Just thinking about how higher education will unbundle won’t be enough

online-learning-unbundling

With the explosion of online learning, a disruptive innovation, there has been significant attention paid to the likely unbundling of higher education (see Michael Staton’s AEI piece and this University Ventures Fund piece, for example).

The Clayton Christensen Institute has written unbundling recently. In every industry, the early successful products and services often have an interdependent architecture—meaning that they tend to be proprietary and bundled.

The reason for this is that when a technology is immature, in order to make the products reliable or powerful enough so that they will gain traction, an entity has to wrap its hands around the whole system architecture so that it can wring out every ounce of performance.

As a technology matures, however, it eventually overshoots the raw performance that many customers need. As a result, new disruptive innovations emerge that are more modular—or unbundled—as customers become less willing to pay for things like power and increased reliability but instead prioritize the ability to customize affordably by mixing and matching different pieces that fit together according to precise standards.

As one-off courses in education and programs like General Assembly and Dev Bootcamp emerge, we are seeing the beginning of unbundling in courses, content, credentialing, campus life and personal growth, and more.

(Next page: The flip side to unbundling)


Add your opinion to the discussion.