Downloading Mobile Content, Executive Education, and the Future of Course Materials

Does the new entertainment tell us anything about where education may be going?

February 5, 2018

This week I’m traveling.  In preparation for my trip, I downloaded some digital content.


Video (iPhone):

There is no way that I’ll read or watch all of this content. Most likely, I’ll make the most progress on the audiobook. (Although I may not even get to the Ferguson book, as I’m currently listening to The Innovation Illusion: How So Little Is Created by So Many Working So Hard.

If I get stuck in an airport, or have some extra time on my hands, I will not lack for content.  Even better, the content is downloaded to devices that fit in my pockets. No need to find a WiFi signal. As long as I have battery power, I can stay entertained.

Compare the experience downloading all this digital content to my iPhone and Kindle to what my kids need to do to get course materials.

My girls, (1st and 2nd year students college students), seem to go through a bewildering set of options and steps in securing course materials each semester.

Sometimes they buy physical books from their campus bookstores.  Sometimes they rent.  Sometimes they get digital copies from the publisher.  Sometimes they get physical or digital copies from Amazon. 

Sometimes they buy new, sometimes used.  Sometimes the material is available digitally or in print from their academic libraries.  Sometimes not.

We never know how much they will need to spend to get their course materials.

None of the costs for course materials are covered by tuition or fees or scholarships.

They certainly can’t count of a reliable and consistent ability to download all their course materials to their phones (or a Kindle).

Sometimes their course materials work on mobile devices.  Sometimes not.

With some notable exceptions (Lynn University, others?), the only area of higher education that seems to match my mobile download entertainment experience is executive education.

Executive education programs seem to be moving towards both wrapping program content into tuition and fees, and to be making that content available for download on mobile devices.

Moving towards bundled pricing downloadable digital mobile course materials seems to be one area that schools can differentiate.

In a competitive marketplace for applicants and yield, will we start to see institutional leadership push for advances in digital course materials?

Is executive education really starting to look more like mobile entertainment when it comes to program materials?

What sorts of undergraduate schools do you expect will prioritize changing the student course material experience?

Is this an area that higher education should be investing, or is this just another example of (well-meaning) ideas that only serve to drive up the costs of college?


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