Misguided business model innovations

Institutions of higher ed are very susceptible to fall into every conceivable pitfall on the path to business model innovation. Here's a few of those upgrades that can easily tarnish quality, reputation, credibility and trust in the institution:
  1. Reducing expenses: . One way colleges have cut costs is to replace tenured faculty with part time adjuncts. This offers dramatic savings on payroll expenses like health care, vacation/sick pay, and contribution to retirement programs. The pay per hour, student or course is also significantly lower by cutting back on tenure track professors. Colleges can also close satellite campuses, art galleries, and other amenities that detract from driving down the cost of tuition or student fees.
  2. Generating additional revenue: Colleges can invest in what they hope will yield greater long term revenue from alumni, research grants and legislative funding. They may boost the reputation and rankings of their schools by spending large sums on NCAA sports competition, recruiting scholarships, athletic facilities, and coaches that get their school significant print and media coverage. They may invest in honors programs to attract the top ranked students who can be expected to make names for themselves and let some the glitter fall on their alma mater. They may also invest in dormitory upgrades and recreation facilities for the students who will become satisfied alumni making donations and bequeathing their estates to that institution where they experienced "the best years of their life".
  3. Expanding the product line: Schools can easily add additional academic departments, degree programs, new courses and sections of an over-enrolled course. An academic system, including the textbook publishers, can produce additional courses of study without making structural changes. Offering greater selection is presumed to keep their customers satisfied, just as automakers, software developers and consumer product companies have taken for granted. "Servicing the sale" can get added by additional counseling, activity and student support offices, programs and personnel.
  4. Appeasing the enrollment: Institutions may showcase their attempts at being innovative to appear progressive to the students. New technologies provide enticing opportunities to cast off the image of bureaucratic stagnation, stodgy faculty or falling behind the changing times. Responding to student complaints may result in added services to deal with campus security, parking, computer labs, off-hours building access, parental visits, etc.

On the surface, there's nothing wrong with these improvements. That's why academic institutions take the bait. These changes appear to be sustaining innovations that invest wisely in the future of the campus and the community of scholars. Here's how these well-intended changes will get indicted as clueless, inadequate and misguided once the disruptive innovations to higher ed come to town: These upgrades:
  • serve the existing customers who want the institution to persist and who oppose disruptive innovations too.
  • fail to recognize and respond to the non consumers who dropped out, who were denied access trying to get in or who got a diploma without a useful education.
  • improve classroom delivery of educational experiences on a schedule dictated by the registrar's office.
  • fail to improve the 24/7 delivery through handhelds, the discovery of each individual learner's context or the open source approaches to continual education
  • maintain the cultural norms of printed words, learned authorities, and published research
  • bemoan the erosion superior academic credentials and published expertise emerging from digital cloud computing applications

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