Teachers’ shortage & Internet’s magic wand – II

by rohit on February 4, 2008

In post I, we covered teachers’ shortage and technology solutions in use to date.

In this post (II of 3 parts), there are a couple of reflections on how technology can transform learning (higher education) ,over and above it’s use in combating the teachers shortage.

4. The Gary Hamel solution

Gary Hamel, (probably still best known as co-author – with C.K. Prahalad – of Competing for the Future) and one of the more radical management gurus of our time, had, in his 2000 book Leading a Revolution, presented a disruptive business model for a B-school. Technology of web and video (satellite TV) was to be used to make this disruption possible.

This is Hamel’s model: create a world-class B-school, as follows.

Take top 2-3 star professors from each of 10 MBA schools in the U.S. Give them a $1 million salary and equity in the B-school.

Aim to reach 100,000 students through live satellite broadcasts and Webcasts.

Have a network of second level tutors to engage with students locally. Do not have an entrance exam but have a demanding exit exam. The entrance should be based on 3 letters of recommendation viz. (1) “against the odds” type of accomplishment, (2) applicant in leadership role (even if humble) and (3) contribution the applicant has made to community.

Courses should be based on issues e.g. globalization & it’s impact, not traditional disciplines e.g. international trade.

Unlike faculty of regular universities, these star faculty will not need to do research themselves but can instead hire research staff whom they will supervise. (In the U.S., research is a key requirement of faculty). They will thus have free time to devote to create quality videos and online course material.

Course fees will be kept lower than at the top MBA schools. The GLA can afford high salaries as well as keep course fees lower, since it will have high margins.

Importantly, as opposed to about 6000 students in the 10 MBA schools who receive quality education, a 100,000 plus will now be covered.

Business education will then begin to resemble investment banking or basketball (or cricket, if I may add my own two bit) where the best get paid star salaries (In cricket, the salaries are not outstanding, but the endorsements are. Thus, Sachin Tendulkar current wealth is ~ Rs. 400 crores or $100 million, by one report).

So that was Hamel’s global virtual B-school.

I believe :

  • The above B-school model can be applied to courses other than business management.
  • There is value in having a few global “star” teachers, any which way. In today’s globalizing world, such teachers will help provide an unparalleled perspective for practicing professionals.
  • The creation of some “star” faculty will raise the stature of teaching as a profession and make aspirational teaching as a career.
  • Creation of “star faculty” will also hopefully give rise to a second rung league of many more top-notch professors who too will be paid very well.Not unlike the increase in match fees for players who play in Ranji Trophy, India’s domestic cricket circuit. This increase came consequent to an increase in emolument of the Indian national cricket team.Incidentally much of Gary Hamel’s model has been tried already. The current online universities viz. University of Phoenix and Universitas Global practice some of these ideas. But, they don’t dream big enough. They don’t have star faculty AND top notch quality,relevant content AND affordable fees.

    MIT’s OCW is one model that has made rapid strides. But for reasons, I can’t put my fingers exactly on, it leaves me dissatisfied.

    It’s typically got lecture presentations in pdf or word format put online. But these presentations have not been edited to cater to a non-MIT audience. Some lecture notes are often only in an outline form. Video or even audio content is available only for a minority of the 1800 odd courses. There are no tools available for interactivity with M.I.T. or among the learners. Just static, vanilla content. Did M.I.T. really want to encourage open education or did they just want to put content online ? Am going to take another look (it’s vast content ,cutting across 1800 courses) but..I was expecting more.

    And the content is of course not suitable as is to local e.g. Indian market needs or Indian university curricula. The textbooks and journals from which readings are prescribed may not be available in India / outside the U.S.

    6.1% of the visitors to the OCW site, as per the latest report available were from South Asia (no data on India). This seems low. None of the top 100 educational domains or 100 non-educational (corporate) domains from which visitors land on the OCW site are from India.

    Coming up in part III of this blog post, a model for education which promises to do it all 🙂

5. Advantages of an online education:

A couple of comments here :

5.1 Here are some excerpts from a piece Peter Drucker wrote on online education in a May 15, 2000 issue of Forbes magazine. A synopsis of that article :

“Today demand for lifetime education is high, especially from people who are already educated. These people sense they are not keeping up with what they need to know on the job. Greater speed of change in the world means more demand for learning:

Firstly, professionals can barely keep up with the rapid progress in their fields. Secondly, earlier, one could expect lifetime employment with organizations, not so today. Organizations themselves do well only for short periods of time. People have no chance of working for their company even a decade later. So from a job mobility point of view, it’s important that people keep themselves up-to-date.

Continuing education could already be another 6% of U.S. GNP and growing. 40% of total US work force are knowledge workers.

These working people however are busy & cannot commute. They need flexible and accessible ways of learning.In addition to it’s convenience, the interactivity of online education with its facility for blending graphics and pictures with the spoken word, gives it an advantage over the typical classroom. It is like a 1-1 student – teacher ratio. Online Chat rooms are also useful.

This new online education channel would be complementary and additional to existing channels”.

5.2 Some advantages of online learning, from a working professional’s point of view :

  • Doesn’t uproot your family
  • Doesn’t put your career on hold
  • Doesn’t require you to pay exhorbitant fees
  • You can live far away from the faculty
  • Not so tough to get in, there is no limit to the number of students
  • Flexible timings and number of classes per week
    etc.More in post III.

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