Dr. Wallace E. Boston is President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. In a recent blog post, he filed a report about a University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (GSE) conference entitled “Innovation in an Era of Disruptive Change.” At this forum, attendees heard from Dr. Jack Wilson, President Emeritus of the University of Massachusetts, who spoke on the topic: “Evolution or Revolution: Everyone Wants Universities to Change but Exactly How is Not so Clear.”
Dr. Boston reports the following: Dr. Wilson discussed his experience with online education in the early days of establishing UMass Online [sic]. He also discussed the online initiatives announced and funded by universities in the late 1990’s to include Columbia’s venture with Cardean, Fathom, Open University’s U.S. venture, etc. The great majority of those collaborations folded in a few years. UMass Online [sic] and the University of Maryland University College are among a handful that survived because they developed a business model that worked. Dr. Wilson’s point to the group was that MOOC’s (Massively Open Online Courses) appear to be the rage and there are initiatives with EdX, Coursera, and Udacity to name a few, but none of those companies have developed a long term business model at this point in time. This, according to Dr. Wilson, makes predicting their ability to survive and thrive more difficult.