Future of the University. Georgia Tech 2040

Future of the University. Georgia Tech 2040

Georgia Tech has taken a shot at anticipating its identity and function as a university in 2040. The report “Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education” describes five initiatives and long-term projects. See full text of the report here.

summary (text Christian Guijosa)

Initiative 1: Personal integral education

Development of new educational programs that teach cognitive skills such as problem solving or creativity; interpersonal skills such as communication and leadership; and intrapersonal skills, for example, adaptability and discipline.

  • Generate experiential learning in relevant contexts.
  • Develop critical thinking skills and collaboration in multicultural environments.
  • Achieve that university graduates have research-oriented training, similar to that of postgraduate.

Initiative 2: Generation of new products and services

  • The report proposes to generate flexible educational experiences and provoke continuous learning through:
  • Creation of micro-credentials, including badges, certifications, and micro degrees.
  • Compact courses within periods called “Minimesters,” which can be taken along with traditional semesters to cover special educational needs.
  • Blockchain technology that allows students to demonstrate their learning and achievements in credentials to potential employers.

Initiative 3: Advising for a new era

Experts from the Georgia Tech believe that a robust learning database and artificial intelligence assistants will accompany the student educational experience in a lifelong learning model.

It also proposes the creation of Personal Board of Directors to create professional networks dedicated to students.

Initiative 4: Artificial Intelligence and Personalization

Introduce the use of Artificial Intelligence and personalization through:

  • Pilot tests of adaptive learning platforms to provide students with personalized educational experiences.
  • Development of virtual multifunctional tutors that act as coaches or mentors.

Initiative 5: Distributed global presence

Georgia Tech proposes the decentralization of education on a physical campus, to establish online spaces and hybrid spaces; physical places that serve as real and virtual portals at the service of students.

Besides, it aims for the development of human libraries. Having access to the experience of individuals, rather than books. That is, students could interact with specialists and experts when they inquire about a topic, in addition to having access to traditional textbooks.

These initiatives require a plan to change the culture within the universities that favor and inculcates innovation, in addition to making decision and commitment. Although this strategy is specific to the Georgia Institute of Technology, it is an invaluable guide to understand what path universities will take in the coming years.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Learning
‘MicroMasters’ Surge As MOOCs Go From Education To Qualification

‘MicroMasters’ Surge As MOOCs Go From Education To Qualification

The future shape of graduate and executive education is coming into focus with the surge of “MicroMasters” certificate programs on edX, to which 1.7 million students have registered in a year. The number of programs on offer has exploded from one to 46 during this time.

This is the kind of extraordinary exponential growth that rips apart and rebuilds industries.

MicroMasters certificates (MMs) are online, examined and graded, credit-eligible graduate-level courses that involve about a quarter of the coursework of a traditional Masters degree. At edX they cost about $1,000.

A Harvard-MIT MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) collaboration since 2012, edX has along the way also amalgamated Stanford and UC Berkeley’s homegrown MOOC options, all now rolled into a not-for-profit 501c3 that co-develops online programs in association with 25 universities and academic providers worldwide, most of which are top-brand institutions.

For now, there’s a strong focus on new technology skills areas—data science, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics—these being current hot-spots for recruitment. But edX also offers MicroMasters in more standard business areas such as project management, supply chain management, marketing analytics, and hospitality, and there’s no reason not to expect a quick spread across the sciences, medicine, arts and beyond, as well as into other languages. edX already has two MMs in Spanish.

In an interview with, edX CEO and MIT professor Anant Agarwal speaks of the vision to widen and democratize the education funnel. Anyone can access it, almost everyone can buy it, and MMs convert to full Master’s degree credits (a requirement that academic-partner providers must be able to offer.)

But, as important as expanding educational access  is, what’s at stake here is even more radical and future-disruptive. Because, it’s apparent most students won’t pursue the full degree. They’ll walk with the MM.

The reason they can easily do this is because of the third player in the edX MM system, the employer. Each MicroMasters is sponsored by at least one industry partner, currently a list of 40 which includes GE, MicroSoft, IBM, Hootsuite, Fidelty, Bloomberg, Boeing, WalMart, PWC, Booz-Allen Hamilton, and Ford.

Employers are not an afterthought, hopefully persuadable by the university’s Careers Office to mop up students after graduation. Here companies are baked into the setup. An MM is a three-way arrangement between educator, student and employer.

For example, in Massachusetts GE guarantees at least a full-time job or internship interview at the company’s Boston headquarters for residents who complete MMs in AI, cyber security, cloud computing or supply chain management. Microsoft has committed to contribute toward the cost for any Community College student to complete the entry level Computer Science Professional Certificate program on edX.

With this nod from hiring companies, MMs become sufficient credential for a career step. This is a huge reframe for what counts as a valid qualification, therein a real shakeup at the pillars of graduate schools.

MOOCs have successfully entered the game not just of education, but of qualification.

In the world of MOOC qualification, the front-loaded learning of a traditional Masters fragments into iterative stepping stones of credentialing. These are smaller, faster, units of study that span a person’s working life. As one MM provides the skills to get a job, so the next one will up-skill her to maintain and evolve the position, or get a promotion, or transition to a new job.

Mindful of a fast-changing world, iterative learning suits both employee and the firm. Neither expects sufficient ongoing capability to come from early career one-shot learning.

Says Agarwal: “Learning once and working for the next 30 years is obsolete; we need to move to an world where re-skilling becomes part of the culture. The MicroMasters as a standalone modular credential serves as academic currency in a continuous, lifelong-learning world.”

In certain fields (medicine, law, architecture etc.) a new entrant will no doubt still need a large upfront chunk of knowledge. But in many other areas, two or more years of front-loaded professional education is starting to look a little quaint.

If this is right, MM qualifications are going to take a huge bite out of the market for traditional-length Masters programs and will also jostle traditional Open and Custom executive education business models.

Schools such as MIT and others involved on the edX platform are laudably taking the long view, part-cannibalizing their traditional model now so as to create a foothold in education industry markets of the future.

This foothold includes embracing the logic of the platform, the digital-enabled connector that seeks to add value or cut costs by creating connections where these were previously weak or non-existent.

Just as Uber sells taxi rides without owning cars or sells hotel rooms without owning any buildings (while also mercilessly sharpening the cost-benefit equation) so edX is a platform play. It owns no universities and no courses. Its business is being the stage on which educators, students, and employers connect.

Not surprising then, that edX’s new president and COO, Adam Medros, was previously Senior Vice President, Global Product at the travel platform TripAdvisor. He’s hired precisely for his platform expertise, and says a big part of what the edX platform builds itself around, as other platforms do, is “access.”

For Medros, access is not just global availability or affordability, but access in the sense of education being there and possible in a way it is otherwise not for over-worked professionals, dual-working parents and others in the time-crunch category.

Such people can access the learning they need, and juggle it into their schedule. In this market “we’ve crossed from early-adopters to a tipping point,” he says.

“Delivering for consumers at scale will be the next revolution that happens in this industry.

“In the early days (of the travel industry transition, as viewed from TripAdvisor management) there were lots of different solutions, some of which had a good fit with consumer needs and some of which were experimental.

“You’re changing not just consumer habits but also industry incumbent habits: how they run their business and how they configure their product. There is not one given model.

“But we will see the industry coalesce around principles that edX represents,” says Medros.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Learning, Workplace
As Universities Go Online, Architects Rework Buildings For ‘Active’ Learning

As Universities Go Online, Architects Rework Buildings For ‘Active’ Learning January 5: Many leaders in industries going through digital transformation experience a certain spine-tickling moment when “futures flip-over” happens. That moment is when you get-it that the previously marginal online offering has become the default and the traditional solution has become the exotic.

It has happened in music, in newspapers, etc., and this is where university campuses and business schools are fast heading as education designers, coders and entrepreneurs close in on online platforms that replicate and in many ways improve on the traditional live experience. All for much less money.

While primary and secondary schooling will continue to be based in buildings in all plausible scenarios, because schooling has a custodial function that will not go away, tertiary and quaternary (executive education) campuses are starting to feel like Blockbuster stores in the age of Netflix.

So, goodbye to all that. Or maybe… not quite so fast, according to architectural firm Gensler, which has a practice area in education. It’s not the end, it‘s a renewal.

Real-world university education is eroding, but within this its mix of activities is changing.

Now that students are getting their bread-and-butter learning online, the real world becomes where collaborative, enriching, group learning “experiences” happen. The demands on the space are changing.

How to help that into being is what new education architecture needs to address. The collaborative purpose that used to be secondary has become primary. Form follows function.

In an interview with, Andy Cohen, one of two Gensler Co-CEOs, underlines his three bucket-principles: one, make design for learner-centered, learner-led education. Two, create flexibility adaptable spaces. Three, enable “learning everywhere,” at any time.

Boiling this down to places and spaces, Cohen is seeking an architecture that maximizes the benefit of when students are in the same physical space, getting the most out of that now more rarified occurrence. He talks about encouraging people to link and work and project teams to pop-up in “found spaces” that the architects have artfully left there.

In all this, education building design is following the workplace revolution which for at least two decades has seen office spaces that are open and adaptable, to encourage fluid, collaborative interactions. This itself was office buildings mimicking artisan and design company studio formats.

The doors are coming off the university in much the same way. This in favor of flow to allow inputs and influences to rub together “naturally” so as to create the ecosystem that makes interactive learning engagements and experiences more likely.

Such is the residual value of place in an online world.

The Atrium workspaces with digital screens, at the University of Kansas Business School.

David Broz, Gensler Education Practice Area Leader, says despite space constraints, universities “don’t need more buildings. They need buildings that are the right size and shapes for learning.”

The problem is old classroom styles can’t meet new active learning protocols. Old world allowed 20 square feet per student, and this was achieved by rows of chairs in the lecture room. But interactive, experiential learning requires 50 square feet per student. So the existing square footage has to be creatively massaged.

“We find we are having to thicken (widen) the programming of what used to be defined as common elements. Hallways and corridors. Now these have a programmatic function worked into them,” says Broz.

Posted by admin in Innovation, Learning, Workplace

Education Leaders Could Learn Sideways From Sectors Further Ahead

First published in Forbes Leadership July 24, 2017. Most leaders never learn that predictive modeling is a false prophet in fast-changing industries, the siren that lulls them to sleep even as their companies smash on the rocks of outdated assumptions.

But for the few willing to kick addiction to false certainties and grapple with the many rich qualitative approaches to anticipating change, one of the best is “learning sideways,” that is, absorbing the shape and pace of change from analogous industries which are further down the road.

A great example of this is offered by Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, co-founder of the annual EdTechXEurope education innovation conference, who was previously Head of Strategy, Business Development and Ventures for Time Warner, EMEA

In an interview with he expanded on how media-entertainment industry evolution is helpful in understanding what’s coming next in the education sector, and how fast.

For example, he says, “five years ago when people were talking about MOOCs, (Massive Open Online Courses) there was a lot of criticism: ‘content is poor, student engagement is low, it’s for developing countries because they can’t access good universities…’”

“I remember at the time, coming from the media industry, that’s exactly what people had been saying when YouTube came out: ‘It’s poor content in the TV industry, it will never rate, it will never work.’”

As with YouTube so with MOOCs, the content quality may be variable, but access is ubiquitous. Therein a groundswell of adoption. And there goes the industry neighborhood.

Says Vedrenne-Cloquet: “In fact, MOOCs were a formidable marketing platform for digital education, because suddenly mass populations were accessing digital education. It was a turning point.”

Coursera and EdX are now surpassing even Oxford and Cambridge in terms of internet search, he says.

Coursera vs Oxford Cambridge

Internet searches, Coursera vs. Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Pic: EdTechXEurope

“Everything media executives didn’t see coming in terms of what was happening and how to react to it, the same is now happening in education, ” says Vedrenne-Cloquet.

“When digization starts, that creates a profusion of new forms of content, which creates confusion because the customer is a bit lost and established providers are losing market share.

“So there is suddenly a need for more curation, personalization, and customization. This is where ‘platforms’ come in, to organize and curate that content.

You suddenly have a shift of power between traditional content providers or publishers, and platforms which are aggregators and distributors.

“These aggregators use ‘programatic curation’ that is adaptive learning software that tailors content to the audiences, and ‘social curation,’ leveraging social communities and social networks, to recommend and distribute content,” he says.

This is what happened in the music industry (Spotify), in the TV industry (YouTube and Netflix), and the publishing business (Amazon). Now in education this is becoming visible with the mainstreaming of the Coursera and EdX platforms.

Overall, the education industry’s digital vortex has been relatively slow in coming compared with other tech-disrupted industries because significant positions held by large institutions, government bodies, and national budgets have protected incumbents from rapid consumer-choice adoption.

The brand protection of long-established universities has also so far been a frictional force in consumer adoption of alternatives.

But, again following the media and publishing industry precedents, Vedrenne-Cloquet suggests established university and executive education providers will likewise fall to winner-take-all platforms, and will be effectively forced to throw in their lot with them.

EdTechXEurope EdTech China

EdTech investment in China already dwarfs rest of world. Pic: EdTechXEurope

Moreover, the brand protection that Western education institutions have enjoyed in Asia and the Middle East is fast dissipating. Homegrown options are gaining legitimacy, not least on the back of massive international investment.

For example, China has 9,500 EdTech companies and is attracting 30-40% of global education investor money. Vedrenne-Cloquet is partner at Ibis Capital, which invests in the region.

Speaking to global opportunity, the annual EdTechXEurope conference and education industry event week in London has in five short years established pre-eminence in the worldwide EdTech calendar, and is itself globalizing. EdTechAsia takes place in Singapore in October, and new conferences are planned in Africa (Cape Town) and South America (Buenos Aires) in 2018.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Leadership

Discussion with Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, EdTechX

Adam Gordon talks with Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, EdTechX founder. Topics: similarity in media and education industry disruption; examples of scope and pace of education industry digitization; power in distribution platforms; branding and credentialing; investment in emerging markets and Chinese EdTech.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation

Educators Can Look Ahead To ‘Augmented’ Role

First published June 30. A recent consumer survey indicates that educational tutoring is the human job most expected to be wiped out by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the next five years.

Bot.Me: A Revolutionary Partnership by PwC reveals the public’s steady acceptance of AI, particularly in customer service roles.

Among 2,500 respondents, 58% saw tutoring by AI bots displacing real people in five years,  even more likely than that of human tax preparers (54%), health coaches (46%), or doctors (22%).

Source PwC

The report’s lead author, PwC Head of AI, and Data & Analytics, Anand Rao however seeks to reassure that AI will not simply be “taking our jobs,” in the education industry or beyond.

“There is fear out there that AI is automating our jobs, taking jobs away. That ‘AI is bad. We want to remove that fear.

“People will be working with AI, man and machine together. That’s how technologies have evolved in the past, there’s no reason to think it will be any other way in the future. As AI gets better, humans will stay involved, and get better with AI.”

Rao this week presented another PwC study on the macroeconomic impact of Artificial Intelligence to 2030, at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017, in Dalian, China—World Economic Forum Global Summit on Innovation, Science and Technology. The study was produced in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute.

In its various AI briefings, PwC makes the distinction between autonomous intelligence where machines act on their own, and augmented intelligence where people+machines to do things they otherwise couldn’t do.

Says Rao, in augmented intelligence, “the human is still in the loop. Both humans and AI are learning, teaching each other. We will see more combination of man and machine in every sector.”

He anticipates, “AI can shift human tasks from menial to strategic, freeing up time for innovation and the broader, bigger-picture thinking that can lead to transformation.”

The PwC studies do not suggest how many or how extensively humans will be needed as partners in augmented AI systems, that is, what percentage of the disrupted workforce will make it into higher-order creative jobs vs. fall into unemployment.

In another study among the myriad emerging on AI’s business and workplace impact, McKinsey & Company last year  found that around 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations will be automated.

Following laudable industry foresight principles it however cautions on over-anticipating the pace of change, mitigating breathless tech-disruption expectations with the power of legacy systems and cost-benefit realities:

“In practice automation will depend on more than just technical feasibility. Five factors are involved. Technical feasibility; costs to automate; the relative scarcity, skills, and cost of workers who might otherwise do the activity; benefits (eg. superior performance) of automation beyond labor-cost substitution; and regulatory and social-acceptance considerations.”

With regard to education particularly, Rao says that university and professional or executive education providers will need to change the way they are educating, and what human roles and skills they are educating for, so students don’t end up qualified for jobs that are AI’d away.

His unit at PwC has recently built artificial intelligence applications for university and EdTech client companies, particularly to enhance and personalize the human learning processes.

“AI offers the ability to generate insight into how people learn, and to personalize learning to every individual for better results.

“As you study, AI will learn from you,” says Rao. “It will give each learner the learning style they need.”

This illustrates the human+machine getting better with AI prize, but it remains unclear how many tutors or ordinary classroom teachers will see a piece of this.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Learning


EdTechXEurope LondonEdTechXGlobal

Join me and others for EdTechXEurope, London June 21. @edtecheurope #edtechx17

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation

Posted by admin in Innovation, Leadership, Learning

Remix Lets Planners Learn With Visual Data

“After releasing their first tool, a simple, gamified bus route mapper then called Transitmix in 2014, they began working with planners. In essence, they were designing the data visualization tools the planners wanted, but didn’t have.

“You can think of Remix as a video game for planners, which is leading to better public transit service.

More: The Small Startup That’s Helping Hundreds Of Cities Visualize The Future

Posted by admin in Innovation, Leadership, Learning

HBX Swaps Content For Connections In EdTech Strategy U-Turn

First published 12/2016. Professor Bharat Anand teaches digital strategy at Harvard Business School, yet when he came to co-developing the HBS digital education business (HBX) he fell headlong into the very trap he tells leaders to avoid. That is to say, the content trap.

In The Content Trap (Random House, 2016) Anand shows how the primacy of connections in the digital era—across users, across product and services complements, and across the firm and its specific context—puts three previous holy cows of business strategy to the sword.

Professor Bharat Anand. Picture: Harvard Business School

Professor Bharat Anand. Picture: Harvard Business School

There are three seemingly rational behaviors that companies follow, that turn out to be flawed, ” he says in an interview with

“First, managers see many competing products and think: ‘let’s make a better product to rise above clutter.’ This is the Quality Trap. It’s well known that the best products don’t always win.

“Second is the Focus Trap, where leaders see many things going on around them, and decide, or are advised, to simplify to win by focusing on their core competency.

“Third, decision-makers look at best in their industry, and copy them. This is the Benchmarking of Best Practices Trap. Each situation is unique, so copied decisions are unconnected to their real situation.”

In other words, these flaws are all of a kind: they miss or undervalue connections. Connecting people. Connecting products. Or connecting decisions.

But even writing and teaching this principle didn’t stop the professor and his team being lured by the siren call of better product and content when creating the HBX digital executive education CORe (Credential of Readiness) course in 2013-14.

CORe was aimed at pre-MBA under-30s, but has since seen far wider uptake.

The faculty development team included Youngme Moon, Janice Hammond, and V.G. Narayan. Says Anand, “It is so insidious! We realized we were automatically thinking about creating ‘great content, great product, great platform.’

“We were not thinking ‘community and connections.’”

Realizing what was wrong, and being more than ready to eat their own dog food in making digital strategy, in May 2013 Anand and the team pivoted 180 degrees to a user-connected, peer-learning base.

In The Content Trap, Anand says getting things right requires “seeing how what we do is increasingly linked to what others do; looking beyond where we play to bring related but invisible opportunities into focus.” [italics original]

With this somewhat in hand, the team had another business challenge to solve: how to scale.

Many executive education businesses, such as Coursera or Udacity or Udemy, or MIT and Harvard’s own edX, have scaled via the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) model. You record a lecture, you put it online, you advertise, you make it free, you have scale.

But, says Anand, “There’s a tension between reach and engagement.

“On the one hand you have MOOCs with massive participation, albeit oftentimes cursory. On the other there are highly interactive platforms, creating a rich, personalized experience for every learner.”

“The very thing that allows us to have highly engaging experiences (small group, close faculty involvement) is what prevents us from scaling.”

Resolving this apparent tradeoff was the key problem for the HBX team. “To crack it we forced ourselves to focus on one metric first: engagement. We had nothing if we didn’t crack the code of engagement.”

The rate-limiting factor in providing engagement is not technology, nor number of learners who want it. “It is number of content experts, that is, faculty,” says Anand.

Therefore the team realized, counterintuitively, the only way to have both scale and engagement was to limit faculty interaction. This reverses the prevailing wisdom that quality of student experience is achieved by providing greater interaction with faculty.

How could CORe provide engagement richness without faculty interaction? The answer came in facilitating and incentivizing peer engagement, in other words getting students to teach each other.

Peer learning has always been a big part of MBA and executive education, where the best teachers are not necessarily academic researchers but relative content experts, whose real skill is facilitating the multiple points of knowledge in the room into a cohesive learning experience.

Once again, the winning principle is who is good at making connections rather than who is good at making content.

From The Content Trap (Random House, 2016). Picture Random House

From The Content Trap (Random House, 2016). Picture Random House

Peer learning is also integral to the pedagogical “DNA” of Harvard Business School’s case method.

The three principles of the case method, according to Anand, are real-world problem solving (presenting real situations and dilemmas); active learning (hands-on student immersion and involvement); and peer learning (learning from each other.)

In the book, he observes how the case method can be frustrating for both student and teacher. “Students might yearn for ‘the answer’ but are encouraged to engage in reflection and conversation with their peers. Faculty might yearn to give the answer… but are committed to let students try to discover it on their own.”

In case method teaching, “when a student asks a question, the last thing you should do is jump in with an answer. You let students discuss, and you guide the conversation.”

Taking case method principles online means, when a student posts a question, faculty or teaching assistants must resist the urge to jump in and answer it, even if it is answered incorrectly or only partially by peers.

“You trust the students. After a day or so, the right answer converges,” says Anand.

The HBS MBA has a traditionally allocated 50 percent of a student’s grade in any course to quality of class participation. This engagement carrot-and-stick moved seamlessly online, giving students more than adequate incentive to get involved with their peers.

However, taking case-method pedagogy online also meant new and onerous pre-course design challenges for faculty.

It meant “designing a process, guiding learners through a series of mysteries and puzzles, each time unlocking a new question for them to tackle on their own,” says Anand in the book. [italics original]

“As we developed the courses, we were now not just producing the materials, but trying to think through every learning moment for students as they might proceed through them–then inserting the right teaching elements at the right moments.”

A live classroom instructor can course-correct on the fly, but this is “far harder to pull off online. Every learning moment has to be anticipated.”

Anand describes this instructional design as “creating a maze” for students to go though on their self- or peer-guided learning path.

In making the maze, faculty work extensively prior to course launch. But then their job is considerably reduced. By contrast, in MOOC “flipped-classroom,” upfront effort is relatively low: a camera records a faculty member and this is posted online, adding in some assessments.

However, enhancing the student engagement experience after the course has started requires extensive ongoing faculty or TA time, says Anand.

“By contrast, our approach demands high upfront commitment from our faculty—but virtually no ongoing effort. By hard-coding elements into the course flow we are able to make ourselves, as faculty, redundant once the learning process has begun,” he says.

“We can achieve both high student engagement and scale, because the bottleneck of faculty input is no longer a constraint.”

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Leadership, Learning

IMD Offers ‘Global Leadership In The Cloud’ As EdTech Storm Gathers

First published 6/2016. The flood of venture capital money into digital education disruptors continues unabated with the June 2 announcement that Udemy raised $60 million from the venture capital arm of media giant Naspers.

This follows $65 million raised a year ago, and recent rounds of $105 million for Udacity and $50 million for Varsity Tutors, among a slew of online educators like Coursera, UoPeople, 2u, CorpU, Pearson CourseConnect, and Wiley Crossknowledge, all one way or another sizing up internal or external investments to create platforms to change the education industry.

As with music and travel and other industries that have been digitally reconfigured, the cresting venture capital wave suggests the point of no return is truly upon us.

While some of the VC money is going into general learning, much of it is focused where the big returns are expected, in business and leadership education,  where industry incumbents—the business schools—are now struggling to hold onto markets that are fast wriggling out of their grasp.

It has become harder for b-schools to compete in the mass markets for basic management education, such as courses in finance, or marketing, or sales. They either become the empty-handed high-cost provider, or like Wharton or Darden, drive product through external online providers at a fraction of its previous price, hoping for compensation by volume.

The other end of the executive eduction spectrum—the customized in-company side, where management advancement is tailored to specific company challenges—looks safe from broad-based digital disruption, at least for now.

The IMD campus in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The IMD campus in Lausanne, Switzerland. Picture: IMD

It is the ground between these two poles that is now looking vulnerable to online offerings. And here in this middle terrain IMD Switzerland, currently FT-ranked No. 1 in executive education for Open programs and No. 2 worldwide overall, has emerged with a fully online portfolio of personalized executive courses called “Global Leadership in the Cloud (GLC).”

The suite of eight courses (to be 15 when fully rolled out) covers topic areas such as strategy, innovation, and leadership, and aims to capture the benefits of technology while holding onto the defining executive eduction principles of personal attention and real-world application.

IMD President (Dean) Dominique Turpin sees the difference between GLC and the so-called MOOC (massive open online course) offerings particularly in the high video lecture production GLC offers. The school gets video, graphics, and animation production from experts in the film and entertainment business, currently outsourcing this to companies in Spain and Belgium.

Says Turpin, “We need to build attention among online students. Case studies were the stories that were commonly used by business schools, but now we are able to use the full power of digital technology in storytelling. This is what makes an impact. It is these stories that students remember.”

IMD’s GLC suite is particularly aimed at high potential (HiPo) junior executives, the up-and-coming tier of management typically not senior enough to command residential programs because of higher tuition, and accommodation and travel cost.

At the same time HiPo’s are often looking for more than their in-house development offerings, says GLC director, Professor James Henderson.

For about $4,000 per eight-week program, IMD is able to trump these static options, particularly in supporting student delegates with personal feedback. GLC differentiates itself in offering a personal, coached development experience that is unusual for fully online programs.

Says Henderson, “The courses are specifically designed to accommodate each student’s particular current workplace challenge or projects they are trying to work through.

“It is very practice oriented. They come with their particular challenge, we take them through steps to set about achieving their goal.”

IMD’s particular curriculum development challenge is to create a learning journey for each individual delegate, while at the same time providing the same basic course content coverage for all.

In a typical week there will be three or four lecture videos that have been carefully scripted into 10-minute segments with a fair amount of animation and professional post-production.

The full capabilities of a video production team are applied to make the content highly engaging in its own right, but the key stage, says Henderson, comes in how delegates apply the learning to their own company or own situation.

This is where they get feedback from the lecturer, and peers in their work groups, and their assigned coach.

Student numbers are capped at between 25 and 50 students per coach, depending on the course.

Weekly Flow

Each eight-week course has a specific start and end date. Students can’t go at their own pace, and finish (or not) at some future date, as common with MOOCs. Here they are obligated into a weekly flow of assignments and deliverables, which may in part explain the 90% graduation rate.

But within each week, learning is almost entirely asynchronous and self-paced—students move in their own time through the readings, video lectures, and online posting forums, and set up their own meetings with study groups or coaches.

The courses have very little plenary group time where the whole cohort meets. “Plenary is difficult. People just can’t make time at the same time!” says Henderson.

At present the GLC suite has one iteration of courses in the Spring and one in the Fall. According to Henderson, since a “soft-launch” to IMD’s company partners a year-and-a-half ago, GLC registration has doubled year-on-year. About 30% of the uptake is now private individuals.

Henderson estimates that 20% of IMD core faculty is involved in these programs, and as this adoption increases and the suite of video lectures grows, he is seeing “unintended positive consequences in being able to pick and choose parts of courses for IMD’s custom client work.

“And we can use, say, three weeks of one program and two weeks of another, and attach them like lego-bricks to IMD’s on-site programming,” he says.


Notwithstanding the early success of GLC, Henderson is also candid on its limits.

“These are deep dives into a specific issues facing a particular person in the workplace,  and are excellent in convenience, excellent in flexibility. They are great for deep capability building for high-potentials,” he says.

For more senior delegates, who are becoming ambassadors, leaders, bridge-builders in their organizations, the need for face-to-face networking is more significant, and seeing how the pieces (of organization management) fit together more important.

“To see how pieces fit together, forget it (GLC). If you want to know how finance connects to strategy connects to leadership connects to innovation—that’s why we still have on-site programs,” says Henderson.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Learning

Education Disrupted? AACSB Offers Deans A 5-Headed Hydra To Fight Back With

First published 5/2016. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has on its 100th birthday released a vision document fueling a future in which business schools recharge their relevance by positioning themselves as trusted partners with industry in addressing real-world challenges.

Coming at a time when technology is side-swiping classroom delivery models, traditional modes of student qualification and recruitment are eroding, profit-seeking business models are displacing the academy—among many trends shaking graduate and executive education industries—AACSB’s “Collective Vision for Business Education” aims to give Deans a way to regain the initiative.

“This is a vision for a future where business schools are drivers of change. Where business schools change the narrative” the document says, calling on them to “more assertively lay claim to areas for which they have expertise and competitive advantage.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 16.36.41

(Photo: AACSB)

It suggests there are five domains in which schools may find opportunity to renew their identity and purpose:

• Catalysts for Innovation. Providing knowledge, convening power, and networking to foster new solutions

• Co-Creators of Knowledge. Partnering in knowledge formation at the intersection of academia and industry

• Hubs of Lifelong Learning. Addressing the need for on-going learning and qualification at later stages in the career cycle

• Leaders on Leadership. Advancing research into understanding leadership and creating environments that train leaders

• Enablers of Global Prosperity. Helping address societal goals, including creating ethical and sustainable organizations

These opportunity domains are designed to be applicable across different national, social, and economic contexts, given AACSB’s current global membership of 1,456 members in 92 countries, and President and CEO Tom Robinson is emphatic that the AACSB is not being proscriptive about which of these forward paths schools should take, if any.

Nevertheless, the AACSB has chosen the vision format in future thinking, and visions are by definition if not proscriptive then at least strongly suggestive, best thought of like a trellis a gardener might give a climbing plant: the plant still has to do the growing, but it is being given a framework to grow towards and around. (This in contrast to anticipatory foresight which seeks only to cleverly anticipate what may happen, with no suggestive element.)

AACSB walks a delicate line in offering schools this five-frontier framework, or any future-opportunity framework, not least because it is one of the two million-pound-gorilla accrediting bodies in the world of b-schools, the other being the Europe Foundation for Management Development’s EQUIS.

Accreditation means achieving a rolling 5-year positive quality audit from one or both of these two bodies. It is much-sought after because it is the main way reputable schools separate themselves from the tens of thousands of non-accredited institutions out there also trying to make a buck teaching business and management.

Therefore it is a clear likelihood that schools, particularly those on the cusp of accreditation, may interpret this AACSB-endorsed forward view as something of a blueprint.

Here Robinson, himself a CFA and past Director of the CFA Institute, advises the common investment wisdom of “portfolio effects” as a decision-making strategy that champions diversity in success.

“Schools are in different markets, serving different communities. We want them to continue to have their unique missions and value propositions. The industry needs a diverse ecosystem,” he says.

The Collective Vision represents a collation of inputs from about 6,000 researchers, students, executives, and clients—gathered over three years across AACSB conference sessions, online forums, and user studies. It is therefore seen to be co-owned by the management education community rather than merely the AACSB viewpoint.

The project fell under the auspices of the association’s Committee on Issues in Management Education. Many of its probes were led by staff liaison Juliane Iannarelli, AACSB Vice President and Chief Knowledge Officer, who also did final collation and writing.

According to the vision’s companion trend research site, the process started out wide, seeking to first capture the shifting roles of management in society, addressing trends such as business being called to social problems, aging workforce demographics, talent recruitment through data analytics, etc.


Focus then narrowed to how this changing external landscape would affect management education and leadership development, here capturing ideas such as emerging alternatives to degrees, the blend of knowing and doing, student expectations as consumers, and so on.

This was then distilled into the five-pillar opportunity structure which, Iannarelli says, is in part putting a organizing frame around the various initiatives already happening, building on and validating some of the directions schools of management have already successfully pioneered.

This is both to accelerate these initiatives and help others to clarity on possible future success strategies.

Juliane Iannarelli

Juliane Iannarelli, AACSB VP and Chief Knowledge Officer (Photo: AACSB)

Beyond this, the new opportunity areas call for “greater experimentation with different faculty and staffing models, educational and credentialing models, and funding models.

“Operational models will involve deeper collaborations with business practice and non-business disciplines. These models will reflect new strategies for drawing on the diverse strengths of individuals with a range of educational, professional, and cultural experiences,” the report says.

Interpreting this, Robinson uses the term “connectivity” to sum up the new ways of working the five opportunity areas will demand. Each one implies business-school scholarship connecting extensively with industry and with other external bodies, and with other disciplines, throughout learning process.

He says this in the full knowledge that talking up real-world connectivity is hardly a neutral stance in the current era where business schools promote faculty almost exclusively on the ability to write impenetrable articles in journals nobody reads.

But here again Robinson sees strength in diversity. The vision renewal is not about faculty or schools being less “academic” or more “real-world,” but about being both, and being able to continuously connect these different elements that make up the education enterprise, including all of its wider stakeholders.


The AACSB vision is astute in many respects, not least in tacitly acknowledging how “what gets measured gets managed,” such that if you want new practice you have to reward it.

To take one example, it recognizes how business schools strongly orient themselves to the criteria used in the rankings disseminated annually by the Financial Times or QS or the US News and World Report, among others.

Apparently talking directly to these ranking organizations, the AACSB envisions a future where “rankings that prioritize graduates’ salaries will increasingly compete for attention with new platforms that facilitate quality assessments along a range of different dimensions.

“New metrics will emerge to recognize the impact and success of business schools (e.g., number of new businesses started, number of jobs created.)

“A wider range of accepted metrics of success should give schools more freedom to pursue strategies that support achievement of their core missions and purpose,” the document says.

Also, remarkably, the Collective Vision offers pointers to the future that are not mired in the idea that technology itself is “the future,” as so many of these kinds of visions tend to be.

“Technology change is implied in each of the five opportunity dimensions,” says Iannarelli, “but it is not just about adopting new tech to check the check box, without being very deliberate about the intent.”

The vision is about finding renewed purpose and relevance for management education going forward, with technology being a set of capabilities that can advance these purposes.

Posted by admin in Innovation, Leadership, Learning

Quality Of UNC Kenan-Flagler Lures MBAs From On-Site To Online

First published 4/2016. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says its online MBA is like its regular MBA “without cheapening quality or compromising rigor.” To test this claim and see where state-of-the-art online business education is up to, I rendezvous with 11 students logged into a Finance Statement Analysis class Saturday morning 10 a.m. EDT with professor Ashraf Jaffer.

The multi-party video-live online forum is by now almost old-hat for business education, as it is for company meetings and job interviews, but the usual webinar experience is mired in clunk—we seem to spend more time figuring out the hand-raise button or un-muting the mic or how to flip to the slide deck than doing what we’re actually there to do.

Jaffer has logged in from Tsinghau University, China, and the students are of course similarly dispersed, and the first thing I find in this class is if you have a question you don’t click the portal’s “raise-hand” icon. You just get your mit in front of your camera in such a way as Jaffer notices, and thus with a delightful minimum of ceremony we rollick into the thickets of operating cost inputs.

In class with MBA@UNC students and Professor Ashraf Jaffer, top left. Picture: the author.

In class with MBA@UNC students and Professor Ashraf Jaffer, top left. Picture: the author.

My own MBA finance is too long-ago forgotten for me to have any inkling of what’s really going down, but it does appear that the students are getting what they need.

To date, the business school and wider university industry has mostly approached online learning as a scale opportunity—a way to reach a greater audience with a limited product at a lower price. Elearning means 1000x students may be served the same product at the same time with a lower-cost, lower-service offering in what is, ironically, the ultimate industrial model.

The main debates have been about choosing which programs “work” online, where to set (global) price points, and how to capture tuition fees—whether at point of registration or point of qualification.

Significantly, the Kenan-Flagler Business School online MBA (MBA@UNC) goes in the other direction. It makes no bid for scale, setting virtual class size at 15 max, and equally makes no concession on price. At $99,500 the MBA@UNC very close to the price point of its regular MBA.

MBA@UNC Director Dan Bursch says the program is guided by a single idea: “We want to match the campus experience in virtual environment, replicating the quality and intensity of the MBA experience.”

He is also not cherry-picking for online scale. The aim is everything in the residential program is reproduced in the online offering, particularly building out the elective portfolio at the rate of four to six new courses a year so that online students are similarly served in terms of choice of concentration.

“We’re trying to build a full set of courses and electives, as a normal MBA would have,” says Bursch.

The path Kenan-Flagler took in 2010 towards achieving this was to outsource all non-academic functions to a Maryland-based Nasdaq-listed firm, 2U (TWOU).

2U built the Learning Management System–the course portal–and runs the Adobe (ADBE) Connect classroom as part of its turn-key solution that includes marketing, student placements, faculty development, and administrative services.

Describing the relationship between UNC and 2U, Bursch says, “We are the Cadillac; they are the Michelin tires we run on.”

2U CEO Chip Paucek describes his company mission as “redeeming the lack of equality to the campus” that online students have always felt, and making the online student a full member of the university community.

As the 2U site says, the prospective online student may think: “I’ll be on my own, I won’t get to know or bond with my classmates, my degree won’t be legitimate, the professors are not the core faculty, the instructors don’t care, there’s no one there to help me…”

To the success of overturning these preconceptions, at least at UNC, Paucek claims the MBA@UNC students reliably refer to themselves as “Tar Heels.”

He should know. He is himself a currently a student there. As a CEO of a listed company, Paucek had many top-tier options in the MBA admissions world—but chose his own product. “Eating your own dog food” is indeed persuasive.

Like all MBA@UNC students, the classes he takes are of two types: asynchronous pre-recorded lectures to watch in your own time, and synchronous real-time class meetings. This is the so-called “flipped classroom”—the lecture is experienced solo and in-class time with the professor is spent interactively.

UNC faculty create the content, and lectures are recorded directly for camera (not recording a live class) and edited by the 2U production team. These online lectures are much as one might experience on Coursera, or Harvard’s HBX, or similar.

The distinction comes in the interactive event, where learners in small virtual groups get the attention and input time that online options don’t usually provide.

Paucek, CEO-turned-student, is quick to point out the pain factor of small classes: “You have to come prepared! It’s plain if you’re absent, plain if you haven’t done the reading or watched the lecture, and plain if you don’t participate. There is no back seat, nowhere to hide in a class of 15,” he says.

But there is benefit accordingly. Kenan-Flagler and 2U have collated data to show student graduation rates and job-placement rates are at comparable levels to the real-world program.

The Kenan-Flagler MBA is ranked in the top-20 in the U.S. (top-40 globally). The online MBA@UNC ranks in top 3 among online competitors, and is currently 1 in the Forbes list.

The proof is in the student-subscription pudding: in 2011 MBA@UNC student enrollment stood at 19; now it is 729.

Exponential enrollment is a particular operational headache for MBA@UNC because, to hit its quality metric, it has to provide for these students via classes strictly capped at 15. In January this year 112 new students all needed to go through Analytical Tools. The 15-person cap meant setting up nine different sections (each meeting at different times so students can choose which best suits them) says Bursch.

Professor Time

This means nine times the amount of professor time. And is also creates a quality management challenge, requiring a coordinating professor to ensure consistency across delivery iterations. Kenan-Flagler has had to get good at a coordinated team-teaching model.

It is this extra cost of faculty time and coordination, across a full set of classes and growing number of electives, that pushes the MBA@UNC tuition up to a level similar to the regular MBA, says Bursch.

The other factor pushing price is of course the 2U profit factor. 2U claims a portion of tuition revenue that Paucek says “is more than 50%” but he’s quick to point out that his company provides everything in the offering other than strictly academic services.

In a typical relationship, “the university provides the academic content and handles admissions choices, we do the rest,” says Paucek.

This means, beyond the technology platform, 2U does regulatory compliance, and handles program marketing, particularly to global audience. It also provides a faculty training and engagement team that prepares its university partner faculty make the adaptations necessary to teach in the online environment.

Critically, 2U provides these services as an at-risk investment—effectively putting in the venture capital required to launch a university online, which the university may be too risk-averse or too bound by budget or bureaucracy to provide itself.

Net Negative Cash

According to Paucek, 2U spends $5-10m true net negative cash in setting up a program, which it only recoups by year-4 on average. Which is why 2U demands both a high clawback rate and long (10+ year) exclusive contracts. The contract with University of North Carolina was just recently extended to 2030.

Based in Landover, MD, the company has about 1,000 employees, and just passed $1bn revenue earned for university partners. Financial results reported on February 25, 2016 put the company’s 2015 revenue at $150.2m, up from $110.2m in 2014, a year-on-year increase of 36%.

As of year-end 2015, 2U had contracts with 14 universities including Berkeley, Georgetown, Yale, Northwestern, running a total of 29 programs for them. It recently announced a partnership with Syracuse Maxwell to create an online version of its Executive MPA. 2U also set up the MBA@Syracuse which opened January 2015.

Says Paucek: “Over time, particularly in executive education, this is going to become the model. It’s simply way too convenient, and you can have as high quality of experience as on campus. So you’re not giving up quality but radically your improving convenience factor.”

For 2U the business model relies on making graduate and executive learning of high-enough quality to lure students from on-site to online, and in the process circumnavigate issues of geography, visa status, family or workplace restrictions, all of which keep would-be students out of the pool.


Factor in that Millennials already expect to learn this way, and a vast market of national and international student reluctantly choosing lower- or non-ranked MBAs (AACSB accredits 764 institutions in 52 countries, and many more are not accredited) and the size of the opportunity comes into focus.

Perhaps this explains in part why Susan Cates, until recently Kenan-Flagler’s President of Executive Development (Director of Executive Education) and Executive Director of the MBA@UNC program in March made the move to become the COO of 2U

Meanwhile, as I sit in Jaffer’s class and ponder the experience, it’s clear to me this is not the fabled “MBA experience” in total, but it is a significant revision of the learning benefit equation nonetheless.

What I vividly recall in my own MBA experience from almost a generation ago, across both INSEAD and Wharton campuses, is the absolute intensity—the 16-hour days between classes, workgroups, the library, and, yes, parties—days bookended with too many double-espressos at one end and too much cheap bordeaux at the other.

The MBA@UNC is upending the low-cost, low service reputation that online MBAs have had, but I don’t see it fostering quite the same stories, memories, friendships, at least not yet.


That said, things move fast and the straw in the wind is the hybridization of on-site and online that Kenan-Flagler is starting to see among student choice patterns.

MBA@UNC students are currently required at a three-day real-world event twice during their degree, choosing their date and location from a schedule of quarterly gathering in the U.S. and around the world. Recent locations were San Francisco, London, Shanghai, Detroit, and Budapest.

But beyond this they can and do join residential students for part of their program, for example taking a traditional study-abroad option. And, as the online program garners quality recognition, residential students are asking to take classes on it.

Through this, what is coming into focus is a user-oriented “hybrid” education offering where students choose from a portfolio of real-world and online options, making the best tradeoffs they can according to the kind of graduate or executive education experience they seek, or that their situation will allow.

Posted by admin in EdTech, Innovation, Learning