A year of higher education aha moments

It has been a year since I arrived at the American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington, D.C., a 22-year veteran of the University of California and most recently the dean of UCLA Extension, charged with tackling the task of helping define and craft a national agenda for helping more Americans gain college degrees, certificates or other higher education credentials.

It’s a natural time to reflect on lessons learned about postsecondary attainment, the role innovation might play in boosting attainment rates for nontraditional students and how to help the broader higher education community understand the major issues holding us back from achieving great strides.

… Institutional business models often rest on a foundation of high enrollment, lower division courses subsidizing other parts of the academic enterprise. Questions have emerged about whether the traditional model can continue. There is talk of major disruption from low cost providers outside the traditional academy. Should the low cost general education disruption take hold, this does not bode well for the financial health of many institutions.

For example, the rapid rise of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, in the summer of 2012 had many of us in the higher education community asking whether this represented a way to scale up postsecondary education with positive learning outcomes while also drastically increasing access and reducing costs for degree seeking students.

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