by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Robert Luddy writes for the Martin Center about the achievements of an education innovator.
Education has lost one its most important disruptors: Clayton Christensen, PhD and distinguished professor at Harvard Business School. After a successful career as the CEO of CPS Technologies, Christensen returned to school at age 40 to earn his PhD in business from Harvard University. He became a well-known scholar, particularly for his key contributions to our understanding of innovation and disruption. Christensen died on January 23.
Possibly one of his most important predictions of disruption playing out in the marketplace is about his own industry: higher education. After accepting an offer from the University of Phoenix to teach online lectures on various business principles, Christensen began to see the tide turning in favor of online higher education. Entertainment and cost-effectiveness were the main aspects of his University of Phoenix online lectures and he saw them becoming the order of the day in online higher education.
Online higher education solves many issues that traditional colleges and universities cannot even seem to approach: A large number of low-quality professors and a short supply of high-quality professors; exorbitant costs for housing and boarding on university campuses; and the massive capital cost for underutilized buildings.
Online higher education allows for one high-quality professor to teach thousands, or even millions, of viewers. Over time, even high-quality professors will be disrupted, as Christensen points out in his 2011 book, The Innovative University.