Eduventures Summit 2017 Reflections

by Brittany Whittemore | June 13, 2017

Estimated time to read: minutes

Last week, we attended the Eduventures Summit, the yearly instigator of a reawakening within higher ed’s biggest and best practitioners. The topics, though already top-of-mind for those of us leading innovation, were yet another reminder that differentiated, authentic, and visionary work is what’s driving the future of higher education.

Higher Ed Remastered was Eduventures big message, but a new message was also delivered: higher ed is not broken. The reasoning is simple; the answers to some of the most challenging and complex issues in online higher education already exist. Innovation is happening, technology is ready, and the right partners are just an email away. Our focus should shift to differentiation: how to create something authentic and profitable in the soon-to-be highly competitive online education market.

Take, for example, the latest and greatest out of Notre Dame. The institution is soon launching their first online program, a master’s program in data science. Dr. Elliott Visconsi, Notre Dame’s Chief Academic Digital Officer, and Dr. Scott Moore, ExtensionEngine's Principal Learning Strategist, gave a joint presentation explaining why Notre Dame renounced the traditional revenue-sharing Online Program Managers and in-house approaches to partner with us on a fee-for-service basis.

Here are a few topics from the presentation that align with the emerging trends in higher education.

United Faculty - Yes, It's Possible

Notre Dame’s vision united faculty across departments. Surprising, we know. Rather than imposing a vision upon faculty, the institution started with the faculty’s vision and embraced it — another theme of the conference.

There are likely early-adopters walking your campus, and as we learned, there are only so many. Collaboration and enablement is one way to achieve academic freedom in online programs.

Mission + Pedagogy for the Win

Notre Dame combined mission and pedagogy to cater to the most important stakeholders, the students. We often see institutions fail at this because they are focused mostly on revenue or scale. Getting programs online quickly to enroll more students does nothing to increase the differentiation needed to be truly competitive.

Notre Dame put the students in the driver's seat to curate a distinctly-Notre Dame solution. Institutions are often unable to translate this type of vision within the constraints of an LMS - many of which give you the not so innovative option of plopping your content into boxes to be consumed by yawning students.

Choosing (the Right) Partner

As Dr. Visconsi explained in his presentation, an important component when creating an online program, one as dynamic and distinctive as Notre Dame’s: find the right partner. The LMS is too rigid for something differentiated and OPMs require revenue-sharing, often manipulating your enrollment strategy to increase their profit.

By contrast, fee-for-service providers focus on the institution. While Notre Dame put their students in the driver’s seat, we put Notre Dame in the driver’s seat, allowing them to direct and own the outcome.

Now What?

At the conference we learned that online higher education has grown by 55% in the past three years. Which leaves us wondering: if higher ed is not broken, who else is going to be a leader in the nearly saturated online education space? Who is going to produce the next differentiated, authentic work that is student-centric, faculty-pleasing, and market-competitive? Who is going to be the next Notre Dame?

If you’re a visionary, let’s talk. We can strategize on what makes you different and help you build a highly-unique, authentic online program. And we promise, we’ll put you in the driver’s seat.

Continue Reading: Need more on choosing fee-for-service? This financial model will show you the advantages and disadvantages of each engagement.
Brittany Whittemore

Brittany Whittemore is the former Director of Marketing at Extension Engine. While at Extension Engine, she oversaw the brand, marketing strategy, and operations. Prior to that, she worked at Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America and Berklee College of Music. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in higher education administration.

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