By Michael Horn
When massive open online courses, or MOOCs, took the world by storm in 2012, all too often the description of them was accompanied by an adjective: disruptive. The implication? They were clearly disruptive innovations destined to transform learning.
Although the three companies most associated with the term MOOC—Coursera, edX, and Udacity—may end up being disruptive and help transform learning worldwide, early on it was clear that, properly and narrowly defined, in and of themselves MOOCs were unlikely to be disruptive innovations relative to traditional colleges and universities. Although they bore many markers of disruption, when defined narrowly, they lacked a business model innovation that would allow their disruptive value proposition to be sustainable and move up-market over time. And given their original reliance on traditional college and university faculty, it was doubtful that they could harness the power of online learning to move up-market along the dimension that would matter most to their success: teaching and learning.
Instead, at the Christensen Institute, our view has long been that the online, competency-based colleges and universities emerging over the past few years have held far more disruptive potential relative to many traditional colleges and universities.
In my colleague Michelle R. Weise’s just released free mini-book, Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, she, along with Clayton Christensen, make the case for why—as well as explain why this disruption could be great for improving student learning, helping all students accomplish real jobs in their lives, and extending access to higher-quality learning experiences to those who would otherwise not have them.
As they argue, online, competency-based schools represent the right learning model—focused on actual mastery of knowledge, skills, and dispositions—with the right technology of online learning, targeted at the right customers—nonconsumers who are over-served by the value proposition that traditional colleges and universities offer and searching for a new value proposition from college aligned around workforce needs—paired with the right business model that is low cost, low-priced, and sustainable.
[ Full article available at Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2014/07/31/move-over-moocs-its-online-competency-time/ ]