1 HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE CONNECTED AGE Ca the Curret Model of Higher Educatio MOOCs Olie Learig? Survive& By Hery C. Lucas, Jr. hat do Borders, Kodak, ad Blockbuster have i commo with America higher educatio? All three orgaizatios failed ad are curretly i bakruptcy. Borders is goe, Kodak is sufferig a ligerig death, ad Blockbuster was bought by Dish, which is gradually shrikig what was left of the compay. Is the same fate i store for U.S. colleges ad uiversities? Most people would argue that the aswer is o, just as the maagers of these three compaies argued that ew techologies would Wot affect their busiess models. 54 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 ILLUSTRATION BY GEMMA ROBINSON, 2013
2 I do ot believe that all U.S. colleges ad uiversities will disappear as a result of ew techologies, but clearly some will. If higher educatio istitutios embrace the status quo, they will o loger be i cotrol of their ow fate. What is the evidece that there is a serious threat to America higher educatio? The Mierva Project (http://www.miervaproject.com/) proposes to create a top-tier for-profit research uiversity. Studets will live together o differet campuses aroud the world, ad top professors i their fields will stream olie classes to studet semiars. 1 Georgia Tech has aouced a professioal Olie Master of Sciece degree i Computer Sciece (OMS CS) eared through MOOCs i cojuctio with Udacity (http://www.udacity.com) ad AT&T. The program estimates tuitio at below $7,000 for the three years of coursework, expects to eroll 10,000 studets at ay give time, ad has arragemets with 4,500 ceters for proctorig examiatios. 2 Te large public uiversity systems flagship uiversities are formig a partership with Coursera (https://www.coursera.org): Joiig Coursera will be the State Uiversity of New York system, the Teessee Board of Regets ad the Uiversity of Teessee systems, the Uiversity of Colorado system, the Uiversity of Housto system, the Uiversity of Ketucky, the Uiversity of Nebraska, the Uiversity of New Mexico, the Uiversity System of Georgia ad West Virgiia Uiversity. Some systems pla to bled olie materials with faculty-led classroom sessios. Others will offer credit to studets who take the courses olie followed by a proctored exam o campus. 3 Geeratio Rwada (http://www.geeratiorwada.org/) is startig a Ca colleges ad uiversities imagie a future that differs from the higher educatio experiece of the last two hudred years? uiversity based etirely o Massive Ope Olie Courses (MOOCs). The goal is to have a 400-perso uiversity i Rwada with MOOCs providig the cotet ad with teachig fellows hadlig discussios ad tutorig studets. Souther New Hampshire Uiversity will test ad certify associate s degrees. Full-year tuitio is estimated at $1,500 a year or less. Curretly oly 1 percet of Rwada s populatio has a college degree. 4 The Art of Survival How ca istitutios address the threat to higher educatio? I The Search for Survival, I proposed a model for survivig disruptive techologies. 5 New techologies eable a iovator to develop a ew product or service that is great for the iovator but that ca prove extremely disruptive for icumbets. Icumbets ofte fail to respod because of various factors that ihibit recogizig the threat ad takig actio: 1. Deial. We are all accomplished at deyig that somethig will happe. Amherst s faculty voted agaist participatig i MOOCs, Duke s faculty voted agaist a agreemet to joi a cosortium offerig olie courses, ad faculty i the philosophy departmet at Sa Jose State set a ope letter to Michael Sadel, a Harvard professor with a MOOC survey course, refusig their dea s request that they use the course. Deial i higher educatio is alive ad well History. Colleges ad uiversities go back to the coloial days i the Uited States, but a past history of success is o guaratee of future success. 3. Resistace to chage. Most of us resist chage because it is full of ucertaity ad risk. 4. Mid-set. Kodak maagers ad employees had a mid-set that stressed film, ot digital photography. Our mid-set i higher educatio is the traditioal class that meets i a physical classroom. 5. Brad. Just as Borders, Kodak, ad Blockbuster had well-kow brads, may of our colleges ad uiversities work hard to create ad maitai a brad, for example the Ivy League ad the Big Te. 6. Suk costs. Kodak had a huge idustrial campus with maufacturig plats, a large suk cost that was ot eeded for digital photography. Colleges ad uiversities have very large ivestmets i buildigs ad grouds, laboratories, ad libraries, all of which are suk costs. Accoutats say to igore suk costs i makig decisios, but that is hard to do whe the physical campus cotributes to brad ad to emotio, especially alumi emotios. 7. Profitability. Profitability is ot a issue per se for o-profit higher educatio istitutios, but colleges ad uiversities must remai fiscally soud to cotiue i busiess. 8. Lack of imagiatio. Kodak could ot imagie film beig replaced by the Iteret i the world of digital photography. Blockbuster could ot imagie trips to the video store beig replaced by mailed DVDs ad streamig videos. Ca colleges ad uiversities imagie a future that differs from the higher educatio experiece of the last two hudred years? Whether or ot icumbets recogize the threat ad take actio will determie their fate. There are three outcomes i the survival model. The first is to morph oe s busiess model to accommodate a 56 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
3 techological disruptio. This outcome is the least traumatic ad the easiest to accomplish. The secod is to abado oe s preset busiess model ad adopt a ew oe. This outcome is a very difficult udertakig. The last is to fail. This outcome meas declarig bakruptcy ad/or goig out of busiess etirely (e.g., Borders). MOOCs ad Olie Learig The debate about olie educatio ad MOOCs i particular geerates much cofusio because there are so may optios for how these techologies ca be applied. Geerally, however, use of these techologies falls ito four categories: Traditioal Classes. This category of istructio is what we have doe for hudreds of years, with limited techology. Studets meet with a istructor i a classroom settig. Olie Classes. These classes are probably the most misuderstood. There are two subsets withi olie: sychroous ad asychroous. Asychroous olie meas that studets work o their ow schedule, without live iteractio with a faculty member. This kid of class is associated, ufortuately, with forprofit istitutios ad their sometimes dubious busiess practices. Sychroous olie represets the high ed, where all studets ad the istructor meet together olie ad each appears i a video widow. Bleded Classes. May istructors regard bleded classes as the best alterative to traditioal classes. I a bleded course, there is little or o live lecturig: the istructor provides video lectures ad other multimedia materials for studets to view at their coveiece, ad class time is devoted to iteractio through discussio ad problem-solvig. Usually a bleded class is shorter tha a traditioal class because studets are viewig the lectures outside of class time. MOOCs. This relatively ew techological iovatio has captured the most attetio i the press, partially because of courses that have tes of thousads of studets participatig. MOOCs bega as free courses to exted the reach of istitutios ad are evolvig ito a ew way of teachig for-credit courses ad programs. My Experiece I the academic year, I taught a sychroous, fully olie course to 24 parttime MBAs at three of our campuses, usig Adobe Coect. Our sessios lasted 60 miutes, twice a week, durig which we discussed the issues i the course; all lectures were recorded o video, ad studets viewed them at their coveiece. The software for the iteractive sessios placed me ad each studet i a separate widow o the scree, with live audio ad video. 7 I also taught aother techologyehaced course, to full-time MBAs. This was a bleded course. I did o lecturig i class; studets viewed video lectures, ad class time was devoted to cases ad discussio. My third techology-ehaced class was a MOOC Survivig Disruptive Techologies which I offered through the Uiversity of Marylad ad Coursera. I spet may hours, well over 100, plaig the cotet for each of the seve weeks of the course, developig PowerPoit slides for each video, ad recordig ad editig the videos. Coursera recommeds that videos be ot much loger tha te miutes which takes a lot of plaig, give that a typical iclass lecture lasts for a hour or more. I adopted the techology platform recommeded by Coursera: a Wacom tablet coected to my desktop computer ruig Camtasia video capture ad editig software. The tablet displays a scree that duplicates the moitor o my PC ad that lets me aotate slides by uderliig ad circlig poits or by writig o the slide with a pe. Coursera recommeds that istructors provide some actio o the scree; o oe wats to experiece death by PowerPoit. Camtasia also lets me use a widow o the slide to show a video recordig of me while I preset the materials. Some istructors do ot like to appear i these videos. I icluded my video as a part of the presetatio because I wated to create a sese that the studet ad I were havig a coversatio. I had two superb associates helpig me prepare ad offer the course. The 58 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
4 first was Frakie, a miiature dachshud. I the first video for each lesso, I held Frakie i frot of the camera ad discussed a overview of the topics for each week. I may respects, Frakie was more popular tha I was, ad he helped establish a iformal toe for the class. My secod, huma associate worked durig the class to moitor discussio boards ad let me kow whe I should eter a respose. She also chose people, from those participatig i the discussio boards, to ivite to weekly Google Hagouts. 8 I additio, I had excellet support from the istructioal desig staff at the Uiversity of Marylad Divisio of Iformatio Techology. I am ot fod of objective, multiple-choice tests. Istead, the MOOC studets completed two assigmets: a midterm; ad a fial project that required them to idetify a disruptive techology i their coutries ad aswer a series of questios about it. Both exercises employed peer gradig. If studets wated credit for their submissio, they had to grade (aoymously) four other submissios. Coursera s platform supports peer gradig; it performs the radom assigmets of papers to be graded ad awards the media grade to each studet. Compared with some of the very large MOOCs, mie was more like a semiar. Of the 16,000 studets who registered, 8,000 started the class. The first week, about 4,000 were active, a umber that had dropped to 2,800 by the last week. Betwee 600 ad 700 studets completed the term project. The discussio boards were very active, with thousads of posts durig the course. A few hudred studets completed a prelimiary survey, ad I couted slightly uder 100 coutries represeted. Google Hagouts were popular with a small umber of studets; I foud that these sessios made me feel more like I was teachig a regular course because I had direct, iteractive cotact. My course was free to the studets, ad Coursera ecourages istructors ot to use texts or materials that require purchase by the studets. As a result, I did ot give college credit ad I would ot do so i the future for the course as offered. However, with the purchase of articles ad cases ad with a way to verify studets idetities o their submitted work, I would be very comfortable offerig a MOOC for credit. We should wish for MOOCs to cotiue to improve because they offer great potetial, ot just for college studets i the Uited States but for curret ad potetial studets aroud the world. Probably because the course was free ad studets kew I was voluteerig to teach it, I received extremely positive feedback throughout the seve weeks. Near the ed of the course, a group of studets started a thak you topic o the discussio board, where they posted expressios of appreciatio to me (ad to Frakie). What is my coclusio, based o a sample size of oe? I believe that MOOCs have great potetial. I am amazed at studets acceptace of MOOCs. Give that we have about a year s experiece with MOOCs, compared with hudreds of years of experiece with traditioal courses, I thik MOOCs are here to stay. We will solve the problems of verifyig studets idetificatio, providig course materials, proctorig exams ad exercises, ad givig more persoal attetio to studets i these massive classes. I recetly read a article by a academic, writig i a leadig joural, who wished that MOOCs would just go away. I believe that is the wrog attitude. We should wish for MOOCs to cotiue to improve because they offer great potetial, ot just for college studets i the Uited States but for curret ad potetial studets aroud the world. The Opportuities Techology-ehaced learig has the potetial to trasform educatio ad to raise the level of educatio globally. Millios of studets ca experiece a highly regarded faculty member teach a course that they could ever atted o campus. Imagie what this ability could do for developig coutries with udereducated populatios. Colleges ad uiversities ca exted their educatioal missio aroud the globe. Geeratio Rwada is a great example of creatig a uiversity based o MOOCs taught by faculty at leadig istitutios. MOOCs ad olie learig also have the potetial to chage the cost structure of higher educatio. As oted above, Geeratio Rwada expects to offer tuitio of $1,500 or less per year, ad Georgia Tech s olie MS i computer sciece is targeted at uder $7,000 for the etire program. MOOCs do ot require classrooms, dorms, or athletic teams. To maitai quality ad itegrity, however, for-credit MOOCs eed proctorig ad, hopefully, some local discussio of the issues i the courses. The key word here is flexibility. Eve with a heavy travel schedule, a studet ca take the ew olie MBA program (startig i Jauary 2014) offered by the Robert H. Smith School of Busiess at my istitutio, the Uiversity of Marylad. Studets ca joi a sychroous olie class from a hotel room or a Starbucks. I additio, we hope to move to a bleded format for our part-time MBA program; doig so will reduce the 60 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
5 legthy time spet i class after a full day of work (curretly, classes are held from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m.). At the udergraduate level as well, studets ca sped less time o campus ad substitute olie classes for part of their college careers. This strategy would make college available to more studets, sice they could live at home part of the year ad have part-time jobs. A udergraduate who has limited or eve o time o campus misses much of the college experiece, of course, but if the optio is betwee gettig o college educatio or gettig a college educatio olie, the the olie alterative is good for the studet ad his/her coutry. The Threats The first threat to America higher educatio is that MOOCs ad olie courses will raise the level of competitio too high for some istitutios to survive. Colleges ad uiversities have always competed to admit the best studets, but for the most part, oce a studet matriculated, he/she teded to stay at the same istitutio. With olie courses ad MOOCs available from a umber of istitutios, competitio will become more itese ad will move to the level of idividual courses. Will a studet at the Uiversity of Marylad wat to take a freshma ecoomics course from a Marylad faculty member, or will the studet prefer to take a proctored MOOC from a Noble Prize wiig ecoomist at aother uiversity? The secod major threat to America higher educatio is that gettig a college degree will become so uaffordable that studets will be forced ito olie alteratives that do ot ivolve beig o a campus. Colleges ad uiversities could lose studets to alteratives that are based completely o MOOCs, with local discussio leaders ad proctors. A MOOC-based uiversity could operate with a cost structure that is orders of magitude less tha a traditioal U.S. uiversity. A fial threat to America higher educatio ivolves the faculty, who are the oes ultimately resposible for copig with disruptive learig techologies. How should faculty members respod? Some are i a state of deial ad are tryig to keep their istitutios from participatig i MOOCs ad other kids of olie learig. This strategy is a little like Kodak tryig to stop digital photography or Blockbuster tryig to stop streamig videos. It is simply ot goig to work. Some faculty have suggested takig a wait-ad-see attitude. I a recet meetig, a colleague of mie asked if we could just ot do aythig for two years ad see how thigs develop. Two years of doig othig is likely to put a uiversity too far behid to ever catch up. College ad uiversity leaders should ot assume that sice the curret model has bee successful to date, it will cotiue to survive. People used film for almost oe hudred years before they quickly switched to digital photography because it was more coveiet, more fu, ad cost a lot less tha film. All three compaies oted at the begiig of this article Kodak, Blockbuster, ad Borders thought that they could tell customers what to buy. They were wrog. The customers were i charge, ad the customers voted agaist these three compaies. Colleges ad uiversities have ejoyed a ear moopoly o quality higher educatio, but they are ulikely to remai i that positio. A Strategy for Survival To survive, colleges ad uiversities eed to morph their busiess model, as suggested by the first outcome of the survival model. Ca higher educatio leaders overcome faculty members resistace to chage? Colleges ad uiversities are used to maitaiig a leisurely pace of chage; that pace will ot work with today s fast-movig techologies. College ad uiversity leaders should ot assume that sice the curret model has bee successful to date, it will cotiue to survive. Coursera, fouded fiftee moths ago, couts more tha four millio studets havig take its courses. 9 The oly way to succeed i a competitive market is to compete vigorously. Blockbuster waited too log to start a DVD-by-mail program ad a streamigvideo busiess; it failed at both partially because it could ot execute. Colleges ad uiversities caot afford to follow the same path. Oe strategy is to compete by offerig a wide rage of products to meet the eeds of customers that is, studets. If a istitutio caot compete by offerig a wide variety of courses ad programs, aother strategy is to become a iche player ad become the best i the world i a few, specialized courses or programs. Colleges ad uiversities also eed to compete o quality as a service busiess. Studets will cotiue to choose courses primarily o the reputatio of the istructor but also, ow, o the reputatio of the istitutio offerig the course. Fially, istitutios eed to compete by providig a variety of ways for studets to participate i programs, from olie ad bleded courses ad degrees to MOOCs. The college or uiversity will wat to produce ad market its ow MOOCs ad allow studets to take proctored MOOCs from other istitutios as a part of their programs of study. Colleges ad uiversities also eed to look at their cost structures. There is growig cocer that higher educatio is becomig uaffordable except for 62 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
6 the wealthy. The total studet debt i the Uited States reached $1 trillio i 2012, ad as of September 2012, about 15 percet of all studet loa borrowers were i default at the ed of the last six fiscal years. 10 Ad the there is the ubouded growth of college ad uiversity admiistrators: At uiversities atiowide, employmet of admiistrators jumped 60 percet from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for teured faculty. A 2010 study foud that from 1993 to 2007, spedig o admiistratio rose almost twice as fast as fudig for research ad teachig at 198 leadig U.S. uiversities. 11 What are all of these people doig? I recetly saw a positio postig for a graduate school associate provost for studet success. Istitutios might wat to examie admiistrative positios to see if they are all really ecessary. Colleges ad uiversities also eed to re-examie their edifice complexes. Cosider the followig: Overall debt levels more tha doubled from 2000 to 2011 at the more tha 500 istitutios rated by Moody s.... I the same time, the amout of cash, pledged gifts ad ivestmets that colleges maitai declied more tha 40 percet relative to the amout they owe.... Some colleges ad uiversities have also borrowed heavily, spedig moey o vast expasios ad ameities aimed at lurig better studets: studet uios with movie theaters ad wie bars; workout facilities with climbig walls ad lazy rivers ; ad dormitories with sigle rooms ad private baths. The debt totaled $205 billio outstadig i With olie courses ad MOOCs, how may ew buildigs does a campus eed?
7 What about the faculty? If ay respose to disruptive techologies is to succeed, faculty members must be persuaded to adopt ew techologies. Based o my ow experiece, I ca testify that (1) teachig i a ew way is frighteig, ad (2) preparig olie ad bleded courses ad MOOCs takes a icredible amout of time ad effort. To have a chace of success, colleges ad uiversities will eed to make massive ivestmets i supportig faculty through salary overloads, teachig assistats, ad a techological ad cosultig ifrastructure for developig ew courses. The best ad possibly the oly strategy for idividual faculty is to figure out how to adopt techology ad how to add value. A faculty member does much more tha teach; he/she decides which topics are the most importat i a course, structures the course, develops teachig materials, ad delivers istructio. What should the ecoomics professor do whe cofroted by a ecoomics MOOC from a Noble Prize wier? Oe aswer is to icorporate ito the class ot oly that MOOC but also a MOOC from aother ecoomist who disagrees with the first oe. A ecoomics course featurig parts of MOOCs from Larry Summers ad Gle Hubbard would be compellig. The professor could desig the course to iclude their debates ad could lead discussios of the topics i the course. I that way, the professor is adoptig techology to add value to the ecoomics course. But let s retur to the survival model for higher educatio istitutios. What do college or uiversity leaders eed to do immediately to compete? Create a sese of urgecy that the istitutio eeds to be proactive i meetig the challeges of techology-ehaced learig. Establish a associate provost positio for bleded ad olie learig to provide leadership o campus. Develop programs for differet markets; beig a first-mover will be a advatage i establishig your brad ad attractig studets. Provide faculty icetives for trasitioig their courses to bleded ad olie formats; it takes a icredible amout of time to create ay type of olie course. Offer ew olie degree programs at the high ed, with sychroous olie classes ad iteractio betwee faculty ad studets. Create ad offer MOOCs to build your brad ad to have a favorable balace of paymets whe studets start takig MOOCs from other istitutios. Cosider offerig a degree through MOOCs. Create a support staff to provide ifrastructure ad cosultig for faculty ad studets. Strive to become more efficiet ad reduce overhead; look first at the umber of admiistrators who do ot teach. Close margial programs; you caot afford them ay loger. Examie the physical campus ad buildig plas; cosider covertig some dorms to hotel dorms for studets who sped some time o campus ad some time away from campus takig olie courses. Develop a pla for classroom buildigs ad physical space as i-perso lectures disappear. Look at teachig potetial across a rage of possible delivery modes whe hirig ad promotig faculty; there is o eed for a star lecturer, but there is a eed for faculty members who ca coect with studets via video techology. Prepare to meet a greater demad for teachig, ad cosider the impact that this demad will have o research. Carefully review the resources devoted to varsity athletics, which are irrelevat to most olie studets. Above all else, act boldly ad imagiatively. Usig differet techology-ehaced learig optios, develop scearios for how the istitutio might look i the ear future ad i the loger term. To survive i a time of rapidly chagig techology, colleges ad uiversities eed to chage their existig busiess models. Each higher educatio istitutio eeds to develop a strategy that will take advatage of the opportuities preseted by techologyehaced learig to expad its educatioal missio ad provide flexibility for 64 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
8 its studets. Developig such a strategy requires leaders to overcome factors that ca ihibit them from takig a proactive respose to techological iovatio. I the ed, a strategy for trasformig the istitutio ad a strategy for survivig the disruptio become oe ad the same. Notes 1. Tamar Lewi, Yearly Prize of $500,000 is Created for Faculty, New York Times, April 22, 2013, educatio/mierva-project-aouces-aual prize-for-professors.html. 2. Georgia Tech College of Computig, OMS CS Public FAQ, 3. Tamar Lewi, Uiversities Team with Olie Course Provider, New York Times, May 30, 2013, uiversities-team-with-olie-course-provider.html. 4. Jessica Leber, I the Developig World, MOOCs Start to Get Real, Techology Review, March 15, 2013, -moocs-start-to-get-real/. 5. Hery C. Lucas, Jr. The Search for Survival: Lessos from Disruptive Techologies (Sata Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2012). 6. Steve Kolowich, Faculty Backlash Grows agaist Olie Parterships, Chroicle of Higher Educatio, May 6, 2013, article/article-cotet/139049/. 7. I feel that Adobe Coect has a practical limit of 20 to 25 studets at oe time, give the size of the video widows ad the effort required to maage a class meetig olie. 8. These weekly iteractive olie sessios usig Google Hagouts were limited to te people at a time. The sessios were streamed live to YouTube ad were recorded there for later viewig. 9. George Aders, Coursera Hits 4 Millio Studets ad Triples Its Fudig, Forbes, July 10, 2013, georgeaders/2013/07/10/coursera-hits-4 -millio-studets-ad-triples-its-fudig/. 10. Nacy Aderso, Studet Loa Debt Hits $1 Trillio, Forbes, March 29, 2012, studet-loa-debt-hits-1-trillio-pre-paid -college-tuitio-plas-may-make-a-comeback/; Adrew Marti, A Big Default Problem, but How Big? New York Times, September 8, 2012, a-big-studet-loa-default-problem-but-how -big.html. 11. Joh Hechiger, The Troublig Dea-to -Professor Ratio, Bloomberg Busiessweek, November 21, 2012, -professor-ratio. 12. Adrew Marti, Buildig a Showcase Campus, Usig a I.O.U., New York Times, December 13, 2012, busiess/colleges-debt-falls-o-studets-after -costructio-biges.html?pagewated=all& _r= Hery C. Lucas, Jr. The text of this article is licesed uder the Creative Commos Attributio (by) 3.0 Uported Licese. Hery C. Lucas, Jr. rhsmith.umd.edu) is the Robert H. Smith Professor of Iformatio Systems at the Robert H. Smith School of Busiess, Uiversity of Marylad, College Park. 66 EDUCAUSEreview SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013