Higher EdTeach Better

Why the inability to innovate will sound the death knell for educators

Why is the call to innovate within education so strong today?
The call to innovate within education is so strong today due to the minimal change within the higher education business model over the past several hundred years. The traditional model has been to continue to raise tuition prices by 3 to 5 % every year with the expectation our consumers will continue to pay that. That is where business model innovation needs to take place. We need to identify new sources of nontraditional revenue streams, new lines of business, and potentially a whole new business model to face these challenges.

What is the biggest hurdle facing new innovative education models?
In my opinion, the biggest hurdle facing new innovative education models is tradition. We have a model in place that has not seen significant change historically, from tenure to class structure. But most importantly, to look at our students, parents, and community as our consumer. We are offering a product, and it must be a product they want to purchase.

What projects or ideas have you seen recently that you admire or watch closely?
There is one project in particular I have been watching the past year within our landscape. It is known as UnCollege – the gap year. This business model is for students who do not feel they are quite ready for traditional higher education and want to take a gap year to focus on personal skills. Although this is very new, I believe it has the ability to be a disruption within the landscape in the future.

What role is there for technology in education innovation?
The role of technology in education innovation is imperative. In a rapidly changing landscape no longer does technology grow at a linear rate, but much more so at an exponential rate. If we in higher education do not keep up with this growth and change, we will not meet the needs of our consumers, but most importantly, the needs of the ecosystem around us.

Pic ShawnBy Shawn Nason, Chief Innovation Officer and Innovation Evangelist at Xavier University.

Shawn has a diverse background in his professional career from being a musician, to a financial controller for the Walt Disney Company. On to being a Consumer Innovation Director within the healthcare sector, and finally a Chief Innovation Officer at one of the nation’s leading universities. The Xavier Center for Innovation is all about the spark. Inspiring and igniting the unique spark that exists in each and every person, community, organization, and company. “With a wealth of diverse business and academic experiences at our disposal, we leverage our collective innovation expertise in both the global marketplace and higher education. And through our proven system of innovation design, we know just how to tap into those individual sparks and how to use them to achieve great things.”

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