In the twenty-first century, a high-quality, affordable postsecondary education is the key to both national competitiveness and individual success. So not surprisingly, public policymakers, students and their families, and business leaders all express a sense of urgency with regard to college policy and practice. This is reflected in the concern over rising costs, student debt levels, and the lack of alignment between college graduate skills and labor-market demand.
This urgency infused the 2013 summer announcement by the Obama Administration of a renewed federal policy focus on innovation in higher education. The announcement of a new college/university policy agenda, “Making College Affordable: A Better Agenda for the Middle Class,” highlighted the role of the developing technologies, institutional curriculum-design processes, and new delivery methods as keys to providing an excellent and affordable postsecondary education. MOOCs, flipped classrooms, learning analytics, and competency-based education (CBE) are given as specific examples of new approaches that can do just that.