Online undergraduate and graduate college programs are growing at 15 percent a year, but will soon be a thing of the past.
As will campus-based programs. Both will give way to an agile approach in which the technology and design of a program are indifferent to modality. Courses will be online, on-campus, or a blend of the two; marketing and recruiting will be integrated, as will student support and placement.
Agile programs will enjoy a substantial cost, convenience, and quality advantage over online and campus-based programs. And while academia isn’t quite there yet, a review of changes in online higher ed and commerce over the past 15 years presents the compelling case that this level of integration between and among traditional and online offerings is inevitable.
An Agile Model
The agile model is not unique to education. Fifteen years ago, companies didn’t know what to do with the internet. They knew it was important and that people were investing heavily, but they could not figure out how to integrate it into their core practice. Many set up online divisions separate from their core, and funded them separately.
This model allowed them to experiment, but had substantial downside; for example, if you bought something at The Gap online, returning it at a store was impossible. Eventually, successful companies created a unified experience for their customers. Amazon has 30,000 lockers in stores near you and, now, most retailers allow you to shop online and pick up at the store.
It’s easy for a higher ed administrator to think his or her programs are agile, but almost none of them are right now.