Home > Distance Education, Educational Reform, Educational Technology, Higher Education > Yes, University of Phoenix is Disruptive; No, That Doesn’t Make It the End-All

Yes, University of Phoenix is Disruptive; No, That Doesn’t Make It the End-All

By Michael Horn

Many of my friends in the education world are fond of talking about how the University of Phoenix is not in fact a disruptive innovation.

They don’t just stop this statement with the University of Phoenix of course. I’m using the University of Phoenix as shorthand. What they mean are many of the distinctly online universities that have emerged over the last couple of decades—everyone from Kaplan University to DeVry to Bridgepoint.

They are wrong. These online universities are disruptive innovations relative to traditional universities. They are now on their own sustaining innovation track, which every disruptive innovation moves to as it grows, expands, improves, and marches up market. It’s also true that not all of them will succeed in these endeavors.

The fact that I’m saying they are disruptive innovations in the face of many saying they aren’t strikes me as ironic, given that I often find my job is to correct people who want to declare nearly everything disruptive and misapply the term. I also readily admit that online learning isn’t inherently disruptive; when it’s used in a hybrid format to complement or extend traditional brick-and-mortar learning, chances are it’s being used as a sustaining innovation. No technology is inherently a disruptive innovation, as all technologies can be applied to sustain or disrupt the industry’s incumbents.

Visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2012/04/12/yes-university-of-phoenix-is-disruptive-no-that-doesnt-make-it-the-end-all/

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