Higher Digital has just published the next installment of its new audio interview feature, transformed. Every other week we interview experts on higher education, digital transformation, and the challenges and promises represented by both. 

For this week’s episode, President Joe Gottlieb sat down with Rick Shangraw, President of Cintana Education, to discuss how higher education institutions are eliminating the geographical and financial barriers to quality education through technology and online learning. Discover the possibilities of online education – a key disruptor in higher ed.



Transcript

Joe Gottlieb:

Welcome to transformed a Higher Digital podcast focused on the new whys, the new whats and the new hows in higher ed. In each episode, you will experience hosts and guests pulling for the resurgence of higher ed while identifying and discussing the best practices needed to accomplish that resurgence culture, strategy and tactics planning, and execution people, process and technology. It’s all on the menu because that’s, what’s required to truly transform.

Joe Gottlieb:

Hello and welcome to transformed, a Higher Digital podcast focused on the new whys, the new whats and the new hows in higher ed. My name is Joe Gottlieb , president of Higher Digital. And today I am joined by Rick Shangraw. Rick is the president of Cintana education, where he is working with universities around the globe to increase access to quality higher education. Prior to Cintana, Rick was on the executive team at Arizona State University for 15 years in a number of roles, including Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation, Director of the Global Institute of Sustainability, CEO of the ASU Foundation, and CEO of ASU Enterprise Partners. He received his PhD from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. I have to add that this guest is extra special to Higher Digital because ASU is a special client of ours and being named yet again for the sixth year in a row, the most innovative national university by US News and World Report. And here we have the former SVP of Research and Innovation. So welcome to transformed Rick. It’s great to have you on the podcast.

Rick Shangraw:

Joe, it’s great to be here. I’m really excited. You know, I’ve been tracking Higher Digital for many years, as you know , I’ve deeply impressed with the company and what you’ve accomplished. And so it’s exciting to be on your show and talking about, certainly, higher education. So what are you interested in talking about today?

Joe Gottlieb:

Well, given what you’re up to these days, Rick, and, you know, there’s a lot of topics we could get into, but there’s something involved right now is particularly intriguing and how it relates to the evolution of the higher ed market. And that is cross border online education. So given that you’re directly involved in this, it’s going to be an amazing lens through which to look at how higher ed is changing and how in particular online education and the post-COVID era is starting to disrupt delivery models and value models and return on investment models in this space. But before we dive into that, I’d love you to take just a quick tour of your background. So our listeners can better understand kind of where you’re coming from. How did you get to this place where you’re working on this and what sort of has shaped you for this moment?

Rick Shangraw:

My background is a little bit unusual. I came out of a higher education background. My dad was a university faculty member. I started my career as a university person, faculty member. So education is deep in my soul. I then went off and ran businesses, and then came back to the university at Arizona State University, you know, at ASU, we did a lot of things. As you know, we would try to push the border around a whole bunch of things. And one area that I was engaged in was thinking about how ASU can play a much larger role in the global front. And so I would spend a lot of time on the road with President Crow and we go and meet with other universities and governments and talk about higher education. But it was always a little bit unfulfilling because we never were able to find a way to really build deep partnerships overseas. And it was partly a combination of not having a model that we could deploy, but also partly because the university and most US universities don’t have the capacity to actually develop really comprehensive university relationship services. And so that’s what got me interested in the area. I then ended up retiring from ASU and joining a company called Cintana education, which had many of its folks come out of Laureate education, which if you think about a leader in global education, they had 80 universities around the globe, a million students. So they really understood that market very well. So I was able to take this challenge of how can US university better engage overseas, join a company that was really focused on that as a mission. And now I’m part of that team thinking through all the different ways that in particular ASU, but other universities can be more effective in their offering services.

Joe Gottlieb:

Excellent. Well, so this is your , really this notion of, of advancing education really as a , I like to think of it then as a bit of an import-export business, right? Where the industry is starting to become more active on a fundamental level, in terms of thinking about how a global market for education can exist. Very different from the extension of local markets to include people arriving in those local markets to go through an educational program, right. And , and online, you know, it’s interesting to think about online triggers, a whole new possibility in this active global market, you might be able to even compare it to how online trading sort of disrupted the way we think about finance or online banking, even before that disrupt the way you think about finance really removing barriers and sort of geographical walls in of the way the market consumes these, these products have value.

Rick Shangraw:

On that point, which is really, really important, you know, you think about the historical amount of which is for the U S to us universities to bring students from overseas to the US right. And then the US university said, well, how can we expand that? Then they said, well, why don’t we put branch campuses, you know, in locations around the globe? Well, it turned out you could do that, but it was very expensive. And really you had to charge the same price you did in the state. So there, there became a point in time that, that model, while it could work, may not make a big difference. And many of these branch campuses are relatively small. So your point is a good one, which is how does online disruptive, because now you’re not forced into thinking about physical facilities. You can think about this digital platform that now can be much more pervasive and extend overseas in ways that many universities haven’t really given a whole lot thought to for this point.

Joe Gottlieb:

Yeah. I mean, that’s really what, what is the opportunity, right? The opportunity to leverage this new mechanism that transcends the barriers of old, which were very physical, you know, subject to geography, subject to even nationality and, and visas, right? Think about all the potential you know, bureaucracy that could get in the way , uh , in relation to consumption of a product, which is education and so important, a product, right. And one of the reasons why we think of the, you know, first world nations as first world nations, really part of it is education part is their ability to educate within and to establish capable enough educational resources to educate their populations. Well now, with the reduction of some of these barriers , um, it’s as if we’re removing some of the barriers that might have stood in the way of, of development of nations, right. You know, because now if , if people sitting in country can benefit from education delivered from out of country in a form that is attractive now we’re advancing the global population’s ability to educate. And I think on optimistic days, people that are , um, progressively minded versus protectionist minded, right? That’s a good thing, a better education globally , better educated global society as a, as a more , uh , progressive advancing society. It, in theory is a safer society, more peaceful society, but we know there are limits to some of these extremes, but we digressed let’s, let’s talk about , um, let’s, let’s zoom in, on the market , uh, aspects of , uh, what should be considered by an, that wants to locate an op an offering , um, because the key to cross border education , uh, cross border online education typically is the, the education being available as translated into the local language. Let’s just sort of looks identify that as a typical , um, barrier to entry and barrier to unlocking the value , um, in terms of maximizing the market opportunity. Right? So if a , if a , if a course is suddenly available in a market, now that it’s been translated, what might it be up against in terms of local alternatives and how do those vary in terms of how that market experiences and through, from the lens of your direct experience with Cintana where you’re doing, if I’m not mistaken, you’re translating courses into Mandarin Chinese, so they can be directly appealing to the working class in China, right. That sets up a big market opportunity because there’s a large number of, of, of Chinese that would find that valuable and translation became the extra step, right. Whereas in English, a certain subset of the Chinese population would find the course valuable, but they’re going to have a better learning experience and it’s going to be a bigger market, right. If you can translate. So give me some thoughts on, on what you’ve been facing in terms of how the market perceives these products.

Rick Shangraw:

Yeah. You know, it , you know, a year ago, I think the market had a very different perception of the products and COVID, as you know, has , uh, caused a lot of disruptions. And one of the disruptions certainly has been in, in the way , uh , other countries think about online education. You know, us certainly is, has been the leader in online education. As you go around the globe, there’s still certainly pre COVID. And even today there’s been some resistance to online education, but , uh, COVID taught the world to, to figure out how to work online and what we’re seeing in countries around the globe and India is a great example. India just had some revised , um , policies that now allow online education where before you couldn’t even offer online degrees in India. So, I mean, there’s so, so, and China , you know , China has always been , uh, somewhat resistant , um, to online education. It’s been considered a, a poor alternative to on-campus , uh , in-person learning, but after COVID, now people are beginning to say, this is , this is a great possibility. So, you know, w when, when looking at that opportunity, what we look , what we assessed in China was the fact that there’s a large population of working adults, that to go back and get a quality education would have to quit their jobs and go back to two , uh, on-campus experiences for a master’s degree or graduate degree. And that, that, that becomes really complicated for the working adult about how the, how they do that. Now, there are some programs in Mandarin offered by local universities, but they’re , they’re typically not offered by some of the best universities . So there there’s an issue about what, what the quality of that online degree is. And certainly historically there hasn’t been a lot of value placed on that. So getting a pre what you might call a premium , uh, imported a graduate program from a, from a Western university that does have cache in, in China, and then being able to offer it in the local language in this case, Mandarin, you know, really provides an alternative , uh, for, for learners , uh, working adults who want to advance in their careers. And while we’re, we’re looking at an accredited program, certainly the market’s evolving as you well know into other non-accredited programs , uh, that, that certainly are going to start to be offered , uh, in not only by local universities in China, but increasingly by my a U S universities. And we’re seeing that happening already.

Joe Gottlieb:

Yeah. So in your that’s fascinating. So in your experience, the you’ve just covered a couple of key dimensions of this problem, right? So are there local alternatives , um, are they being offered by the trusted or best brands in that local market? And, oh, by the way, are they, are they being offered in a form that is well suited to a working class adult , uh , uh , an adult that has a job, right? Like forget working class, you know, anyone who’s engaged in a current career and is already on the treadmill of working a job to provide for themselves and, or their family is in a situation where they can’t easily add education that will maybe get them to the next step in their career without a reimagination of that education in a form that, that they can actually make time for in their schedule. So again, I think so one of the things that’s at work here, we know this by, you know, you, you undoubtedly know this through and through better than I do that. The breakdown of the education delivery unit is a big part of this, right? So a two or four year degree, or then a , or then even a, a master’s degree, let alone a PhD. Those are typically drop everything you’re doing and get focused, your primary mode on getting this education. Even those programs, it would seem, are going to start to show up with a packaging that allows a working adult to fit them into their schedule and perhaps take longer , um, or maybe, maybe if we do a better job with learning management and, and , uh, and , um, outcome based education, maybe this can actually be accelerated in dimensions such that the timeframe isn’t so extended. So that’s one of the dynamics that’s happening here. Right. But then of course, showing up with an import, as we referred to it, right, with a cachet carrying a brand in this case from the Western world can have some great value in a local market. And , uh , and that gets at , that becomes , uh , a bit of a wild card, right. In terms of, in terms of how that’s being experienced.

Rick Shangraw:

Yeah. And I look, I, I , uh , you know, I think one of the , uh, challenges , uh, we’ve had at Sentado working with , uh, Arizona state university is first of all, how to , how to position that degree in the marketplace. And then how , how to think about , um, how you gain , um, uh , market share market recognition, brand recognition, and certainly make making sure that you maintain that brain recognition at a very high level, right. That there’s no, there’s no sense of the marketplace that this is a second class degree, or this is not something that , that would, would be a value to a student or learner as they tried to advance their career. And so that, that’s, that’s been part of the challenge and also part of the benefit of ASU working with Cintana where Cintana has that degree of expertise , um, with , uh, our team that we came from Laureate , they did , um , many of these programs with university of Liverpool , uh, in some other , uh, uh, universities in China. So they had a very good understanding of the China Chinese market, and they had a very good understanding of how to operate in that market , uh, which was certainly a benefit to , to ASU as a thought about deploying these kinds of programs.

Joe Gottlieb:

Interesting. So in this case, it’s helping an institution to , um, not only relate better to the local market with that direct experience from the past, but also to open up out of its pattern a little bit in terms of the packaging of education. So it’s that it could be optimized for a market opportunity and accomplish a goal , um, for, for the students that are encountering this in their own context. Um, so,

Rick Shangraw:

And , and, and, and, and in that regard, I think, I think one of the things that ASU was most concerned about is that they didn’t want to be perceived as just an online offering in China right here, you know, here you have a very substantial research university , um, doing a lot of, you know, things in the U S uh , at a very high level. And so as you go into these markets, to your point, you want to make sure that the university gets perceived not simply as an online provider, but as a robust research grade, a us university that does a lot of different things. And ASU happens to do a number of collaborative research programs when China has been active in education and other , um, on, on campus opportunities at high nine university in Shanghai and , uh, in a graduate programs in business. And so that was also part of the challenge, right? Not to just be, not to just be perceived as that online provider, but be perceived as a high quality, as you said, a premium offering in China, where one of those offerings is an online degree. That could then be part of the broader brand, you know, and I think this is, this is something that’s going to challenge. I think, many universities, cause as you look at some of the new entrance into this marketplace , they are not the research grade , um , uh, universities , uh, either public or private in the states are , they’re what I would consider , uh, you know , uh, teaching only universities that have decided to use us as a marketing opportunity and probably a revenue opportunity, but that, but we have to think of it about a much broader and my opinion, which is that it’s an opportunity for, as you said, bringing learning and higher education at a high level to , to , uh , another population.

Joe Gottlieb:

Well, you, you mentioned it earlier, right? Just the, even in China, that market to experience with, with , um, online education offerings was associated with lower tier schools. And I think broadly speaking, and this is a little bit , uh, on any given day, I wonder a bit more about, you know , how this is changing, but for sure all the institutions that have been successful with the two and four year model have an attachment to that model, right. It’s what made them successful. It’s what education is , how it was defined and any departure from that often feels to them as a step away from the thoroughness and the, and the tradition. And if you use the word tradition, you’re already talking about emotion, right? Like, so, so there’s that, there’s that? And so there’s a bit of a stigma here and yet I think in our, we can be very clear-eyed I believe when we’re, when we’re on a good day to say, Hey, there’s plenty of opportunity to Excel at this other packaging form. And so to your point, ASU is working hard , uh, with the help of Cintana to overcome some of their reflexes and think about how this is placed within a broader construct. Okay. We do have , um, local activities here. We do have traditional face-to-face education experiences, but we also have these, these offerings that, that, that reach in to circumstances that are more challenging or different than our traditional on-campus experience. And that’s okay. And let’s how , here’s how we’re going to talk about that without fearing a stigma. And we’re going to be loud and proud, right. With our brain work , extend our brand into that, into that domain. And I think as more and more schools do this, we’re going to see a couple things, Hey , legitimize is a market. Um, when, when real players get active, it helps unveil the massive opportunity that exists as long as people can shift their thinking. That’s, what’s disruptive about it. And then I think there’s going to be a , you know , it’s a gold rush, right? If you could think if it’s a big market and P and the barriers are , are being brought down, both delivery barriers, like we’ve talked about with digital, but also just institutional , um, uh, tradition, barriers, cultural barriers to doing this, you get a , you get a very interesting gold rush that can happen, and you guys are pioneering it.

Rick Shangraw:

I think, you know, every day I wake up, I, I agree with you completely, but also every day I wake up, I wonder if there’s going to be a change in the regulatory environment in China, that’s going to cause some disruption there. I worry about , uh, the ability to operate , um, uh, in China through , uh, through the internet, which has its own set of challenges. And, and , uh, so, you know, every day I wake up, I think there’s a huge opportunity, but then there’s this, as you , as you noted, there’s a , there’s a , there’s a lot of issues around how you can be successful and move. And , you know , into that delivery side in a way where you don’t have some of those obstacles to do it in the states, for example. And so , so that, that becomes certainly a part of the equation.

Joe Gottlieb:

I’d love to come back to that if we have time, but I wanna , I wanna , I want to continue this , um, investigation first, we looked at the market side . Now let’s look at the supplier side. So on the supplier side, what we have, we talked a little bit about institutional momentum and tradition and culture having , uh , being a bit of a barrier here to considering this in a different way, especially the packaging. But if we examine this from a return on investment side, I’ll throw out the thesis here. Uh , and you’ve helped me to develop this thesis already is even before we, before we had this session. But if, if standing up a faculty team, developing courses, making sure we have capacity in lecture halls and sections to deliver an on-campus offering course, right. There’s a lot of investment that goes into that, right? Like, so, and it’s, it’s, multi-year, it’s, it’s , uh, it’s, it’s heavy. And so I want to contrast that with, if you have a course and you have faculty and they’re putting out product in an educational package, and then you can simply translate that into a language that is going to be received by a market and expand your potential play in that market, beyond what English alone would get you. I’m thinking, I’m thinking English, domestic export here as a , as a reference. So I’ll paint myself with that bias, but there’s a lot of the education market in its most advanced form sits in that, in that, you know, English speaking, Western art, you know, originating , uh , part of the market. Um, so if from an ROI standpoint, in terms of expanding in a new markets , if you can figure out this translation thing and you can leverage, what’s possible now with online remote delivery , um, a lot of things start to happen, but I’ll imagine there are some, there are some, if you zoom in right from here, okay, it’s not that simple, there are smart, additional supplementary investments you have to make to do this. Right. So talk to us , talk to me a little bit about, about that, because that becomes a huge opportunity for profit, potentially, which all institutions would seek, even if they’re public, right. Finding ways to be more efficient with their , their dollars , um, really has to zoom in now on this ROI capture.

Rick Shangraw:

Yeah. I mean, I, I think, I think you, you, you make a great point. I mean, if , if we were simply talking about translating courses, you know, that collectively combined into a program, we’ll say 10 courses, congratulate courses, you know, for , for the basis of a graduate program , uh, you, you at sort of face value, say that that’s something we can accomplish, but they’re , they’re actually some, some different , uh, gradations of that that are worth talking about the gold standard is that you have Mandarin speaking faculty that not just simply translate, but actually natively , uh, uh, communicate even through the online platform, regardless of it’s , if it’s, if it’s , um, regardless of its form in the way this delivered. Um, and, and then you have materials that are used in that course that have, may have been translated, but at a very high level, or actually come through a native Mandarin from sources within, within the, within the Mandarin community. And that’s the goal, that’s the gold standard, right? And that’s really hard for many universities to live up to because they may not have the Mandarin speaking faculty members. The translation may not be done at a very high quality, and there may be concerns about it. And as important or maybe more important, Jo is the ability of the local faculty, the English speaking faculty to ensure quality and the delivery of that since it’s in another language that they don’t speak. Right. So you begin having these challenges now by saying, okay, look, we were going to translate , uh , and we’re going to do asynchronous , um, video. That’s going to be subtitled and so forth. Then all of a sudden you end up with a product that now is not at that gold standard, right? It’s , it’s something less than the gold standard because you you’re subtitling English videos , you’re translating English materials, maybe not the highest quality. Right. And all of a sudden that product becomes not the quality product that you would expect to come out of a, you know, a high end institution. Right. And so, so that has, that’s been an important component of this, which has added cost , as you can imagine onto that early expectations. So I think certainly there , there, the view that we have is that , uh, there is an upfront of asking me more , not only in terms of the way you set up the enrollment and marketing side of the equation, but how you make sure that product that is delivered in that translated forum is actually , uh , a high, high enough quality and moves towards that gold standard. Right. And so, so it says combination, it’s a combination of being able to first understand the market so that you can market and role in that , but also providing a product at that quality level so that you can continue those enrollments and make sure that you have outcomes for those students that are expected and the same outcomes you would expect here in the state , you’d expect for their students online in China. And so that, that, that adds a level of cost of lyric costs that , that I think can be underestimated.

Joe Gottlieb:

So in your experience then, is it one could imagine that the market, we’ve all , we’ve identified that in this particular market, there’s there, aren’t a lot of great alternatives. Um, and therefore it’s open to , uh, premium imports, let’s say for lack of a better term , um, arriving in the market and filling that void right now, have you found that it is, it is adequate maybe even better than adequate to arrive with , uh , something south of the gold standard and as long as you’re committing to advancing. So the first the, you would capture the hungriest part of the market. First, it’s willing to accept that sub gold standard offering because in comparison to what’s available, it’s still very valuable and attractive. And then that allows you to occupy market space with, let’s say, minimum viable product, I’m going to start using some , some software terms, right? So then, then you start to grow into more of the market and you can attract people that have a more discerning , uh , pallet for this offering , uh, by, by raising the standard, hopefully ultimately to accomplish that gold standard in a form that makes sense, given the differences in delivery and , and language and local local market. So is it okay to get started? Yeah, sure. And I

Rick Shangraw:

Think one of the things, one of the ways that we’ve been thinking about it is , uh , begin thinking about how you add specializations to existing offerings, right? So you may have a master. We started with a master’s degree in applied leadership and management. Now we’ve added a specialization, which is three or four courses that add a data science component to it. So we added another specialization that had supply chain component to it. So now it’s a masters in applied leadership and management with a specialization in data sciences or in, or in, or in supply chain, which allows you then to refine those products, right ? So that you have some core, let’s say six courses or core that you can really refine to make a fantastic product. And then you’re only incrementally adding in through three or four more courses to add that specialization, but it’s sufficiently differentiated as a product that in the marketplace and particularly in China, because China has this interesting way that they think about , uh, the typology of , uh , of programs and at the highest level. So , right . It’s a degree in management there , there actually, there are lots of degrees of management. So they actually like going down that second level, say it’s a degree of management with specialization supply chain management. And they think about it as quote unquote, a supply chain management degree, even though it’s a management degree with that specialization. So it allows you, once you understand the marketplace to begin expanding your offerings, as you said, starting , uh, with a minimum, minimum viable product, but then being able to think about creative ways to offer that, improve that quality through specializations .

Joe Gottlieb:

Oh, it’s, it’s, I mean, it’s so fitting, right. So what you’ve done here is you’ve known knowing that so much of the business in China, so much of their into exports there ended up being a very capable part of our supply chain, our, the world supply chain. Right. And so, so you’ve taken one buzzed , you know , one super hot theme in AI or data science, right. And then, and then one super relevant theme for China, right. And the bulk of their, their, their sort of industry in China. And you’ve now packaged this up for, for maximum peel . I love it. So what I’m now curious about is I use an analogy when I think about this, you know, when, when a software company, once they have success, they get the opportunity to expand globally, right? So software companies that don’t have success, they live in, they , they, they start and end with in whatever language they started in. Okay. Um, with success, you start distributing your product to other countries and you then start picking off in priority order, which of those countries represent attractive markets for you. And you go through this arduous step of translating your product into local language when you really want to be relevant to the market and , and maximize your marketer. So, so the same kind of thing we’ve been talking about has been existing in software, right? But an interesting thing that happens in software is this concept of , of localization and internationalization. And these are terms right, that are used in the software trades to help product managers and developers grapple with this problem and make it scale. And so ultimately what starts to happen is the best software companies design for localization from the very beginning. So now that we’ve learned how hard it is to go back and translate product and get a terrible result when we’re sort of bolting on a translated version of the product to make it operate in a market a little better than what English alone would do. There’s literally a becomes a design rubric that allows you to , to be smart about compartmentalizing the architecture in a way that anticipates that step. And you won’t, you won’t do it initially because you wouldn’t spend the money on that until you have this success and you’re ready for global markets. But similarly, now imagine you’re going through this very, you know, somewhat arduous process with a great institution. That’s been super innovative about pushing the envelope in these dimensions. And they’re probably probably starting to learn, oh my goodness. When we do, when we build new courses, we’re going to start thinking about this new forms of packaging and localization and the like, is that

Rick Shangraw:

Yeah , absolutely. So I think, I think ASU has strategic advantage here because they had put many of their programs. As you know, they’ve got 200, 300 programs , uh, undergraduate graduate programs online , uh , uh , know at least then , and they had already thought about how you modularize those offerings in such a way that you can develop them in English and then ultimately , uh , deploy whole programs in English. But they, they have , they have , they had a very modularized concept going into that, which really allowed , um, what I, what you would call just-in-time delivery because we can now begin thinking about translating one of those courses that may have 12 modules in it, on a module by module basis. Right. And so we could actually start the course, even though it wasn’t fully translated , right. Because we , we were, we were going to begin delivering those early on modules. Uh, and , and so that’s what allowed ASU and with the Cintana to actually begin deploying very quickly. It has , if you look back in time, we started this discussion with ASU about this program in April of 2020. So just a little bit over a year ago, we launched the first programs in the fall of 2020. Imagine that, okay, month we’re talking within three months, we launched it . Y just, as you said, they had this modular design that helped with localization in your term software terminology and the localization , uh, that, that probably wouldn’t have been possible if they didn’t have that framework already in place. And since that time they’ve had an enrollments now and what they call the second part of the fall semester of 2022 in the spring semester of 2021, a summer semester, a summer , uh , uh , section now in the summer of 2021 and , and launching now in a whole nother set of programs and fall of 2021. So, so without that mantra stationary exactly what you can never deploy that maybe it would have been virtually impossible .

Joe Gottlieb:

Well, and I think for other institutions that don’t have that, right. That in place already, w we always , um, another thing we say is say in the software world often is , uh , DFX designed for X. So it , it, it w w first came forward , uh , well, one of the first uses of that is designed for manufacturability, right? So when you think about a product and how you design it, and apple is world renowned, and they’ve shared the way they do this, right. They , they’ve sort of designed for my friends , literally down to, we’re going to cut all the pieces of the aluminum out of this, you know, the smallest piece of aluminum. We can imagine fitting all those pieces into, and we’re going to cut that out and , and minimize our waste. But , um, so designing courses and designing programs, ultimately to think globally about your potential, you know , participation in these markets, I think end up becoming a new muscle. And , and even if the reason I raised the DFX thing is when we have conversations, when we’re talking about, okay, what are we gonna do next with the product? Or what are we gonna do next as an institution, we start dropping this term. Okay, let’s build it, but let’s keep in mind, we’re designed , you know, keep in mind, we’re designing for this other future possibility that is not present, but if we don’t keep that in mind, we , we , we want to architect for that scenario. So that later we don’t have to redo it to fit into that scenario.

Rick Shangraw:

Absolutely. And , and , and if you just extend that out, just one or two of us, right? So I think ASU has built, or is building that muscle for how you take their English programs and translate them into mantra . But once that muscle is built, now you can translate them into Spanish. You can translate them into Russia, it’s like them into Arabic, right? Because you built that muscle around how you think about designing for X, as you said . And so I think, I think it becomes a huge , uh, benefit , uh , strategic benefit for a university to have that , that muscle built. And I think , I think the long-term vision here is that you can offer high-quality programs , uh, in , in a multitude of languages. Right. And in a way that we’ve never really have contemplated before, in part, because as you said, we now have a live online platform to do that. And we have built that in, and we also now have delivery mechanisms. And , uh , as you said, localization pieces to it that make it viable in those markets, in those markets.

Joe Gottlieb:

And I think what I want to keep coming back to is, you know, ASU is a very competition and highly recognized and therefore their role in the industry can be very intimidating. And so I think there are a lot of institutions out there that think, oh, well, this is going to be too hard. Um, but that’s what, that’s what designed for X really helps with. Right? So if you just, if it’s just a commentary in your discussions about how things are going, you start to use it. And every time you do something new, you’re it expanses your consciousness. It allows you to start doing things just a little bit differently with an eye towards the future. And so what we say to institutions when we’re , we’re helping them to evolve is for some institutions, this is about picking one program and maybe one faculty group that’s very interested in pushing the envelope and they’re going to be receptive. They , they, they find it as , uh , they’re they’re they’re , they’re , um, they’re excited to commit a little extra energy to do something different. They find it to be an important step in their careers to be part of something that is going through these changes versus interpreting it as a lot of work that they didn’t , that they don’t get paid for, that they didn’t sign up for it. That’s like the that’s like the classes half empty, you know , mentality. And, and, and I think sometimes this, this, that whole dynamic degrades in the discussions around higher ed around an aversion to change, and we hate, we hate that. Like that. That’s not what there are, there are people that want to do some of these different things. There are people that don’t, they shouldn’t be judged for that, right. There are people that have, that have built careers out of delivering education in a way that they came to understand had great value and still has great value, nothing against that. So this is about how do you get started with some folks maybe that want to take on something new and , and let’s figure out ways to get them involved. And over time, we might even attract a portion of that group that initially thought it wasn’t of interest, but as they see this thing catching on, if there’s a little, maybe a little peer pressure here, but also there’s just, there’s viability demonstrated , cause going in this can look risky and unviable. So have you seen that dynamic play out in terms of how institutions grapple with this?

Rick Shangraw:

Absolutely. And I think one of ASU, his greatest strength is just that it’s a willing to willingness to experiment in a group of faculty , uh, that are interested in and sort of pushing the edges of, of, of how you deliver , uh , uh , accessible , uh, higher education. And so, you know, we’re, we’re at a point now where we have , uh, units calling us saying, we’d like to put our programs online and Mander , which you , you never would’ve thought of a couple years ago. So, so yeah, absolutely. It is a mindset issue. And if you have the right mindset, I think, I think that you can overcome that issue. You just raised, which is there are some risks associated with this. There’s no doubt. And, but, but if you have the right mindset among the faculty and we , and we happen to have that at ASU in spades, it really helps you to overcome those obstacles in that. And then it becomes in many respects it then , uh , devolves or evolves into a technical challenge, you know, how do you deliver it overseas? How do you get your videos posted behind the Chinese firewall? I mean, a lot, a lot of technical issues, but once you have that upfront commitment for the faculty, it’s , it’s just so much easier to make these things work.

Joe Gottlieb:

Awesome. All right . One final question, Rick, what of, all the things that are going on right now? What’s the thing that you’re most excited about how higher ed is transforming?

Rick Shangraw:

Oh, you know , uh, Joe, that’s a great question. Um, you know, I , I, I, I do think this, this motto that we, that has happened at ASU that you’ve heard a lot about, and that is re rethinking , um, the way that we make higher education accessible, I think is probably the most important thing that I see happening. And again, it’s not easy , uh, with the financial challenges, with the access challenges for students that aren’t able to get to , uh, uh, locations in person and online, certainly helping with that. Uh , but, but I think , I think the ability for us to look out across , uh, our country, specifically in the globe , you know, in more, more universally to make sure that we have the opportunities for students to enroll in , in participating in college. And that, that is the challenge I think , uh, for the next several decades is to make sure we do that at a price that people can afford it and a level of quality that helps advance their, their , uh , social mobility and their, their , uh, their outcomes, their career outcomes. And so I think that’s the thing that is most interesting to me. And, and it , it , as you know, it’s really challenging the existing model of , of, of, of, of being elite , uh, and, and not as accessible , uh, for many institutions in the United States. But I , I think that’s going to be a discussion we’re going to have for many years to come

Joe Gottlieb:

Well. I love that one. That’s , uh , that’s really exciting, indeed. And so, Rick, thank you so much for joining me today and thanks to our guests for joining us as well. I wish you all having a great day and we’ll look forward to hosting you again on the next episode of transformed.