The Changing Face of Higher Education – Part I

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Ironically, the ivory towers of education are regarded by many to be slow learners. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are slow at change, not learning. The Education Design Lab recently released an insightful white paper that provides an overview of where the challenges of post-secondary education lie and where future change is likely to occur. This is part 1 of a 2 part article.

THE CHALLENGES

“Numerous factors are causing deep disruption in the current higher-education system: public institutions are having their appropriations cut by governments, private institutions have raised tuition but many have been unable to increase net revenue, collective student debt is now greater than credit-card debt, and colleges and universities are seeing sudden and potentially catastrophic drops in enrollment. Moody’s Investors Service, the credit-rating agency, has had a negative outlook for at least part of the higher-education industry since 2009. It reiterated its negative outlook in July. Outsiders have been forecasting for years a sudden demise of the traditional higher education system” (Education Design Lab).

CHANGES PAST & PRESENT

It’s not that change has not occurred. Rather, the focus of change efforts have been skewed towards efficiency more than effectiveness. The Education Design Lab has outlined three major phases of educational change over the past two decades. The third phase is just beginning and holds the most promise of helping us move towards a learner-effectiveness model.

  • Phase 1 – Learner management systems. We began to use integrated databases to consolidate
    processes and enhance learner experience. This has ranged from enterprise data systems to digital
    Education Change Projectionslibraries to on-line grades.
  • Phase 2 – Courseware tools, data analytics and dashboards, and software platforms. This phase focused on enhancing the pedagogy of learning with on-line learning platforms, and software which began to blend virtual and physical classrooms. It also began to provide consolidated data and the means to track history, trends and make more accurate future projections.
  • Phase 3 – Learner-centric education. Both of the previous phases have largely focused on how the institution can do its job better. Phase three will focus on products and services  which will ‘reach out to individual learners, define pathways for their success and travel down that path with them (Education Design Lab).

SO WHAT’S NEXT

There are five major categories in which change can occur: cost, accreditation, credit-hour structure, pedagogical innovation and meeting employer needs. In part 2 of our article next Tuesday, we will examine 8 ideas which will change how we educate.


 

Head ShotJeff Suderman is a strategist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

Martin Van Der Werf. Education Design Lab (2015). The ed tech revolution is about to become the learner revolution.

Nick Anderson and Susan Svrluga (March 3, 2015) . Sweet Briar College to close because of financial challenges. The Washington Post.

 

 

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