From wheat field to innovator: how BYU-Idaho is changing the landscape of higher education

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  • Larry M Chicago, IL
    Oct. 18, 2011 5:53 p.m.

    I've been following the Pathway program for a couple years now and have lost hope that they will ever offer it nearby.

  • utahreader CENTERVILLE, UT
    Oct. 18, 2011 12:53 p.m.


    If the only reason kids go there is to get married, I want my money back! I have 30+ kid who went there for 2 years and is not married and a 27+ kid who went there for 5 years and is not married. Both now have great jobs. My kid who went there for 2 years transferred to BYU and felt the teachers at BYU-I were great and loved his experience there.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 18, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    Re: "The Socratic method may work well with very bright and motivated law students . . . ."

    So many elitist assumptions, so little time [and space].

    Let me just say it sounds like an educators' trade union speaking. Not an actual living, breathing, thinking, aspiring person.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 18, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    The BYU Idaho story should be a Harvard Business School case study.

    And, the foundation for totally rethinking how education takes place in this country, including K-12.

    Bravo to everyone concerned with this amazing change!

  • WyoCougar Kemmerer, WY
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:14 p.m.

    Can anyone explain the graph showing an very slight increase in "global rating"? What is the significance?

    Also I have highly enjoyed reading this series of articles. I am a high school teacher hoping to get out of a stagnant status quo and be progressive. I'm looking for inspiration and direction, not just the next fad.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 17, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    Part 3: BYU Idaho: On the way from montana to Nevada.

  • Uncle Lindy Wasilla, AK
    Oct. 17, 2011 5:20 p.m.

    As a college teacher with 35 years of experience, I have found that appropriately designed on-line courses provide much better learning than sitting in classrooms with many other students. BYU-I is on the right track, accomplishing much in a short time, and the future will only get better. Adjunct teachers should ideally be working in "real life" jobs where their experience counts for much in providing a useful education. Those who try to "cobble together" a living by teaching only adjunct classes should consider other alternatives to providing themselves and their families a living.

    I wonder if anyone is aware if the school has Institute classes which are taught on-line; there are many students in remote areas (such as Eastern Canada where we are serving a senior mission) who don't have access to a high quality Institute experience and for whom this would be a great opportunity.

  • byu rugby Crystal Lake, IL
    Oct. 17, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    A couple of ideas none of the suits will every read-

    1. If pathways is so wonderful, why don't they shut down the physical BYU-I campus and supply a laptop with online tuition? The church could serve every LDS kid in the world for just a few nickels, the kids could just stay home, and nobody would have to deal with Rexburg winters.

    2. If the church should consolidate all of the redundant undergraduate programs? BYU, BYU-I, BYU-H, and LDS Business College all offer most of the same programs. All business majors should attend BYU. All education majors should attend BYU-I, ect. Case in point, the top "Two" Horticulture programs in the country are at BYU AND BYU-I. Why should the church maintain two sets of faculties and facilities when, they could consolidate and have a single program?

    3. The church should cease all grad programs and, instead encourage undergrads to transfer to "gentile" institutions for "In The World" educational opportunities.

    4. Lastly, Since the church has such a wonderful Institute Program across the country, why do we need any Universities?

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Oct. 17, 2011 3:29 p.m.

    Patriot is living in the past. BYUI is a legitimate higher ed institution and is changing the paradigm and mindset for post-secondary ed. Students who cannot go to the church's flagship school can count on a first-rate experience at a reasonable cost, and still experience the unique atmosphere that previously was not available outside of BYU-Provo, at least not in the same way. BYUI has carved out a unique value proposition and place for itself in higher ed. It is clearly differentiated from the typical state school and/or community college. And it is blazing trails that more secular schools are looking at closely to solve some vexing problems. Not every college/university needs to try and compete on the research side. Some can simply teach fundamentals to undergrads. Kudos to BYUI for doing it in a way that is unique to its mission.

  • common sense in Idaho Pocatello, id
    Oct. 17, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    FDRFAN - To answer your question I have asked myself and see no reason that anyone would make that kind of statement.

    But I disagree with you. I think it is a very typical statement. Everyone going to college just to get their mate. It's not true in my daughters case. Now maybe she will find her life's partner there. But it is not why she went to college.

  • Rexburg Reader Rexburg, ID
    Oct. 17, 2011 1:51 p.m.

    @ Patriot, do you really mean what you wrote?

    @ Max, lots of people share your concern that the BYU-Idaho Learning Model is the bling leading the blind. But in reality, that's not how things work at all! I don't think you can really appreciate how remarkably well the Learning Model works unless you attend a class where it is being used. You come away feeling you have been part of a truly special learning experience. And it does take a lot of talent by the instructors to make the Learning Model work, and BYU-Idaho has invested heavily in helping the faculty adapt to this new way of teaching.

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Oct. 17, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    common sense in Idaho | 1:24 p.m. Oct. 17, 2011
    Pocatello, Id

    I find nothing typical in patriot's comment. Ask your self why some one would make that kind of comment.

  • common sense in Idaho Pocatello, id
    Oct. 17, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    Patriot - I assure you that the reason my daughter attends BYU-I is to gain a education. She pays her own way and works hard when she is off track to pay for her education. Your comment that the only reason one attends BYU-I is to "find a mate" is stero typical and way off base.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Oct. 17, 2011 12:45 p.m.

    BYU Idaho - I know of one and only one reason why kids go there and that is to find a mate. The college experience is more akin to on-line dating sites than college.

  • Veracity Morgan, UT
    Oct. 17, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    The Lord continues his work in the most mysterious ways.

  • cldstar Twin Falls, ID
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:53 a.m.


    I'm delighted that the adjunct situation is working so well for you. It sounds wonderful. The case of a person with a career (or at least a job with benefits) taking on the distance education position is really the best of both worlds, it seems to me. I'm very happy for you and others like you.

    I guess I'm concerned about the potential for abuse in the part-time system. In the academic department where I teach, there are many adjunct instructors who barely make ends meet because my department doesn't pay a living wage and doesn't offer any type of benefits. Shame on us, right? Right.

    If BYU-I isn't doing similar, then kudos to them. Really.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    Way to go! Someone has to lead us out of the Status Quo nonsense that education has become.

    BYU-I looks to be setting precedent for the future of learning.

    I would rather have my kids go there than some other college that costs more but only cares about their "party college status".

  • WhatsInItForMe Orem, Utah
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:26 a.m.

    Another enlightening article! Visionaries are for real!

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:21 a.m.

    That kind of teaching is walking a fine line between brilliance and incompetence. Frankly, I don't think there are very many professors who are talented enough to pull it off. I had a professor who believed strongly that students should teach themselves and then everybody came to class to talk about it. With students learning it on their own and then trying to discuss it, it was the blind leading the blind and nobody did well on the department wide assessment exam. The Socratic method may work well with very bright and motivated law students, but for courses in engineering, mathematics, economics, or physics, formal instruction from the professor definitely needs to take place as there are difficult technical skills that need to be mastered. By the way, my professor was fired. He didn't do a thing but direct discussion in class. There were tons of complaints to the Dean and nobody learned a thing. Some subjects can be self-taught and others need a professor to teach them. While I am impressed with a lot of the innovation going on at BYUI and their willingness to try new things, I think they have probably taken it too far.

  • MisterFweem SUGAR CITY, ID
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:11 a.m.


    I am one of the remote adjunct instructors at BYU-I. Before I started this work at BYU-I, I had a full-time job and a masters degree that my full-time job didn't require. I'm still working full-time and work at BYU-I part time, and enjoy every minute of it as I'm able to use my degree and interact with students who are anxious to learn. The supplementary pay is nice, I must admit, but even more so is the ability to use what I've learned in a way I'm not able to at my full-time job. I love both jobs, but for different reasons. I'm grateful BYU-I offers this kind of adjunct teaching to let people like me make contributions outside our full-time work.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Oct. 17, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    Hilarious caption, DN.

  • cldstar Twin Falls, ID
    Oct. 17, 2011 8:45 a.m.

    Eaton notes that one of the cost savings in online classes is not offering benefits to those remote instructors. Many such adjunct instructors cobble together a "career" by teaching part-time for several different institutions and getting benefits from none of them.

    I don't know all the details, of course, but I wonder if BYU-I isn't balancing some of its budget on the backs of under-paid, over-worked part-timers who also have families and hopes for a higher standard of living.

    The question of how to use (or not use) adjunct labor is a vexed and vexing one in higher education. I hope BYU-I has done its homework in not adding to that problem.

  • KathyInCache North Logan, UT
    Oct. 17, 2011 7:58 a.m.

    Oh, that the state of Utah would sit up and take notice. It currently costs more to take an online class at USU (and probably other state universities) than it does to sit in the classroom. They could serve more people by following BYU-I's example!

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 17, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    Great story! So that is what the American Dream is all about, that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential. It often involves being in the right place at the right time-a stroke of luck-and someone offering encouragement and support. Congratulations for all you've accomplished.

    Very interesting article.
    One question I have is are these teaching methods used in all sizes of classes, including classes with 200 students?

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Oct. 17, 2011 6:54 a.m.

    Ive often lamented that my experience with BYU could never be repeated. I was 3 months away from completing a 4 year stint with the USAF when I began meeting with two Elders in the home of my immediate supervisor. I was baptized a few weeks later. In May or June my Bishop asked me if I would like to go to college. It was the first time that was ever mentioned to me. I grew up as a child of an illiterate Appalachian coal miner. Neither of my parents could read. All of my uncles were coal miners. I was surrounded with cousins who dropped out of school before high school. I never took the SAT or ACT. Yet the Bishop offered to help get me accepted at BYU. I was placed on academic probation after the first semester. My biggest challenge was the culture shock. My grades improved slightly the next semester. I went on a mission and came back to graduate. Later I earned a Masters and PhD. It is good to see BYU-I willing to help others travel a road, however rocky, that they may never have entered otherwise.