I love studying/being part of higher education right now. It is the perfect confluence of my startup experiences/business education and my PhD research and teaching/work at the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship. I am by no means part of the industry elite — never been to an ACE event or even a traditional academic conference — but I do enjoy reading about them. From Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed:
The council says it wants more students to earn college credit for learning that occurs outside the college classroom. Some of these credit pathways are trendy and new; others have been around for decades. But interest in prior learning assessment has grown rapidly, particularly during the last six months, and ACE is riding the wave.
ACE’s leaders say they are giving a boost to alternative credit pathways because of the college “completion agenda,” work force development and money worries that are buffeting colleges.“We are experiencing a confluence of forces of change,” Molly Broad, the council’s president, recently told the University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents. “All of this coming together is persuasive that business as usual is not in the future cards and we must innovate.
“While it’s known primarily as a lobby and membership group, ACE, whose annual meeting opened Sunday, has long had a hand in prior learning assessment. The council started issuing credit recommendations for military service shortly after World War II, and added the assessment of corporate training programs for credit in 1974. These days students can get transcripts for ACE’s credit recommendations for $20 a pop. The council has issued 63,000 credit transcripts since 2001.
The article goes on to explain in great detail the recent, large push towards awarding credits for ‘alternative’ learning — ie work experience or MOOCs and a variety of other options. Its an interesting debate and it underscores how much people still value degrees even with the push to self-led learning (Uncollege), dropping out, badges, and all of the other opportunities being presented to today’s learners. Degree attainment is a policy goal of President Obama and many other leaders — whether it crosses a point of diminishing returns. But with technology, budget challenges, debt reflux, etc… its a really interesting time for higher education.
Btw, for many colleges these alternative credits could be a gold mine. Its kind of like Amazon.com’s marketplace — where Amazon.com plays host to a buyer and seller and collects basic fees, and often upsells both parties on more items/services. This business model is much more high margin (profitable) than Amazon actually stocking and selling things themselves.
Also, while we are talking Amazon, lets think Kindle/ebook model — digital products served on demand with few physical activities and interactions before, during or after the sale. MOOCs/distance are the proxy for higher education. Like the Amazon marketplace model, this model should be higher margin than traditional sales, distribution, delivery, and service — even compared to Amazon’s original model of selling books online only (which was radical at the time).
Enjoy Fain’s piece and let me know what ACE’s angle is?