Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen tells college chiefs their institutions may not be around in 20 years

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  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    March 11, 2011 11:39 a.m.

    @carman: There are virtually none of your "real careers" left in America. Math? Science? Give me a break. The only places to use those are in a classroom teaching or in some laboratory. Those fields aren't growing, they are shrinking.

    The problem we are facing now is an overabundance of college grads. Student loans have made college too accessible, so we've got a generation of educated kids struggling under a mountain of debt at some $8.25/hr job. A complete waste of their education and their money.

    Generation Y was brought up with "go to college and you'll get a good job" we heard it from parents and from school administrators, it was beaten into our skulls from a very young age. But now that we've worked hard and gone to college we come out to see that there are no jobs left.

    As of 2008 only 33% of new grads were finding employment in their field within the first 2 years. That number certainly hasn't gotten any better.

    Until America can find a way to bring back the high paying technical jobs college will continue to be a waste.

  • carman Alpine, UT
    March 10, 2011 8:21 a.m.

    The costs of higher ed have been rising at twice the rate of inflation for a LONG time. While I agree that one can get an education without going $30k+ into debt, and I applaud OHBU for doing so, getting "a degree" is no longer a ticket to a good career. Too many of our students are getting degrees in "soft" majors, shunning math, science and other challenging subjects. I largely blame parents who are not helping their children to understand that working hard in high school, and gaining confidence that they can learn difficult subjects, is possible if they put in a lot of effort. More often, folks are settling for previously lucrative but increasingly pressured careers as real estate agents, stock brokers, mutli-level marketers, "entrepreneurs", "consultants", life-style or motivational speakers, etc. We need to get back to fundamentals and providing value rather than pursuing so-called "easy" roads to a cushy life. More often than not, one has to either suspend ethics or endure high stress to make ends meet.

    Time to rethink and get real educations and real careers.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 9, 2011 11:00 a.m.

    re: Procur and Kyle,

    I graduated in 2006, went full-time to school and worked the first couple years at the Holiday Inn downtown, the other half for Discover Card in Sandy. I lived on 700 E...a convenient six blocks from Campus. In addition, I graduated with a double major in 5 years.

    I obviously don't have all my financials, but here's a math sample:
    30hrs/week @ $9/hr = $14,040/yr
    As you indicated, Tuition and fees about $10,000/yr
    Rent, $450/mo, split with a roommate is $2700/yr
    That leaves another $1300 to cover other expenses. Also, in the summer, one can increase working hours by picking up a part-time job.

    My point is, everyone acts like you have to go into $30,000 of debt. Even if you're not willing to work as many hours as I did, you should be able to graduate with minimal debt.

  • S.Andrew Zaelit Salt Lake City, UT
    March 8, 2011 8:10 p.m.

    The point of this article and accompanying links is that colleges and universities need to be innovative and think outside the box. A major point of emphasis is a difference between research universities and teaching universities. The idea is to treat these institutions for what they are and not wedge them into a cookie cutter formula. Online education is one area of focus but it is not the only one. Diversification and streamlined business plans equals survival in 21st Century learning plans. What is the difference between sitting in a traditional classroom listening to a graduate student lecture and sitting at home watching or listening to the same lecture online? None. Ultimately, a persons success either online or in class depends on their drive, determination, and abilities. The days of only being able to get a higher degree by sitting in a classroom are ending and that is the bottom line. There will always be a need for a brick and mortar and research but it is folly to suggest that only true path is the outdated 19th and 20th Century university models, something that the report made painfully clear.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    March 8, 2011 4:50 p.m.

    I have taken online courses. I have taught online courses. I have written online curriculum. I have done this for private industry and for higher education. I have been doing it for over fifteen years. Traditional classroom teaching will not disappear because of online courses anymore than it disappeared because of correspondence schools. This guy has been on the lecture circuit for years beating the same drum. If legislators knew the real cost of online education they would be shocked. The drop out rate is alarmingly high and it simply isn't appropriate for many disciplines. It is one tool for teaching but not the only tool or even the primary tool.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 8, 2011 4:17 p.m.

    I have taken distance learning courses and I have taken classes in a university class setting.

    The learning is better in an actual class. Unless the online experience improves it is no match for the class.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    March 8, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    Re: "Higher Ed is not out of reach, financially. I got my degree from the University of Utah with $0 in debt . . . ."

    Don't know when you went, but if you were a junior/senior this semester, you'd pay $3,328.07 in tuition, somewhere upwards of $850 in books, $601 for mandatory health insurance, plus $178 [upper-class average] in fees.

    That'll make a pretty good hole in $5 large, per semester, $10 grand a year. That's before you spend a nickel for living expenses.

    If your student job left you with that much disposable income, after substistence, you were the rare exception, not the rule.

    Additionally, the U, like others, schedules classes for professorial [most likely a TA, actually] and administrative convenience. No thought whatever is given by any of its colleges to employment-friendly scheduling, and many actively discourage student employment.

    That's a little more than a "cliche, based on entitlement attitudes."

    More importantly, it's unnecessary.

    Billions are squandered by colleges every year. It's got to stop.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz Provo, UT
    March 8, 2011 2:37 p.m.

    "most universities are striving for a model that does not seem to be student-centric."

    That was the main point I got out of the article. Change is needed. Universities disappearing in 20 years is a bit outlandish but his points in the article are not. Higher education is not getting it done.

    re: OHBU
    When did you graduate? Where did you live? Were you a full time student? I sincerely doubt anyone can be a full time student work a part time job and pay for their schooling without some help.

  • Shawnm750 Lehi, UT
    March 8, 2011 1:59 p.m.

    I don't think that Christensen/Eyring are implying that in 20 years all traditional universities will be replaced by online learning, only some will. I believe that they are right too. I think you'll seen an increase of online coursework, and schools will have minimal classrooms or physical buildings. Especially where general education is concerned. True, for some programs you'll never be able to totally abandon instructor-led teaching, but as new technology continues to emerge, students will be able to complete even more coursework without needing an instructor's guidance.

  • mkSdd3 Ogden, UT
    March 8, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    There is no problem here. The way people have been trained for jobs has changed over time. And it will continue to change. If there is a cheaper, more efficient way of education people or getting them ready for a particular profession, it will be adopted. It is only natural for things to evolve. We shouldn't be afraid of change, it is a good thing that a more efficient means would be developed.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 8, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    There has been one professor or another preaching the end of universities as we know them about every few months for at least the last 20 years. The problem is, some people realize that making such a statement gets your name out there and newspapers pay attention. The truth is, universities aren't going anywhere.

    Re: procuradorfiscal
    Higher Ed is not out of reach, financially. I got my degree from the University of Utah with $0 in debt when I graduated, without any help from parents, scholarships or grants. If one is willing to hold a job while in college, it's really not that difficult to avoid debt. The notion that college is too overpriced is a cliche based on entitlement attitudes that don't believe a student should work to pay tuition.

    Re: Mary
    Only in Utah is someone upset that a university doesn't offer a forensic geneology degree.

  • Mary E Petty Sandy, UT
    March 8, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    The real problem and impetus behind the explosion in post-secondary online education has been the unwillingness of the legally-accredited university/college community to provide the post-secondary degree programs for 21st Century careers, like Professional Genealogy Research Services, including Forensic Genealogy. As these old schools have experienced their cheese being moved by disrupting colleges, they have held tight to their prejudiced old views of a vocation, even as it is professionalizing. They have been unwilling to innovate.

    In Professional Genealogy Research Services we have had to do this for ourselves, as the demand for forensic genealogy and Certified Family TreesĀ© is called for by consumers. We have had to venture out and create our own post-secondary degree programs and work for higher-ed formal accreditation; which slows the process of acceptance by the professional genealogy community. Hence most professional genealogists are in name-only and have no post-secondary degree in the field of genealogy. And consumers suffer.

    At Heritage Genealogical College an online master's degree program is in development for Forensic Genealogy. I am currently in that degree program and my thesis highlights this professionalization movement: Forensic Genealogy/Professional Genealogy Vision 2020.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    March 8, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    Re: ". . . Clayton M. Christensen tells college chiefs their institutions may not be around in 20 years."

    Wouldn't that be great!

    The essence of "higher education" strayed years ago from actual education. Today, true educators are bottom feeders in the "higher education" trade/industry. The money, prestige, advancement, and accolades all go to those least involved in the actual education of students -- industry-connected researchers, grant magnets, hyper-publishers, politically networked administrators, and winning coaches.

    And taxpayers have become mightily sick of supporting this academic hustle.

    "Higher Ed" has already priced itself out of the market for middle class students -- most incur crushing, unsustainable debt to support, not education and dedicated educators, but bloated, overpaid, out-of-touch bureaucracies, ill-conceived and needlessly posh physical facilities, and silly, irrelevant, but politically correct academic programs.

    Notwithstanding current pedagogic dogma, the term "education" describes the act of teaching students. Not tenure. Not obscene salaries. Not publishing. Not even athletic success.

    It'll be a grand day when current "higher education" scams are overthrown for actual education!

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    March 8, 2011 12:26 p.m.

    The stats prove nothing of the sort.

    They are showing a larger number of students that are taking ONE online class. Brick an mortar schools are still essential.

    I sure don't want to have a doctor that learned surgery by email correspondence.

    I don't want engineers/construction managers that have never had a hands-on project and have only typed up scenarios.

    Online education is a great supplement but will never supplant an actual physical location for the majority of majors.