From DSC:

In real estate, one hear’s the mantra:
Location. Location. Location.

In higher education, I have it that we’ll be hearing this for a while:
Experimentation. Experimentation. Experimentation.

Consider the following reflections on Steve’ Kolowich’s solid article, The new intelligence (from


And for the largest public university in the country, it is hardly fiction. Arizona State University has become ground zero for data-driven teaching in higher education. The university has rolled out an ambitious effort to turn its classrooms into laboratories for technology-abetted “adaptive learning” — a method that purports to give instructors real-time intelligence on how well each of their students is getting each concept.


From DSC:
Besides being used in blended learning environments…some predictions:

  • These technologies will become integrated into what MOOCs eventually morph into and provide a significant piece of the assessment/guidance puzzle
  • Such tools will be a part of one’s future learning ecosystem
  • Such tools will be part of interactive, massively open online educationally-related games
  • Such tools will be integrated into personalized learning agents — spiders/recommendation engines that scan the web for relevant items that one needs to complete one’s cognitive gaps in a subject/topic
  • They will be accessible from your living room as well as from your mobile devices
  • They will integrate into web-based learner profiles

It’s the sort of thing I was trying to get at with this graphic from 3 years ago:

Like a mechanic...


Please don’t misunderstand me, the human mind is far beyond the complexity of an engine. But I still think that there will be more tools & technologies developed that will help the teachers/professors in their efforts to guide students into the knowledge of a discipline.

I beseech the corporate world to get involved more here — and not with the end goal of earning profits — but rather, with the aim of making the world a better place and giving a huge gift to the generations yet born. 

I urge the corporate world to reach into their deep pockets (1.X trillion in cash at this point in time) and team up with our youth/teachers/professors/instructional designers/programmers/etc. to develop sophisticated, educationally-related, engaging games that are relevant to the world that our youth will be growing up in; and/or create interactive simulations that provide more choice/more control to the learners. 

I urge more of the corporate world to join Knewton and Pearson and allocate some significant resources to help develop the next gen learning tools.  I’ll bet that we’ll be amazed at what can be produced! Your daughters, sons, granddaughters, and grandsons will really appreciate the work that you did for them!!!



People are beginning to seriously ask, is paying this much for a higher ed degree worth it? Are there less expensive alternatives?

If people are asking this question, then those of us within higher education had better have some plans on how to address this situation. My personal take here is that we need to work to reduce the cost of getting a degree by 50% or more — while providing cross-disciplinary, real-world assignments and projects that engage the students…projects that help them build up valuable communication and research skills that will aid them in hitting the ground running upon graduation.

Here are recent examples of folks reflecting on this question/topic (never mind what you think of these postings or their authors — consider the fact that these a but a handful of such postings out there):

Personally and historically speaking, I just accepted that my wife and I would have to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to finance our 3 kids’ educations. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized a couple things:

  1. That’s not going to happen
  2. There will be other — far less costly — alternatives (see my Walmart of Education posting here)

The key thing here is this:

If people are even asking these questions, it is high time that higher ed came up with some serious/concrete/well-publicized and backed up solutions and responses to these sorts of questions. There have been increasing calls for accountability and transparency; and I’m sure we’ll work to produce that data. But in the meantime, the bottom lines will still be how much folks can afford,  what is their perceptions re: the value that a college education provides, and what does it take to earn a living (i.e. if employers of the future don’t require a degree, but rather look at what a person can do, then that situation will be important to consider here).

Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in the value of education. I came from a liberal arts background and I work for a Christian, liberal arts college. So my point is not to bash college educations. To me, a college education is still worth a great deal. But I went to Northwestern University, a university that currently costs ~$55,000 per year. I’m sorry, it’s just not worth that much (nor could I afford to send our kids there, even if I wanted to).

The key point I’m addressing here is that if people are asking these sorts of questions, then we have one more significant ingredient of the “Perfect Storm” that’s brewing for higher ed.

More later…

Disruptive Innovation in the Classroom — from The Journal by Bridget McCrea
One expert discusses how disruptive innovations like online learning will change the way students learn and progress.

From DSC:
I am not sure we are fully appreciating the scope of the changes about to take place throughout higher education. If we look at what the Internet has done to other industries — and the corresponding (amazingly-short) timeframes it took to turn those industries on their heads — we will begin to have a better appreciation for the massive changes coming down the pike. When the iPod was introduced in October 2003, it didn’t take Apple long to completely dominate the music distribution business. Also, take a look at journalism and how quickly things have changed there (relatively speaking). I believe higher education is next. For more background on my stance on things, you might want to check out two pages/presentations:

  1. The Forthcoming Walmart of Education (Dec 2008):
  2. A Potential Vision for the Future (Spring/ Summer 2008):

Learning Ecosystems -- by Daniel S. Christian

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My objective with this blog is to provide you with a broad-range of insights and resources regarding some tools, technologies, and strategies that help people learn and communicate.  I address elements that relate to the worlds of higher education, K-12, and the corporate training/development.  I seek to identify and relay patterns and trends in the quickly-changing landscapes out there, helping folks keep a pulse check on such items as:

  • 1:1 computing, AI, personalized learning
  • “The Forthcoming Walmart of Education”; changing business models, opportunities, and threats within the world of higher education
  • The disruptive power of technology
  • What elements should be in your learning ecosystem
  • “Learning from the Living Room”
  • Keeping students engaged
  • Digital storytelling
  • Multimedia (tools, techniques, trends, other)
  • Mobile learning
  • Building your global network
  • Instructional design
  • Web design and production
  • …as well as other educationally-related topics.

To get an idea of my views on the above topics — along with some of the other topics I’ve covered in the last 3 years — please feel free to review my personal site at Calvin College.  Here’s an example archives page covering all of 2009:

I look forward to our future discussions as we try to make our individual and corporate contributions to the worlds of education…thereby making the entire world a better place.

Daniel S. Christian

Daniel S. Christian
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