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Organizations around the world are forming innovative partnerships to offer virtual learning opportunities to global audiences. This book focuses on the crucial questions higher education leaders are asking about these "learning marketspace" partnerships: What do they look like? How will they influence educational delivery systems? When should an institution initiate such a partnership effort? What type of leader is needed for learning marketspace partnerships? What makes such partnerships successful?
Partnering in the Learning Marketspace describes how leaders in higher education, government, community, and business can form productive partnerships to leverage the best content and provide a gateway to that content for learners around the globe. The authors present a framework for understanding the learning marketspace concept and offer an engaging blueprint for developing and implementing partnerships to support lifelong learners. The book includes practical information that will help potential learning marketspace partners learn to: understand the dynamics of marketspace portals; set priorities for partnering; assess partnership readiness; overcome obstacles to building partnerships; develop tools to support learners in e-mentor and e-community relationships; and identify leadership competencies in a global learning marketspace.
The book includes insightful commentaries by national and international education leaders who have participated in electronic learning environments.
Note: The Figures and/or Tables mentioned in this Sample Chapter do not appear on the Web.
Partnerships in a Learning Marketspace
Call it transformation; call it a tsunami. The growth in education delivered on the Internet is occurring at digital speed, and industries are jumping in, too. According to a 1999 New York Times article, John T. Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems, says, "The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education. Education via the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail use look like a 'rounding error' in terms of the Internet capacity it will consume" (Friedman, 1999).
We contend that the means to riding the wave is through innovative partnerships designed to meet pressing human needs. The priorities are global and local, representing the values and cultures of organizations and individuals alike. According to Harris Bretall Sullivan and Smith LLC (2000), "With the widespread proliferation of networks and the rapid dissemination of information, the worldwide economy has been fundamentally altered. New markets are being created at a rapid pace, and old markets are being invaded by competitors that did not exist only months before. Traditional rules of competition are being altered with new models appearing and geographic and regulatory barriers disappearing" (p. 1).
For companies to succeed in the digital age, it is common for them to develop alliances with other firms within the value chain of their industry. Competitors become collaborators, and business flourishes. Innovative higher education institutions are also partnering. Through partnerships, powerful low-cost models emerge; new learning marketspaces rise from new value "webs," which replace traditional value chains (Kelly, 1998); and "the dots" (dot coms in particular) that are not weighed down by prior success (which might leave them set in their ways) enter the learning marketspace at full speed.
Here are a few examples of such partnerships:
When established institutions embark on such a learning marketspace partnership, stakeholders' emotional reactions vary. Some are tremendously excited because they recognize the institution's need to partner in order to develop online programs and resources for learners. These people are for the most part genuinely ready to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions to meet the needs of learners. Other stakeholders genuinely fear that online resources resulting from partnerships represent a second-class form of learning. A third group of stakeholders are suspicious, believing such partnerships are just the next ineffective educational scheme, competition for scarce resources, additional burden without reward, a top-down decision forced upon them, or simply another nuisance keeping them from conducting research or other activities.
This variety of concerns became evident in interviews we held with stakeholders involved in developing Minnesota Virtual University. Reactions included the desire to control both the partnership and the content developed. This fear of loss of control stems in part from a focus on the conventional, physical notion of markets, as opposed to the new marketspace thinking. As we mentioned in the Preface, Rayport and Sviokla (1994) from the Harvard Business School coined the term marketspace to distinguish the new virtual world of information from the physical world of resources. "A space, unlike a place, is an electronically created environment," says Kevin Kelly in New Rules for the New Economy. "It is where more and more of the economy happens. Unlike place, space has unlimited dimensions. Entities (people, objects, agents, bits, nodes, etc.) can be adjacent in a thousand different ways and a thousand different directions" (1998, p. 95). Because of the multiple connections, the hallmark of an electronic space is its relationships: "The advantage of spaces is rooted less in their nongeographical virtuality and more in their unlimited ability to absorb connections and relationships. By means of communications, network spaces can connect all kinds of nodes, dimensions, relationships, and interactions--not just those physically close to one another" (p. 96).
Notable among the relationships being redefined as the network economy moves from places to spaces are those defined as being with competitors.
Instead of focusing on fear of competition, we prefer to emphasize opportunities in partnerships. We define the learning marketspace as an Internet gateway through which learners, employers, and education providers are drawn together into a dynamic partnership that creates value for learners, enhances economic development, and engages institutions in meeting the needs of twenty-first-century learners.
Learning Marketspace Partnerships: The Landscape
We begin our exploration of this new landscape of educational partnering by highlighting four marketspace partnerships--Kentucky Virtual University, Michigan Virtual Automotive and Manufacturing College, UNext. com, and Hungry Minds--to illustrate how each represents a distinct mission and focus in terms of partnering to serve learners. Each example has achieved considerable visibility in the higher education community and demonstrates trends that have begun to take shape in the development of learning marketspace partnerships.
A Partnership Grid
In the scholarship on academic administration and leadership, partnerships designed to offer learning over the Internet have been classified in a number of ways: the degree of institutional integration (Smith, 1998), organizational structure (Hanna, 1998), governance structure (Hurst, 1998), economic basis and scope (Athey, 1998), and the extent to which innovative technology is used (Michel, 1998).
Among these systems of classification, Smith's system focuses on higher education consortia formed to exploit the potential of communications technologies in permitting scheduling flexibility, variety of courses and degrees, and educational value. Smith believes such consortia are an effective basis for mega-universities and categorizes them according to three images suggesting the level of institutional integration: the course broker, the collaborator, and the wholesale purchaser.
Hurst's six virtual university scenarios--open university, governor's university, virtual community college and university, institutional competition and consumer advocacy, coordinated collaboration, and current structure--help colleges and universities evaluate particular structures and governance models for distance learning.
Given the hundreds of such partnerships being created today, here we present a simple grid that is useful in understanding and "positioning" them according to their fundamental or distinctive attributes. To illustrate, four current partnerships are placed on a grid (Figure 1.1) according to whether each is primarily a corporate or a public entity and whether it serves principally a specific or a general audience.
The controlling interest in a corporate-targeted partnership is commercial; that is, the partnership entity is a dot com. As a targeted entity, it focuses on specific groups of corporate learners and issues invitations to institutions with the cultural capital to match these expectations. This type of partnership is particularly new for higher education in that the corporation holds controlling interest in the outcomes.
Beginning with the upper-left quadrant of Figure 1.1, we have as an example UNext. com (www. unext. com). It represents a corporate entity targeted to private companies, and business education broadly. Partners include faculty from schools such as Columbia, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Chicago, and the London School of Economics. According to the company's Web site in May 2000, their mission was to "serve those who understand that thriving in today's competitive knowledge-based economy demands a continual advancement in their knowledge and skills" and "to provide companies, and the individuals who work for them, the most effective means possible to increase their human capital." Their goal was "to create powerful learning communities that marry the world's most respected academic scholars and institutions with the global reach and interactive capabilities of the Internet." The UNext. com focus is on scholars, institutions, and technology; individual learners here are "human capital" that companies can "retain."
The controlling interest in a public-targeted partnership is the public; that is, the partnership entity is a "dot org" or "dot edu." As a targeted entity, it focuses on a relatively specific set of lifelong learners and key industries in a region. The rationale is not directly commercial; rather, it is intended to help the public or the state as a whole. It is based on a state or region's economic development plan. This type of partnership is closely aligned to the many efforts of conventional providers of vocational education. If an institution is in a state that has an economic development plan, such a partnership has a greater chance to succeed.
We place the example of what was originally, in 1996, called Michigan Virtual Automotive College (MVAC) in the lower-left quadrant. This nonprofit entity presents as its targeted mission statement: "The Michigan Virtual Automotive College will capitalize on emerging distance learning technology to provide high-quality, convenient, and cost-effective automotive training and education throughout the state. By creating a strategic link between education and industry, MVAC will ensure an efficient and effective educational response to the rapidly changing needs of Michigan's leading industry" (www. mvac. org/ mission. html, Dec. 2000).
This partnership between Michigan's public colleges and universities and the auto industry was changed in 1999 to include manufacturing and renamed Michigan Virtual Automotive and Manufacturing College (MVAMC). Most recently, MVAMC has become a division of Michigan Virtual University (MVU), yet it still exists as a separate entity with its own Internet domain name.
Partners in MVU include the Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative (twenty-eight institutions), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Association for Computer-Related Technology Users in Learning, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Michigan Education Policy Fellowship Program, Eastern Michigan University, and Ford Motor Company.
According to this group, the partnership enjoys the advantage of having resources to support preparing students for employment; resources and teacher training for anytime, anywhere learning; continuing research on industry employee training needs and best practices in distance learning; and statewide, national, and international markets.
In contrast to many state virtual university efforts, Michigan Virtual University is funded as an entity that is separate from the Michigan higher education system. This was a strategic move on the part of the state to enable a virtual entity to serve the entire state at its maximum capacity, to be able to move quickly and be responsive to critical state needs, and to remain separate from direct control of the resources on the part of existing institutions.
In a public-general partnership, once again the controlling interest is the public, resulting in a dot org or dot edu entity. The focus is on increasing access to citizens, with attention to maximizing all citizens' skills and educational level and addressing emerging skill needs. This type of partnership is most closely aligned with traditional institutions.
Those involved need a clear commitment to revising policies and removing barriers to citizen access to education. We place our example, Kentucky Virtual University (KYVU), in the lower-right quadrant because this entity's mission is to be "a student-centered, technology-based system for coordinating the delivery of postsecondary education that meets the needs of citizens and employers across the Commonwealth." The Kentucky Virtual University's goal is to function as a clearinghouse for distance learning opportunities provided by both in-state and out-of-state institutions, to offer competency-based credentialing, and to afford a single point of access to student, library, and academic support services statewide (www. kyvu. org, Dec. 2000).
The nonprofit KYVU is a cooperative among Kentucky's existing postsecondary institutions, an agreement based on the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act. The partnering institutions have these responsibilities:
The goals and responsibilities are similar to those of partners involved in other state or public-initiated virtual universities, notably California Virtual Campus, Minnesota Virtual University, Southern Regional Electronic Campus, Globewide Network Acad-emy, and Western Governors University. Although Western Governors University states that it does not wish to be "just another distance learning content broker," according to the criteria of our grid it falls squarely within the lower-right quadrant since its mission is largely public and for a general audience. WGU's distinguishing feature continues to be its focus on competencies as opposed to credits, along with a massive number of national and international partners.
Some individual institutions of the sort in this category of public-general have also worked to extend access to their offerings. The University of Maryland's University College (UMUC) and UCLA Extension are two examples.
UMUC has both a statewide mission--" to extend access to post-secondary educational opportunities for individuals who combine work with study, with a special emphasis on Maryland's professional workforce education needs"--and a global mission--" to sustain international eminence by extending access to American post-secondary degrees and non-credit programs worldwide" (www. umuc. edu/ gen/ vision. html, Dec. 2000).
Both UCLA Extension and UMUC have partnered or developed corporate spin-offs. OnlineLearning. net, for instance, has rights to put forty-nine hundred UCLA Extension courses online and has published nearly nine hundred in the past four years. Corporate spin-offs and partnerships of this kind move their Internet learning efforts far closer to those of the final quadrant of our partnership grid, as seen in the example of the corporate-but-general orientation of Hungry Minds.
The controlling interest in the corporate-general type of partnership is commercial. Instead of focusing on a specific group of corporate learners, the audience is all online learners. Although the interest of this dot com is certainly commercial, the focus is more on personal enrichment and education from a continuum of online learning providers as opposed to a select few. Of the four quadrants, this one is the most open in that it is not limited to a particular state, industry, or set of corporate learners. This type of dot com-dot edu partnership is the most flexible for both learner and provider. We place our example of Hungry Minds in this quadrant.
The focus on a general audience is expressed in the banner description on the company's Web site (www. hungryminds. com): "Welcome to Hungry Minds. . . . Where complicated subjects become simple. Where the book meets the Web. Where your computer is your classroom. Where learning is easier than ever. Dig in."
The goal is to help learners learn "anything anytime." This can take the form of demand for a quick class on managing, a chat room, or an academic course from a highly regarded public or private organization. Given its broader audience--distance learners in general--the Hungry Minds site is presented in the spirit of fun, enjoyment, social interaction, and quality in learning. This approach distinguishes Hungry Minds from the other three groups of partnership entities, which focus mostly on the information and skills aspect of knowledge and learning rather than on the integration with the social and emotional aspects of learning. As such, Hungry Minds represents a brave step in the learning marketspace. Consequently, its Web site (www. hungryminds. com) abounds with opportunities for learners to connect with each other as well as with guides and experts.
Hungry Minds also shares its strategies for partnering with institutions, bridging the cultural gap between scholars and the Internet: (1) contracts stay simple; (2) they are nonexclusive, meaning schools may exit easily if they get cold feet; and (3) contracts are flexible. Institutions that want to create more complex partnerships or deepen their relationships with Hungry Minds are encouraged to do so (Berinato, 2000).
Learning Marketspaces: Transition to Portals
Although the mission and focus of a partnership represent the heart and soul of the endeavor, a partnership's front end most often takes the form of a portal (the "entry point" from which the user goes on to any number of Web pages). Reflecting general developments of Internet structuring processes, learning marketspaces also commonly present themselves as a portal featuring links to the partners' sites and other resources. In Chapter Two we present an analysis of portals, noting the important development that occurs as they move from a function of sustaining existing institutional processes to one of engaging learners in new ways.
Arenson, K. W. "Columbia in Web Venture to Share Learning for Profit." New York Times, Mar. 3, 2000.
Athey, T. "Non-Traditional Universities Challenge 21st Century Higher Education." On the Horizon, 1998, 6( 5), 5-7. [www. camfordpublishing. com/ oth/ archive/ 98/ vol6_ no5a. htm].
Berinato, S. "Coming After You: HungryMinds. com--It's Not Just an Internet Portal, It's a New Way to Think." University Business, March 2000. [www. universitybusiness. com/ 0003/ hungry. html].
Friedman, T. L. "Foreign Affairs: Next, It's E-ducation." New York Times, Nov. 17, 1999.
Hanna, D. "Higher Education in an Era of Digital Competition: Emerging Organizational Models." Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 1998, 2( 1). [www. aln. org/ alnweb/ journal/ vol2_ issue1/ hanna. htm].
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Kelly, K. New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World. New York: Penguin, 1998.
Michel, J. "Engineering Education Towards Virtual Universities." Text for the Conferences on Virtual Universities in Budapest and in Prague, written in Aug. 1998. [www. paris. enpc. fr/~ michel-j/ publi/ JM310. html].
Rayport, J. F., and Sviokla, J. J. "Managing in the Marketspace." Harvard Business Review, Nov.-Dec. 1994, pp. 141-150.
Smith, B. "Creating Consortia: Export the Best, Import the Rest." Converge Magazine, Dec. 1998. [www. convergemag. com/ Publications/ CNVGDec98/ highered/ highered. shtm].
List of Tables, Figures and Exhibits.
Foreword: John Tiffin, Lalita Rajasingham.
1. Partnerships in a Learning Marketspace.
2. The Dynamics of Marketspace Portals, Perspective: Jaap Tuinman.
3. Priorities in a Learning Marketspace, Perspective: Sir John Daniel and Robin Mason.
4. Assessing Readiness for Partnerships, Perspective: Glen M. Farrell.
5. The Learning Marketspace Toolbox, Perspective: Murray Turoff.
6. The Partnering Process: A Case Study of Minnesota Virtual University, Perspective: Diana G. Oblinger.
7. Leadership in a Global Learning Marketspace.