"In 15 Years From Now Half of US Universities May Be in Bankruptcy"

Monday, March 4, 2013

“In 15 Years From Now Half of US Universities May Be in Bankruptcy.” Such was the quote of Clayton Christensen followed by, “… in the end I’m excited to see that happen. So pray for Harvard Business School if you wouldn’t mind.” 

Let me start by saying that Clayton is one of the most influential people on my thoughts about markets that led to both the concept behind my first startup and my main theses in investing. I have written about Deflationary Economics (one of my most read posts ever) & The Innovator’s Dilemma before. In a discussion I had with Fred Wilson at the Invesco LP meeting Fred said the same about the influence of Clayton.

So it was a real pleasure to be asked by Derek Anderson of Startup Grind to be able to interview Clayton for an audience of thousands (many in person, others by live broadcast).  Startup Grind was a truly awesome conference and Derek the consumate host. I hope to be asked back for next year’s event.

Clayton Christensen certainly didn’t disappoint. It was one of funnest discussions I’ve held with a senior leader and he was surprisingly open and frank. If you have some time I highly recommend watching it.

So what did he actually say?

Disruption of Education

He talked about how for centuries education had “no technological core” (meaning it was bound by physical locations) and thus disruption was very difficult. Obviously that barrier has been brought down with low-cost ability to capture, stream and distribute content over the Internet.

Today’s higher education is responding by making more courses online and available to people outside of physical boundaries.

But while universities are developing online content they are not fundamentally disrupting leaning because the method of delivery is not a new business model. “Online education is truly going to kill us.” He talked about the need to have content delivered closer to those in the work force who could immediately apply what they’re taught and then immediately be back in the classroom to discuss the implementation.

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