Monday, June 14, 2010

Notes from the Exhibit Hall

What did we learn walking up and down the aisles?

Last week at the "Career College Association" (CCA) conference in Vegas there was a lot of talk about the big three issues:
  1. Impending regulations for the inquiry (lead) environment.
  2. The risks posed by loan defaults; or the 'new subprime market'.
  3. The opportunities created by rising costs and decreasing quality.
A decade ago Clay Christensen wrote a piece on disrupting education arguing that the 500 year-old model would implode when several conditions existed.   The necessary conditions are:
  1. Technology that makes delivery and consumption simple and foolproof.
  2. Sufficient numbers of non or over-shot consumers to create momentum.
  3. A business model that changes the economic model and prevents incumbents from fighting back.
Based on the conversations at the booths of vendors, agencies and a few institutions, we might be close.  There was a sense that the current lead and delivery models may not be the best or only way of doing things.   While no established company openly abandoned their previous business, they were very interested in talking about the implications and the art of the possible.   And when established companies talk this way, changes are a coming.

Consider the following companies that are doing things just a bit differently:
  • StraighterLine - focuses on delivering education starting at $99 a month.  
  • Zinch - reverses the recruitment process by making high-school students the center of the universe.
  • Instructure - a learning management system that gives its product away to teachers.

Maybe our thoughts about comparing curriculum and faculty across schools in a 'syllabus week' isn't such a radical idea.   And the thought of an 'on-demand' education taking courses from a variety of institutions isn't such a wild idea. 

Prediction: Openness in education will lead to building your own program and degree.  

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