Apollo Group’s Technology Investments

Michael Feldstein, Feb 21, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

People are going gaga over the hundred million or so collectively invested in MOOCs. It's an impressive spend, even if distributed across a number of companies, but dwarfed by the $1 billion investment Apollo Group is making to support "basically their entire learning- and learner-focused technology portfolio." Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix and other online learning properties, may not be in the news so much these days, but it's still one of the dominant players in the field. This article reports on an interview with Apollo's Chief Innovation Officers and Executive Vice President, Rob Wrubel. A big focus for them is "getting the right mix of students in terms of their skills and abilities [that] can be critical to the success of the cohort," as well as learning analytics and (maybe) activity streams. Also, "He scoffed at using Google-like tricks to personalize learning through big data magic (which is very much in line with my recent critique). Instead, he talked about automating the thus-far labor-intensive process of discovering skill maps for different subjects and disciplines." This is good, smart stuff. The details matter, of course, but if I were investing a billion dollars, this would be where I put a good part of it.

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