Areas of nonconsumption are often the most promising places to look for disruptive innovations. What’s hard about looking for these places is that, by their definition, there is no market and no data yet. As I’ve written before, nowhere is there more nonconsumption in education than in the developing world. As such, starting education innovations abroad where the alternative is literally nothing at all represents promising ground—and a place to look to for innovations.

I’m sure many people out there have way more expertise than do I on this topic, but a few things have caught my eye in recent days.

First, an eCampus News article discusses Yale Law School’s Information Society Project’s teaming up with University of the People, which is pioneering a tuition-free online university, to study “how online higher education is perceived worldwide and document what it takes for Internet-based institutions to achieve accreditation.”

Given the potential of innovations like University of the People to make an impact for those who do not have access to or cannot afford higher education in the developing world, the findings could be very interesting. Equally interesting might be how do innovations like this get around the regulations until the regulations ultimately cave to them and the new reality.

Second, there is a start-up learning organization in Mexico that reportedly is booming. Called the Learning and Innovation Network, it runs hybrid centers with computers and in-person facilitators to offer learning for users in the community in a variety of topics at affordable prices. The first centers opened in May, and they already have around 30,000 people from all age groups using them. The leadership team expects to reach 80,000 people by the end of year one with only 500 computers in 10 centers. Apparently there is a high demand for English courses; LIN bought Rosetta Stone licenses to incorporate into its model as a result, which has been well received thus far.

I would bet that many of the models that target these huge pockets of nonconsumption ultimately will be the most successful in figuring out the next generation of learning models. I’d love to have a discussion here with others about what else is out there to inform us all.

– Michael B. Horn


  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.