The engine behind WGU

Western Governors University (WGU) has developed a strong name in the postsecondary education world not only because it delivers degree programs almost entirely online, but also because students earn credit solely based on demonstrating competency in their course of study. This nontraditional competency-based model has required WGU to piece together a unique data system to […]


Michael B. Horn

Education Executive Director, Secretary, Co-Founder Michael B. Horn is the co-founder and executive director of the education practice of Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank devoted to applying the theories of disruptive innovation to solve problems in the social sector. In this capacity, Horn leads a team that educates policymakers and the public on how […]



Building motivation, instilling grit: The necessity of mastery-based, digital learning Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Michael B. Horn

The potential of a competency-based (or mastery-based) education system powered by digital learning to customize for each individual student’s needs and bolster learning excites many. A question some ask though is: What about the unmotivated students? Won’t they be left behind? Furthermore, in light of the recent publicity around the research on the importance of […]


Michael B. Horn

Education Executive Director mhorn@innosightinstitute.org Michael B. Horn is the co-founder and executive director of the education practice of Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank devoted to applying the theories of disruptive innovation to solve problems in the social sector. In this capacity, Horn leads a team that educates policymakers and the public on how to […]


Family support defines lowest tier of the K-12 school market Posted on December 13th, 2012 by Heather Clayton Staker

Entrant firms with modular online-learning courses should consider targeting students from highly supportive families before they try to serve disadvantaged youth. Here’s why: When a new market coalesces, companies develop highly integrated products that, while not good enough, come closer to satisfying customer’s needs than any of their competitors (see Michael Horn’s article, “Is the […]


Colorado’s crummy policies lead to crummy virtual schools Posted on October 24th, 2011 by Michael B. Horn

An investigation of Colorado’s full-time virtual schools has revealed some dubious results and practices, which led the state’s Senate President to call for an emergency audit of all of Colorado’s virtual schools. But the state shouldn’t be shocked by the report. As the truism goes, you get what you pay for. Colorado’s policy environment incentivizes […]



Louisiana’s Digital Future

Executive Summary Nationwide, online learning is booming. Just over a decade ago, fewer than 50,000 K-12 students took an online course; today several million students do, and the growth of online learning is accelerating. According to one study, in 2010, 30 percent of high school students reported taking at least one online course. Some students […]