According to Brian Sattler, distance learning is one of the fastest-growing aspects of higher education in the U.S., significantly outpacing traditional enrollment growth. This is quite evident here are Lamar University, where 30 percent of Lamar’s credit hours are now generated through online courses and nearly 4,000 of Lamar’s current students never set foot on our campus (2012). These numbers have steadily increased over the last 3 years as we have continually added new programs to our online course offerings. Disruptive innovation is taking an existing product or service and making it simpler, more convenient, accessible and affordable. In our case, focusing on distance learning and online degree programs making higher education more attainable for a larger number of people. The catalyst for these changes at Lamar started as a partnership with Higher Ed Holdings, now known as Academic Partnerships; this relationship was the initial disruptive innovation in my organization. This has impacted Lamar by increasing enrollments, profits, sustainability, and ultimately recognition in the realm of education.
While we continue to develop and add new programs we are continually strengthening our infrastructure to support new technologies. We’ve recently made improvements to our wireless network and currently we are implementing better technologies into our learning management system (LMS), Blackboard, which supports faculty that teach online and/or face-to-face courses. Kaltura, a new video platform, will improve the ease of use and accessibility of rich media in online environments for faculty and students. We are also adding Blackboard Collaborate and Communities which will enhance our collaborative online experiences and create virtual learning spaces. These are great additions for the university but it’s not enough. How can we use new and existing technologies as a catalyst for change in our learning environments campus-wide? If we just implement these technologies without changing our culture of teaching and learning, in relation to the technology, this is merely sustaining innovation. Christensen (2011) said that organizations must introduce disruptive innovations in order for them to be successful.
In order for Lamar to continue to be successful we must continue to evolve as a University. We must discover and adopt a new disruptive innovation initiative that will be a catalyst for new changes in our organization and begin to revolutionize our current learning environments and the higher education system even more. We need a “new” transformation of curriculum and learning. It is important that our teaching cultures and philosophies drastically change to meet the current needs of our students, whether they attend classes that are face-to-face, hybrid, or entirely online. We need to find a way to incorporate a more personalized learning experience. Most importantly, we need to provide our student’s with the tools to learn how to learn and foster their desire for continued learning, creativity, and personal knowledge building.
Today’s students want a mobile, social, active and collaborative learning experience and we should strive to provide that. With that being said, we should take advantage of the fact that so many students own and use multiple devices on campus. How can we incorporate mobile technology, something that is an integral part of a student’s daily routine, into academics? Could this be the next disruptive innovation at Lamar? What are other institutions similar to ours doing in regards to mobile learning and technology? I think it would be very beneficial for Lamar’s administration to research new, upcoming trends or initiatives for our institution in regards to mobile technology. They should look to other universities to see what new educational models they may be implementing and how they could fit into our organization to enhance our students’ learning. In closing, Lamar needs to be proactive and embrace these opportunities for growth and advancement through disruptive innovation.
Christensen, C.M., Horn, M.B., Caldera, L., Soares, L. (February 2011). Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education. Retrieved from https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2011/02/pdf/disrupting_college.pdf
Sattler, B. (2012). ON CAMPUS OR ONLINE: Lamar University a leader in learning. Retrieved from http://www.lamar.edu/news-and-events/cardinal-cadence/2012-issues/on-campus-or-online.html