The Innovative University by Clayton M. Christensen & Henry J. Eyring

“I am not aware that any one single thing is well taught to the undergraduates of Harvard College” – A Massachusetts senator from 1839

Criticizing American higher education is as old as American higher education. Harvard University, America’s first and most prestigious university, is not immune to such criticism.

The Innovative University is a different critique on higher education. Most critics of higher education focus their condemnation on administrative bloating, faculty tenure, grade inflation, alcohol, etc., however the authors here focus on the system’s ability to adapt to rapid changes in technology.

As the internet becomes more available to the masses, how do universities properly implement the technology? Are traditional college campuses following in the footsteps of newspapers and the postal service?

The authors tell the tale of two schools: Harvard and BYU-Idaho. Harvard is considered the standard in higher education that all schools strive for, however it has definitely struggled throughout the years finding its core educational values. BYU-Idaho is a new and innovate university. A few years ago it was just a small two-year junior college, but through a combination of focused growth and intensive use of technology, the authors see BYU-Idaho as the future standard of higher education.

The book provides a very interesting view on the future of higher education. Going through the history of Harvard was a little boring to read; it seems like it is impossible to talk about the future of higher education without discussing Harvard. I liked their presentation of BYU-Idaho, but I don’t think it is a model of the future. The integration of traditional classes with technology is nothing novel at this time. There didn’t seem to be much emphasis on the value of education, instead I felt like they were looking in a way to boost profits so they can lower tuition – which isn’t a bad idea.

I think this is a good book and a great addition to the conversation of higher education opportunities.