Today KTH hosts a seminar with the title "Will the University Survive Gobal Online-Learning?" with talks like "Who will survive, who will disappear", which will become historic.
The background is well decsribed in Disrupting College How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education by Christensen et al:
- A typical state university today is the equivalent of having merged consulting firm McKinsey with Whirlpool’s manufacturing operations and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company: three fundamentally different and incompatible business models all housed within the same organization.
- Using online learning in a new business model focused exclusively on teaching and learning, not research—and focused on highly structured programs targeted at preparation for careers—has meanwhile given several organizations a significant cost advantage and allowed them to grow rapidly.
- This emerging disruptive innovation also presents an opportunity to rethink many of the age-old assumptions about higher education—its processes, where it happens, and what its goals are—and to use the disruptive start-up organizations to create institutions that operate very differently and more appropriately to address the country’s challenges.
- The first of these assumptions is that prestige is the domain of institutions that accept the best students and do the best research. Knowledge was scarce during the rise of America’s top universities and colleges, which implied that research and teaching should be coupled tightly. Yet that is no longer the case, as the amount of information on the Internet now attests.
- Online learning can enable learning to happen in a variety of contexts, locations, and times; it allows for a transformation of curriculum and learning.
- And tightly structured programs that do not offer students the ability to chart their own paths but are laser focused on preparing students for a career will often be beneficial both for mitigating costs and improving student outcomes for those historically poorly served by college. Policy and rankings should therefore not discourage their creation.
- This emerging disruptive innovation also allows for an escape from the policies that focus on credit hours and seat time to one that ties progression to competency and mastery. Online learning courses can easily embed actionable assessments and allow students to accelerate past concepts and skills they understand and have mastered and instead focus their time where they most need help at the level most appropriate for them. Time is naturally a variable in online learning, so these courses can instead hold outcomes constant—and outcomes will be a more appropriate measure for judging students and institutions.
- Shifting policy to focus on outcomes rather than the build up of ancillary services for their own sake will encourage these services to wrap around and support each institution’s core value proposition and its students’ core jobs to be done.
- Online learning is a natural medium and platform for many of these changes. And using the old assumptions and policies to measure its disruptive emergence is inappropriate and could hamstring the innovations so that they fail in their promise to deliver a more affordable, higher quality system for many more of the country’s population.
The seminar and the court procedure are two faces of the transformation now beginning...stay tuned...the censorship is a panic reaction from a system in free fall...