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Thales College Designed to Fail

November 2, 2018

At a time when we need wealthy persons to found new colleges and universities, we should take an interest in a new college in North Carolina calling itself Thales College. I’ll watch its progress with interest. But, what little I have read suggests that the new college’s wealthy backer, Bob Luddy, has not done any research in instructional design for distance learning, nor has he read about the American system of accreditation that constrains innovation in higher education.

Here are four reasons  that Thales college will fail:

  1. No Accreditation

“Because employers, colleges, and universities look primarily at the students’ grades, coursework and major, and the college’s reputation for quality instruction. They do not base hiring and graduate school admission decisions primarily on whether a transcript comes from an accredited institution.”

THIS IS A WRONG OR INTENTIONALLY FALSE STATEMENT.  Admission to college for degree completion (after one or two years at Thales) or admission to postgraduate degree programs  upon graduation will be granted only if a college’s degree programs are accredited.

American education consumers are not interested in self-study, nor in a liberal education.  They are interested in earning a degree or competency for employment. Employment with state or federal government or as a public school teacher requires a degree earned from an accredited college or university.

  1. Reliance on Recorded Lectures

“Thales College employs a version of the “flipped classroom” concept: students will receive the course lectures and reading materials online. Then, every morning, students will attend an in-class Socratic discussion led by a professor to discuss what they learned in the previous course module.” “The college plans to produce its own in-house video lectures, as well as contract with other educational organizations to use the wealth of lectures that they already have produced and available.”

BAD INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN.  Students learn best from reading, not from audio or video recordings and reading takes less serial time that 30 or 55 minute recordings of lectures.

  1. High Tuition Cost

“Total tuition for a four-year degree will be $32,000, or $4,000 per term.”

TUITION IS TOO COSTLY.  Thales’ tuition cost of $1,600 per course is far above tuition costs of between $900 and $1,000 per course at regionally accredited institutions. If marketed on the basis of price, Thales should adopt a mixed classroom/online model.  A solely online course can be offered for about $325 per course or $6,500 for a two-year AA degree.  Assume that one-half or 11 courses in a two-year program must be offered in classrooms to qualify for regional accreditation,  9 courses can be offered for $2,925 and 11 courses can be offered for $900 each or $9,900. On that model, tuition will total $12,925 for a two year degree program.  Thales’ tuition $16,000 for a two year program is too high, and without accreditation for Title IV grants and student loans, students must pay for tuition from parent’s savings or part time employment.

4) Qualified Christian and Conservative Faculty are Difficult to Find

Finally, Thales will have a difficult time hiring faculty that share the religious and political views of its Founder. A good friend who was Provost at a Protestant Christian college began to look for faculty in Europe because European scholars are less likely to be infected by PC.

This link will take you to a list “Best Practices” for effective distance learning that I compiled after  9 years of experience in distance learning.  Or better yet, read my book that explains how the current system of high cost college degree programs is on track for creative destruction.  I must conclude that Thales isn’t designed for success in the American higher education market. Thales College is designed to fail.





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