Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Disruptive Potential of Free and Low-Cost Online Courses: A Qualitative Content Analysis
by Scuderi, Ed, EDD/ET, University of Phoenix, 2018, 265; 13426656
Abstract (Summary)

Internet-based technologies have been the downfall of incumbents across numerous industries. This has not been the case in higher education, though unaccredited organizations that offer free- and low-cost online courses have the potential to disrupt low- and mid-tier colleges and universities that lack strong branding or regional advantages. This qualitative content analysis examined 410 articles from the academic trade press to describe the qualities of three companies that offer free and inexpensive online courses, StraighterLine, Udacity, and Coursera, to better understand their potential to disrupt for-profit colleges and universities. The four descriptive themes that emerged were: (a) credentialing issues, (b) the unbundling of higher education, (c) the development of online learning, and (d) single-course providers. Although distinct, the themes are interrelated and the growth of single-course providers, the unbundling of higher education, and the continued development of online learning will be affected by how credentialing issues are addressed by the regional accreditors. Employers are increasingly accepting micro-credentials from unaccredited, single-course providers that have significantly lower costs and a focused mission. The slow process of accrediting alternative providers, which some have argued is to protect incumbents, may actually speed up disruption.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Daniel
Commitee: Burrell, Darrell, Johnson, Mark
School: University of Phoenix
Department: Advanced Studies
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational technology, Higher education
Keywords: Educational startups, Innovative delivery models, Low-cost online learning, Micro-credentials, New business models, Online learning strategy
Publication Number: 13426656
ISBN: 978-1-392-04607-4
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