that helps individuals adapt to our rapidly changing economy and society. States must look to telecommunications and information technologies to provide greater access and choice to a population that increasingly must have affordable education and training opportunities and the certification of competency throughout their lives.”

 

Now in its third decade, WGU has students in every U.S. state and has over 100,000 enrolled students—a 230% increase since 2011. 

 



Excerpts from their paper:

The potential of competency-based education
Competency-based education is an approach to learning that allows students to determine the pace of their learning and move ahead once they demonstrate mastery in a concept. As described by Clayton Christensen and Michelle Weise:

Competency-based programs have no time-based unit. Learning is fixed, and time is variable; pacing is flexible. Students cannot move on until they have demonstrated proficiency and mastery of each competency but are encouraged to try as many times as necessary to demonstrate their proficiency. Although skeptics may question the “rigor” behind an experience that allows students to keep trying until they have mastered a competency, this model is actually far more rigorous than the traditional model, as students are not able to flunk or get away with a merely average understanding of the material; they must demonstrate mastery—and therefore dedicated work toward gaining mastery—in any competency.

Competency-based education first took hold in the K-12 education system, but it is also growing in higher education. As of fall 2015, roughly 600 institutions were using or exploring competency-based programs in higher education.13 However, only a handful of institutions are using competency-based education exclusively and have designed their business models around it.

WGU offers programs across four industry areas: education, business, information technology, and healthcare. All of these programs are offered online; unlike most higher education institutions, WGU has no physical campus. Instead, it has invested heavily in a technology platform that allows it to deliver curriculum asynchronously, to wherever students are. In addition to its online platform, another unique aspect of WGU’s resources is its approach to faculty. In traditional institutions, faculty are responsible for academic research, course development, teaching, assessment, and advising students. Alternatively, WGU’s model unbundles the faculty role into component parts, with specialists in each role.

 

Coursera’s CEO on the Evolving Meaning of ‘MOOC’ — from by Dian Schaffhauser
When you can bring huge numbers of students together with lots of well-branded universities and global enterprises seeking a highly skilled workforce, could those linkages be strong enough to forge a new future for massive open online courses?

Excerpts:

Campus Technology: Coursera used to be a MOOC operator, but now it’s a tech company, an LMS company, a virtual bootcamp and more. So how are you describing Coursera these days?

Maggioncalda: As a learning platform. We like to say to our universities, “Coursera is a platform for your global campus.”

You have [traditional universities] teaching with some of the world’s best professors, with some of the most cutting-edge research, to a population of people who have sat right here in front of you, on a small parcel of land, and who pay a lot of money to do that. It’s been very high quality that’s been available to the very few.

What we’re interested in doing is taking that quality of education and making it available to a vast group of people. When you think about our business model, I like to think about it as an ecosystem of learners, educators and employers. What we do is we link them together. We have 34 million learners from around the world. Our biggest country represented is the United States, followed by India, followed by China, followed by Mexico, followed by Brazil. A lot of the emerging markets and the learners there are coming to Coursera to learn and prosper.

[Editor’s note: Coursera currently hosts 10 online degree programs. And most recently, in July 2018, the University of Pennsylvania announced that it was launching its first fully online master’s degree, delivered through Coursera and priced at about a third of the cost of its on-campus equivalent.]

CT: Let’s talk about the University of Pennsylvania deal. Do you think that’s going to put some competitive pressure on the other Tier 1 schools to jump into the fray?

Maggioncalda: This is a very well-regarded program. The University of Pennsylvania is a very well-regarded university. I think it’s causing a lot of people to re-evaluate what they were imagining their future might look like: Maybe learners really do want to have access that’s more convenient and lower cost and they don’t have to quit their jobs to take. And maybe there is literally a world of learners who can’t come to campus, in India and Europe and Latin America and Russia and Asia Pacific and China.

 

 

As a learning platform. We like to say to our universities, “Coursera is a platform for your global campus.”

Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO

 

 

In two years we’ve had over 1,400 companies hire Coursera to deliver university courses at work to their employees.

Now we’re starting to link the 34 million learners out there to the employers who are looking for people who have certain skills, saying, “Look, if you’re on Coursera learning about this thing, there might be companies who want to hire people that know the thing that you just learned.”

Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO

 

 


 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012

Learning from the Living [Class] Room:
A global, powerful, next generation learning platform — meant to help people
reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, conveniently, & consistently

  • A new, global, collaborative learning platform that offers more choice, more control to learners of all ages – 24×7 – and could become the organization that futurist Thomas Frey discusses here with Business Insider:
    • “I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider.
  • A learner-centered platform that is enabled by – and reliant upon – human beings but is backed up by a powerful suite of technologies that work together in order to help people reinvent themselves quickly, conveniently, and extremely cost-effectively
  • A customizable learning environment that will offer up-to-date streams of regularly curated content (i.e., microlearning) as well as engaging learning experiences
  • Along these lines, a lifelong learner can opt to receive an RSS feed on a particular topic until they master that concept; periodic quizzes (i.e., spaced repetition) determine that mastery. Once mastered, the system will ask the learner as to whether they still want to receive that particular stream of content or not.
  • A Netflix-like interface to peruse and select plugins to extend the functionality of the core product
  • An AI-backed system of analyzing employment trends and opportunities will highlight those courses and “streams of content” that will help someone obtain the most in-demand skills
  • A system that tracks learning and, via Blockchain-based technologies, feeds all completed learning modules/courses into learners’ web-based learner profiles
  • A learning platform that provides customized, personalized recommendation lists – based upon the learner’s goals
  • A platform that delivers customized, personalized learning within a self-directed course (meant for those content creators who want to deliver more sophisticated courses/modules while moving people through the relevant Zones of Proximal Development)
  • Notifications and/or inspirational quotes will be available upon request to help provide motivation, encouragement, and accountability – helping learners establish habits of continual, lifelong-based learning
  • (Potentially) An online-based marketplace, matching learners with teachers, professors, and other such Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • (Potentially) Direct access to popular job search sites
  • (Potentially) Direct access to resources that describe what other companies do/provide and descriptions of any particular company’s culture (as described by current and former employees and freelancers)
  • (Potentially) Integration with one-on-one tutoring services

 


 

 

15 more companies that no longer require a degree — apply now — from glassdoor.com

Excerpt:

With college tuition soaring nationwide, many Americans don’t have the time or money to earn a college degree. However, that doesn’t mean your job prospects are diminished. Increasingly, there are many companies offering well-paying jobs to those with non-traditional education or a high-school diploma.

Google and Ernest & Young are just two of the champion companies who realize that book smarts don’t necessarily equal strong work ethic, grit and talent. Whether you have your GED and are looking for a new opportunity or charting your own path beyond the traditional four-year college route, here are 15 companies that have said they do not require a college diploma for some of their top jobs.

 

From DSC:
Several years ago when gas prices were sky high, I couldn’t help but think that some industries — though they were able to grab some significant profits in the short term — were actually shooting themselves in the foot for the longer term. Sure enough, as time went by, people started looking for less expensive alternatives. For example, they started buying more hybrid vehicles, more electric cars, and the sales of smaller cars and lighter trucks increased. The average fuel economy of vehicles went up (example). The goal was to reduce or outright eliminate the number of trips to the gas station that people were required to make.  

These days…I wonder if the same kind of thing is happening — or about to happen — with traditional institutions of higher education*? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?

Traditional institutions of higher education better find ways to adapt, and to change their game (so to speak), before the alternatives to those organizations gain some major steam. There is danger in the status quo. Count on it. The saying, “Adapt or die” has now come to apply to higher ed as well.

Faculty, staff, and administrators within higher ed are beginning to experience what the corporate world has been experiencing for decades.

Faculty can’t just teach what they want to teach. They can’t just develop courses that they are interested in. The demand for courses that aren’t attractive career-wise will likely continue to decrease. Sure, it can be argued that many of those same courses — especially from the liberal arts colleges — are still valuable…and I would agree with some of those arguments. But the burden of proof continues to be shifted to the shoulders of those proposing such curricula.

Also, the costs of obtaining a degree needs to come down or:

  • The gorillas of debt on peoples’ backs will become a negative word of mouth that will be hard to compete against or adequately address as time goes by
  • The angst towards higher ed will continue to build
  • People will bolt for those promising alternatives to traditional higher ed where the graduates (badge earners, or whatever they’re going to be called) of those programs are hired and shown to be effective employees
  • I hope that this isn’t the case and that it’s not too late to change…but history will likely show that higher ed shot itself in the foot. The warning signs were all over the place.

 

 

The current trends are paving the way for a next generation learning platform that will serve someone from cradle to grave.

 

 

* I realize that many in higher ed would immediately dispute that their organizations are out to grab short term profits, that they don’t operate like a business, that they don’t operate under the same motivations as the corporate world, etc.  And I can see some of these folks’ points, no doubt. I may even agree with some of the folks who represent organizations who freely share information with other organizations and have motivations other than making tons of money.  But for those folks who staunchly hold to the belief that higher ed isn’t a business at all — well, for me, that’s taking things way too far. I do not agree with that perspective at all. One has to have their eyes (and minds) closed to cling to that perspective anymore. Just don’t ask those folks to tell you how much their presidents make (along with other higher-level members of their administrations), the salaries of the top football coaches, or how many millions of dollars many universities’ receive for their television contracts and/or their ticket sales, or how much revenue research universities bring in from patents and so on and so forth.

 

 



Addendum on 8/24, per University Ventures e-newsletter

2. Facebook Goes Back to College (emphasis DSC)
TechCrunch report on how digital giants are buying into Last-Mile Training by partnering with Pathstream to deliver necessary digital skills to community college students.
Most good first jobs specifically require one or more technologies like Facebook or Unity — technologies that colleges and universities aren’t teaching. If Pathstream is able to realize its vision of integrating industry-relevant software training into degree programs in a big way, colleges and universities have a shot at maintaining their stranglehold as the sole pathway to successful careers. If Pathstream’s impact is more limited, watch for millions of students to sidestep traditional colleges, and enroll in emerging faster and cheaper alternative pathways to good first jobs — alternative pathways that will almost certainly integrate the kind of last-mile training being pioneered by Pathstream.

 

America’s colleges and universities could learn a thing or two from Leo, because they continue to resist teaching students the practical things they’ll need to know as soon as they graduate; for instance, to get jobs that will allow them to make student loan payments. Digital skills head this list, specifically experience with the high-powered software they’ll be required to use every day in entry-level positions.

But talk to a college president or provost about the importance of Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, Tableau, Adobe and Autodesk for their graduates, and they’re at a loss for how to integrate last-mile training into their degree programs in order prepare students to work on these essential software platforms.

Enter a new company, Pathstream, which just announced a partnership with tech leader Unity and previously partnered with Facebook. Pathstream supports the delivery of career-critical software skill training in VR/AR and digital marketing at colleges and universities.

 



 

Addendum on 8/24, per University Ventures e-newsletter
3. Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College
Inside Higher Education Q&A on upcoming book A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College.
Last-mile training is the inevitable by-product of two crises, one generally understood, the other less so. The crisis everyone understands is affordability and unsustainable levels of student loan debt. The other crisis is employability. Nearly half of all college graduates are underemployed in their first job. And we know that underemployment is pernicious and lasting. According to the recent report from Strada’s Institute for the Future of Work, two-thirds of underemployed graduates remain underemployed five years later, and half remain underemployed a decade later. So today’s students no longer buy that tired college line that “we prepare you for your fifth job, not your first job.” They know that if they don’t get a good first job, they’re probably not going to get a good fifth job. As a result, today’s students are laser-focused on getting a good first job in a growing sector of the economy.

 

 

 

How blockbuster MOOCs could shape the future of teaching — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

There isn’t a New York Times bestseller list for online courses, but perhaps there should be. After all, so-called MOOCs, or massive open online courses, were meant to open education to as many learners as possible, and in many ways they are more like books (digital ones, packed with videos and interactive quizzes) than courses.

The colleges and companies offering MOOCs can be pretty guarded these days about releasing specific numbers on how many people enroll or pay for a “verified certificate” or microcredential showing they took the course. But both Coursera and EdX, two of the largest providers, do release lists of their most popular courses. And those lists offer a telling snapshot of how MOOCs are evolving and what their impact is on the instructors and institutions offering them.

Here are the top 10 most popular courses for each provider:

 

Coursera Top 10 Most Popular Courses (over past 12 months)

 

edX Top 10 Most Popular Courses (all time)

 

 

So what are these blockbuster MOOCs, then? Experiential textbooks? Gateways to more rigorous college courses? A new kind of entertainment program?

Maybe the answer is: all of the above.

 

 

 

Education startup OnlineDegree.com makes the first year of college tuition-free — from forbes.com by Richard Vedder

Excerpt:

If you were told that an educational institution existed that would enable you to earn a year of college credit at zero financial cost and with minimal hassle –from a for-profit private entrepreneurial venture — you would no doubt be suspicious. I receive several pitches a week from individuals trying to promote all sorts of innovations, so I was especially dubious of this proposition – until I talked to Grant Aldrich, the fellow who helped initiate this project, and after reflecting a bit on modern internet-based businesses.

Hundreds of millions daily use at zero cost an immensely popular social media platform, Facebook. It provides much joy to user’s lives. Moreover, Facebook, Inc. has, of this writing, a market capitalization of $539.6 billion and its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is at age 34, one of the richest people in the world. I suspect Grant Aldrich thinks that the Facebook model can be replicated successfully in higher education. Aldrich’s website (https://onlinedegree.com) will provide users with free, high-quality online college-level courses, financed through advertising, sponsorships, etc., much like Facebook and Google do.

The venture is brand new and modest in scope and is just now ready to launch its project.

 

He is bringing market-based capitalism to higher education without the crutch of government-subsidized student loans.

 

Yet Aldrich claims that he is not out to destroy traditional higher education, but rather to revitalize and support it. Students ultimately would go from his online courses into traditional schools, saving at least 25% of the cost through credit transfer, making traditional education significantly more affordable and viable.

 

 


The information below is from Grant Aldrich, Founder of OnlineDegree.com (emphasis via DSC)


Rather than bypassing traditional universities like the MissionU’s or Coursera’s, we have a disruptive solution to innovate within higher ed to combat student debt and bring students back to a collegiate path.

Here’s the quick summary: At OnlineDegree.com, anyone could receive credit, up to their freshman year of college, completely tuition-free. All from home, on their own schedule, no pressure, and no applications.

We offer students free college-level courses and work with accredited universities across the country to award college credit for the courses students take.  With many options to complete their entire freshman year equivalence, there are potential pathways to receive up to 44 units of recommended semester credit at over 1,400 colleges throughout the US…and growing.

By understanding the predicament that working adults have, it’s obvious that the current educational system hasn’t made it simple or easy enough for them to go back to school.  They’re busy, can’t afford it, and have a lot of anxiety taking the first step.  We’re changing that.

Further information is below.



Who Are We?

OnlineDegree.com is a team of startup veterans, leading academics and PhDs (from NYU, West Virginia University, Georgetown, etc). We’ve been working for over 2 years to make higher education more affordable and accessible for everyone. It’s been an incredible adventure to combat entrenched roadblocks and norms. More about us here:

How it Works
Students take as many college-level courses as they’d like on gen ed topics like Psychology, Robotics, Computer Programming, Marketing, History and many more…free. We’ve then worked with participating accredited universities across the country like Southern New Hampshire University, Excelsior College and others, so students can receive college credit for the courses they’ve taken. In addition, there are pathways to receive credit at over 1,400 schools in total throughout the US.

Our courses are:

  • Online and Available 24/7 – No class schedules, no fixed times, and completely self-paced.
  • Easy to Get Started- No applications, No entrance exams, and most importantly, No tuition.
  • Interesting and Top Notch- Our professors are experts in their respective fields with PhDs and advanced degrees. The courses are incredibly interesting.
  • Recommended for over 44 units of semester credit by the NCCRS

Why Is This So Disruptive?
Working adults now have a “bridge” to start their path back to school in 1 minute instead of 1 year in some cases…regardless of their finances or busy schedules. They can test drive different courses and subjects on their own schedule, be better prepared for college-level coursework at a university, and potentially receive college credits toward their degree. Given the common unfortunate student perception that applying directly to a community college or 4-year is intimidating, inflexible and/or costly, we’re more like “wading” into the pool rather than expecting everyone to jump in.

How Have We Made It Free?
We will always be 100% free to students…we’re not going to compromise on that. We’re exploring a marketplace for tutoring, Patreon, Kickstarter, university sponsorships/advertising, private grants, and many other avenues. We are bold enough to look outside of the traditional tuition paradigm to ensure we don’t exclude anyone from participating. There are all kinds of ways to keep the lights on without charging students or sacrificing educational quality.

Why Now?
Despite overwhelming demand to go back to school in the face of eroding manufacturing jobs, robot automation, and a quickly modernizing economy, millions of working adults are still not going back to school at a traditional university. The key is to understand the predicaments of the working adult: accessibility and affordability. Other marketplace offers that circumvent higher education have become increasingly popular. We’re solving this by removing all of the barriers to enable that first critical step in starting back towards a traditional university.

 


Also see:

 


 

 

 

The scary amount that college will cost in the future — from cnbc.com by Annie Nova

Excerpt:

Think college is expensive now? Then new parents will probably want to take a seat for this news.

In 2036, just 18 years from now, four years at a private university will be around $303,000, up from $167,000 today.

To get a degree at a public university you’ll need about $184,000, compared with $101,000 now.

These forecasts were provided by Wealthfront, an automated investment platform that offers college saving options. It uses Department of Education data on the current cost of schools along with expected annual inflation to come up with its projections.

 

Excerpted graphic:

 

From DSC:
We had better be at the end of the line of thinking that says these tuition hikes can continue. It’s not ok. More and more people will be shut out by this kind of societal gatekeeper. The ever-increasing cost of obtaining a degree has become a matter of social justice for me. Other solutions are needed. The 800 pound gorilla of debt that’s already being loaded onto more and more of our graduates will impact them for years…even for decades in many of our graduates’ cases.

It’s my hope that a variety of technologies will make learning more affordable, yet still provide a high quality of education. In fact, I’m hopeful that the personalization/customization of learning will take some major steps forward in the very near future. We will still need and want solid teachers, professors, and trainers, but I’m hopeful that those folks will be aided by the heavy lifting that will be done by some powerful tools/technologies that will be aimed at helping people learn and grow…providing lifelong learners with more choice, more control.

I love the physical campus as much as anyone, and I hope that all students can have that experience if they want it. But I’ve seen and worked with the high costs of building and maintaining physical spaces — maintaining our learning spaces, dorms, libraries, gyms, etc. is very expensive.

I see streams of content becoming more prevalent in the future — especially for lifelong learners who need to reinvent themselves in order to stay marketable. We will be able to subscribe and unsubscribe to curated streams of content that we want to learn more about. For example, today, that could involve RSS feeds and Feedly (to aggregate those feeds). I see us using micro-learning to help us encode information and then practice recalling it (i.e., spaced practice), to help us stop or lessen the forgetting curves we all experience, to help us sort information into things we know and things that we need more assistance on (while providing links to resources that will help us obtain better mastery of the subject(s)).

 

 

From DSC:
What can higher ed learn from this? Eventually, people will seek alternatives if what’s being offered isn’t acceptable to them anymore.


 

The Disappearing Doctor: How Mega-Mergers Are Changing the Business of Medical Care — from nytimes.com by Reed Ableson and Julie Creswell
Big corporations — giant retailers and health insurance companies — are teaming up to become your doctor.

Excerpt:

Is the doctor in?

In this new medical age of urgent care centers and retail clinics, that’s not a simple question. Nor does it have a simple answer, as primary care doctors become increasingly scarce.

“You call the doctor’s office to book an appointment,” said Matt Feit, a 45-year-old screenwriter in Los Angeles who visited an urgent care center eight times last year. “They’re only open Monday through Friday from these hours to those hours, and, generally, they’re not the hours I’m free or I have to take time off from my job.

“I can go just about anytime to urgent care,” he continued, “and my co-pay is exactly the same as if I went to my primary doctor.”

That’s one reason big players like CVS Health, the drugstore chain, and most recently Walmart, the giant retailer, are eyeing deals with Aetna and Humana, respectively, to use their stores to deliver medical care.

People are flocking to retail clinics and urgent care centers in strip malls or shopping centers, where simple health needs can usually be tended to by health professionals like nurse practitioners or physician assistants much more cheaply than in a doctor’s office. Some 12,000 are already scattered across the country, according to Merchant Medicine, a consulting firm.

 

 

 

 

In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s — from edsurger.com by Sydney Johnson

Excerpt:

These days, though, many MOOC platforms are courting the traditional higher-ed market they once rebuked, often by hosting fully-online masters degrees for colleges and universities. And today, one of the largest MOOC providers, Coursera, announced it’s going one step further in that direction, with its first fully online bachelor’s degree.

“We are realizing that the vast reach of MOOCs makes them a powerful gateway to degrees,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said in a statement.

The new degree will be a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of London. The entire program will cost between £9,600 and £17,000 (approximately $13,300 to $23,500), depending on a student’s geographic location. According to a spokesperson for Coursera, the program’s “cost is adjusted based on whether a student is in a developed or developing economy.”

 

 

From DSC:
At least a couple of questions come to mind here:

  • What might the future hold if the U.S. Department of Education / the Federal Government begins funding these types of alternatives to traditional higher education?
  • Will Coursera be successful here and begin adding more degrees? If so, a major game-changer could be on our doorsteps.

 

 

 

Top 10 IT Issues, 2018: The Remaking of Higher Education – from er.educause.edu by Susan Grajek and the 2017–2018 Educause IT Issues Panel

2018 Top 10 IT Issues

  1. Information Security: Developing a risk-based security strategy that keeps pace with security threats and challenges
  2. Student Success: Managing the system implementations and integrations that support multiple student success initiatives
  3. Institution-wide IT Strategy: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in achieving institutional missions
  4. Data-enabled Institutional Culture: Using BI and analytics to inform the broad conversation and answer big questions
  5. Student-centered Institution: Understanding and advancing technology’s role in defining the student experience on campus (from applicants to alumni)
  6. Higher Education Affordability: Balancing and rightsizing IT priorities and budget to support IT-enabled institutional efficiencies and innovations in the context of institutional funding realities
  7. IT Staffing and Organizational Models: Ensuring adequate staffing capacity and staff retention in the face of retirements, new sourcing models, growing external competition, rising salaries, and the demands of technology initiatives on both IT and non-IT staff
  8. (tie) Data Management and Governance: Implementing effective institutional data governance practices
  9. (tie) Digital Integrations: Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms
  10. Change Leadership: Helping institutional constituents (including the IT staff) adapt to the increasing pace of technology change

 

 

Also see:

2018 Top 10 IT Issues — from educause.edu

Excerpt:

The Remaking of Higher Education
Higher education’s biggest concerns are converging with technology’s greatest capabilities. Evidence is mounting that digital technology is a major differentiator and a key to productivity and success within higher education. The 2018 Top 10 Issues reveal the broader strategic impact of technology on the entire institution.

IT organizations will be focusing on four areas this year:

  • Institutional adaptiveness
  • IT adaptiveness
  • Improved student outcomes
  • Improved decision-making

IT organizations won’t focus on these areas alone. Leaders from across campus are invested collaborators with IT. When information technology brings strategic value, the solutions and the technologies that power them are less important than the people, processes, and culture—which make all the difference in the 2018 Top 10 IT Issues.

 

 

Also see:

Strategic IT and the 2018 Top 10 IT Issues — from er.educause.edu by John O’Brien
While those of us in campus IT organizations have long considered the topic of technology as a strategic asset, this year—the 20th anniversary of EDUCAUSE—may well mark a far broader realization of information technology as a strategic asset for higher education.

Excerpt:

Still, the landscape and strategic placement of technology has changed. IT advances are constant, not occasional, and technology on campus is ubiquitous and enterprise-critical. Meanwhile, presidents, provosts, and boards — under considerable pressure to improve student success — appreciate that technology offers some of the brightest hopes for moving this hard-to-move needle. For this reason, among others, student success became the foundational focus of the 2017 Top 10 IT Issues. And the 2016 Top 10 IT Issues stressed the degree to which information technology is an institutional differentiator when it comes to not only student success but also affordability, teaching, and research excellence.

It’s one thing, of course, to ask ourselves about the strategic nature of information technology and quite another to find evidence that those outside the IT organization are experiencing this strategic sea change. Yet in recent months we’ve seen exactly that. One example is the American College President Study 2017, from the American Council on Education (ACE). Written by and for college and university presidents, the report advises presidents to attend fully to technology, especially “using analytics functions to make better decisions and leveraging technology to scale out quality, cost-effective best practices.”

 

 

From DSC:
I appreciate the following statement — and have often reflected upon its truth:

While those of us in campus IT organizations have long considered the topic of technology as a strategic asset, this year—the 20th anniversary of EDUCAUSE—may well mark a far broader realization of information technology as a strategic asset for higher education.

 

On a separate note…while obtaining and reviewing data / analytics certainly helps, often that isn’t enough.

Steve Jobs didn’t acquire data or do focus groups before introducing the Macintosh, nor before introducing the iPod, nor before introducing the iPad, nor before introducing the iPhone. But these devices literally changed the world.

Solid vision and innovation are what really count — they bring about the real game-changers.

 

 

 

From DSC:
DC: Will Amazon get into delivering education/degrees? Is is working on a next generation learning platform that could highly disrupt the world of higher education? Hmmm…time will tell.

But Amazon has a way of getting into entirely new industries. From its roots as an online bookseller, it has branched off into numerous other arenas. It has the infrastructure, talent, and the deep pockets to bring about the next generation learning platform that I’ve been tracking for years. It is only one of a handful of companies that could pull this type of endeavor off.

And now, we see articles like these:


Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman
Candace Thille, a pioneer in the science of learning, takes a leave from Stanford to help the ambitious retailer better train its workers, with implications that could extend far beyond the company.

Excerpt:

A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else.

Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Thille’s title, as confirmed by an Amazon spokeswoman: director of learning science and engineering. In that capacity, the spokeswoman said, Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

No further details were forthcoming, and Thille herself said she was “taking time away” from Stanford to work on a project she was “not really at liberty to discuss.”

 

Amazon is quietly becoming its own university — from qz.com by Amy Wang

Excerpt:

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire—which recently dabbled in home security, opened artificial intelligence-powered grocery stores, and started planning a second headquarters (and manufactured a vicious national competition out of it)—has not been idle in 2018.

The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be “director of learning science and engineering.” A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon”; Thille herself said she is “not really at liberty to discuss” her new project.

What could Amazon want with a higher education expert? The company already has footholds in the learning market, running several educational resource platforms. But Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training—all of which are perfect, perhaps even necessary, for the education of employees.

 


From DSC:
It could just be that Amazon is simply building its own corporate university and will stay focused on developing its own employees and its own corporate learning platform/offerings — and/or perhaps license their new platform to other corporations.

But from my perspective, Amazon continues to work on pieces of a powerful puzzle, one that could eventually involve providing learning experiences to lifelong learners:

  • Personal assistants
  • Voice recognition / Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • The development of “skills” at an incredible pace
  • Personalized recommendation engines
  • Cloud computing and more

If Alexa were to get integrated into a AI-based platform for personalized learning — one that features up-to-date recommendation engines that can identify and personalize/point out the relevant critical needs in the workplace for learners — better look out higher ed! Better look out if such a platform could interactively deliver (and assess) the bulk of the content that essentially does the heavy initial lifting of someone learning about a particular topic.

Amazon will be able to deliver a cloud-based platform, with cloud-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies, at a greatly reduced cost. Think about it. No physical footprints to build and maintain, no lawns to mow, no heating bills to pay, no coaches making $X million a year, etc.  AI-driven recommendations for digital playlists. Links to the most in demand jobs — accompanied by job descriptions, required skills & qualifications, and courses/modules to take in order to master those jobs.

Such a solution would still need professors, instructional designers, multimedia specialists, copyright experts, etc., but they’ll be able to deliver up-to-date content at greatly reduced costs. That’s my bet. And that’s why I now call this potential development The New Amazon.com of Higher Education.

[Microsoft — with their purchase of Linked In (who had previously
purchased Lynda.com) — is
another such potential contender.]

 

 

 

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