Calbright College Premortem, Part 2: Better management of flawed assumptions

3 replies
  1. Charlie Moran
    Charlie Moran says:

    Keeping your eyes on “the prize” is a bad strategy when the prize is wrong. Their job was not to compete with for-profits: it was to help non-traditional students to get a college education. Their path doesn’t appear to have been focused on this as “the prize”.

    As usual, great article!

  2. Clay Shirky
    Clay Shirky says:

    Phil, I wonder if there are larger lessons in which investments in online education have failed vs. succeeded?

    I am thinking of high-profile cases of optimism about online education, followed by shutdown — Columbia’s Fathom in the 1990s, or UT’s Institute for Transformational Learning last decade. Contrast these with successes like Penn State’s Global Campus or Maryland’s later version of the same name, Central Florida, ASU, etc. (There are a few schools where distance education was their bread and butter before the internet, like Embry Riddle, but that does not seem to me to be a common category.)

    One possibility is that schools that have successfully implemented online education have generally been cash constrained and modest in their educational goals — “It’s a new school, but it’s online” — while well-funded and large-scale attempts at all-at-once transformation have tended not to do well. (SNHU vs. CalBright.)

    Another possibility, as always, is that the pattern is too noisy to draw out conclusions like that. I wonder if you think there are larger patterns in the data, or of Calbright is too much of a one-off to fit into a larger story?

  3. Phil Hill
    Phil Hill says:

    Clay, that’s a good question. But rather than share thoughts off the top of my head, it would be better if I do some research along with some links / backup docs. We’ll treat this as a blog post request to put in the queue 🙂

    OK, OK, I can’t help myself. I’m guessing hubris will be a key factor in the defunct or dying online initiatives. In particular, the tendency to not listen to others or to cherry-pick comparison schools that are not similar in context. But I will do some research.

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