My edtech antennae went up when reading Paul Fain's article yesterday on Possible Probation for Phoenix. It is clear from both the article and comments that this is an important and complicated story.
Many folks in our IHE community will have questions and strong opinions around the specific accreditation issues.
I'd like to focus on the sentence:
"...the draft report included a number of positive findings, including references to the university being 'well resourced and innovative,' and praise for its high level of student services and related technology."
It is this innovation and technology story that I'm most curious about when it comes to U of P.
What exactly did the HLC see that led them to make these positive conclusions?
My own experience with Phoenix's Innovator's Accelerator online course leads me to believe that the company has both the will and the wherewithal to invest in innovative learning platforms and advanced course design methodologies.
What I'm curious about is the degree to which the investments in online platforms and learning design, investments that are so apparent in the Innovator's Accelerator course, are also present in the rest U of P's online courses?
My questions are:
- How can we evaluate HLC's assertions about Phoenix's around innovation and technology investments?
- Within U of P what is the thinking about sharing what educators there have learned about online course development and digital learning platforms with the higher ed community?
- What is the appropriate and correct balance between the benefits of transparency vs. the risks of exposing the intellectual property of the company to competitors?
- Can we find ways to collaborate with the leadership of U of P so that we can all learn from the investments and advances that the company has made in learning?
- How does the for-profit status of U of P impact how advances in learning technology are disseminated in our community?
- Are non-profits inherently more open to transparency, or are we equally concerned about our competitive position and intellectual property?
I tend to think that U of P, and the other for-profits such as Kaplan, Capella, etc...have a great deal to gain from active, open and authentic engagement with our larger postsecondary community.
I believe that an active policy of diffusing innovations around online learning would constitute an effective strategy for improving brand reputation.
My hypothesis is that Phoenix and the other for-profits have invested a great deal of resources in evolving the state of the art in online learning.
How can we evaluate this hypothesis and learn from these innovations?