Sunday, March 10, 2013

In 15 Years Half Of U.S. Universities Will Be In Bankruptcy

So says Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and the author of The Innovator's Dilemma and Disrupting Class (via Mark Suster):

Is he right? I don't know, but he could be. (He's previously predicted that half of all high school courses will be online by 2018 or so, and while the jury is still out on that, we are certainly seeing a huge increase in that area.)

This brings to mind two ideas:
  1. If he's right, then just about the time that the first cohort of students to completely matriculate through the Common Core graduates from high school, what they will be graduating into is going to look vastly different than how it looks today (and, I think, vastly different than the Common Core assumes it's going to look).

  2. Christensen talks frequently about the advantages of "open and modular systems." I'm not smart enough to completely understand how that might transfer to education (K-12 and/or Higher Ed), but I'm not seeing how many of the current reform efforts are trending in that direction. Modular perhaps (in some ways), but certainly not open.
While Christensen focuses almost exclusively on the business/employment side of getting an education (after all, he is a Professor in the Business School), and I believe there is more to education than just career preparation, I still think many (most?) in education are ignoring the very real disruptions that are about to occur (whether we agree with their end result or not).

In my own district, I've heard little or no discussion about the impact of various disruptions coming at us including, but not limited to, 1:1 (or 2 or 3:1, devices:student), online learning, blended learning, and universal vouchers. Much as military leaders have the tendency to "fight the last war," I fear that our leaders in education are "educating for the last century."

I worry that most of today's dominant education reform ideas are just as bankrupt as Christensen predicts universities are going to be fifteen years from now.


  1. This is a very intersting article and idea that you have presented here. I agree that I have not heard a whole lot about the impact various disruptions are going to have in my district. Similar to your findings about 1:1, online learning, and blended learning. Christensen makes some great points here in this video and also in his "Disrupting Class" book. Only time will tell if what he is proposing is true, however I think he in on to something and maybe more people should pay attention.

  2. Higher Ed will be impacted first but high schools are not far behind. I fear that far too many teachers will not see the train coming.