Why am I interested in engaging with (talking to, spending time with, breaking bread with etc.) people (leadership, faculty, administrators) who work for for-profit EDU institutions?
Culture: The for-profit EDU culture is one I really don't know too much about. My gut level sense is that the vast majority of people who work in for-profit EDU will strongly identify as educators. They work in for-profit EDU settings because they believe that for-profits have an important part to play in delivering higher education, and that they have an opportunity to disrupt the traditional status quo of higher ed. I think of for-profit administrators and technology people and faculty as colleagues, but I don't really know what their day-to-day life is like, how their jobs are different from similar positions at non-profits, and what they think about the changing world of higher ed.
Course Design: I'm working with a team to design and deliver a world-class, best-in-breed, hybrid (on-ground and online) graduate degree program for adult working professionals. http://mhcds.dartmouth.edu/  I'm wondering what I can learn from the for-profits in terms of best practices for course design.
Differentiation: My sense is that there exists a diversity of for-profit EDU providers. Some offer a terrific education and good value for the tuition dollar, and some put out an inferior product. We tend to lump together all for-profit EDU institutions in a way that we don't do for non-profits.
Open Learning: I've got to believe that the for-profit EDU providers have developed a huge number of multimedia learning objects, simulations, and other great learning materials. I'd love to engage in a dialogue with the for-profit EDU folks about putting Creative Commons Copyright designations on these learning objects, and then making them available for non-profit institutions to utilize in courses. Community colleges and other non-profits could never afford to create high quality specialized multimedia learning objects, and would greatly benefit from these educational resources being made available.
Technology: What EDU technology platforms (LMS's, lecture capture tools, media management systems, etc.) are utilized by the for-profits? Are these platforms the same ones we use in the non-profit world? Is the learning experience as mediated through technology similar across for and non-profits? What can we learn from how the for-profits manage their technology platforms, and deal with issues such as scale, redundancy, performance and security?
Faculty: Who are the faculty for the for-profits? In particular, who are the full-time faculty? Is a for-profit teaching gig a good alternative to academics who primarily love to teach? Are for-profits growing the hiring of full-time faculty, or is it only a small group with most teaching done by adjuncts.
People: I don't really know these folks. For whatever reasons, we don't seem to run in the same professional circles, and I don't see them at conferences or professional development opportunities or read their blogs.
Transparency: Mostly, I'd like to figure out how to build bridges across the non and for-profit education worlds. To try and get beyond the for/non profit label, and look at educational outcomes. To do this, I'm convinced that we need to meet each other half-way, and find opportunities to share information. We all need to be more transparent in our practices, and be willing to talk to each other about things we do particularly well and things we want to do better.
Can you think of examples of collaboration and dialogue across the for-and-non profit EDU worlds?
What would be the best ways to accomplish these goals of getting to know each other, and then sharing what we learn?
What are the downsides or risks of initiating this type of communication (for all sides involved?)
Who wants to start the discussion?