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SNHU and Disruptive Innovation – Michael Horn


The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on October 12, 2015, that Michael B. Horn is stepping down from his post at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. According to the article’s author, Goldie Blumenstyk, Horn contends that Southern New Hampshire University, which operates a non-profit main campus and satellite campuses as well as a huge profit-oriented online business, represents “classic disruption” because it offers low-cost competency based degrees through its “College for America” program.

Blumenstyk correctly points out that the for-profits (including Corinthian Colleges, Inc., which collapsed last year under a barrage of legal and regulatory scrutiny) were out in front of SNHU by offering online degrees and competency-based degrees more than a decade ago. In fact, CCi and its predecessor institutions offered competency-based credits as long ago as the early 1990s, and its online classes commenced in 2001 or thereabouts.

SNHU jumped onto that bandwagon late in the game, but yet is touting the decades-old practice of competency-based college credit as something new. ¬†An important question is whether SNHU can avoid the “scam and sham” practices that eventually caught up with CCi.

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