Disruptive Educational Technology: Doom U?
... the day is coming—sooner than many people think—when a great deal of money is going to abruptly melt out of the higher education system, just as it has in scores of other industries that traffic in information that is now far cheaper and more easily accessible than it has ever been before. Much of that money will end up in the pockets of students in the form of lower prices, a boon and a necessity in a time when higher education is the key to prosperity. Colleges will specialize where they have comparative advantage, rather than trying to be all things to all people. A lot of silly, too-expensive things—vainglorious building projects, money-sucking sports programs, tenured professors who contribute little in the way of teaching or research—will fade from memory, and won’t be missed._WashingtonMonthlyBurck Smith is an internet entrepreneur who pioneered online 24/7 tutoring with the online service SmartThinking, in 1999. Smith followed his early success with StraighterLine, an online set of easily accredited introductory university courses available for $99 a month.
As Smith's online educational technologies have fought their way against the well-entrenched "educational-industrial complex," Smith learned many lessons about how to deal with triassic era education. It costs almost nothing to store and communicate fixed content over the net. By supplementing cheap online course materials and lectures with always-available online tutors, Smith learned to provide a more useful service to first year students than universities themselves provided -- and for a much lower cost.
The zombies of higher ed are fighting back, of course. There is a lot of money and prestige at stake, and one must not expect the vampires of the ivy to fade away quietly. But as the economic foundations of the obsolete indoctrination centers crumble, the rotten core must eventually be exposed to its angry victims and their parents. It will not be pretty.
But the immediate aftermath of distruptive technologies is rarely pretty. No, it is the long term healthy growth made possible by tearing down the dysfunctional obstacles, which is the goal of the disruptive technologists. That, and the profit to be made by creating the space for that healthy long term growth.