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For nearly two decades, pundits have been predicting the demise of higher education in the United States. Our colleges and universities will soon find themselves competing for students with universities from around the world. With the advent of massive open online courses ("MOOCS") over the past two years, predictions that higher education will be the next industry to unde For nearly two decades, pundits have been predicting the demise of higher education in the United States. Our colleges and universities will soon find themselves competing for students with universities from around the world. With the advent of massive open online courses ("MOOCS") over the past two years, predictions that higher education will be the next industry to undergo "disruption" have become more frequent and fervent. Currently a university's reputation relies heavily on the "four Rs" in which the most elite schools thrive—rankings, research, real estate, and rah! (i.e. sports). But for the majority of students who are not attending these elite institutions, the "four Rs" offer poor value for the expense of a college education. Craig sees the future of higher education in online degrees that unbundle course offerings to offer a true bottom line return for the majority of students in terms of graduation, employment, and wages. College Disrupted details the changes that American higher education will undergo, including the transformation from packaged courses and degrees to truly unbundled course offerings, along with those that it will not. Written by a professional at the only investment firm focused on the higher education market, College Disrupted takes a creative view of the forces roiling higher education and the likely outcome, including light-hearted, real-life anecdotes that illustrate the author's points.


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For nearly two decades, pundits have been predicting the demise of higher education in the United States. Our colleges and universities will soon find themselves competing for students with universities from around the world. With the advent of massive open online courses ("MOOCS") over the past two years, predictions that higher education will be the next industry to unde For nearly two decades, pundits have been predicting the demise of higher education in the United States. Our colleges and universities will soon find themselves competing for students with universities from around the world. With the advent of massive open online courses ("MOOCS") over the past two years, predictions that higher education will be the next industry to undergo "disruption" have become more frequent and fervent. Currently a university's reputation relies heavily on the "four Rs" in which the most elite schools thrive—rankings, research, real estate, and rah! (i.e. sports). But for the majority of students who are not attending these elite institutions, the "four Rs" offer poor value for the expense of a college education. Craig sees the future of higher education in online degrees that unbundle course offerings to offer a true bottom line return for the majority of students in terms of graduation, employment, and wages. College Disrupted details the changes that American higher education will undergo, including the transformation from packaged courses and degrees to truly unbundled course offerings, along with those that it will not. Written by a professional at the only investment firm focused on the higher education market, College Disrupted takes a creative view of the forces roiling higher education and the likely outcome, including light-hearted, real-life anecdotes that illustrate the author's points.

30 review for College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: Higher education is in a season of change driven by costs, online technology and increasing concerns about competency and return on investment. Craig proposes a model of “unbundled” education that responds to and leverages these factors. MOOCs, STEM, flipped classrooms, debt loads, for-profits and return on investment are among the “hot topics” in discussions of trends in higher education. What Ryan Craig, a venture capitalist with education services companies, proposes is that it is tim Summary: Higher education is in a season of change driven by costs, online technology and increasing concerns about competency and return on investment. Craig proposes a model of “unbundled” education that responds to and leverages these factors. MOOCs, STEM, flipped classrooms, debt loads, for-profits and return on investment are among the “hot topics” in discussions of trends in higher education. What Ryan Craig, a venture capitalist with education services companies, proposes is that it is time to “unbundle” the traditional model of higher education — the four year degree on a residential campus with major investments in a variety of student services and amenities and an educational program focused around seat time with unclear learning outcomes. The first chapters of his book argue that this model is increasingly costly and accessible to fewer students, it reflects a laissez faire model of academic governance, and a paucity of data measuring the effectiveness of the educational experience in preparing people for employment. While MOOCs have already peaked and declined, what they point up is a need to shift from seat-time based to competency-based learning that identifies competencies needed for a particular area of education, and to clear and simple assessments and curriculum. He argues that the best curricula will involve a variety of immersive experiences with constant feedback that result in mastery of a competency. He proposes that “competency management platforms” will be the key technology that will connect students, educational institutions and employers more seamlessly providing online portfolios and “competency badges” to employers, ongoing assessments and educational recommendations based on career goals. Craig recommends that institutions take the following steps to prepare for what he sees as “the great unbundling”: 1. Refocus academic programs on competencies employers care about. 2. Avoid the pause (students withdrawing to work or for other reasons). 3. Improve rigor (one study by Arum and Roksa indicates students devote only 27 hours a week to academic work). 4. Make better connections with employers. 5. End isomorphism (all following the same formulas to achieve higher rankings) Another factor that can drive these changes are the increasing interest in American education by students from China and other countries and the answer may be exporting the education rather than importing the students. Craig points to Arizona State as an institution which has made the shift by reorganizing the university from the traditional departmental model, raising both enrollments (including minority enrollment) and quality, working with outside private vendors to provide core courses and non-academic online technology resources. All this came at a time of declining state support. I think Craig is raising important questions and proposing interesting models. Rising college costs are making a college education out of reach for many students, even while a college education still makes a huge difference in lifetime incomes for most graduates. Also, the studies showing that in many degree programs students show no improvement in critical thinking or other competencies suggest that the current educational model may at time be delivering questionable value. I still wonder if what Craig is proposing is simply a new version of trade schools with enhanced efficiencies. Also, he is not a disinterested observer. His business is funding the education companies providing the educational technologies and competency management tools he is recommending. This approach also seems utterly contemptuous for any place in the university of exploring the good, the true, and the beautiful. College was once a place that explored the great questions and the best of what humanity has thought, written and created. Now it seems college is being conceived primarily in terms of training “human resources” for our economic machine. It seems that one of the legitimate challenges in our STEM-oriented education is that there is precious little space for courses outside degree requirements.. I wonder whether some of the approaches Craig proposes might more effectively use the time devoted to education to both train more effectively for desired work and to provide the opportunity to explore the larger questions that answer why we work and what constitutes a life well-lived. That would be a good educational outcome.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Books predicting the demise and chronicling the folly of traditional higher education are a dime a dozen these days. This is one of the least sophisticated, least original contributions to the genre I've seen. The author tends to rely overly on his own experiences, and on analogies to pop culture referents such as the Spice Girls. While I recognize the irony of wondering 'where the author would get his credentials to make a case on this subject,' the fact is that the strong points he makes are m Books predicting the demise and chronicling the folly of traditional higher education are a dime a dozen these days. This is one of the least sophisticated, least original contributions to the genre I've seen. The author tends to rely overly on his own experiences, and on analogies to pop culture referents such as the Spice Girls. While I recognize the irony of wondering 'where the author would get his credentials to make a case on this subject,' the fact is that the strong points he makes are made better elsewhere, and the book is laden with flimsy anecdotal hand-waving that doesn't add to the legitimate dialogue on the subject.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While the premise is interesting and started out promising, I feel like the author meandered his way through the majority of the book, take multiple pit-stops at pop-culture references and his own college experiences. Of course some of his own personal recollections were relevant - particularly in regards to the section discussing the experience of living on campus and the learning the accompanies that vs. the on-l I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While the premise is interesting and started out promising, I feel like the author meandered his way through the majority of the book, take multiple pit-stops at pop-culture references and his own college experiences. Of course some of his own personal recollections were relevant - particularly in regards to the section discussing the experience of living on campus and the learning the accompanies that vs. the on-line education experience - but after a while it all kind of sounded the same. Craig makes some very valid points however, in just how broken the higher education system in the US is. No secret really, as our public school system is equally as broken but in very different ways. It is unfortunate, really, but the truth that going to college just is not feasible for some anymore. I myself have massive loan debt from a bachelor's and master's degree in a field where I will likely never make enough to pay off said debt. I could not have my specific position without a degree in special education, but (at least monetarily) the return is not worth the initial investment. And yet, up until my daughter was born, college - both rounds - were the best, most insanely frustrating and happy times of my life. I found my best friends, got my 'crazy' out, and would not change a thing. It just would've been nice if all that 'life experience' didn't cost so much.

  4. 4 out of 5

    SK Lewis

    Wouldn't recommend This book is lacking in many ways- integrated and up to date understanding of higher education, true understanding of demographic shifts and insider perspective on how colleges and universities actually work. This is more of a pop/armchair psychology read, with irrelevant anecdotes, personal stories highlighting college pranks and poor approximations to other industries. If you're serious about higher education, skip this one. It's full of huge blind spots and offers no true in Wouldn't recommend This book is lacking in many ways- integrated and up to date understanding of higher education, true understanding of demographic shifts and insider perspective on how colleges and universities actually work. This is more of a pop/armchair psychology read, with irrelevant anecdotes, personal stories highlighting college pranks and poor approximations to other industries. If you're serious about higher education, skip this one. It's full of huge blind spots and offers no true insights, reading like someone's personal musings or a 9th grade book report.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diana180

    After a promising start, an unmemorable book. The analysis of college costs and responsibilities being out of step with value delivered seems sound, but the projection of a "disruptive" shift to online universities doesn't seem credible. The studies at the beginning of each chapter are rehashed and not always germane to its points. The author puts too much faith in quality systems for managing learning; he clearly hasn't done much institutional teaching. He also discounts joining an existing soc After a promising start, an unmemorable book. The analysis of college costs and responsibilities being out of step with value delivered seems sound, but the projection of a "disruptive" shift to online universities doesn't seem credible. The studies at the beginning of each chapter are rehashed and not always germane to its points. The author puts too much faith in quality systems for managing learning; he clearly hasn't done much institutional teaching. He also discounts joining an existing social network as a reason for going to college, but I think it's a big one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ande Han

    The information presented in the book was interesting, but it was difficult to get past the denigrating comments about Yale from someone who claims he was admitted without trying to both undergrad and law school. I also question the projections presented regarding the likelihood of online courses and MOOCs really being the future of higher education many students are turning away from these in favour of programs with more personal contact. Look at Future.mit.edu for more likely scenarios.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    A lot of data here without consistent narrative; I find his premise and way forward to be somewhat surface-level. Craig is also arguing for changes that would primarily benefit STEM fields, rather than the humanities, social sciences, and performing arts. Forming competency markers and institutional objectives based on solely data and hypothetical 'neo-assessments' is, in my view, dangerous. His framing of the ideal overhaul as a profitable, brandable venture is yet another example of the cultur A lot of data here without consistent narrative; I find his premise and way forward to be somewhat surface-level. Craig is also arguing for changes that would primarily benefit STEM fields, rather than the humanities, social sciences, and performing arts. Forming competency markers and institutional objectives based on solely data and hypothetical 'neo-assessments' is, in my view, dangerous. His framing of the ideal overhaul as a profitable, brandable venture is yet another example of the culture industry and neoliberalism invading public education. It's apparent, however, that he means well; his critique in the first 3-4 chapters rings true: colleges have become overly bureaucratic, costs have risen, much at the modern university is not, in any way, geared towards focused study (rather, "rah"––sports). Instead of getting to the bottom of those things, however, Craig shifts to his own agenda––promoting massive online open courses (MOOCs) and immersive online learning experiences. In other words, there's nothing novel about Craig's point of view: what's trendy can make money.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Quite prescient on a number of matters. I enjoyed reading it. The style could be glib at times, but that doesn't detract from the many astute observations made throughout, in particular regarding the future of federal regulations in higher education and with regards to "double-click degrees". Quite prescient on a number of matters. I enjoyed reading it. The style could be glib at times, but that doesn't detract from the many astute observations made throughout, in particular regarding the future of federal regulations in higher education and with regards to "double-click degrees".

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alberto

    Great overview of the current higher education environment in the US

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ceil

    A solid contribution to the important conversation about the flaws in our traditional assumptions about what "good" education looks like. A solid contribution to the important conversation about the flaws in our traditional assumptions about what "good" education looks like.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anna Nowinski

    What I Liked I agreed with a lot of Craig's ideas vis-a-vis the current problems facing higher ed, like the fact that students are treated like consumers in every other part of higher ed - what he calls "Disneyification" - except in the actual learning and teaching components. What are students supposed to learn and what skills are they supposed to acquire in exchange for their time and rising tuition costs? I actually had a conversation with an advisor at my university where they told me that I What I Liked I agreed with a lot of Craig's ideas vis-a-vis the current problems facing higher ed, like the fact that students are treated like consumers in every other part of higher ed - what he calls "Disneyification" - except in the actual learning and teaching components. What are students supposed to learn and what skills are they supposed to acquire in exchange for their time and rising tuition costs? I actually had a conversation with an advisor at my university where they told me that I wasn't supposed to be able to do anything, that that wasn't the point of higher education. And this was within the school of education! (Although, considering my current job, she may have been right. And yes, this is meant to be a sarcastic jab). Craig's writing style was also enjoyable. His voice is funny and relatable, something that I personally think needs to be more pervasive in academic writing. My favorite line was as follows: "I want to make two points here. First, by quoting "zigazig ha!" I really, really my have achieved my purpose here on earth. Second, although they seemed different, the Spice Girls were just a boyband in a different form." He also cited extensively, which is always good in any non-fiction book. What I Didn't Like While his solutions were compelling, Craig wrote of them as if they were inevitable. Universities, as an institution, have changed remarkably little over the last one-thousand years (ok, so they don't only cater to clergy anymore, but methods of instruction, awarding of certifications, and gatekeeping are pretty much the same). So why would the "unbundling" of their services, which Craig calls for, be anything but a pipe dream? I understand that this is part of the writing style of pop-sociology books, but it could have been a lot better if he didn't treat his thesis as the future, and instead one possibility of many. Especially since he was writing from a place of privilege, having graduated from Yale for both undergrad and law school, as well as benefiting from the other privileges his socioeconomic status afforded him. It's one thing to denounce and institution after you've already reaped its harvest (something I struggle with as a proponent of public education but an alumna of private school). Finally, his casual tone would sometimes go a little too far. He got really over excited with his extended metaphors, the Spice Girls being only one of them. While metaphors can be clarifying in some instances, it sort of felt like Craig was trying too hard. Plus, it will make his book seem very dated in a couple of years. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marci Stone

    Very interesting concepts about higher education. Some theories are mind blowing, and some I had a difficult time following. Some ideas I wasn't even aware and loved hearing about. The author suggests that someday (and perhaps now) college degrees will be/are unnecessary. One of the latent functions of education is learning how to properly communicate. Uneducated people yell and scream to communicate, but college educated people learn how to ask for what they want. This isn't something that is l Very interesting concepts about higher education. Some theories are mind blowing, and some I had a difficult time following. Some ideas I wasn't even aware and loved hearing about. The author suggests that someday (and perhaps now) college degrees will be/are unnecessary. One of the latent functions of education is learning how to properly communicate. Uneducated people yell and scream to communicate, but college educated people learn how to ask for what they want. This isn't something that is learned in one class, but overall as a student progresses through their education. It's one of the main reasons that even retail companies require a bachelors degree for lower level managers. It isn't going away. The author sees higher education changing drastically, and I agree. P. 114-115 Linn State job readiness score P. 169-171 Mike Crow - ASU president

  13. 4 out of 5

    Austin Martin

    This book was great! It was about the problems currently plaguing the government, business, and institutions involved in higher education. What I liked the most about this book was reading about the crisis of affordability and how many students now cannot afford to go to college because of the cost of tuition among other factors. Another chapter I liked was the chapter about online education and the possible competitive advantage the United States would have if we reformed our online education s This book was great! It was about the problems currently plaguing the government, business, and institutions involved in higher education. What I liked the most about this book was reading about the crisis of affordability and how many students now cannot afford to go to college because of the cost of tuition among other factors. Another chapter I liked was the chapter about online education and the possible competitive advantage the United States would have if we reformed our online education system and marketed it to foreign countries. Great book on the many challenges and trends in the world of higher education and perfect solutions to the many problems the institution faces. Highly recommended for anyone who has in interest in education!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hal Jankowski

    If I could give 3 1/2 stars I would. The author gives a lot of interesting ideas about the future of higher education, the theme of which can be summarized by "Think differently." Many of his anecdotes, however, were distracting and non-sequiturs; the point was to illustrate that, while these experiences occurred during his college days, they could have occurred outside the context of residential college. This was never really stated, leading me to wonder how they were relevant to his otherwise If I could give 3 1/2 stars I would. The author gives a lot of interesting ideas about the future of higher education, the theme of which can be summarized by "Think differently." Many of his anecdotes, however, were distracting and non-sequiturs; the point was to illustrate that, while these experiences occurred during his college days, they could have occurred outside the context of residential college. This was never really stated, leading me to wonder how they were relevant to his otherwise good ideas.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    FIRST LINE REVIEW: "It wasn't until I was 14 that I gave a thought to US universities." Well, Craig has certainly given a lot of thought to this issue since then! This is a very important book about the serious challenges facing higher ed in America. It needs to be read by everyone involved in providing, administering, regulating and legislating education. Big changes must be made if non-elite universities are going to survive or be of any real value to their students. Many worthy ideas for what FIRST LINE REVIEW: "It wasn't until I was 14 that I gave a thought to US universities." Well, Craig has certainly given a lot of thought to this issue since then! This is a very important book about the serious challenges facing higher ed in America. It needs to be read by everyone involved in providing, administering, regulating and legislating education. Big changes must be made if non-elite universities are going to survive or be of any real value to their students. Many worthy ideas for what needs to be done can be found here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rich Mccue

    Craig argues that the "Great Unbundling" will allow students to build their own programs to meet the needs of their vocational goals, and will allow employers to look more deeply at the skills students developed while completing various projects during their educational program. I'd love to see this happen, but in Canada at least there will need to be more external pressure to change before universities and faculties will modify their existing programs. Craig argues that the "Great Unbundling" will allow students to build their own programs to meet the needs of their vocational goals, and will allow employers to look more deeply at the skills students developed while completing various projects during their educational program. I'd love to see this happen, but in Canada at least there will need to be more external pressure to change before universities and faculties will modify their existing programs.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark Nichols

    A very well-written and sobering book. The US education system is very different to that of NZ, but the need for a more learner- and learning-centred system is exactly the same. What I appreciated about Craig's analysis is that he identifies system change, not technology, as the ultimate means for creating a more efficient and effective higher education sector. A very well-written and sobering book. The US education system is very different to that of NZ, but the need for a more learner- and learning-centred system is exactly the same. What I appreciated about Craig's analysis is that he identifies system change, not technology, as the ultimate means for creating a more efficient and effective higher education sector.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Blessing

    This book offers a critical view of many of the flaws of the current US higher educational structures and empires. Food for thought and strecthes your ideas of what the future of higher ed could look like.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adam Braun

    Incredibly well researched and insightful From start to finish Craig covers a broad range of topics relevant to the current challenges of higher ed. The great unbundling is coming and Craig's book is a must read for anyone interested in how we got here and what's coming next. Incredibly well researched and insightful From start to finish Craig covers a broad range of topics relevant to the current challenges of higher ed. The great unbundling is coming and Craig's book is a must read for anyone interested in how we got here and what's coming next.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth A

    Really enjoyed this book. Higher ed is ripe for disruption....great ideas for technologies to revolutionize how we measure student learning among other measures. Love the idea of a competency-management platform.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alfons

    Enjoy the insight on the business of higher education and where it's headed. Enjoy the insight on the business of higher education and where it's headed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin McGuire

    Filled with a lot of insight on how to repair a broken, resistant system.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Allard

    Interesting read but he seems to ignore the fact that not everything can be done online. Lab courses and other things require hands-on experience.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rambling Reader

    I'm skeptical of a so-called revolution in higher education. I'm skeptical of a so-called revolution in higher education.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I read this in preparation for a retreat. However, aside from discussion about competency-based learning and the Asian delivery of higher education there was not much new here for me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Keen and comprehensive observations by Mr. Craig on the current state and outlook for higher education.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annie Yang

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather Eaton

  30. 4 out of 5

    George Holbrook

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