Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Feb 26 2018

"ASU Online: Extending Access to HigherEd," by Tom Vander Ark / @tvanderark, in Getting Smart

"Part of the innovative K-12 public charter school ASU Preparatory Academy, ASU Prep Digital was created with a goal to eliminate geographic barriers and combine high school and college courses. Students have access to Cambridge college prep curriculum and online ASU college courses from anywhere in the world. The rigorous concurrent enrollment courses allow students to earn a substantial amount of college credit while in high school. It is projected that ASU Prep Digital will have 15,000 enrollments for this coming year, with over 25,000 in the next two years."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

If all of the above weren't impressive enough as an alternative to a traditional high school experience, ASU Prep Digital is now building out learning experiences with virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Frankly, the idea of adolescents experiencing most of their learning online does not resonate with the Basecamp team. We believe that personal relationships (learner to learner, teacher to learner) catalyze the most transformational learning. And there is simply no substitute--yet--for doing that in person.

That said, we suspect that ASU Prep Digital, and other models like it (cf. Global Online Academy, One Schoolhouse, Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy, et al.) will siphon students from independent schools over time. Charging tens of thousands of dollars for a bundled experience is simply not sustainable for many schools. And ASU Prep Digital et al. are prepared to steal market share.


"After Decades of Growth, Colleges Find It’s Survival of the Fittest," by Douglas Belkin / @dougbelkin, in the Wall Street Journal

"Edinboro Provost Michael Hannan said if he could go back a decade, he would urge his school 'to move much more quickly to evaluate which academic programs are attracting students and begin launching new ones that do a better job.'"

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

As Eleanor Roosevelt is alleged to have said, "Learn from the mistakes of others--you can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

The same holds true for schools, which can learn from higher ed as colleges continues to suffer from declining enrollment and business model woes.

One place to start: incubate an innovation culture through many small bets, aligned to a mission and vision. Scale up the ones that work and shutter the ones that don't. You don't want to look back on this moment and said, as Edinboro Provost Michael Hannan said, that you wish you had moved more quickly.


"The Long, Hard, Unprecedented Fall of Sears," by Kim Bhasin / @KimBhasin & Lance Lambert / @NewsLambert, on Bloomberg.com

"'The Sears catalog had an even bigger impact in 1900 than Amazon has had today,' said Robert Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University and author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Like today’s e-commerce powerhouse, the Sears catalog provided shoppers more choice than ever before, and at lower prices. Sears freed shoppers from the tyranny of the local general merchant and improved their living standards. 'The cost of living went down the minute Sears became available,' said Gordon."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?


Earlier this week we posed questions on the connection between the Sears parable and competitive advantages for independent schools.

Here are two additional questions:

  1. What is your school's strategy around digital learning platforms? In 1994, Amazon might have seemed insignificant selling books, but we now understand that this launched a 20-year march to retail domination. What if digital platforms like One Schoolhouse, GOA, et al are like Amazon circa 1994? What if they are playing the long game, in which they intend to: unbundle a luxury service; personalize learning through massive amounts of user data; and scale enrollment exponentially. Hard to imagine? Go back to the top of this blog post and read about ASU Prep Digital.
  2. What is your school's approach to user experience? What looks like terrible user experience to one generation ("Online learning? How inhuman!") might look like a great UX to another ("Online learning? How convenient!") Note: you do not need to choose either digital or physical presence learning. Think both / and, and take some lessons from the world of UX.


Question of the week: Is your school = pre-decline Sears? Are you listening for all the canaries in your coal mine?

Pre-decline Sears.png


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