Updated: Nov 23, 2020
An email to the JMU Finance Advisory Board, 10/28/20
Hello Hui, board members, and friends:
Below (and attached) are my thoughts on Hui’s question. To be fair, I answered different but related questions, which are:
1) How do we transform the United States higher education delivery model to deal with the pandemic, exploding student debt, and other market realities, and
2) What business opportunities are there to take advantage of JMUs strengths and the latest technology?
My answer is twofold. To address the first question attached is a paper I wrote related to the bigger picture of
1) the failures of the higher ed system in general and
2) a radical approach to completely revamp our country’s higher ed system.
My hope is, you will consider that the higher ed system failures justify the need for a more radical approach to fix the system. To address the second question, below I recommend how JMU may be able to start down this transformational path, especially specific to the concept of “Flip the classroom” as described in the paper.
I would love your thoughts or feedback!
JMUNewCo: A JMU COB / Finance department narrative
The JMU Finance department or with other COB departments should create a new company (or brand) to support a new revenue stream.
Let's call it "JMUNewCo."
Operations - JMUNewCo will operate a Finance or COB related certificate program that utilizes digitally enabled lectures of Jason Fink or other progressive professors. They could be marketed globally. Operationally, the lecture professors would be responsible for periodically updating their lectures, enabling student assessments, and managing a pool of lower cost but effective teachers (or tutors) to provide student assistance when needed. Teacher costs could be rolled into the certificate program or could be purchased ala cart.
The lectures and related could be managed via an AI enabled digital platform. The assessments and certification records could be managed via a blockchain enabled ledger.
Marketing – Marketing will be targeted to a variety of potential clients. For example, marketing could be done to end consumers (students) and to Banks and others that would provide access to their employee students. Also, JMUNewCo could market “upstream” to research universities to help them leverage strong lecture classes outside their university and “downstream” to community colleges and the like that need lecture content to supplement their curriculum.
Market positioning - JMU is uniquely positioned for such a delivery model because:
Lower cost structure - Lower overhead since JMU does not have a significantly unprofitable D1 sports program or high Research related overhead.
JMU already focuses on undergraduate teaching as a core strength. There is already a strong pool of qualified teachers to be involved with a digital platform certification program.
JMU already has significant brand strength regionally and has brand recognition nationally.
JMU already licenses an online education platform, which may be leverageable.
Path to profitability - Business success enablers include:
Spreading the fixed lecture costs across many students and / or entity clients - That is, the more an individual lecture is utilized, the less expensive it becomes on a unit cost basis.
Decreasing the variable cost associated with teaching / tutoring – That is, train grad students or other lower cost, but otherwise capable, teachers.