Can universities keep delivering education in the same way that they have been for past few hundred years?
The reason this topic is coming up frequently these days is that digital technologies are having an increasing impact on the delivery of education. Consequently, Don Tapscott wonders if the university model of delivering education can still work, while Seth Godin thinks that the increasing availability of information could make universities irrelevant. David Parry believes that the way forward is to ensure that universities protect their social value, not their current revenue models.
I’ve been asked to give a short talk on this topic for the upcoming Annual Meeting for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Here it is:
Here are the key points from the talk:
- The idea of ‘business models for education’ might not seem right to some people, like academics. However, the point of the business model concept is that it outlines how we can deliver value – and higher education clearly delivers value (at least we’d hope so!). Consequently, it makes sense to carefully think through how this value might best be delivered.
- The best way to counter the threat of becoming an information commodity is to develop a value creation strategy that includes ways to aggregate, filter and connect information. Successful digital business models do all three things. As we think about business model innovation for higher education, we also need to do these three things effectively.
- If you haven’t seen the Khan Academy yet, you better take a look. People are already working on business models based on aggregating, filtering and connecting. It is easy to discount efforts like this, particularly by hiding behind things like accreditation. However, if people can learn effectively in this format, and use it to build skills that they can profitably apply, it needs to be taken seriously.
Having a state-granted qualification-giving monopoly is not a sustainable strategy. We in higher education have to be thinking about how to best deliver high-value education – that is the only way we will be able to keep doing the jobs that we love.