Education's New Economic Opportunity

Digital Delivery Offers Hope of New Revenue Streams

Larry Bridgesmith Chief Education Strategist at ODEM.IO

Economic Challenges in Higher Education

Anyone associated with higher education is painfully aware of the dilemma facing the traditional academic environment. Costs of delivery (faculty, facilities, salaries and administrative expenses) in U.S. colleges and universities over the last 20 years have exceeded all expectations. The price of delivering University level education has risen almost 200% from 1997 to 2017 (in contrast to a 55.6% cost of living increase).

The rising cost of tuition only has been exceeded by the cost of college text books and hospital services. The American dream of education for everyone has been priced out of reach except for the most wealthy or those supported by scholarships or loans (which have saddled an entire generation with unbearable debt). The competition for access to financial support has generated tremendous friction between faculties and administrations in recent years. “No confidence” votes by university faculty have risen substantially in proportion to the scarcity of economic resources.

Bridging the trust gap requires adherence to traditional academic delivery models while embracing additional solutions which can generate new revenue and preserve, rather than threaten, existing revenue sources.

Digital Delivery Creates New Revenue Streams in Higher Education

“Behind the rancor is a competition for cash. Top tier schools continue to thrive but many universities are facing declining enrollment and public cuts in funding.” — Wall Street Journal

Much of the adversarial relationship between faculties and administration in higher education stems from the resort to scarce financial resources to generate alternative streams of revenue. The either/or of MOOC online education vs. bricks and mortar instruction is a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul. When financial
resources are shrinking, traditional expenditures are threatened if university administration seeks alternative new revenue sources However, without invading existing resources, universities can also generate additional revenue with high quality pedagogy delivering academic instruction “at the level of the Internet.” Hybrid Internet delivered education is not limited to asynchronous on demand instruction without instructor interactions with students. The power of the “flipped classroom” demonstrates that higher value educational
content can be delivered combining synchronous, asynchronous, online and on site instruction. This form of hybrid instruction can conserve facilities, provide less costly and no less quality education at less cost
and with greater revenue potential. The both/and of digital and onsite education can generate greater revenue and provide higher quality education simultaneously.

For example, Vanderbilt Law School has launched the Program on Law & Innovation to enhance the J.D. and LLM course offerings while providing additional training to practicing legal professionals in vital areas of legal innovation needed by the in the current disruptive legal market. The both/and of legal project management, legal design thinking, smart contracts and Blockchain in law can be offered to law students for academic credit and to legal professionals for executive education.

Financial resources can be expanded rather than simply constricted. Technology empowers and supports these additional revenue streams without invading the traditional university budget or compromising quality education. was founded to realize these additional value based educational goals. Blockchain based, providing sovereign identity, digital capture of educational credentials and cryptocurrency fueled to motivate behavior change, is the face of the future of education for teachers, students and educational institutions. However, that future is now.

Larry Bridgesmith
Chief Education Strategist at ODEM.IO
Adjunct Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

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