Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Thursday, May 26, 2011  
Contact Information:  Chris Cole

Sue Patrick
Cell: 502-330-6596

(L to R): Panelists included Carl Rollins, James Votruba, Emily Crawford, Keynote Presenter Michael Horn, Gale Rhodes, Al Lind and Michael Quillen.

The rapid growth of online learning could radically transform higher education, just as the rise of personal computers revolutionized an industry once dominated by expensive mainframes.

This was the message national expert Michael Horn, co-author of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns,” delivered to 400 faculty members, college administrators and state policy leaders attending Kentucky’s first “Converging Trends in Teaching and Learning” conference this week at Northern Kentucky University’s METS Center in Erlanger.

Horn’s work with Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen focuses on the concept of “disruptive innovation,” a term applied to any improvement that drives down costs, brings change to the masses and over time transforms an industry standard. If colleges and universities adapt traditional business models to capitalize on emerging technologies in teaching and learning, Horn said, higher education could become more affordable and accessible without a decline in quality.

Horn urged higher education leaders to eliminate barriers to online learning, evaluate institutions on outcomes instead of inputs like credit hours or student-faculty ratios and use funding mechanisms that reward quality increases and cost decreases.

Online learning at Kentucky colleges and universities has increased dramatically over the last five years, a trend that is projected to continue. In 2005, only 6 percent of college students enrolled at a public or independent Kentucky institution took at least one online course, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education. Last year, 15 percent of students did so.

Horn’s presentation was followed by a panel of state higher education leaders who discussed the possibilities and pitfalls of online learning. Representative Carl Rollins, chair of the House Education Committee, was excited by the potential of online learning to “deliver postsecondary education to more students – not just 18- to 24 year-olds, but working adults looking to advance in their careers.” Another panelist, Morehead State University Provost Karla Hughes, urged accrediting and regulatory bodies to “give higher education the freedom to innovate.” The panel was moderated by Al Lind, CPE vice president for information and technology, and included NKU President James Votruba, University of Louisville’s Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning Director Gale Rhodes, Kentucky Community and Technical College System Director of Transitional Education Michael Quillen and Emily Crawford, an online student.

The conference, which was held May 23-25, combines two established higher education events – the Council on Postsecondary Education’s annual conference on teaching and learning, which provides professional development opportunities for faculty members, and the Kentucky convergence conference, which focuses on trends in technology and education.

President Votruba praised the joint venture. “One of our biggest challenges is aligning how universities teach with how next-generation students learn,” Votruba said. “This collaboration is a natural fit.”

Horn is the co-founder and executive director of the Innosight Institute, a not-for-profit think tank based in Boston and San Francisco that applies theories of disruptive innovation to the public sector. His book has been recognized by Business Week, Newsweek and the National Chamber Foundation as one of the most influential books of 2008.

The conference was chaired by Dr. Carolyn Carter of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and NKU’s Lori McMillan with support from the Council on Postsecondary Education. Sponsors include McGraw-Hill, CBTS, Dell, Lexmark, Creative-image Technologies, Prosys, IBM, Moodlerooms, and Information Capture Solutions.

For more information, visit


Last Updated 5/26/2011