APSCU: Celebrating the Mavericks: Innovation & Higher Education

Career College Central Summary:

  • By: Dr. Andrew Shean, Ashford University

    • We’ve all seen the headlines about mounting student debt — more than $1 trillion — unemployed graduates moving back in with mom and dad, ever-increasing tuition, layoffs at colleges and dramatically reduced government support for public institutions. Even Harvard lost money last year. This economic shortfall isn’t happening on the fringes, and it should serve as a wake-up call to move traditional institutions to innovate.
    • While there are many challenges, there are also mavericks innovating in a classic American way. But the media doesn’t cover higher education like Silicon Valley or even K-12 education; little positive attention is paid to innovation in our post-secondary education system. It should be, especially given the urgency of the economic and academic challenges facing us today. Plus, there are many favorable developments that warrant both attention and awareness.
    • Higher education has gone through enormous changes in the last two decades, much of it led by innovators, including many from the for-profit sector designing programs to best suit the needs of “non-traditional” students, such as working parents, active military and veterans. While eLearning platforms were in place at many traditional universities by 2005, they weren’t fully leveraged to their capacity nor were the data analytics behind them as fully evolved as they are today. The for-profit sector of education figured out that they could earn the business of millions of students who couldn’t travel to campus three days a week in order to complete a degree or earn a new one.
    • By 2010, more than 10% of all U.S. higher education students were in the for-profit sector, doubling the percentage of just five years earlier. And while there are some good players and some not so good players, the good ones are evolving fast. MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) have received extensive coverage in the media as they enroll millions of students from around the world in free courses from elite universities. Unfortunately, course completion rates are extraordinarily low, limiting impact. They largely mimic the “sage on stage” model of traditional higher education: watch a lecture, do some work.

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