Red Balloon Project
Peril and Promise
in a
New Age
George L. Mehaffy
AASCU Academic Affairs Summer Meeting
28 July 2012
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The picture’s pretty bleak, gentlemen. The earth’s climate
is changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have
brains the size of a walnut.”
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Academic Affairs Summer Meeting
July 2010 Chicago
Launch of the Red Balloon Project
Three (3) Critical Issues:
1. Reduced state funding
2. Increasing Expectations
3. Technology Changes Everything
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DARPA Red Balloon Contest
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1. Reduced State Funding
National Governors Association (NGA):
“…state budgets will not be balanced until the latter
part of the decade.”
“Health, criminal justice, and the K-12 schools will
consume an increasingly larger share of the state’s
“Many states have structural deficits…”
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"The ability of the states to meet their obligations
to public employees, to creditors and most
critically to the education and well-being of their
citizens is threatened.“
• Medicaid Spending Growth
Federal Deficit Reduction
Underfunded Retirement
Narrow, Eroding Tax Bases
Local Government Fiscal Stress
State Budget Laws and Practices
Richard Ravitch, Paul Volker
17 July 2012
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2. Greater Numbers of Graduates
President Obama
By 2020, America will once again have
the highest proportion of college
graduates in the world.
Lumina Foundation “Big Goal”
By 2025, 60% of adult Americans will
have high quality degrees and
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3. Technology Changes Everything
Study in the journal Nature
comparing the accuracy of entries in two
well-known on-line references:
Encyclopedia Britannica
Found that error rates were about 3 per
entry for Encyclopedia, 4 per entry for
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Founded in 1768. Online version started in
1994 as the first internet encyclopedia.
English print edition is a 32 volume set, 64,000
articles, 4,300 contributors, latest print edition
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Edited by anyone, 7th most visited website in
the world.
78 million readers in U.S., 365 million
worldwide, each month.
250+ languages
3,514,326 articles in English, 14 million
articles total. 22,711,389 pages
Staff of 30, started 2001, not-for-profit
Wikipedia’s Evolving Impact. Stuart West. TED2010
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Breaking News!
13 March 2012
After 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica has
decided to stop publishing its famous and
weighty 32-volume print edition.
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Think about the impact of
On journalism…
On the music business…
On the photography business…
On the book publishing/selling
The Long Tail. Chris Anderson (Hyperion, 2006)
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Other Critical Issues:
4. Cost
5. Public Opinion
6. Business Model
7. Success
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4. Cost
The unsustainable funding trends at public 4year institutions, 1988-2008
Spending v.
State approps
Net tuition/FTE
State Appropriations/FTE
CPI Index
Source: Delta Cost Project IPEDS database, 1987-2008, 22-year matched set. Notes: Percent change since 1988
based on unadjusted dollar amounts. From the Delta project. Courtesy Jane Wellman
Cumulative growth since 1988
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The Rising Cost of College, 1988-2008 (based
on increases in current dollar amounts)
Public Four-Year
Private Four-Year
Public Two-Year
Median Family Income
Prescription Drugs
Household Energy
New Vehicle
Sources: College Board, “Trends in College Pricing, 2008”; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009, ; U.S. Census,
Current Population Study-ASEC, 2008. From the Delta Project. Courtesy Jane Wellman
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5. Public Opinion
Six out of ten Americans now say (2010) that
colleges today operate more like a business,
focused more on the bottom line than on the
educational experience of students.
Further, the number of people who feel this way
has increased by five percentage points in the
last year alone and is up by eight percentage
points since 2007.
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Moody’s Inventor Services
Report January 23, 2012
Mixed outlook for higher education.
“Tuition levels are at a tipping point”
Higher education must innovate to remain viable
• Collaborations between colleges
• More centralized management
• More efficient use of facilities
• Reduction in number of tenured faculty
• Geographic and demographic expansion of
course offerings
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6. Business Model
Higher education is a set of crosssubsidies: graduate education subsidized
by undergraduate; upper division
subsidized by lower division
Jane Wellman, Delta Project
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Credit Hour Distribution and Average Instructional
Public-four Year Averages, 4-state cost study
(SUNY, Florida, Ohio, Illinois)
Lower Division
% of all credits
% of total
spending on
Avg weighted
Upper Division
Grad 1
Grad 2
SHEEO, 2010
Courtesy Jane Wellman
Percentage of Dropouts
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Percentage of All Dropouts by
Cumulative Months Enrolled, Beginning
Postsecondary Students 2003-04
60% of attrition occurs in lower
Division courses .. Where spending per student is lowest
1 to 12
13 to 24
25 to 36
37 to 48
49 to 60
61 to 72
Total Months Enrolled Before Leaving Higher Education (Out of 72 Possible)
NCES, BPS, undergraduates only
Courtesy Jane Wellman
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7. Success Model
Academically Adrift
R. Arum & J. Roksa
• Critical Thinking: 36% of students did not
show any significant improvement over
four years.
• Unemployment: Top 20%
- 3.1%
Bottom 20% - 9.6%
• Returned home: Top 20%
- 18%
Bottom 20% - 35%
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Graduation Rate
30.7% of all first-time college students in 2003
earned a bachelor’s degree by 2009.
63.2% of 2003 students who began at a fouryear college seeking a bachelor’s degree got
one by 2009.
Beginning Postsecondary Survey, National Center for Education
Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
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Student Debt
Student loan debt now greater than credit
card debt…
Will be more than a trillion dollars this
Average debt for those with loans is now $
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Higher education has developed a
common DNA:
Face-to-face instruction, self-governance,
departmentalization, summer recess,
athletics, general education, majors, tenure,
externally-supported research.
The Innovative University
Christensen and Eyring
We have created confused, multiple-purpose
missions…and unsustainable institutions.
As a result, we are vulnerable to disruption.
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Is Disruption Coming?
Clayton Christensen
Disruption comes from cheaper and simpler
technologies that are initially of lower quality. Over
time, the simpler and cheaper technology
improves to a point that it displaces the
He argues that technology, and especially the online course, is the disruption enabler.
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“…the choice for higher
education during this critical
juncture is “reinvention or
E. Gordon Gee
Ohio State University
Robert H. Atwell Lecture
American Council on Education Annual Meeting, February 2009.
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The Key Challenge
How do we educate more
students, with greater
learning outcomes, at lower
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What’s Changing?
1. The Players
2. Models of College
3. Data and Learning Analytics
4. Reducing Costs
5. Measuring Success
6. Threats to the Credential
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1. The Players
For Profit Companies
Many others
Venture Capitalists
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The Role of Venture Capitalists
New Start-Ups
University Now
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2. The Models of College
University of the People (UoPeople):
Tuition-free online institution, 1,000
students in 115 countries. In June, New
York University announced it would
consider transfer applications from
students who complete a year at
Advisors: John Sexton, NYU; Stephen Trachtenberg, GWU; Michele
Gendreau-Massaloux, Academy of Paris; Devang Khakhar, Indian
Institute of Technology; Colin Lucas, Oxford University
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Models That Challenge
The University of Phoenix now has
450,000+ students.
Their competitive advantages:
Lower salaries
Lower qualifications
No research
The community college, which has some of
the competitive advantages that are similar
to the University of Phoenix.
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DIYU (Do It Yourself University)
DIY_U Anya Kamenetz
Western Governors University
Western Go
Competency-based model
now also WGU Indiana, WGU Washington
(state), and WGU Texas
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Peer to Peer University P2PU
“The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots
open education project that organizes learning
outside of institutional walls and gives learners
recognition for their achievements.”
Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, Mike Sokolsky
“We believe university-level education can be both
high quality and low cost. Now we're a growing
team of educators and engineers, on a mission to
change the future of education.”
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edX (
Harvard and MIT:
“…offer online learning to millions of people
around the world for free.” No university credit
but possibly certificates.
$ 60 million.
Stanford, Michigan, Princeton, the University of
Pennsylvania (and now 12 more)
“We offer high quality courses from the top
universities, for free to everyone.”
“…wide range of courses from our partner
institutions, spanning the humanities to
engineering. “ 111 courses this fall
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3. Data and Learning Analytics
A method of warehousing, organizing, and
interpreting the massive amounts of data
accrued by online learning platforms and
student information systems …
… in hopes of learning more about what makes
students successful…
… and by giving instructors (and the platforms
themselves) the chance to adjust to improve
learning outcomes.
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Analytics provides:
Information for the Institution
• Predicting academic demand
• Tracking course success
• Dropout prevention, social integration
• Reporting information: state, federal,
Information for Faculty Members
• Student Progress and Success
• Areas of Confusion or Misunderstanding
Information for the Student
• Course selection and progress
• Major selection
• Program progress
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4. Reducing Costs
State of Washington: Community and Technical Colleges.
81 highest enrollment courses. Course materials capped
at $ 30 per course, open to all
Chronicle, January 9, 2011
Rice University
Temple University
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Other Ways to Reduce Costs
Time to Completion
A. 120 hours for all majors
B. Reducing bottlenecks in program
C. Charging out-of-state for 30+ credits
beyond graduation requirements
D. Intrusive advising and early remediation
E. Flat rate for summer courses
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Open Educational Resources
In 2002, the Hewlett Foundation launched a
bold initiative to make high-quality
educational materials openly available
anywhere in the world: the Open Educational
Resources (OER) initiative.
The Education Program has invested more
than $110 million in OER, which itself has
blossomed into a worldwide movement.
Estimated 15,000 on-line free courses.
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5. Measuring Success
Lumina’s Degree Qualifications Profile
National Institute of Learning Outcomes
Assessment (NILOA)
New Leadership Alliance for Student
Learning and Accountability
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6. Threats to the Credential
Free Degrees (MITx, etc.)
Badges (Kahn Academy, etc.)
Certifications (CLA and Straighter Line)
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So Where Do We Go
From Here?
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The Course Models
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Typical Current Course Models
• Cottage Industry Model
• Open University (UK) – University of
Phoenix Model
• Partnership Model (USC, Academic
• Individual Course Model
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Cottage Industry Model
Everyone designs his or her own course,
from scratch, each semester.
And no one learns anything about the most
effective course content or most effective
teaching practices…
except that individual teacher, who learns
only from his or her own experiences.
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Open University of the UK University of Phoenix Model
• Huge resources (money and people)
put into course design
• Taught by a large number of adjuncts
in a fairly similar way
• Evaluation of learning outcomes
conducted by another unit
• Huge scale involved (U of Phoenix
450,000 students)
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Partnership Model (USC)
Venture capitalist partners with a
public or not-for-profit university
to deliver a specific course or
• USC and John Katzman: MAT
• Lamar University and Randy Best: MA in
Education – reduced cost and time to
The last frontier, when outsourcing
finally penetrates the academic center.
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Individual Course Offerings
• offers courses for $ 99
• entire freshman year for
$ 999
Blackboard and K-12, Inc
• Selling online courses to community
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New Models of Course Redesign
A. Flipped Courses
B. Open Learning Initiative (OLI)
C. Science Classes
D. Math Emporiums
E. Other NCAT Redesigns
F. Blended and National Blended
G. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
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A. Flipped Courses
Used to transform courses from delivery of
information to interaction and
comprehension, particularly in STEM
Delivering content is done as homework.
Class time is used for collaborating with
others, increasing understanding,
addressing misperceptions.
Eric Mazur at Harvard was one early adopter.
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Khan Academy:
2,400 videos covering everything from arithmetic
to physics, finance, and history. 125 practice
exercises. Goal: “to help you learn whatever
you want, whenever you want, at your own
The “flipped” course. You do homework by
watching lectures. You go to class to work on
problems together.
And now, TED-ED is creating powerful
educational videos from TED talks and other
YouTube videos.
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B. Open Learning Initiative (OLI)
Carnegie Mellon University.
Free Courses include:
Media Programming
Engineering Statics
French 1 & 2
Anatomy and Physiology
Logic and Proofs
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Study of a OLI Statistics Course
Results showed that OLI-Statistics students
learned a full semester’s worth of material in
half as much time and performed as well or
better than students learning from traditional
instruction over a full semester.
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C. Science Classes
The Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative
Three strategies:
1. Reducing cognitive load
2. Addressing beliefs
3. Stimulating and guiding thinking
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One Wieman Experiment
Two Physics Classes
1. One taught by an experienced, highly rated
professor with no training in new cognitive
insights and physics education
2. One taught by an inexperienced professor with
Students in the course taught by the
inexperienced professor: Increased
attendance, higher engagement, and
two times as much learning as the students
in the course taught by the experienced
Deslauriers, Schelew, and Wieman. Science
13 May 2011, pp. 862 – 864.
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D. The Math Emporium
“Higher Education’s Silver Bullet” Carol Twigg
3 Keys To Success:
1. Interactive computer software
2. Personalized on-demand assistance
3. Mandatory Student Participation
Virginia Tech is the
most prominent
example of this
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E. Other National Center for Academic
Transformation (NCAT) Redesigns
Six Models
1. Supplemental Model
2. Replacement Model
3. Emporium Model
4. Fully On-line Model
5. Buffet Model
6. Linked Workshop Model
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In Twigg’s first cohort of 30 redesigned
large courses,
• 20 of the 30 courses showed learning
gains (the others showed no
significant differences)
• Average savings of 40%
• Increased course completion and
retention rates
• Improved students attitudes about
the subject matter and course design
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F. Blended and National Blended
Blended (hybrid) courses combine fact-to-face
classroom instruction with online learning and
reduced classroom contact hours (reduced seat
• Shift from faculty-centered to studentcentered
• Increased faculty-student, student-student,
student-content, and student-resources
• Integrated formative and summative
assessment mechanisms
Charles Dziuban, Joel Hartman, Patsy Moskal. Blended Learning.
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Typical 3 Hour Course
F to F
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Why Focus on Blended Learning?
1. Proven Success
2. Data Analytics
3. Entry Way to Collaboration
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Proven Success
U.S. Department of Education Study
Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in
Online Learning: Meta-Analysis and
Review of Online Learning Studies
September 2010
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Entry to Collaboration
Old Model: Single expert, my classroom, closed door (a
mysterious black box), reinventing the wheel
New Model: A networked world,
collaboration of
faculty and students across
time and space, continuous
improvement of the
course (materials, etc.)
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National or Collaborative Blended
Learning Courses
Three courses now in development:
1. Global Challenges
2. Introduction to Psychology
3. The Stewardship of Public Lands
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Typical 3 hour course
F to F
7.5 hours a week of faculty
New Faculty Opportunities
F to F
1. Web Design
2. New Materials
F to F
F to F
F to F
3. Data Analytics Research
4. Scholarship of Teaching
and Learning
5. Assisting Students
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1. Better Designed Courses
2. Better Use of Diverse Human Talents
3. Robust Data Collection and Analysis
4. Faculty Professional Development
5. Increased Focus on Student Learning
6. Collaboration with Colleagues
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G. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Stanford University
Computer Science (CS) 221
Offered Fall 2011 by Sebastian Thrun and Peter
Norvig. Curriculum based on Stanford's Introductory
Artificial Intelligence course.
More than 160,000 students from 190 countries
enrolled. 44 languages. 23,000 students completed.
200 Stanford students enrolled; by the end of the
course, only 30 were still attending the lecture. The
rest had gone online.
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At the end of the course,
248 students had a perfect score;
none were Stanford students.
From Mr. Thrun's class, Udacity chose 200
students based purely on performance and
forwarded their resumes to Fortune 500
companies including Amazon, Bank of America,
and BMW.
And now MOOCs will be offered by edX, by
Coursera, and lots of others. What happens to
your business model if a substantial part of
the first and second year courses are free?
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Watch for a variation of the MOOC…
the “Supersized” classroom
A professor at Virginia Tech taught an
introductory course, World Regions, to 2,670
Used Facebook and Twitter to communicate with
students. Used Skype to bring in world figures.
Allowed students to attend in person or online.
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Randy Bass: The Post-Course Era
Where do significant learning experiences
High impact – outside the classroom
Low impact – inside the classroom
Can you imagine the first year of college
without courses but with rich, powerful,
engaging learning activities?
What would that look like?
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Yet this cannot be about course design
Course design has to be linked to system
change across the institution.
If you only change a few courses, you will
not change the university.
So for us in the Red Balloon Project,
course design is at the center of a series
of even larger institutional changes.
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“One potential future of higher ed …
more collaborative, social, virtual, and peer-topeer—and where introductory courses are
commodities offered free or close to free.
That vision leaves room for a slice of traditional
colleges to compete either by essentially moving
down market or by validating such learning by
being the gatekeeper at the end by offering
capstone, upper-level courses and granting
Jeff Selingo. A Disrupted Higher-Ed System.
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In this new Internet age,
what is a college?
• Designer of learning environments?
• Facilitator of learning?
• Aggregator of learning credits?
• Assessor of learning outcomes?
• Certifier of degree completion?
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Two things, I think, will be at the heart of
any substantive change:
A Focus on Learning Outcomes
New Tools (CLA, CAAP, and MAPP)
New Organizations (NILOA, etc.)
New Initiatives (Lumina’s Degree
Qualifications Profile DQP)
New Pressure (Academically Adrift)
New Expectations (Business, etc.)
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The Nature of Faculty Work
Changing Teaching from Solitary to
Collective Work
--- with other faculty
--- with other specialists
Moving from Model of All Faculty Doing
the Same Thing to a Highly Differentiated
Model (and within that model, the issue of
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America's economy is caught up
in a "race between innovation
and calcification--between the
power of new ideas to lower
costs and boost quality, and the
power of entrenched interests to
protect their habits and
Matt Miller, Washington Post, September 22, 2010
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The Ultimate Question
Can we transform ourselves
before we are disrupted?
The challenge is enormous. We have a
confusion of purposes, distorted reward
structures, limited success, high costs,
massive inefficiencies, and profound
resistance to change.
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The Overarching Theme of This New Age:
Shifting Power
• The loss of power by traditional institutions to
control events and processes.
• The increased power of individual students to
create and recreate. The power of students to
interact and learn without mediating agents.
• The power of organizations and groups
outside of traditional providers to enter and
compete in the marketplace.
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The Pony Express
A Cautionary Tale
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The Pony Express
A Cautionary Tale
St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA 1,900
Stations set up every 10 miles (as far as a
horse can gallop); Riders changed every
60 to 100 miles.
Reduced letter delivery
from 24 to 10 days
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Started: April 3, 1860
Ended: October 26, 1861
19 months later
The completion of the
transcontinental telegraph
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“It is not the strongest of the
species that survives, nor the
most intelligent.
It is the one that is the most
adaptable to change.”
Attributed to Charles Darwin (apparently incorrectly)
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For your small group discussions:
1. Data and Learning Analytics (Friday’s
2. Lowering Costs (textbooks, bottlenecks, etc.)
3. Using Free Courses (MOOCs and other free
4. Faculty Work (student success, shared
5. Course Re-design (blended courses, flipped,
6. Comprehensive Re-design of the First Year

2012 Academic Affairs Summer Meeting