It’s time to dump her and move on

As our economy enters a new era, so does the world of post-secondary education.

Twenty-five years after the Internet became commercially available, post-high school education जे which is now a truly lifelong endeavor for adults आता is now a diverse ecosystem of options. From 2020, the digital transformation of the economy and the labor market took a big leap. Parallel, Online learning went into the mainstream Forced to experiment with distance learning as an educational provider at all levels, including colleges and universities, the vehicle of choice for part-time students engaged in lifelong learning.

The financial turmoil of the epidemic sheds light on this Workers urgently need skills and upskilling again, Which has become a top policy priority for cities, states and the federal government. A new wave is also moving in this direction Alliance, No profit and philanthropic investment. Many years before the outbreak, graduation for 36 million American adults Some colleges but no degree The main strategic focus was. About 40 percent of adults over the age of 25 enroll in higher education in the United States. That’s it Nearly 8 million students. These are in large numbers – educating this group on social and economic urgency, as well as a huge market opportunity.

At the time of the outbreak, 37 percent of educated adults abandoned their educational goals based on the Strada Education Network’s referendum because of financial difficulties, job changes, or lack of access to programs. “National Crisis.” Of Latest registration data There has been a sharp decline in adult graduate enrollment from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. For example, in the spring 20 to 2021, enrollment in community colleges decreased by 11 percent compared to the previous year. California Community College System Alone 190,000 students lost Between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020.

Meanwhile, demand for flexible, digital offers is growing. In Coursera’s second quarter 2021 results As reported last week, the company reported a 38 percent revenue increase on the strength of global demand for resale and “continued demand for targeted career-based professional certifications for entry-level digital jobs.” Similarly, online education company 2U, which partners with several leading universities, reported 36 percent growth in its “alternative credit” business segment In its most recent quarter. The company’s recently announced acquisition of X 800 million EdX reflects the growing demand and value of short-form learning, online courses and microcredentials. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corporate scandals.

What has happened is that adult education is rapidly changing into a more online, digital model आणि and it is growing through new platforms and providers, and in non-institutional or unconventional contexts. This trend calls for study and structure, as our thinking regarding adult education must evolve over the constructions of the last century to reflect this new, more digital reality.

A perennial myth in higher education is that adult students inevitably represent a growing “new majority”. Created in the 1974 paper When reflecting on market dynamics. The enrollment of students over the age of 25 reached the peak of enrollment in many colleges and universities decades ago, and overall adult enrollment In 2011. It’s true that adults are an underscored, underpressed audience in traditional higher education – and that’s an important area I’ve dedicated a significant part of my own career to. But the growing enrollment of working adults is not just a demographic destiny. In fact, there is many years of evidence that we have an existing structure and incentive system for higher education Not suitable for serving adult students. The authorities may be shocked to learn this Ex-The government estimates of the enrollment of adult students did not suggest an increase, but a 2 percent decline until 2028.

As our long-term structures and policies struggle, it’s time to reboot.

A ‘Approach for both / and’ degree and optional credentials

The above data is proof of that Increasing appeal of non-degree credentials, In a world where the demand for skills is changing faster than most colleges can afford. Yet market value and employer perceptions of new types of digital non-degree credentials Is still relatively unknown– My colleagues and I are actively researching. The digital credential market is at an early stage of development and therefore this area needs more research and thoughtful attention.

A significant share of key employers is actively moving beyond unregulated degree requirements for jobs and adoption Recruitment based on skills Methods, especially recruitment methods become more digital. However, this does not mean that the degree – while incomplete – should be set aside. Degrees are still the gold standard for recruitment and are by far the largest and most sought after segment of the adult education market. There is a great opportunity for working professionals to enhance, refine and adapt to existing degrees and thus take advantage of data and online connectivity between organizations and industries.

Is to design a proven area “Career paths“By combining personalized student support services, with a roadmap for selecting, accessing and completing degree programs. This is a process that can be facilitated by online services and coaching; supplemented by microcredentials; or information provided by job market analytics. Many organizations recognize that change is happening – and are supporting colleges through it Creating new frameworks for the success of adult students Based on research and evidence. This is the focus of our current project, including the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

There is also a new concept “Increased credit. ”It breaks degrees and learns in smaller units, so learners can get quick and recognized values ​​on the way to more traditional degrees किंवा or exit with meaningful credentials instead of just credits, like our current all-or-nothing approach qualification frameworks have been developed and SUNY Empire Pilots are taking shape at State College with the Credentials as You Go initiative. The second project from WorkCred and its partners focuses on this Embedding a certificate into a bachelor’s degree program, Increasing the relevance of the job market to adult degree programs.

What these efforts have in common is that they rely entirely on creating new frameworks and tools and cross-sector collaboration जे all of which are needed to add to the more fluid market of digital (and traditional) learning options for all adult students. At the moment it will be important to create a more consistent design than the Wild West environment. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. Bundling, modifying, and refining existing degree programs is the first step toward a more modular, work-integrated future.

In-depth employer engagement: beyond alignment and towards work-learning integration

For the past two decades, the higher education sector around the world has been under pressure to increase graduates. Employability And deliver results that are more tailored to the needs of the job market. Adult education is usually about working professionals, so the field demands more precise integration with employers, not just “alignment” with employee needs.

One of the major challenges here is the lack of employer participation in post-secondary education and the difficulties in maintaining it. At the recent National Science Foundation-funded Virtual Convention, we began to explore and solve this problem as a workflow. “Applied science to support working students, ”Hosted by Stanford University Professor Michelle Stevens. One idea that emerges from this discussion is to create a clear business case and demonstrate ROI for employers to sit on the post-secondary education table.

Employers, of course, see colleges and universities as providers of talent, certified with credentials, and coaches of their workforce. Experienced learning models that can be applied to working adults (as opposed to traditional internships) are a growing area of ​​employer interest – and these models rely on employers to provide job opportunities and create projects for students. However, significant change will require broader adoption than some of the Fortune 100 companies’ experiments – and will include a full spectrum of small and medium businesses.

Some employers are developing their own options for post-secondary education options, especially for people. This was found in a recent analysis of non-degree credential holders by the Strada Education Network 1 in 10 adults got their identity from a business or private company. As this parallel higher education system emerges – both as a competitive risk and as a partnership opportunity for colleges and universities – students are presented with a wide range of new digital options. Yet our understanding of this trend is very limited, as in other areas.

In short, it is a new world as an ecosystem of learning options for adults, and so education leaders at all levels need to reboot their thinking, and monitor and analyze these emerging trends.

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