Institutional leaders are looking for the next big idea — the ability to leave behind a legacy of innovation and student success. But what does innovation mean? For some it means scaling high-tech platforms that promote personal learning approaches, for others it’s redefining traditional course materials to more modern, affordable and sustainable options.
In a recent report published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled, “The Innovation Imperative”, they share information and insights on the topic of innovation, including what it looks like in higher education, barriers to progress, and an in-depth look at what students really think about it.
Arizona State University (ASU)
How can you integrate online with the rest of your institution, and align everyone’s incentives for success?
It takes the ability to scale
Ranked #1 in the nation for innovation by U.S. News and World Report for five years running, ASU provides a number of opportunities for its students to get the most out of technology and creativity.
Innovation at work:
- ASU Online, a fully online degree program, scaled from 8,200 to 41,000 students in six years, as its portfolio of programs has grown from 33 to 173.1.
- Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an innovative partnership with a large corporation, covers tuition for students who work there 20 hours/week.
- ASU Prep Digital, a college readiness program, allows high school students to start prepping now through a blend of high school and university coursework.
A centerpiece of ASU’s innovation strategy is that scaling isn’t just about the number of programs. It’s about evaluating your marketing efforts to recruit ever-larger numbers of students.
Michael M. Crow, the university’s president since 2002, believes the role of institutions like his is to “find ways to massively innovate” to ensure that growing numbers of students can have high-quality educational opportunities.
How do you set costs to optimize enrollment, serve students, and sustain your program?
It takes return on investment
Gone are the days of brick and mortar as the only model for higher ed. As the nation’s first online nonprofit university, Western Governors University’s programs are delivered solely online, meeting the needs of today’s non-traditional student body, allowing them to graduate faster and at a lower cost.
Innovation at work:
- The University only offers degrees in business, IT, teacher education, and health care. Through this specialization, WGU is able to serve more students at lower costs.
- A competency-based education model allows students to advance upon mastery making education accessible to more students, and better preparing America’s workforce.
- A unique faculty and instructional model where different people are responsible for monitoring a student’s progress helps lower administrative costs.
Low tuition is one of WGU’s hallmarks because, as its president, Scott Pulsipher, has said, affordability “increases the access for so many to be served.”
How can you differentiate and future-proof both new and existing online programs?
It takes adaptability
The world we’re in right now requires adaptive change, particularly when it comes to lifelong learning — no matter what that looks like. To meet this demand, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) has established one of the biggest online-education operations of any college in the country, with an enrollment of more than 120,000.
Innovation at work:
- SNHU has been recognized for its pioneering work in serving refugees overseas.
- Its Shapiro Library Innovation Lab & Makerspace supports students, faculty, and staff in exploring new technologies, learning new skills, and developing innovation.
- College for America, its partnership program with employers, provides low-cost, high-quality education for working adults.
The university aims to be ready for the changing needs of students by, in the words of its president, Paul LeBlanc, “future proofing” the institution.
Learn how you can make your mark through the adoption of innovative practices.
Information from this report comes from The Innovation Imperative by The Chronicle of Higher Education 2019.