The Future of Learning | Gary Metcalf | March 13, 2013 | Rethinking Complexity (Saybrook U)

Higher education has innovators dilemma with MOOCs, says @claychristensen, via Gary Metcalf, who cites Bela H. Banathy.

Howe: Why is higher education vulnerable?

Christensen: The availability of online learning. It will take root in its simplest applications, then just get better and better. You know, Harvard Business School doesn’t teach accounting anymore, because there’s a guy out of BYU whose online accounting course is so good. He is extraordinary, and our accounting faculty, on average, is average.

Howe: What happens to all our institutions of advanced learning?

Christensen: Some will survive. Most will evolve hybrid models, in which universities license some courses from an online provider like Coursera but then provide more-specialized courses in person. Hybrids are actually a principle regardless of industry. If you want to use a new technology in a mainstream existing market, it has to be a hybrid. It’s like the electric car. If you want to have a viable electric car, you have to ask if there is a market where the customers want a car that won’t go far or fast. The answer is, parents of teenagers would love to put their teens in a car that won’t go far or fast. Little by little, the technology will emerge to take it on longer trips. But if you want to have this new technology employed on the California freeways right now, it has to be a hybrid like a Prius, where you take the best of the old with the best of the new.

Excerpted from Clayton Christensen Wants to Transform Capitalism | Jeff Howe | Feb. 12, 2013 | at

The needs of current students may not be sufficiently well aligned with the industrial mode of education from the 18th century.

Young people need enough education and training to enter productively into the economy. They also need the chance to continue to learn as challenges and opportunities arise for them.

Organizations cannot continue to treat human resources as ore to be mined. Knowledge is not something produced by the Earth to be exploited as it found useful. Learning is a collective process. It requires sharing and investment.

The communication technologies that we have today are truly amazing, but they will not solve problems or produce knowledge by themselves. Bela H. Banathy, who founded the systems program at Saybrook many years ago, used to explain that we still lived in a world of 18th century education. Professors (subject experts) stood in front of students in desks (the receivers of the input) to convey knowledge, like material being poured into a contained. Taking that system and putting it online is not an improvement.

We need, fundamentally, to rethink what we are doing, and why. What knowledge is needed, when, and by whom, for what purpose? What skills can be developed that add both value and capacity for new learning? How do we share knowledge efficiently and productively while also rewarding the people involved fairly?

The Future of Learning | Gary Metcalf | March 13, 2013 | Rethinking Complexity (Saybrook U) at

This thread continues on findings made by Clayton Christensen some in a 2004 conference talk, excerpted at

Clayton Christensen Wants to Transform Capitalism


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