Home Online Education Access and Affordability Another Article about the Transformation of American Higher Education

Another Article about the Transformation of American Higher Education


Articles about transformations in higher education are being published daily, it seems.    Many of them focus on affordability and the fact that the increasing costs in higher education in the United States cannot continue to exceed inflation or the increase in earning power of Americans.  Very few of these articles, however, offer solutions or examples of solutions to the high cost conundrum.

In the September issue of Fast Company Magazine, Anya Kamenetz writes an interesting article entitled “How Web-Savvy Edupunks are Transforming American Higher Education.”  She begins the article by discussing how the internet and various applications or sites such as Google, YouTube Edu, iTunesU, Wikipedia, and Facebook have changed the way all of us share information.

Yet while colleges like MIT have placed all of their coursework online for free, an MIT degree costs about $189,000.  She cites Jim Groom, an “instructional technologist” at the University of Mary Washington as stating, “Colleges have become outrageously expensive, yet there remains a general refusal to acknowledge the implications of new technologies.”  According to Kamenetz, Groom coined the term “edupunk” to describe the high-tech do-it-yourself education.

Open CourseWare has grown tremendously, but students who use it don’t earn degrees.  Kamenetz profiles David Wiley, Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, who has cofounded a free, not-for-profit, online public charter high school in Utah called Open High School of Utah that uses open courseware.  Wiley is also an officer of Flat World Knowledge that commissions professors to write open-source textbooks that are free online.

The article also mentions Peer2Peer University founded by Neeru Paharia, a PhD student at Harvard Business School.  Peer2Peer’s website is used to convene and schedule classes, meetings, and tutoring sessions.  Its founders are trying to offer something priced somewhere between free and cheap.  Kamenetz compares it to the University of the People, founded by Shai Reshef, which offers an online business degree for a total of approximately $4,000.  The University of the People is unaccredited at this point in time.

Kamenetz discusses the growing movement toward open-education, both from a foundation perspective (Hewlett Foundation initially) and also from new sources of funding like the federal government and entrepreneurs.  She concludes by stating that we’ve gone from a scarcity of knowledge to unimaginable abundance and that new technologies will evolve new communities of scholars.

I enjoyed reading the article and believe that Kamenetz is on the right track.  The availability of free information could be a dislodging event in higher education.  We’ll see if some of the startups mentioned in Kamenetz’s article are the survivors or just the dislodgers.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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