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Unbundling Education, A Simple Framework

Education provides ten services, listed here in the order of they will be disrupted.

Education provides ten services, listed here in the order they will be disrupted.

You can download a PDF version here.

12 Responses to “Unbundling Education, A Simple Framework”

  1. Joe McCarthy February 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Interesting framework. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the issues of credit & credentialing (and not just for higher education), and agree that a shift in what counts as job qualifications will precede a larger scale shift in what counts as accreditation.

    Just to clarify, do you intend to convey the order of disruption as dark to light (i.e., content delivery being disrupted first, transformational experience being last)?

    Also, I think there may be a typo in your caption.

  2. mpstaton February 10, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Hi Joe,

    Yes, my intention was to show the most easily replaced in dark and move it to the least easily replaced.

    Thanks for the typo catch. I’ve learned if I ever want to blog I should just ship, typo or not. There’s no time for perfectionism in social media. 🙂



  3. David Socha February 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Thanks for the unbundling. These thoughts fit into the theme of the upcoming UW Bothell Innovation Forum:

  4. Chris Cox February 13, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    I really enjoyed your article. It’s a nice balance. In fact, we are building a prototype that will cover most of what you’ve included in your framework. I would love to run it by you once we have it running. Let me know. Keep up the great pieces!


    • mpstaton February 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Hey Chris,

      I like it when good designers approach the education space from a disruptive angle. I’d love to be of assistance to you as you get off the ground. For now, make sure you go to the ASU Innovation in Education Summit.

      Word to the wise, the act of Unbundling only works if you actually Unbundle. So, you will only get good traction if you focus your product on one or two of these services rather than all of them.

      Anyway, Best of Luck.


  5. Steve Flowers February 14, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Fascinating framework! I’m loving the considerations you’ve added to the great circle of personal and professional growth. I particularly like the focus on character building and internal transformation.

    I would offer that there are many alternatives to the college experience that offer alternative internal transformation and character building opportunities (as well as helping people — both young and old — come of age). You may have implied these alternative opportunities (including a military enlistment or commission and experiences like the Peace Corps).

    Under content delivery, I would consider the connective experience and a focus on tuning the channel to the optimal. I work in government and we run the equivalent of compressed vocational training courses for a variety of mission critical skills and jobs. It kills me whenever we bring folks into the classroom to drink from the fire hose. It makes much more sense to me to tune the channels of concept, information, skill and value acquisition to take advantage of a variety of synchronous and asynchronous opportunities. This would reserve the precious (yes, precious) opportunity to interact with a journeyman or master in contexts that extend beyond the podium.

    I think we should also investigate a new way of stratifying curriculum. Successful organizations succeed because they fit well together and resonate. A building blocks approach of smaller contextualizations could help to cement skills at a more atomic level. Pair this with a better method of measurement (skills / accomplishment based — think white belt through black belt or similar) and things could change quickly. If the measures were accurate, I could imagine strong formulations of teams and organizations based on this accurate competency credentialing.

    Feedback is so critical to development. I think feedback for more complex skills scales nicely when a master apprentice culture is in place. So there may be a subordinate problem surrounding feedback leading to mastery. Maybe the practice of feedback itself isn’t necessarily the problem. This laps into mentorship. It’s a culture thing and a people thing. Incentives can help. Making this practice the most convenient and the one with the largest payoff — them’s the magic beans.

    I also love the implications that the degree might not be the strongest signifier of capability. Broad contexts are sending strong messages that the degree isn’t a guarantee of capacity. I welcome the time when we start to listen to these messages.

    Neat model.

  6. Robbie Mitchell May 19, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    I’ve been sharing this graphic with colleagues over the past week. One additional area I’m thinking about is the new interactions that will arise from unbundled environments.

    In addition to the raw services, schools implicitly provide an integrated experience. With unbundling, those integrations needs to be more explicit: everything from technical integrations on the institution side to standards setting and normalization (“grades”/certifications) to the market for different types of mentorship and supervised experiences (ratings/reviews/etc.).

    It will be interesting to watch how organizations themselves deal with this and how new companies spring up just to help deal with the unbundling.


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