MOOCs & Higher Education’s Two Solitudes

I grew up in Quebec – Canada’s predominantly French-language province. But my neighbourhood was inhabited almost entirely by English speaking families. And my clan – with it’s UK-origins – fit right in. The sharp divide between the French and English in Quebec has faded somewhat since I moved away. But at the time, the divide

Notes on “Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education”

The distinction between disruptive and sustaining innovations is almost always less clear than theory suggests. Sustaining and disruptive innovations don’t operate in separate realms, untouched by each other. They interact constantly and feed off of each other. Forensic analyses of any disruptive innovation will show that sustaining innovations made it possible. Yes, disruptive inovations are exciting and satisfy our desire for quick changes, but they are one part of a large set of innovations required to improve the value of higher education for our students, faculty and other stakeholders.


In a recent post, Dr. Lloyd Armstrong writes: “Unfortunately, most of the push-back about using MOOCs so far has been about preserving academic freedom in teaching, and not about benefits to students. Perhaps that will change with time.” I will avoid adding to the barrage of arguments about what MOOCs “mean to higher education” or how

Technology, Transparency and MOOCs

Summary MOOCs have introduced a greater level of transparency in online higher education. They offer students a chance to evaluate and compare institutions to a degree previously unheard of in higher ed. The focus of the evaluations is, primarily, instructional content and related activities. This focus may create new opportunities for less prestigious institutions to compete.

Five Big Issues: Hanover Research

Sometimes the best way to understand what’s going on in higher education, or any field for that matter, is to ask a research firm. Because they work with a range of colleges and universities daily, research firms enjoy a particularly useful view of the landscape. They get to hear what’s keeping academic leaders up at

Change in Higher Education: An Educator’s Perspective (Interview with Dr. Jesse Martin)

Dr. Jesse Martin is a thought-provoking educator. A Senior Lecturer at Bangor University in Wales, Dr. Martin focusses on the role of evidence-based in university education. Below, Jesse and I exchanged notes about the nature of change in higher education.  * * KCH: You wrote earlier this fall that many of the academics with whom you

MOOCs: The Prestige Factor

Buried in the public responses to the news about MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) and OER initiatives from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Penn, Princeton and others is a deceptively important assumption. The assumption goes something like this: the open digital educational materials made available through these initiatives are of value because they are the product of these prestigious,