In a previous post, I discussed how Uber, the online rideshare company, is disrupting the traditional taxi industry. As promised, here is my plan for how to truly disrupt the traditional higher education industry in the United States.

First, the entities that control the institutions must be neutralized. In the taxi industry, it was the local and state governance of the taxi drivers and companies. For education, that is the Department of Education and Accreditors. Sure, you might say, that is no easy task to make the DOE and Accreditors no longer relevant. I tell you, it is quite simple; and here is how.

The DOE controls the money through Title IV funding and the accreditors are a gateway to the money. Furthermore, accreditors provide some artificial seal of approval as to the quality of a program, thus allowing transferability among institutions and access to advanced degrees. So, take away the money and much of the power disappears.

Those of us in higher education know the reliance on Title IV funding is unhealthy and has caused the price of education to outpace most other industries several fold. But how do institutions drop their dependence on the new social welfare of Title IV funding? I don’t think most can. That is why we need new institutions. And those new institutions must initially come from corporate training programs.

Diploma from Hamburger University

Diploma from Hamburger University

Hold on! Here is where the conversation gets wild. Take Hamburger University, the McDonalds training program based outside of Chicago. Each year over 7,500 students attend Hamburger University and receive training that is ACE evaluated for transfer into traditional academic programs. It would not take much for McDonalds to offer enough general education requirements allowing students to earn a degree. But would the Higher Learning Commission allow McDonalds to become “an accredited institution” without jumping through years of costly self-study and bureaucratic BS?

Nope. But in my model, they would not need to.

Why? They are self-sustaining through funds from the corporation. They don’t need access to Title IV funds.

The last hurdle of non-regionally accredited universities is for their graduates to continue their education. Right now, several regionally accredited institutions will allow non-accredited and nationally accredited Bachelor degree graduates to enroll and pursue a Master’s degree. Pressure to compete will bring hundreds more willing to accept our graduates from this alternative model. While some might laugh and discredit the McDegree, I bet you a big Mac you won’t be laughing in the future.

Graduation Selfies

The Growing Ban on Graduation Selfies

We all know about selfies, a word that did not exist when I graduated college. Come to think of it, cell phones have come about since I graduated college. During a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee during Christmas last year, I treated my 75 year old father to a facebook posted selfie of the two of us enjoying breakfast at possibly the greatest restaurant in the world… The Pancake Pantry. Dad was not really impressed.

ABC announced a new show titled “Selfie” will premier this fall. A love story of sorts, a love of “likes” by a self-obsessed woman who “After suffering a very public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media ‘followers’ that she ever imagined – but for all the wrong reasons. She enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help her repair her tarnished image.” Not sure how this show can possibly last more than one season.

This year colleges are banning the selfie at graduation. More specifically, they are banning selfies on the podium as soon to be graduates cross the stage for their diploma. Having been involved with the planning and execution of many graduations that were strategically planned, rehearsed and choreographed with military-like precision; an unplanned selfie can throw the entire event into a catastrophic free for all. Not really, but if a significant number of graduates pause for even 10 seconds it can be annoying for the rest of us who are not so narcissistic.

This may be the one event where there are more photos being taken per square foot by proud family and friends as you cross the stage than you could possibly post to your social media page. There is no need for that selfie here.

It could be worse, just think of the problem selfies would have caused when I graduated. Where to store that Polaroid and then the incessant shaking to see if the photo developed before one would leave the stage.

What do you think about this issue? Share with me below or on my social networks.

Last week I received a phone call from Maranda, a stay-at-home mom who has been working on her PhD and is ready to re-enter the higher education admissions game after taking ten years off to care for her children. Maranda was my Director of Admissions for the now defunct Mountain State University, and what a story we could write about the rise and fall of a wildly innovative organization. Recruiting and enrollment management were two things MSU did with precision and Maranda was the best Director of Admissions I have ever had the pleasure of working beside.

College AdmissionsMaranda explained that the timing is right and she is ready to get back in the enrollment management game; she is nearing end of her PhD program and her husband is considering relocating his practice. She wanted to know if I could find her an unpaid internship in an admissions office so she could get back up to speed with the new practices and policies for higher ed recruiting that emerged while she was home being a Mom.

I thought for a while about what has changed in higher education recruiting. Sure, the way schools use social media has certainly changed, and there have been some changes in student information system vendors, but other than those, I really don’t think we have made wholesale systematic changes in how we market, recruit and enroll students. So I started thinking, what could the new enrollment management function look like if we did things differently?

When trying to answer these types questions, I have a tendency to suggest an innovative solution that is EXACTLY the opposite of what is currently being done. What would happen, for example, if instead of admissions officers and selection committees choosing the incoming freshman class, we let the applicants themselves determine who will be in their class? Let them decide whom they ultimately want to be associated with as alumni. This would give those applicants who really want to attend one particular institution an opportunity to use crowdsourcing and Facebook-style tactics to improve their chances of getting accepted, an especially useful tactic for those students who, on paper, may not appear to be a perfect candidates, but whose uniqueness could ultimately enrich the campus. Now this cannot be the sole criterion, but it definitely could be a significant factor in the selection equation.  Of course, there are many details to work out, but it certainly is a conversation starter.

As for Maranda, I have found her an internship with one of the colleges in our consortium. The skills, tactics and approaches she used ten years ago are still relevant because we were so efficient and good at recruiting back then, now she is well ahead of the game today. Don’t tell her though, because they need her help… and for free to boot.

What are your thoughts about how to truly change the way we recruit and enroll students?  Post and share!

Average College tuition

When I recently read the August 26, 2013 edition of The New Yorker, I was enthralled with James Surowiechi’s article titled “Clawback” in which he describes the current contention over lobster prices and the impact the price has on the consumer, restaurants and lobstermen. I use the word enthralled because as I was reading, the connections between the price of lobster and innovating education became so evident to me.  Here’s how:

Glut of Lobsters Bring Prices Down

Glut of Lobsters Bring Prices Down (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Although several factors influence the wholesale price, in 2005, the price for lobsters off the boat was over $6 per pound. In 2009, however, it was less than half of that and this month lobsters were selling for as low as $2.20 per pound. As I am not a lobster fan, I have not been following lobster prices, but notice that the price of lobster on restaurant menus remains outrageously high, in spite of the low wholesale prices. Why? Pricing psychology. Lobster is perceived and priced as a luxury item and lowering its cost could diminish its status as the reining king of elegant entrees.

There are a multitude of new initiatives aimed at making college more affordable, yet tuition continues to rise. Although most institutions spend a large portion of their budget and their administrator’s time strategizing about ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, and some have been successful by replacing full-time faculty with adjuncts and implementing online programs, they continue to charge exorbitant prices to the students.

Maybe higher education is like the lobster industry: if we make it affordable, people will not see perceive it as quality. So our students, like the customers in a restaurant, will continue to over-pay for perceived quality, and the institutions, like restaurant owners, are banking on it.

Rising Cost of Tuition

Rising Cost of Tuition

Given the inability of higher education to change in general, if we want to make education more affordable, then we need to stop buying overpriced lobster and let the market drive the prices down.

There are alternatives emerging that challenge the very core of higher education; MOOCs, mandated transferability of courses and the emergence of para-educators, to just name a few. I think it is time for us to rethink the value of choosing the lobster and consider ordering the tilapia, coconut-encrusted, of course.

Tell me what you think about the rising cost of tuition and what you think could be done?

Stats of Immigrants

Stats of Immigrants

Last night I had the privilege and honor of meeting Hector and Dianna from Honduras. This husband and wife came to an info session for our Spanish General Education Program that allows students with limited English proficiency to enroll directly into college-level courses that are delivered in Spanish to facilitate English language learning.

Hector asked most of his questions in Spanish, worried that his English was not strong enough to convey the complex and sophisticated questions he had about the program. He needed to be sure he understood the details.

I discovered Hector was about to turn 55 and wanted his Associate’s degree so that he could become a para-educator in the local public school.  After the meeting was over, I asked Hector and Dianna to tell me why they came to the United States. Being the grandson of an immigrant from Spain, I am always curious about the reasons a person leaves their home country to come to the U.S.A. Hector told me his story. At 5:39 am on June 28, 2009, Honduras experienced a coup d’état in the form of a constitutional crisis, resulting in public protests and military intervention. At the time, Hector, who had served as a teacher and a principal in the local school system, was a professor of Sociology at a local university.  Dianna taught Geology at the same university. Feeling a sense of duty and obligation, they recorded some of the public protests and sent the footage to media outlets in the United States and other countries.  As a result, they were threatened by local authorities and forced to flee from their home and to seek asylum in the U.S., a place they had only visited earlier in their lives.

Meat Packing Plant

Meat Packing Plant

Today, this former university professor works in a meat processing plant, literally slaughtering cattle with a knife, every day. Dianna, recently promoted to a union representative, had also worked in the ground beef packing division of the same meat processing plant.

As a former Director of Admissions, I have personally conveyed to incoming students the value of an education, describing it as an investment that will have a lifetime return.  What I learned from Hector and Dianna is that I was wrong.  I learned that the same system of higher education that makes those bold promises of irrefutable value is the same system that diminishes it.

This week I have met Spanish-speaking students who hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from institutions in their home countries that are not recognized by the American education system.  Forcing these students to start over, only after being subjected to months, if not years, of ESL programs, is an outrage.  As I listened to Hector and Dianna, the full gamut of emotions swept over me – from sorrow, to frustration then to anger – at how something like this could possibly happen in a system purportedly run by highly educated individuals.  Then my thoughts turned to the hypothetical – how quickly could this could happen to us if something equally as catastrophic happened in our hometown?  How many of us in HigherEd would be willing to seek asylum in another country, kill cows with a large knife and package their parts while possessing the intellect and education to be a professor or an administrator at a college?

eduKan's ELL Program

eduKan’s ELL Program

Hector and Dianna’s passion for education and their patience with their new American life has inspired me to so something about the situation.  Frankly, I am not sure what that is, but I made a promise to my new friends to help them in any way I can. They truly feel blessed to have the opportunity to be in the U.S. and to raise their three children in a country as free as ours. Although they make more money as meat packing employees in the U.S. than they did as university professors in Honduras, Hector is relentlessly pursuing his Associate’s degree, not to earn a promotion at the plant, but to earn certification to be a Para-educator at his children’s school – a job that fills his soul more than his wallet.


Online Learning saves money for students and institutions

Universities with online programs want a learning management system that is not only easily deployable, but also includes features that can improve student retention—a problem that is particularly concerning to online institutions….

Mark Sarver, CEO of eduKan, said the consortium of community colleges… serves approximately 5,000 students.

eduKan’s research found that about 50 percent of its students were purchasing textbooks through college bookstores, while the other half of students took their business elsewhere—or failed to purchase textbooks altogether.

“We found students dropping classes early on because they didn’t have books,” said Sarver. Investing in Pearson LearningStudio opened up digitally embedded content and open educational resources (OER) for students to use, thereby alleviating costs. Today, students pay a $115 resource fee that includes everything they’ll need for class, which, compared to the previous $225 average textbook cost, is a welcome change.

Pearson LearningStudio’s operational reporting capabilities also greatly benefit eduKan….

…“allow us to look at where students are, how they’re engaging—with each other, with a faculty member—and we’ve done some correlation studies looking at the correlation between students who spend time in threaded discussions and their success rate in classes,” said Sarver.

Perhaps above all else, eduKan values Pearson LearningStudio’s ability to identify “weak points” in a given course. eduKan hopes that through editing and reconstructing courses, it can generate stronger student outcomes in the future.

“What [Pearson LearningStudio] allows us to do [is], you can look in and see, ‘All of our students are struggling with differential equations,’ and we can go to the professor and say, ‘Here are all these resources, let’s find a better way to teach this,’” said Sarver. “This is the ultimate academic freedom.”

Find the complete story here at eCampus News.

This is a replay of the LIVE eduKan TV talk show hosted by Dr. Mark Sarver on 19 October 2012. The topic covered: Technology: Students Using it & Faculty Trying to Keep Up

Guests – Dr. James Wallis II, professor at the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College, who uses an active learning style that includes field research, facilated learning, and the use of the natural environments as the classroom and also joining us will be Scot Chadwick, VP at Pearson who is working on the next generation of learning management systems.

eduKan provides access to quality higher education including ESL courses via college degrees, certificates, & individual courses with affordable online classes.

Subscribe to our channel – follow us on Facebook or Twitter and join the conversation.

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Here’s 15 news stories from the last month about flipping the classroom.

There are news stories and web articles about reverse instruction, or ‘flipping the classroom’, published just about every day lately. Here’s 15 news stories from the last 4 weeks focused on this instructional technology phenomenon. Many of these articles mention ‘the flip’ in their title (and for every one of these, there have been one or two additional articles that discuss the concept).

In addition to listing these articles here, I’ve also created and shared a videoand a Slideshare deck to help to bring attention to this powerful idea and spread the word about it to educators everywhere. If you want to spread the word too, please pass this article or one of these other presentations on to your colleagues.

1. ‘Flipped Classroom’ Makes Most of Hands-On Time,Education Week, April 25, 2012

2. The Flipped Classroom,, Heart Beat , Barat Academy, Chesterfield, MO April 27, 2012

3. Framingham High teachers try ‘flipped classroom’ format, The MetroWest Daily News, April 24, 2012

4. ‘Flipped Classroom’ Getting A Tryout At Suburban High SchoolsCBS Chicago, April 23, 2012

5. A New Homework Strategy: Flipped ClassroomsHartford Courant, April 25, 2012

6. Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than VideoGeek Dad on, April 13, 2012

7. With A New Education Platform, TED Gives Teachers The Keys To A Flipped ClassroomTechCrunch, April 24, 2012

8. Inside The Flipped ClassroomThe Journal, April 11, 2012

9. The flip: Classwork at home, homework in classThe Washington Post, April 15, 2012

10. St. Gabriel’s Launches 1:1 iPad Initiative To Flip ClassroomsThe Journal, April 3, 2012

11. ‘Flipped classroom’ model leaps to Long (Long Island Business News), April 4, 2012

11. Conference to explore best practices in flipped learning,eSchoolNews, April5, 2012

13. Is Reverse Instruction Education Technology’s Perfect Storm?EmergingEdTech, April 8, 2012

14. Arizona schools flipping homework, lecturesAZCentral, 12 News March 31, 2012

15. Mishicot Middle School tried new model for math class,, April 13, 2012

 Thanks to Emerging Tech for this reference.

Here are a list of online resources our faculty members have found helpful. Most are free. Feel free to add your favorites by posting a reply with the name and web address.


Open educational resources (OER) are “digitized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research.”

OER include different kinds of digital assets. Learning content includes courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals. Tools include software that supports the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content, searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and on-line learning communities. Implementation resources include intellectual property licenses that govern open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content. They also include materials on best practices such as stories, publication, techniques, methods, processes, incentives, and distribution.

Open Educational Resources websites:

MERLOT- Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching at

National Repository for Online Courses content and in house materials —

The California State University system has been implementing a “Affordable Learning Solutions” initiative for about a year.   They have organized many open learning resources into a “one-stop shop” that is open to everyone – see

CSU have built some simple applications where a faculty or student can type in the ISBN of their textbook and “OER Finder” will provide a list of open learning resources associated with the topic of the textbook see or if you only want to find open textbooks (vs. course modules, online courses, etc), use the OER Finder at . The Affordable Learning Solutions and the OER Finder is built on the long term success of MERLOT ( – an open online library of over 27,000 open learning resources, many of which have been peer reviewed by academic editorial boards.

CSU has started having faculty share their course syllabi that illustrates how they are substitute open learning resources for textbooks (see for some initial samples.

The CSU also has tested the strategy of licensing digital textbooks (“Renting Digital”) at a significantly lower cost (35% of new textbook price for the pilot studies).   You can read about the CSU’s Digital Marketplace project at and the “licensed content” project at: and the Digital Marketplace 2010 year-end report presentation on the open future and the speaker is Dr. David Wiley. While not totally open there is a large FIPSE Grant that was given to Florida State College in Jacksonville. They have a project called SIRIUS Academics which provides low cost course contents and books on several courses with more in the works. Person to contact if you are interested is Rick Granger: phone: 904-632-3307. Also you may contact Leslie Balsiger for materials that she has on this topic

Going hybrid

For those faculty in our member colleges who are thinking about creating hybrid courses, here are some great resources. Most are from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

For those faculty in our member colleges who are thinking about creating hybrid courses, here are some great resources. Most are from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.