How a struggling university became the Amazon.com of education

Published: Friday, Jan. 3 2014 3:05 p.m. MST

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Southern New Hampshire University has managed to go from struggling to a leader in online courses in just a few years using advice from Mormon businessman Clay Christensen, according to recent article in Slate by Gabriel Kahn.

Instead of acting like a traditional university, SNHU has made the switch to offering a large catalogue of online classes and treating students like customers instead of students.

"'We are super-focused on customer service, which is a phrase that most universities can’t even use,” says SNHU’s president, Paul LeBlanc, in the article.

“When LeBlanc took over in 2003, SNHU was struggling… He had long been friends with Clay Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor and author of the groundbreaking book The Innovator’s Dilemma, which examines the impacts of disruptive technologies on traditional industries. LeBlanc made Christensen an SNHU trustee and consulted extensively with him about embracing online education as a way to escape what seemed like certain decline.”

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and a writer for the Deseretnews.com Opinion section and Brandview. Email Freeman at fstevenson@deseretdigital.com

Read more on Slate.

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