Newlane University History

Ben Blair and Josh Stanley studied education in graduate school, and they have each taught and worked in online and higher education for over a decade. Ben Blair holds a PhD from Columbia University in Philosophy and Education. Josh Stanley is ABD in Instructional Design from Columbia University, and holds Masters degrees in Mass Communication and Digital Media Studies from the University of Denver.

Newlane started in academia as an effort by Josh and Ben to build a platform that would simplify and improve curriculum and curriculum development, and apply some of the powerful ideas, values, and trends in online technology (e.g., crowd-sourcing, content-ranking, micro-payments, etc.) to education, and leverage the abundant instructional resources available today. They created the platform for Newlane because it was a tool that Ben and Josh wanted to use. With their background in online and higher ed, they saw the need for something that would not only cut down on the time it took to design course content, but also improve the quality.

As they worked on developing the platform, they found they could build lessons, courses, and degrees in hours or days instead of months. This led to a realization that the exorbitant cost at universities were not reflective of the degree curriculum, but rather, some other costs. They worked to significantly bring down the cost to build a stripped down degree program comparable to the essential objectives at other universities, but built on a platform optimized for this, and delivered and assessed online.
Their research took them all over the place, reviewing programs at conventional and online universities, as well as readily available disruptive resources like MOOCs, instructional online websites and videos, etc. When they looked seriously at the cost of actually verifying a student’s mastery, once we have an optimized platform for hosting learning objectives (or intended learning outcomes) and assessments, their analysis ultimately settled around $1000 for a college degree. This conclusion was energizing for the potential to open and offer education to a much wider audience–and shift education from a scarcity to an abundance model. It was also disheartening to see that, while technology was enabling a much more expansive potential for educating the world, U.S. universities were still charging $120,000+, and there was no clear end to their raising prices. In this context, Newlane University has emerged as a force for making quality education available and accessible to every person on earth.