Ernst & Young Predict Australian MOOCopalypse

November 19, 2012 at 8:27 am 8 comments

Well, this is depressing.  The report describes three models of universities that Ernst & Young predicts will survive the MOOCopalypse.  They believe that traditional “status quo” universities can make it, if they streamline.  The other two models that they predict will succeed are “niche dominators” and “transformers.”  Arnold Pears argues that an important key to success is to build on the advantages of having a physical campus.

Universities will not survive the next 10 to 15 years unless they radically overhaul their current business models, according to a challenging report released this week. The report claims that the current university model – a broad-based teaching and research institution with a large base of assets and back office – will prove unviable in all but a few cases.

Although the 30-page report by the international professional services company Ernst & Young refers specifically to Australia’s higher education institutions, its conclusions would apply to those in many other Western countries.

via Universities face uncertain future without radical overhaul – University World News.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg Wilson  |  November 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I predict that within five years, we will see companies offering residential campus life to 18-25’s who are getting their education online. They’ll provide exam invigilation (so that those digital badges the kids are earning actually mean something), a gym, lab and studio space for sciences and the arts, and most importantly, a chance to socialize.

  • 2. alfredtwo  |  November 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

    But where will young people who just want to drink and party for four years go after high school? OK I jest – mostly. But I just have trouble seeing MOOCs succeed for any but the most highly motivated students. Even there the technology is not yet there to provide the socialization, interpersonal skills development and guidance that a good university education provides. A lot of students need the four years out of the family basement learning life skills beyond the “merely” academic. A great many students are forces to take courses (gen ed requirements) that they don’t know or think they need to have. Education does not fit nicely into standard business models. I doubt it ever will.

  • 3. Chris Goedde  |  November 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Am I the only one who thinks that those predicting the MOOCopalypse don’t understand (a) education and (b) people?

    If you skim the E&Y report, it’s pretty clear the authors assume a transmission theory of education, e.g. “digital technologies will transform the way education is delivered and accessed”. Um, I don’t think that education is something that can be “delivered” or “accessed”. Information can be, but information != education.

    As for the people part, I don’t see teenagers/young adults clamoring for online courses. We are a long, long way from online tools that can even approximate the sort of social interaction and learning community you have at a university.

    As far as I can see, for the foreseeable future, MOOCs are more like online textbooks or libraries than courses.

    • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  November 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

      You’re not the only one. 🙂

    • 5. nickfalkner  |  November 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Good point, Chris. I keep making the same parallel between the library and the MOOC. Both are incredibly useful but they don’t provide the scaffolding and assistance of a good educator, who facilitates the knowledge transfer and development of mastery.

      I also note that the E&Y report has been criticised locally for being too pessimistic and implicitly encouraging investment into business model universities that have education as a commodity.

      You’re most definitely not the only one.

    • 6. Mark Urban-Lurain  |  November 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm


      Many have noted that the proper analog for MOOCs are textbooks, not “instruction,” but that model is not perceived as disruptive as a MOOCopalypse so not likely to generate the same buzz.

      The MOOC hype is another in a long line of technology silver bullets that people who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat. We hope to solve hard problems (education) with easy solutions (technology) as Larry Cuban, Richard Clark and others have pointed out for many years.

      MOOCs are following the same trajectory: A new technology is introduced into the education space. The innovators gush over the “potential” to “revolutionize” education. A few high profile early adopters get lots of press. Administrators start fearing that “we’ll be left behind” so we have to be involved and the lemming-like rush is on. Scarce resources are poured into the effort. A few years pass and nothing changes. Repeat with next big thing. This history has repeated for radio, television, early CBT efforts, PCs, the web, online education, hybrid education…

      Back to Mark’s original post: I’m surprised that E&Y would be so naive; don’t they have any economists on their staff? What’s the economic model here that is so disruptive? We give away the instruction? After the initial rush into this space that is funded by venture capitalists or Gates Foundation, where is the revenue stream? People don’t pay for “courses” they pay for “degrees.” I can read every textbook in the library and answer all the questions in the back of the chapters, but I won’t have a degree. While this may be personally gratifying, the majority of students are looking (and paying) for certification from their educational efforts.

      Higher Ed is not an open, competitive market because only accredited schools are allowed to compete in this market space, so simply offering courses doesn’t make you a competitor because you can not offer what people are willing to pay for.

  • […] and the changes that are coming to higher education. I realized that people can only believe that MOOCs can replace existing higher-education classes if they misunderstand what a teacher […]

  • 8. Time for a MOOC reckoning - HESA  |  October 10, 2019 at 7:00 am

    […] and advised educational institutions about how to navigate this new world.  And not just Ernst & Young (though they were perhaps the most egregious offender); there are lots of other small and […]


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