Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fidelity, Convenience and Higher Ed

More on the meme that education is a sector ripe for disruption. From BusinessWeek:

The vulnerability sensed by McNealy, Fransen, and others has a lot to do with a concept I've been writing about the past few years—the fidelity swap. In our everyday lives we constantly make trade-offs between fidelity and convenience. Fidelity is the total experience of something. At a rock concert, for instance, it's not just the quality of the sound—which often isn't as good as listening to music on a good stereo—but everything else, too, such as the show's ambience and the bragging rights that come with having seen the band live. Convenience is how easy or hard it is to get what you want. That includes whether it's readily available, whether it's easy to do or use, and how much it costs. If something is less expensive, it's naturally more convenient because it's easier for more people to get it.

As it turns out, the most successful products and services tend to be either high in fidelity or high in convenience—one or the other, but not both. In fact, products attempting to be both typically end up with a confused brand. [...] College is a high-fidelity experience. [...] you engage in a rich, all-encompassing experience for four years.
It bears noting that this doesn't apply only to education. But insofar as education goes, be prepared for the "good enough" degrees of convenience.

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