Creative destruction meets higher education

Higher education is due for some creative destruction, predicts John Backus,managing partner at New Atlantic Ventures, in a Washington Post commentary. In the next few years:

At least 10 states will require their state universities to accept MOOCs for placement and for credit, helping taxpayers save money on education.

Many of the most talented professors will make more money teaching online than they do as a tenured professor.

Colleges and professors will begin to segregate into online content creators and online content consumers. The creators will be few. The consumers will be many.

Faculty will feel threatened, and will work to pass protectionist legislation to outlaw MOOCs for courses that can by taught in-person by tenured faculty. They may delay, but they will not stop the inevitable.

Community colleges will become a mainstream beginning of a smart and economical path for ambitious students to get a degree. Virginia community colleges are leading the way here.

In the long term, top colleges will offer more online courses supported by “active, high-touch teaching assistants,” Backus predicts.

Vocational training will be branded: Students will choose the Procter & Gamble marketing track, the Goldman Sachs finance series or, perhaps, the Apple user experience course package.

Employers will not care about which university issued a job applicants’ degree, unless it’s one of the 50 most elite colleges. Instead, they’ll examine the coursework. “Online vs. in-person courses will be a distinction without a difference to employers.”

College is going online whether we like it or not, writes Zachary Karabell in The Atlantic. Online education is the solution to rapidly rising student debt, he argues.  All expenses — except for the cost of the professor’s time and experience — will be stripped away. And it will be massively disruptive.

The elite schools can expand the power of their brand through online courses, Karabell writes. Non-elite colleges may replace their professors with cheap adjuncts and Harvard professors lecturing online.

Yes, we are a few years away from online courses providing degrees and credentials that will be seen by the marketplace as adequate. For now, taking courses online may enrich your life, but it will not provide the entrée into jobs requiring a degree, whether associate’s or bachelor’s. Many fields of graduate study will be untouched, but many others — law, accounting and others — are ripe for online credentializing.

Soon, online education will lower the cost of credentials and create “vocational programs aligned with the skills employers need,” Karabell writes. We’ll need fewer bricks-and-mortar colleges, but more people will be able to earn degrees — without heavy debt.

San Jose State professors are pushing back against online courses, despite — or because of — the success of an online engineering course, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

“Let’s not kid ourselves; administrators at the CSU are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education,” the philosophy faculty wrote in a letter to Harvard professor Michael Sandel, whose Social Justice class is available through edX.

Harvard professors want more oversight of the university’s MOOCs.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 27, 2013

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[...] Higher education is due for some creative destruction. Professors will resist, but online education will transform postsecondary ed, leaving only the most elite colleges and universities relatively untouched. [...]

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