Markets in everything

by on May 6, 2009 at 2:23 pm in Education | Permalink

It's funny but to me this story is more surprising than the usual fare of prediction markets on whether bronzed bones of your ancestors will be transcribed into binary code for your Kindle, or simultaneously used as collateral for CDS swaps and bundled with adultery insurance:

Reached on the phone, Richard A. Hanson isn't quite sure he's ready
to give an interview about this week's sale of Waldorf College. The
college's president has talked quite a bit locally, trying to assure
students, professors and the residents of Forest City, Iowa, that
selling the liberal arts institution to a for-profit, online university
is the best (in fact, only) option.

What persuaded Hanson to
talk about what's happening at Waldorf is the question of whether he
thinks other colleges will soon be facing the same choice. "You are
going to be seeing a lot more of this from colleges like us," he said.

They're actually selling the college.  Hurrah.

Carleton May 6, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I went to Waldorf for my freshman and sophomore years. I attended the last year they granted associates degrees, which was only six years ago. They were far behind the times in converting to a four year college. They do have a pretty good communications program, from what I heard, I was a business major, and later econ major at a different school.

Waldorf also threw a lot of money down a pit trying to create satellite institutions, which is why they were financially strapped and servicing large amounts of debt. They also consistently overpaid ancillary staff members, had rampant nepotism and cronyism in their hiring, the food was awful by any standard, and these, along with many other authoritarian regulations on students that do not exist at most other schools, gave most people who attended the incentive to exit quickly.

My guess is that a lot of good will come from the sale because the institution could never reform itself from the inside, at least from what I have seen over the years.

Andrew May 6, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Debt is a funny thing. It seems you should only take it on if you know what you are doing. But, if you don’t know what you are doing, then why are you doing it?

babar May 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

@delirious — it will be interesting to see to what extent accredited institutions keep their monopoly on education in the internet age.

most schools have yet to figure out that teaching and learning are different things.

Cap Vandal May 7, 2009 at 2:20 am

This is fascinating. The place that Carleton is describing is nothing like that described in the article.

They were charging $17K in tuition, which isn’t cheap.

I never realized that small, liberal arts colleges *ever* had associate degree programs per Carleton.

Also, the guy found his buyer by talking to his bond underwriter?????

Zamfir May 7, 2009 at 7:46 am

I just left a video-conferencing lecture, organized by another part of the company. This decreased my expectations for online education by a lot. I left the room with a larger headache and less understanding than even the worst factory-style real-life lectures had given me.

Zamfir May 7, 2009 at 8:31 am

The problem I see with most ideas for online universities is that they are virtually the same as post-order, learn from the books programs that already exist for a long time, and are no threat at all for established schools. Why would online material with prerecorded lectures work, where post-order material with video tapes didn’t?

99thpercentile May 7, 2009 at 9:10 am

Joel you said, “The university I went to had been founded in 1890, in 1990 it was sold to a Japanese university/company, and in 2000 it was again sold to a group of international investors.” Did you go to Salem-Teikyo Univerity in Salem, WV? I was curious since it was in the same college conference that I attended in the 1990s.

Slocum May 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Why would online material with prerecorded lectures work, where post-order material with video tapes didn’t?

One answer is that online communications offer possibilities for low-cost student-student and student-instructor interactions that didn’t exist in a ‘tapes by mail’ model. The same goes for access to a far greater collection of works than is available at any physical university library.

But…you’re right that self-driven study is an old model (that’s how Abe Lincoln became a lawyer). The requirements for degrees from accredited universities was a way for professions to restrict entry and universities to guarantee demand for their services. So there powerful organizations with vested interests in protecting the standard university model from low-cost competition, and that’s the real obstacle.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: