The much vaunted American higher education system coasts on the reputation of the top three dozen schools which themselves gain much of their stature simply by excluding 85% of applicants. Most post secondary institutions just don’t add much value and can no longer justify outrageous tuition.
This is a great example of an effective sales pitch. It's dramatic, it's urgent, and it frames the problem while implying a solution: can you believe that they "just don’t add much value"? And they "can no longer justify outrageous tuition."
So, our solution is [seemingly non-traditional option X].
And this will totally work, especially if non-traditional option X involves technology, and has nothing that bears a superficial resemblance to a classroom.
Education has been disrupted! Huzzah! Let the VC funds roll in!
Except, of course, alternative education has as much, if not more, to do with the expectations on the learner than it does with the medium through which learning is accomplished. That's why the online offering of organizations like K12, Pearson, Khan, etc, aren't particularly innovative from a pedagogical place. Their expectations on the learner are relatively unchanged from what people have been doing for centuries.
Their business models, and how they access taxpayer funds set aside for public education, are arguably innovative. But, that shouldn't be confused with anything that changes or shifts the learning.
Learner paced is not the same as learner driven. And choosing a path through a closed system is not learner driven.
A truly alternative model allows the learner to set their own agenda, and their path to achieve it, and to fail along the way, and to document how and why they failed, and what they learned in the process, and then to keep going. There are many ways to achieve this alternative, including in some traditional settings, some business settings, some community-based settings - and in all of these settings, access to people with experience (and just for kicks, let's call these smart, experienced people "teachers") is only helpful.
When we get to a place when an internship service is being marketed as an innovation, we need to reboot our imaginations.
And, to be clear, some of the goals of E[nstitute] are interesting, and worthwhile. A fully accredited program based on life/work experience is a nice foray into creating more emphasis on informal learning. But a company can be good, and interesting, without the hyperbole. I'd love to a business environment where an educational startup could just be excellent.