On Change and Relevance for Higher Education — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Phil Long
A Q&A with Phil Long


Mary Grush: You’ve been connected to scores of technology leaders and have watched trends in higher education for more than 30 years. What is the central, or most important concern you are hearing from institutional leadership now?

Phil Long: Higher ed institutions are facing some serious challenges to stay relevant in a world that is diversifying and changing rapidly. They want to make sure that the experiences they have designed for students will carry the next generation forward to be productive citizens and workers. But institutions’ abilities to keep up in our changing environment have begun to lag to a sufficient degree, such that alternatives to the traditional university are being considered, both by the institutions themselves and by their constituents and colleagues throughout the education sector.

Grush: What are a few of the more specific areas in which institutions may find it difficult to navigate?

Long: Just from a very high level view, I’d include on that list: big data and the increasing sophistication of algorithms, with the associated benefits and risks; artificial intelligence with all its implications for good… and for peril; and perhaps most importantly, new applications and practices that support how we recognize learning.



“The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the issues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.” — Phil Long




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


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.




Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds — from theguardian.com by Sam Levin
Majority of drivers make less than minimum wage and many end up losing money, according to study published by MIT

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Uber and Lyft drivers in the US make a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes, according to a new report that suggests a majority of ride-share workers make below minimum wage and that many actually lose money.

Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

The findings have raised fresh concerns about labor standards in the booming sharing economy as companies such as Uber and Lyft continue to face scrutiny over their treatment of drivers, who are classified as independent contractors and have few rights or protections.

“This business model is not currently sustainable,” said Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University and co-author of the paper. “The companies are losing money. The businesses are being subsidized by [venture capital] money … And the drivers are essentially subsidizing it by working for very low wages.”



From DSC:
I don’t know enough about this to offer much feedback and/or insights on this sort of thing yet. But while it’s a bit too early for me to tell — and though I’m not myself a driver for Uber or Lyft — this article prompts me to put this type of thing on my radar.

That is, will the business models that arise from such a sharing economy only benefit a handful of owners or upper level managers or will such new business models benefit the majority of their employees? I’m very skeptical in these early stages though, as there aren’t likely medical or dental benefits, retirement contributions, etc. being offered to their employees with these types of companies. It likely depends upon the particular business model(s) and/or organization(s) being considered, but I think that it’s worth many of us watching this area.



Also see:

The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes— from ceepr.mit.edu / MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research by Stephen Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu, and Gonzalo Pozo

February 2018

We perform a detailed analysis of Uber and Lyft ride-hailing driver economics by pairing results from a survey of over 1100 drivers with detailed vehicle cost information. Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included. On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile. For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes. If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed.

Keywords: Transportation, Gig Economy, Cost-Bene t Analysis, Tax policy, Labor Center
Full Paper
| Research Brief



Addendum on 3/7/18:

The ride-hailing wage war continues

How much do Lyft and Uber drivers really make? After reporting in a study that their median take-home pay was just 3.37/hour—and then getting called out by Uber’s CEO—researchers have significantly revised their findings.

Closer to a living wage: Lead author Stephen Zoepf of Stanford University released a statement on Twitter saying that using two different methods to recalculate the hourly wage, they find a salary of either $8.55 or $10 per hour, after expenses. Zoepf’s team will be doing a larger revision of the paper over the next few weeks.

Still low-balling it?: Uber and Lyft are adamant that even the new numbers underestimate what drivers are actually paid. “While the revised results are not as inaccurate as the original findings, driver earnings are still understated,” says Lyft’s director of communications Adrian Durbin.

The truth is out there: Depending on who’s doing the math, estimates range from $8.55 (Zoepf, et al.) up to over $21 an hour (Uber). In other words, we’re nowhere near a consensus on how much drivers in the gig-economy make.



The number of Americans working for themselves could triple by 2020 — from work.qz.com by Amy Wang

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Americans are as eager to work as ever. Just no longer for somebody else.

According to FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting company that has conducted a study on self-employment for two years, the number of Americans working for themselves looks to triple—to 42 million people—by 2020.

The trend, gauged in a survey of more than 2,700 full-time US workers in traditional, independent, and small business roles about their career plans, is largely being driven by millennial workers. FreshBooks estimates that of the next 27 million independent workers, 42% will be millennials. The survey, conducted with Research Now, also finds that Americans who already work for themselves are suddenly very content to keep doing so, with 97% of independent workers (up 10% from 2016) reporting no desire to return to traditional work.



From DSC:
With the continued trend towards more freelancing and the growth of a more contingent workforce…have our students had enough practice in selling themselves and their businesses to be successful in this new, developing landscape?

We need to start offering more courses, advice, and opportunities for practicing these types of skills — and the sooner the better!  I’m serious. Our students will be far more successful with these types of skills under their belt. Conversely, they won’t be able to persuade others and sell themselves and their businesses without such skills.




Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

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


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




From DSC:
Here’s a quote that has been excerpted from the announcement below…and it’s the type of service that will be offered in our future learning ecosystems — our next generation learning platforms:


Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want: Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.


But in addition to our future learning platforms pointing new/prospective students to physical campuses, the recommendation engines will also provide immediate access to digital playlists for the prospective students/learners to pursue from their living rooms (or as they are out and about…i.e., mobile access).


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



Artificial intelligence working with enormous databases to build/update recommendation engines…yup, I could see that. Lifelong learning. Helping people know what to reinvent themselves to.




Career Insight™ Lets Prospective Students Connect Academic Program Choices to Career Goals — from burning-glass.com; also from Hadley Dreibelbis from Finn Partners
New Burning Glass Technologies Product Brings Job Data into Enrollment Decisions

BOSTON—Burning Glass Technologies announces the launch of Career Insight™, the first tool to show prospective students exactly how course enrollment will advance their careers.

Embedded in institutional sites and powered by Burning Glass’ unparalleled job market data, Career Insight’s personalized recommendation engine matches prospective students with programs based on their interests and goals. Career Insight will enable students to make smarter decisions, as well as improve conversion and retention rates for postsecondary institutions.

“A recent Gallup survey found that 58% of students say career outcomes are the most important reason to continue their education,” Burning Glass CEO Matthew Sigelman said. “That’s particularly true for the working learners who are now the norm on college campuses. Career Insight™ is a major step in making sure that colleges and universities can speak their language from the very first.”

Beginning an educational program with a firm, realistic career goal can help students persist in their studies. Currently only 29% of students in two-year colleges and 59% of those in four-year institutions complete their degrees within six years.

Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want:

  • Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.
  • The application provides insights to enrollment, advising, and marketing teams into what motivates prospective students, analysis that will guide the institution in improving program offerings and boosting conversion.
  • Enrollment advisors can also walk students through different career and program scenarios in real time.

Career Insight™ is driven by the Burning Glass database of a billion job postings and career histories, collected from more than 40,000 online sources daily. The database, powered by a proprietary analytic taxonomy, provides insight into what employers need much faster and in more detail than any other sources.

Career Insight™ is powered by the same rich dataset Burning Glass delivers to hundreds of leading corporate and education customers – from Microsoft and Accenture to Harvard University and Coursera.

More information is available at http://burning-glass.com/career-insight.





What these firms all have in common are powerful digital platforms that provide the scale and scope to expand into new growth markets and geographies at speeds never before possible.



From DSC:
To me, the item below provides another example of the exponential pace of change that we are beginning to experience:

Corporate Longevity Forecast: The Pace of Creative Destruction is Accelerating — from innosight.com by Scott Anthony, S. Patrick Viguerie, Evan Schwartz and John Van Landeghem

Excerpt/Executive Summary:

Few companies are immune to the forces of creative destruction. Our corporate longevity forecast of S&P 500 companies anticipates average tenure on the list growing shorter and shorter over the next decade.

Key insights include:

  • The 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1964 narrowed to 24 years by 2016 and is forecast to shrink to just 12 years by 2027 (Chart 1).
  • Record private equity activity, a robust M&A market, and the growth of startups with billion-dollar valuations are leading indicators of future turbulence.
  • A gale force warning to leaders: at the current churn rate, about half of S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next ten years.
  • Retailers were especially hit hard by disruptive forces, and there are strong signs of restructuring in financial services, healthcare, energy, travel, and real estate.
  • The turbulence points to the need for companies to embrace a dual transformation, to focus on changing customer needs, and other strategic interventions.


Are Corporations Ready for Increased Turbulence?

Viewed as a larger picture, S&P 500 turnover serves as a barometer for marketplace change. Shrinking lifespans of companies on the list are in part driven by a complex combination of technology shifts and economic shocks, some of which are beyond the control of corporate leaders. But frequently, companies miss opportunities to adapt or take advantage of these changes. For example, they continue to apply existing business models to new markets, are slow to respond to disruptive competitors in low-profit segments, or fail to adequately envision and invest in new growth areas which often takes a decade or longer to pay off.

At the same time, we’ve seen the rise of other companies take their place on the list by creating new products, business models, and serving new customers. Some of the market forces driving these exits and entries include the mass disruption in retail, the rising dominance of digital technology platforms, the downward pressure on energy prices, strength in global travel and real estate, as well as the failure of stock buyback efforts to improve performance.





EdX Quietly Developing ‘MicroBachelors’ Program — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young


EdX, the nonprofit online-education group founded by MIT and Harvard, is quietly developing a “MicroBachelors” degree that is designed to break the undergraduate credential into Lego-like components.

In December, edX won a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to support the MicroBachelors effort with the organization’s university partners. Officials from edX declined to talk about the project, saying only that it is in the early stages. But at a higher-education innovation summit last month hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, listed the project as part of the group’s long-term vision that began with its MicroMasters program. And the organization has filed a trademark for the term “MicroBachelors” as well.


“Education in five to ten years will become modular, will become omnichannel, and will become lifelong,” Agarwal said at the meeting, later explaining that omnichannel meant offering courses either online or in person.


How would a MicroBachelors be different than, say, a two-year associate’s degree, which is arguably already half a bachelor’s degree? Sarma said that the idea behind both MicroMasters and MicroBachelors is that they are “about putting stuff that can be done online, online.” In other words, the big idea is offering a low-cost, low-risk way for students to start an undergraduate education even if they can’t get to a campus.




Also relevant/see:




5 trends poised to shake up higher education in 2018 — from educationdive.com by Autumn Arnett


  1. Blurred lines: nonprofit and for-profit providers will work together toward new business model
  2. U.S. higher education as a top international export
  3. Re-imagining physical campus space
  4. More unbundling and microcredentials
  5. Continued focus on accelerating mobile apps




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