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MOOCs and Higher Education

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How will MOOCs disrupt higher education? How will they save higher education? Some thoughts on this conundrum.

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MOOCs and Higher Education

  1. 1. Technology-InducedConundrums in Higher EducationVince Kellen, Ph.D.Senior Vice ProvostAcademic Planning, Analytics and TechnologiesUniversity of KentuckyVince.Kellen@uky.eduDecember 20, 2012This is a living document subject to substantial revision.
  2. 2. Where are we going? The current IT trends in higher education have led to wild prognostications, hyperbole, unbridled optimism, denial, consternation, fear, rejection and withdrawal In this noise, very little clear strategic thinking has been applied „Let‟s clear our minds of cant‟ 2
  3. 3. Framing concepts1. Business models versus technology models2. Unbundling3. The last mile problem4. Scale versus quality5. Deep personalization technology 3
  4. 4. Business models versus IT models People are confusing MOOC business models with technology models. MOOC business models will spread (diffuse) very differently than MOOC technology Information technology represent general purpose tools that will find their way into many different business models MOOCs are spurring rapid innovation in technology, not so much business models. MOOC business models are under stress right now! What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Information technology lowers barriers to entry, including barriers that traditional higher education institutions face in entering MOOC markets The interest in MOOCs comes on the heels of disinterest in for-profit business models The technology innovation that will follow MOOCs is more interesting (IMHO) than their emerging business models • This technology can potentially lower significantly the cost of delivering education 4
  5. 5. How will MOOCs make money? Publishing • Subscription fee to the learner (e.g., $100 per year, $20 per course) Badges • Charge users for a badge or certificate (e.g., $100 per badge) Headhunting • Charge potential employers a finder‟s fee for matching the learner to a job Software licensing • Charge universities for using the platform (SaaS licensing, software installed locally, revenue share) Advertising • Sell ads placed within the platform 5
  6. 6. Unbundling Whether to bundle or unbundle is a recurring problem in many industries. Bundling ensures lock-in (e.g., Apple). Unbundling supports scale (e.g., Google) What can be bundled together or sold separately? • „Destination resort‟ services, physical facilities, course content, course delivery, athletics, degree/certification, accreditation, community management (alumni development, etc.), government aid (financial aid, state support) • Institutions have been providing different combinations of bundling/unbundling resulting in the mix of providers today • The critical bundle: government aid, degree/certification, accreditation • The critical unbundling questions: – What happens if aid can be given for non-degreed or non-accredited education of any kind? MOOCs do not present any significant change in overall bundling strategies unless public policy changes • Universities can become MOOCs if needed but that radically changes their mission and their strategy 6
  7. 7. Higher education has a ‘last mile’ problem Education in any form is struggling to address families and communities with economic and other readiness problems Free or low-cost educational content does not easily solve readiness problems which have a multitude of factors For profit models rightfully struggle with „last-mile‟ problems. Public policy matters! 7
  8. 8. Scale/ubiquity versus quality In prior versions of IT disruptions, consumers have preferred ubiquity and scale/convenience over technical quality (e.g., Internet, cell phones, social media) Is this true for eLearning or education in general? It depends on how we define quality. Let‟s define quality as the ability for the learner to apply what was learned in a way that provides them with the advantage or benefit they sought Would some learners accept inferior educational delivery/outcomes to gain ubiquity, ease of access or low cost? (Why are we holding this meeting in person?) On the other hand… 8
  9. 9. What would Abraham Lincoln think of a MOOC?Abraham Lincoln • Autodidactic • Books, books, books • Became a skilled military strategist • Penchant for poetry, Shakespeare, politics and historyMy nephew • Not an autodidact • Good worker, smart kid, but… • It takes a village • After a few low-security colleges and much money borrowed • He has found an intellectual home 9
  10. 10. Future job demands Middle skill jobs have received little wage growth and job growth since 1980 High skilled jobs, especially those with advanced degrees, have experienced the best wage and job growth The work force middle is getting „hollowed out‟ The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market. David Autor and David Dorn. NBER Working Paper 15150. http://www.nber.org/papers/w15150 The recession may have accelerated the trend The demand for masters level and above education is likely to increase. MOOCs are likely to play a role in filling these gaps Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Is College Worth It? http://www.scribd.com/doc/113360662/Is-College-Worth-It 10
  11. 11. The hidden gem: deep personalization technology In all this noise about MOOCs, I am seeing a significant trend towards adaptive learning technology with different approaches taken by emerging vendors (e.g., Knewton, LoudCloud, Udacity) Adaptive learning technology matches content to student adjusting to how well the student is mastering concepts and skills, responding to questions and tasks Other personalization techniques (e.g., text mining, neural networks) and incorporating other forms of student data (e.g., demographic, cognitive, non-cognitive, personality tests, other surveys) can be brought to bear in this problem of matching educational content and interactions to learners (deep personalization technology – DPT) The industry is moving towards the use of technology that relies on lots of data about the learner and that delivers deeply personalized experiences by altering text, images, pace and content so it is matched to individual learner abilities and traits When adopted at scale, this kind of technology could have a profound impact on what goes in a classroom. Active learning, facilitating, coaching and intellectual community management become key activities 11
  12. 12. Volume operations versus complex systems Excluding the late 20th century, universities have been largely complex systems, delivering niche and customizable interactions F2F settings. Large lectures were added to increase output while reducing costs Deep personalization technology and MOOC approaches can begin to handle both high-volume and specialty classes Geoffrey Moore (2005). Dealing With Darwin 12
  13. 13. Another perspective High effectiveness MOOC + DPT + F2F Small F2F class MOOC + DPT Current MOOC approach Broadcast class Low effectiveness Low volume High volume 13
  14. 14. MOOC threats and opportunitiesThreats Opportunities Should public policy regarding aid and  MOOC technology can lower barriers to entry for accreditation substantially change, all forms of ALL competitors, providing advantage for education that bundle aid/degrees/accreditation traditional and smaller universities. So far it hasn‟t will be at risk  MOOC technology and business models can help Traditional universities and for-profits could all universities address “high volume” operations. master MOOC technology, threatening weaker, If automated deep personalization approaches slower institutions and technology is used, effectiveness can be maintained A MOOC player might be able to produce a sizeable quantity of high-quality learners that  MOOC technology can be used to address the industry values and seeks out over higher “long tail” of educational delivery (large numbers education. of niche content/instructors to small numbers of leaners). So far, it hasn‟t Over time, as employers reliably run across many high-quality MOOC badged employees, MOOC  MOOC technology can be used to provide „fast- brand value may be significant trackers‟ with shorter times to degrees, perhaps starting in high school, freeing up financial resources for subsequent graduate and professional education. So far, it hasn‟t  MOOC technology might be a way to address some college readiness issues in high school. So far, it hasn‟t 14
  15. 15. Chaos and complexity in strategy In highly dynamic markets it is not clear what kinds of organizations have an advantage. The market may be cooling off just enough to provide us some direction within the next year As each competitor enters new areas of competition, they are often drawn into areas of weakness • Can a local brand compete globally against other global brands? • Can an elite institution compete in a new market against non-elite institution? • Can an online university deliver face-to-face and vice versa? Organizations that incrementally and quickly extend their core competencies over new adjacent territory have a double advantage • There is less to learn. Existing strengths & skills can be more easily applied • As orgs learn, they can adjust smaller maneuvers faster and cheaper than adjusting big maneuvers, staying in tune with the shifting market Speed matters. Can we move quickly here? I think we can 15
  16. 16. What should we do? Universities should incrementally extend their core competencies using MOOC technology and business approaches, incrementally expanding the reach of their mission Brand matters! Taking an existing brand into uncharted waters is very difficult. Launching a new brand in any water is also very difficult. Treat your brand with care. Think through distribution channels (Coursera, Udacity, EdX, etc.) and marketing approaches. Test and validate frequently Encourage iterative and incremental innovation within our universities. Facilitate sharing of what works and what doesn‟t quickly across universities All competitors will eventually have to master deep personalization technology and the associated business processes to collect and manage the associated data. Start learning how to do this now 16
  17. 17. OMG! A nearby state university is launching a MOOC with the following • Uses deep personalization technology (DPT) that is automatically configures itself depending on learner skills and attributes, reports back on learner effectiveness in real-time • Includes both large-volume gateway courses and specialty courses • Is linking peer tutoring and on-demand 7x24 phone, IM, web conferencing support so that any student who is stuck on a concept or task can interact with someone or something quickly • Incorporates intense F2F sessions for students where needed • Lets student choose between certificates and degrees at undergrad and graduate levels • Has signed corporate partners to recruit students via data from the MOOC • Is priced at or below our current tuition levels and operates profitably • Is fully accredited and is getting rave reviews from students & faculty • Is using the revenue stream to attract star faculty facile in the new technology • Appears to be designed to „poach‟ our students 17
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  19. 19. That competitor does not exist (yet). Let‟s become that competitor! 19