[My comment at the Innovate on Purpose blog at http://innovateonpurpose.blogspot.ca/2012/09/innovation-experts-are-last-to-know.html%5D:
While reading this blog post, I kept thinking of this article, “Online classes: The baby formula of higher education” (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/debate/la-ol-online-classes-infant-formula-blowback-20120917,0,5678315.story).
The brick and mortar education “places” “will continue to thrive,” but, using the automobile industry analogy, more of us will be driving early generation, compact Hondas and Toyotas, i.e., economy educations. Our Value For Money (VFM) will be that more of us are able to be “educated,” but the question will turn on the quality of that education. For instance, how many productive scholars in the liberal arts and humanities will be churned out of “places” like U. of Phoenix (assuming that that institution takes up liberal arts degrees, despite John Sperling’s statement that “We are not trying to develop their value systems or go in for that ‘expand their minds’ bullshit” (Steal This University, pg. 19))?
I don’t think the “experts” are as behind the curve on this shift to the digital diploma mill (David Noble) as you make out. What does appear to be happening in education though is that VFM has already been pursued via labor costs: 75% of all higher ed faculty are part-timers. That seems astonishing but whereas the faculty ranks have shrunk in terms of costs, that’s not so true of other parts of higher ed, where costs have increased–as you pointed out with the costs of construction.