Was Clayton Christensen Wrong About Online Education?

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Bob Ubell, Author & Vice Dean Emeritus of Online Learning at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering returns to the podcast to talk about what has gotten in the way of the great Clayton Christensen’s belief that online education would rapidly escalate the consolidation of higher ed, and whether or not that inevitability is still yet to come.

You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education, and returning to the show for his third appearance is Bob Youu Bell, author and Vice Dean Emeritus of online learning at New York University's tanned in School of Engineering. Bob, welcome back to the show. It's great to be back and I'm happy to be one of your guests who have come three times. Yes, thank you for the three peat and so excited to talk with you today about the inevitability of the consolidation of higher education and how we managed to keep pushing off the inevitable a little bit further.

But before we dig into that, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Nyu and your role there? Well, I used to see the vice king of online learning at the tanded school of Engineering. I was there for twelve years and nyu became a leader globally and nationally and digital education and I was part of a team that did it. So I'm I was very proud of the time I spent there. Amazing work you did there and content can you to do, Bob, to kick us off, I love this recent article that you wrote and I'm excited to dig more and more to this concept today. Do you believe that the Great Clayton Christenston, right and Prussians about so many things, was potentially wrong about online education? Well, it's a complicated question and I'm going to give a complicated it's because, while he predicted the demise of, I think half of all of the schools, that they would go tumbling down the hill and that they would be...

...replaced entirely by online schools, that didn't come to pass. He was wrong about that prediction, and so were several other gurus in technology and higher education. But he was right in one place, and that is at southern New Hampshire University. He predicted and he worked with them actually as a consultant, and now they have over a hundred thousand students online. So while he more generally his prediction was a little far fetched. He had the insight and how some schools like southern New Hampshire University could move from a sleepy New England college that had a few thousand students to over a hundred thousand. So I won't condemn them entirely for his predictions, but I think he had some insight that I think we could learn from. Yeah, I think he saw something and we saw some of those Lee winners as online education began to evolve, specifically...

...with institutions like Snhu Wgu. But what's getting in the way? Why hasn't online education helped to rapidly escalate this consolidation of higher head I think because the schools were slow to most universities were slow to adopt online learning. But that's not unusual in new technologies. I just looked up the time it took for cell phones to become ubiquitous. Thirty eight years. So the first online class in Canada at the University of Toronto was thirty six years ago. So the idea that the universities are slow to catch up to what's necessary and digital fields, they think we have to reassess that. Yeah, and so I think his and some other, you know, profits in our in our time assumed...

...that a few institutions would become online leaders, all the other players would resist and we'd see this seismic change. But instead of online education displacing these traditional institutions, those very traditional institutions embraced online learning and perhaps the pandemic really for some of those laggards to embrace it because of the survival reality of it. Is there still an opportunity for a better online education products to finally usher in this pretty could displacement with a handful of great institutions with a markedly better online product and online experience still winning out over time? It's a very good question. I'm not sure about how successful willy, I think the conventional schools which occupy now probably three quarters of higher education, that there's still on ground on campus doing the traditional things. I think what's happened is that the digital incursion...

...has made those schools stronger. It has given them other revenue streams and given them other opportunities and possibilities for older working students who can't go to the campus. So the online piece has been in part the savior of online of higher education and also a benefit, especially for working students. I love that reminder of the the long curve of the adoption something as ubiquitous as a cell phone, at a thirty eight year adoption curve. Bob, does the inevitable always happen slower than we think? I feel like we often get a glimpse of this obvious future of higher ad whether it's a new modality, a new technology, a feeling that this is going to change everything, and yet that change always seems to happen so much slower than we'd think. Yes, the idea...

...that the cell phone took thirty eight years. We always think it was yesterday and that it just popped into our life and here we are. But I think online learning is a different thing. I think we all think of it as a technology alone, and I think it's not just that. It's not just the device. It's composed of a variety of elements, including pedagogy social features, in addition to technology, that make its work, so that if we think of it as a another cell phone, I think we're going down the rolling path. I think we have to think of it as an enterprise rather than a thing, and so we and various enterprise opportunities for different modalities, for different cultures, for different individuals, for different institutions. Who will come out looking different? We all won't have the same iphone in our pockets...

...as if it's all the same in higher education. It's not going to look like that. I think it's going to look quite differently. I think we're going to have multitudes of different opportunities, different deliverances. So I don't think looking for the the Golden Nugget won't be what online learning will be in higher education. Will have a wide variety of opportunities doing different things, and so maybe, maybe, if there's not this obvious golden nugget you can see, try playing nostre Damas for us, try playing Clayton for us. For institutions listening, they're looking for next steps, advice. They want to stay ahead of this consolidation curve. How should they think about that challenge, specifically as it pretends to online education? That's a good question. I think they're all struggling with it. Ten years ago I didn't think many pro votes and presidents were buried in their conference rooms struggling with what to do with online since the...

...pandemic. I think that's on their agenda every day and so ahead of them are many, many possibilities. They think they should not follow only the Crayton Christiansens and not only follow to the New Hampshire. That's a particular kind of approach. It's not essential. I think it might frighten people away from doing the right thing if they think the southern New Hampshire University is the only approach. We see across the United States across the world a whole variety of approaches. It's almost like looking out into your backyard and looking at the trees. There's not just one tree out there, there's not just one flower. There's a thousand flowers and a thousand trees out there and it's wiser for universities, when they're looking at the future, not to follow only the leader that looks like the best. You have to determine what's best for you. Bob. Thank you once again so much for your time today. What's the best place...

...for listeners to reach out if they have any follow up questions? They can reach me at my cell phone. Three hund four seven, five for nine, two four, three six, or they can go and send me an email. Bob. You Bell at GMAILCOM and I have a website. Bob. You BEELL DOT com. Awesome. Thanks again so much for joining us today, Bob. I'm really grateful for this opportunity to talk to that's always a pleasure and always film to see how this comes out with your animation. It's a wonder. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free...

...at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (264)