Comments about ‘Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring explain why higher education is in crisis and how it needs to change’

Return to article »

Published: Saturday, May 14 2011 11:00 p.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
kaysville, ut

I went into instructional technology many years ago for this exact purpose. I have watched many faculty members embrace this model and flourish with the added tools given to them. I have also watched others who have fallen prey to the real fear from the changing technologies and methodologies.

I am glad to see this book coming out and will enjoy reading it. Thank you Bro Christensen and Eyring for taking the time to compile the studies and thoughts and putting them into print.

Kearns, UT

I'm here to say these guys are wrong and must be MBA bean counters. While it maximize profit it demeans higher education. On line college classes should not be given more credit than a supplement to high school level learning.

I can understand teachers and colleges loving this plan, it minimizes their involvement but it is not college level learning. And in most colleges many classes are taught by other students, not the professors. It is my own preference that if I am going to spend my money or the government money on my education, I would prefer having qualified teachers giving the classes and lectures.

I have had the experience of online computer courses and they suck. There is no quality, there is no interaction, the classes are a pass fail with minimal effort needed, and served only to make money for the college. Then we have to face the fact that there is a certain amount of intelligence, IQ, needed to go beyond high school because of the costs and depth of subject matter.

This book is about maximizing profits which is destroying the quality and level of education. Production line education does not create craftsmen.

John Armstrong
Buena Vista, VA

What higher ed really needs is publication of reliable data on how good our colleges and universities are at producing actual learning as opposed to its semblance. How well did your college improve your writing, speaking, and thinking abilities? How well did it teach you of the world and its institutions? How helpful was it in helping you become a person of moral integrity? If instructional technology can improve education in these ways, then it is useful. If it distracts from these outcomes, then it is not. As a professor, I use technology as much as I can to produce good educational outcomes, but as soon as there is evidence of it becoming a distraction, I drop it.

Orem, UT

In my experience, teaching writing/composition, lecture is an ineffective teaching method. I have found that facilitating discussions based on reading and writing exercises, and one-on-one coaching are much more effective and keep students more involved/interested than lectures. The article mentioned technology as an innovative way to deliver lectures. Sounds like talking head stuff to me. I very much admire each of these men and my experience does not measure up to theirs...so I will be very interested in reading their book to learn how to better help my students.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The idea that money spent on a higher education will allow you to pay back your loans and make more money is the great scam of the day. The concept continues to grow like an uncontrollable cancer. Thousands of graduates learn that when they go out into the job market and find that there are no positions available. Professors and others involved in higher education are running the great ponzi scheme of the day. If you are a young man or woman who has just graduated from high school, consider learning a useful trade, that you enjoy doing.

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

I agree with this.

Universities in the US have benefited from student loans. It has shifted the supply demand curve for them higher. They can increase their costs and all that happens is students just get bigger loans instead of dropping out. It is not that they are greedy or evil, they just aren't thinking and they have been taking the easy way out.

Student loans haven't helped the students as much as they've helped universities.


Draper, UT

I love it! "Disruptive innovation" I noticed the disruption many years ago. Once we started placing so much emphasis on a "college" education. We stopped placing value on millwrights, plumbers, carpenters and other so called "hands-on" skills and trades. There are projects right now that cannot move forward because we lack the skilled trades to do the "hands-on."

When I was moving from a small town, the mayor came to visit me. She asked me to reconsider. She said, "Our town needs people who know how to fix and build things."

My brother trains technicians for the largest food packaging company in the world. He says "We get degreed applicants all day long who cannot noodle out a problem if it is not spelled out in the tech manual. Our best people come out of Eastern Europe and South America, where the governments brought in technology, but no tech support. Those guys had to learn to figure things out, not look it up."

The "disruptive innovation" is going to be, when you have so few who can fix your car, plumbing, etc. Our society is already paying dearly for this elitist thinking, and it's getting worse.

Florien Wineriter
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I agree with the comment which in effect said 'easy money' has made higher education too expensive. I think there is a deep need for an in depth study of why college is so expensive and create ways for dramatically lowering the cost of a college education. It seems to me that universites have become not much more than expensive 'techical colleges' rather than institutions of the 'liberal arts'.

Salt Lake valley, UT

I taught as an Adjunct for 10 years at a small liberal arts college. All of my course materials were online: syllabus, lecture tutorials, homework problems. Students could do the homework problems in any sequence they wanted and at their own speed. In each of my classes I gave 15-20 minute mini-lectures and then spent the rest of the time working 1:1 with the students. Attendance was not required, and those who needed no help didn't regularly attend. My classes were a primitive form of online courses.

Online courses have two big advantages: less capitol expense for the school and freedom for the students in not having to attend classes on campus. Technology is changing the educational world. Two-way video conferencing is becoming available. Email is in universal use. Unlimited cellphone minutes are common. As educators get more experience with online classes, they will use technology that will allow them to have more dialog between students and have deeper thinking in the course material. Of course, online courses aren't for everyone, but each year the incoming students are more in-tune with technology and more likely to use and appreciate online courses.

Draper, UT

One of the reasons education has become so expensive is that we are separating the risk, from the risk takers.

What financial risk does the University have if a student does not finish? They already have their funds. What financial risk does the student have if they drop out? Sure they may pay the loan back... someday, but many don't.

Did anyone pay attention to the sub prime lending debacle? When you separate risk from risk takers, you artificially inflate the product. Lots of people will risk when they have little to loose and a system eager to hand out more and more easy money.

We will be much further ahead once students have to pay for there education as they go, just like I did. You value it more, you work harder and you learn real world application on the job as you study the theory in school. I say when, because as soon as this house of cards comes down, little funding will be available. Unless the Universities are too big to fail, then obama will "stimulate" the system. Heaven help us!

Provo, Ut

Anybody who is struggling over the effectiveness of online learning needs to look at Khanacademy as a case study.

The online lecture strategy changes the entire dynamic of group learning. By creating a lecture series that can be accessed online and delivered at the pace of the student, each student can optimize their performance in the classroom. This approach does take away from the social learning enviroment, but has in some acute cases (Khanacademy) been a major facilitator for when students do interact. The real challenge is find out how to effectively use this technology, while still creating time for students to get together in person, to collaborate on their learning, through projects or discussion. Furthermore, it opens new channels and possibilities for students to colloborate on global scale.

I do admit however that if executed poorly, this could just be a poor crutch to reducing the cost of running schools and universities. Application is the key.

Kearns, UT

Higher education does need to change to match our changing society. We have so many resources that can be used as tools to reach the electronic generation. We need to do a better job of it.

Mike Rose
Provo, UT

Before reforming this system we need to understand all the economic effects and the interest groups that have formed around those effects.

The effect that most people focus on students learning its effect on their careers. Economists show chart that colleges graduates with a bachelors make an average $15,000 more than people with high school diploma's, This does not explain why they make more only that do. Also it hides variation among the various professions, as well as variation in pay within each profession. For example authors who have sold books only average about $40,000/year. This excludes those who have completed books but not found a buyer. Also Celebrity authors like JKRowling inflate the average making the profession much more appealing whereas the bottom 50 percentile struggle to make a living.

Almost all college students don't understand this variation among and within each profession. Usually they only see the averages.

Colleges like to claim they're responsible for graduates careers and solicit donations and recruit new students with this data. There may be some contribution towards graduates career productivity due to what they learned while at college, but it's not a full explanation.

Once Upon A Time
Salt Lake City, Utah

Gee, i dont know much of thse econmics stuff. All i know is that many of my friends who got a college dgree don't find a job. and they are not able to pay on there studnt loans. so they are losing there cars and stuff tryng to pay the loans. im glad i became a good plumber. i fix things and i get paid for fixing things. i have a house but my friends don't. they just have a degree on the wall.

Provo, UT

Get real.

If you are a hiring manager with a stack of resumes, who are you going to hire? The college graduate, or the college dropout?

The statistics continue to show that more education = more income and less unemployment.

With few exceptions, everybody sees that education pays.

Snowflake, AZ

Whoever says students are not taking risks when they take out loans has not taken out any student loans. Sorry, but student loans are worse than any other loan, because you can't declare bankruptcy and get rid of them.

The idea of paying on your education as you go is good in some fields, but many, such as in the cellular biology or genetics, are so dynamic and ever changing, that they don't accept credits unless they are within 5 years or less.

What these authors are talking about is making education more accessible. Making education more responsive to the needs of students. The authors are not suggesting that online classes are the only way. Professor Christensen uses a hybrid format in his class. I teach hybrid (live/internet) classes for a college and I have found that they increase interaction between the educator and the student. Students get feedback immediately from the online portion of the class and I can look at the results of their homework and tests and see trends and problems and then I can answer questions in the live portion of the class without the student having to answer the question.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

Purely academic fields of study such as Mathematics, Language Arts, History, etc. are pretty static. Nouns and Verbs have not changed in centuries. The quadratic formula has not changed either. History is also static, except for recent history, which is just now being written.

One must ask themselves why a teacher is even required for these classes. Record a short lecture demonstrating how to use the power rule when finding the first derivative in calculus and publish quality text books and you're done.

I know of homeschool curricula that work on the "self teaching" principle. These kids score on the 80th to 90th percentile on standardized tests. Public schools are at the 50 percentile by definition.

Why not have a university with a huge library with excellent text books, tutoring centers and a testing center. The books could be delivered electronically and when the student was ready they could take the exam. If they need help they go to the tutoring center.

It would be different for laboratory sciences and other hands on type courses.

I say video tape excellent professors teaching classes for one year and deliver the content electronically.

American Fork, UT

There's high quality education and low quality education both in the classroom and online, due to differences not only in teacher quality, but in student quality, and the differences in teacher-student interaction. There are some students who have bad teachers and will succeed because they are motivated to learn for themselves and there are some students who will never succeed no matter how good their teachers are because they just don't care about learning. There are others where the teacher and teaching style will make a big difference.

While Universities should focus on making their schools more practical and teaching networking skills and helping students gain internships in their field, having a more highly educated workforce and electorate is clearly in the national interest and the value of education cannot be solely measured in immediate job outcomes.

  • 4:57 p.m. May 15, 2011
  • Like (1)
  • Top comment
Salt Lake City, UT


"I'm here to say these guys are wrong and must be MBA bean counters. While it maximize profit it demeans higher education."

I'm afraid the above missed the entire point of the article. It is not about "maximizing profit," it is about "reducing the obscene costs" now associated with higher education. And this without diminishing the quality of higher education.

I'd like to also point out that the two authors are not "HBS Bean Counters." They are two of the most forward-looking scholars in higher education and in industry.

Houston, TX

Several Thoughts.

1. I am currently teaching 3 online classes this semester. 2/3s of the students prefer online classes mainly because they are convenient. 1/3 of the students really dislike them and prefer face to face classes.

2. At least 1/3 of the online students are disengaged and rarely follow instructions or read email. They rely on the chat or discussion board with other students to figure out what is due and how to do it.

3. The type of learning is quite different. Online is similar to a slow motion CLEP test. It is very hard to deliver useable learning skills as apposed to the knowledge to pass the tests and maybe do a project.

4. Harvard is a poor model for much of anything except Harvard.

5. BYU-I is a teaching school with a lot of busy work. There are light years of differences between Harvard and BYU-I.

6. Neither Harvard nor BYU-I are good models for the average state university.

7. Much of the rising cost of education is the administrative burden imposed by various government agencies. The bureaucracy balloons while more adjuncts are hired to do the actual teaching.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments