It seems like yesterday that Clayton Christensen, with colleagues Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson, published Disrupting Class, in which bold predictions of college closures equivalent to the dust bowls would occur by 2020 and mass customization would drive greater personalization and affordability in higher education. Many of these provocative claims have failed to fully be realized. And yet, if you were to ask most education technology thought leaders, the promise of digital courseware with machine learning powered by AI alongside big data analytic capabilities that help drive targeted engaging content is a promising solution to improve student outcomes in higher education. So why is higher education slower to adopt these promising solutions, especially with so many examples of technological transformation and disruption all around us?
Over the past 5+ years, there has been a steady trend towards not just replicating the traditional textbook in electronic form, but creating interactive and adaptive learning products that are used in lieu of a textbook (e.g. MyLabs, ALEKS, Connect). We broadly group these products under the umbrella of ‘interactive courseware.’ The underlying technology for these advancements has been around for 20+ years and casual industry observers may look at this evolution and ask “why has it been so slow to take off?”
When we speak with prospective clients or work with academic peers, they often tell us their top goal is to lower costs for students. Yet when we dive deeper into what students’ average cost is today and what their objective is, they are often unaware of their current metrics and don’t have a crisp definition of success.
Using a course materials strategy to improve academic performance and financial stability
We are saddened by the senseless, tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans in these recent weeks. What we witnessed in the past few weeks speak to an injustice that we as a nation cannot deny. Racism, in all of its forms, is unacceptable. We must honestly address the issues that underlie these societal divisions in order to make real, systemic change.
A few hours ago, the CSU system announced that the majority of their classes will be held predominately online in the fall. As a system, CSU comprises 23 individual institutions and 500,000 students. It is one of the largest systems in the United States and, as a bellwether, will surely drive additional institutions to contemplate similar actions for the fall.
This domino is the latest to fall as the rules relative to higher education – and our lives – are rewritten due to COVID-19. Basic activities such as recruiting prospective students by touring the campus have been upended and we now face the very real prospect of classes being held online through the end of 2020.