Keyed into our on-demand culture, Chef David Chang is going all in: The award-winning chef who created Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Má Pêche, Milk Bar, and Nishi is now investing in and creating a food delivery service called Ando. Chang jokingly refers to Ando as his “dream restaurant” because he won’t have to worry about complaints “about the stools or backless chairs or the ambient noise.”

Cultivating the idea of a placeless restaurant, Chang doesn’t even want anyone to know where the central headquarters for Ando will be. He’s teaming up with Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, who has formed a group called Expa that will coordinate all of the technology and logistics. UberRush will deliver the tasty food that Chang creates.

Chang has already been testing out this concept through his work with Maple, a hyper-local delivery service in lower Manhattan that creates a few new meals each day ranging from $12 to $15 (side note: I’ve actually tasted the food from Maple, and if I lived close enough and had enough money, I would never cook again and just order from Maple. That’s how good it is).

Without technology, scale was something that Chang could only achieve through franchising or building larger rooms. No longer bound by the confines of a restaurant’s square footage, Chang is building a new business model enabled by app technology.

In higher education, we would do well to follow these same cues about our app-enabled, on-demand culture and consider how we might make higher education similarly boundless. We already know that it can be placeless, as online technologies have enabled new modalities of learning that support greater flexibility, accessibility, and convenience.

Physical campuses do not have a monopoly on learning. Early for-profit models illuminated how the business model of higher education could be radically simplified. Rather than bundling together teaching, research, and the coming-of-age experience, online models focused a single value proposition: teaching. But even this unbundling is not enough to prepare us for the velocity of our rapidly changing economy and needs.

We now find ourselves in a sharing economy. With rapid urbanization and greater connectivity through digital networks, customers’ expectations in many industries are turning away from ownership to access because we are simply consuming differently. Fewer people see the need to own a car when, on average, a car is used for less than one hour per day. By 2015, more than one billion Uber trips had been taken worldwide. An estimated 41 million people paid for music subscriptions in 2014, and as of 2015 nearly 40 percent of U.S. households subscribed to a video streaming service.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly 80 percent of executives “see changes in how their customers access goods and services.” Major companies are already thinking about how to package and personalize their goods differently in response to this new way of consuming. At the same time, colleges and universities will not be able to ignore these new habits of consumption—of not only goods and services but also information.

If you haven’t noticed, we are awash in content. Our information age has revealed that content is no longer proprietary, nor is it always relevant or well curated. A Deloitte report projects that by 2020, 50 percent of the content in an undergraduate degree will be obsolete in five years. LinkedIn data reveals that the top 10 jobs on its site didn’t even exist five years ago—positions like iOS/Android developer, social media intern, UI/UX designer, and big data architect. Cathy N. Davidson writes “that 65 percentof the students in K–12 schools today will work in jobs that do not currently exist.”

The arbitrary delineations between education and the workforce will fade away. As demographics and technology alter the ways in which we get work done, institutions of higher education will have no choice but to become more responsive.

Just as Chang is dreaming up a placeless restaurant, future models of higher education will have to be boundless—untethered to assumptions of what we believe is right for our students. Data will drive more powerful interactions and experiences that move us beyond tradition and intuition. We cannot remain “wedded to our expertise.” This is a phrase that best-selling author of Moneyball, Michael Lewis, used in a recent interview to describe the traditional form of valuing players based on the intuition of talent scouts rather than the data that captured every single move and play on the field.

Access to and better analytics of rich data on the backend of a learning experience will fundamentally alter the teaching and learning process. Every click, every exercise and assessment will generate important data about each student. Such data-driven interactions between instructors and students will inevitably lead to richer teaching moments and more efficient, just-in-time interventions. At its best, it will be as though each student has her own specialized and affordable tutor.

Predictive analytics around big data in education may still be in its nascence, but I can’t wait to see what the future brings. In the meantime, I’m ordering from Ando.

This blog was first published by the Sandbox ColLABorative.


  • Michelle R. Weise, PhD
    Michelle R. Weise, PhD