At Southern New Hampshire U., very big. My latest Chronicle story looks at how online learning is energizing this little-known private college, even as some faculty fear for the future of its bricks-and-mortar campus.
Academe is abuzz with talk of “disruptive innovation”—the idea, described by Harvard’s Clayton M. Christensen, that the prestige- chasing, tuition-raising business model of higher education is broken, and that something new and cheaper, rooted in online learning, promises to displace it.
Southern New Hampshire, which is showcased in Mr. Christensen’s new book, The Innovative University, offers a case study of what happens when a college leader adopts some of the Harvard Business School professor’s strategies for managing disruptive change. Southern New Hampshire’s deep dive into Web teaching raises many questions facing colleges migrating online: How big will e-learning get? What will that mean for campuses? How will it break apart the role of traditional professors?
“They’re the first private nonprofit institution, with a traditional campus and traditional student body, that has really committed to scaling online,” says Richard Garrett, managing director at the consulting company Eduventures.