A Disruptive Model Already In Effect

As the thrust for disruptive higher education models gains steam, Kentucky’s two-year colleges have been quietly developing a program for  three years aimed at working adults and incorporating modular courses leading to stackable credentials that have both self-paced and competency-based elements.

“There was still an audience that we were missing, and that was working adults,” said System Chancellor Jay Box on the creation of the program, called “Learn on Demand”.

To the delight of those advocating disruptive models, Learn on Demand has been steadily increasing returns. According to Kentucky Community and Technical College System officials, the program enrolls roughly 1,000 students at any given time and say the convenience of the classes—which can be broken down into modules that take as little as three weeks to complete—have been a boon for further enrollments.

The modular format of the courses has benefits in more areas than completion time. Students can enroll whenever they want without the burden of fixed schedules or deadlines in the self-paced courses. Students can also leave and re-enter the program without facing the barriers that students in traditional programs must overcome.

The program is also working to develop a more efficient approach to remedial learning, which critics point to as being expensive and, at times, unnecessary without leading directly to a credential. Learn on Demand includes a college readiness course that allows students to test out of individual modules and breaks down remedial requirements into smaller chunks.

According to Paul Fain of Inside Higher Ed, the program was developed from the Western Governor’s University model. The program also took notes from the University of Phoenix’s ability too run online programs all-day, every-day with student services officials and faculty always on-call.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College system is also on the crest of a different disruptive wave, one where colleges band together to share their resources and deliver joint-courses and programs to students. The advantage is that it allows institutions to expand their offerings by pooling their resources, market online programs statewide and compete with the big advertising budgets boasted by the for-profit sector. However, critical to this step is colleges accepting that they must loosen their grip on the reins.

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