Unbundling: It Worked for the Airlines, Could It Work for Higher Ed? – O'Donnell Learn

Unbundling: It Worked for the Airlines, Could It Work for Higher Ed?

Published by Joana Jebsen
on Feb 26, 2020

At a time when making education more affordable, increasing speed to degree are key strategies at most higher education institutions, is it also time to finally take a page from the airline industry and unbundle the degree? While most of us don’t want the HE experience to simulate the cramped seating and multiple flight delays we often experience when flying, we do want students to enjoy multiple pathways and price points to a degree.

Paul le Blanc, SNHU president, famously embraced unbundling the degree in 2013, when he introduced SNHU’s College for America Competency Based (CBE) program. At the time it was considered radical, and at many institutions today, this would still be the case. But one look at enrollments at SNHU or WGU, with over 90,000 and 121,000 online students respectively, and we see evidence of unbundling’s merits.

In the years since airlines began this approach, we’ve learned that when their services were unbundled and the base price for tickets was reduced, air travel was opened up to a whole segment of the population previously excluded. Additionally, travelers could also customize their experience to match their needs, both in class of flight (first-class, business, coach and economy) and available perks.

Here at O’Donnell Learn, we believe unbundling the degree helps increase opportunities for students, especially in the areas of affordability, speed to degree and workforce preparedness.

We’re excited to be at the forefront of providing higher education with LXD (alt. pre-packaged, unbundled) solutions that enable them to quickly launch, grow and scale evidenced-based initiatives aimed at soft skills and professional development. While many in higher ed fear unbundling the degree will compete with traditional degree programs, and already declining retention rates, we believe it could prove an effective strategy for attracting new students.

Joana Jebsen is the President of O’Donnell Learn, a leading learning experience (LX) design firm dedicated to helping learners achieve their goals and flourish in life. ODL is passionate about partnering with institutions and their faculty to deliver learner-centered design and innovation.


Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy - Purposeful Learning DesignTM - is anchored around people.  It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

2020 Reflective: Breathe Deep and Stay Agile

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Dec 22, 2020

While end-of-year survey results are still to come for how enrolled students are evaluating their 2020 college experience, I queried two of our staff, both students, about their overall experience and considered how these compared to what I was seeing with O’Donnell Learn clients. Kellie, our graphic design intern, just completed her Associates Degree in Graphic design. Prior to 2020, all of her courses met on campus. Cathryn, a Learning Design Associate is currently enrolled in an online Master of Education program in eLearning and Instructional Design. As this program was conceived as online delivery, it serves as a benchmark to compare against courses that were forced by COVID to switch delivery modes.

Evolving Our Project Management to Advance Client Results

Published By Craig Leonard
on Dec 16, 2020

If you were to talk to anyone in our organization, you’d quickly discover that we are all truly passionate about learning. So much so, that always learning is one of our core values. Learning from our successes, failures and each other is integral to how we operate and how we’ve grown into the agile company we are today.