Disruptive innovation in higher education

From Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Louis Caldera, and Louis Soares:

Disruptive innovation is the process by which a sector that has previously served only a limited few, because its products and services were complicated, expensive, and inaccessible, is transformed into one whose products and services are simple, affordable, and convenient and serves many no matter their wealth or expertise

Changing circumstances mandate that we shift the focus of higher education policy away from how to enable more students to afford higher education to how we can make a quality postsecondary education affordable

The challenge before the country also mandates a new definition of quality from the perspective of students — so that the education is valuable to them and that through it they improve their lives and thus improve the country’s fortunes, too…

Degrees are a proxy for skill attainment, but they are far from a perfect one, as seen in the amount of retraining that employers do as well as the current unemployment figures. Real outcomes and real mastery—as often shown in work portfolios for example—are more important…

It is critical to promote new, autonomous business models that have the freedom to re-imagine higher education. Policymakers should not frame the disruptive players as threats, and instead see them as opportunities to bring affordable education to more people.