It has been said that technology is a tool of disruption. Something to be feared by incumbents and praised by up-and-coming players. Since the advent of the internet we have played witness to the destruction of business models that rely on the sale of information. Pick any industry over the last 15 years that claimed ‘expert’ information as a core competitive advantage and you’ll see a number of once-proud companies brought to their knees.
According to Nathan Harden’s article in American Interest, the traditional higher education university is in for a big disruption. Harden claims that the traditional model – i.e. in-person lectures – has already lost to the cheaper, more scalable virtual learning model. He says that the coming revolution will be fueled by the advent of “massive open online courses” (MOOC) and an evolution in accreditation from institutions.
This change is already in progression with MOOC platforms like Coursera, Udacity and Skillshare growing at an alarming rate. Even Harvard and MIT are aiming to become big leading players in the new higher education industry – their $60M joint venture, edX, aimes to be an open-source platform for other universities to offer online education.
Having taken a number of online college courses (both for credit and for pleasure), this is a natural evolution as most of our communication becomes digitized. It’s no secret that self-directed online learning generates better results than traditional teaching methods; but what does this mean for the accreditation process? How does a customized, trans-institution curriculum translate into a employable skill set? How will employers view these new certificates in comparison to the traditional college degree? Time will tell.