Fiona Deller – Need to Read: Disruption, CBE and U2

Sharing the best in postsecondary news and commentary

Back from vacation and I have a list of things to read that goes back a few weeks. So, here are just a few of the highlights: Clayton Christensen, of “disruptive innovation” fame, and Michelle Weise have written a new “mini-book” called Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization and the Workforce Revolution. In it they claim that the real disruptor, or the “dark horse of disruptive innovation,” is online competency based education (CBE). They claim that the perfect storm of economic factors and available technology make it, rather than more flashy disruptors like MOOCs, the innovation most likely to change everything. If you aren’t in the mood for the whole book right now, read eCampus’ short review.

More disruption: The Atlantic writes on the future of college (American style), focusing on the Minerva Project, an ed-tech venture that promises to “replace the modern liberal arts college.” An accredited university in San Francisco, Minerva plans to open locations in at least six other cities (but no lectures, tenure, football games or ivy covered buildings). What makes Minerva different from other such ventures, according to the article,” is an online platform developed to apply pedagogical practices that have been studied and vetted by one of the world’s foremost psychologists, former Harvard dean Stephen M. Kosslyn, who joined Minerva in 2012.”  You be the judge.

More CBE: Competency-Based Education as a Potential Strategy to Increase Learning and Lower Costs from HCM strategists is part of the Maximizing Resources for Student Success project, which looks at strategies institutions can use for lowering costs and better supporting low-income students.  This paper breaks down CBE, its potential benefits for low-income students and addresses the blurry line between it and prior learning assessment.

A recent post from Lloyd Armstrong on the website Changing HigherEd explores tuition and college pricing. It’s US-focused and some of the issues don’t apply. But I like the way he breaks it down, and well, some of the issues do apply. The issue that always strikes me hardest in discussions about net cost and net tuition, is that perception (or sticker shock) is a real issue for low-income students (and the people who offer them information and support), irrespective of what the net cost might be. Armstrong acknowledges this and links to this 2013 paper by economist James Monks, which tackles the issue in more depth.

I leave you with two posts from the always entertaining University Ventures. The first teaches us something about hotdog eating contests and the difficulty of measuring educational outcomes. The second uses Bono and U2 to talk about the need for universities to constantly reimagine ways of meeting student needs. In other words, “Universities that wish to thrive for as long as U2 has been at the top of the music world will follow Bono’s example and get much closer to their students.  Slow dancing is not required.  But finding out what students need and delivering on those needs will be.” Agreed!

Happy Reading.

-Fiona Deller, Executive Director, Policy & Partnerships

One reply on “Fiona Deller – Need to Read: Disruption, CBE and U2”

Minerva certainly has some top-flight people involved, e.g. Lee Shulman on the board. However, saying that Minerva is accredited may mislead some readers. Minerva piggy-backed on the existing accreditation of the Keck Graduate School of Business, which was permitted by its accreditors to expand its mission to include undergraduate study and is doing that by way of Minerva. At least that is the official storyline by which Minerva is able to offer federal student aid without a track record and to start up with 15-19 students as the initial cohort.

I wish them well, we need more radical innovation (and perhaps more disruption to get us there!).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *