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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Higher Education in a World Where Students Never Graduate | Digital Learning - Inside Higher Ed

The push for lifelong learning is fueling competition from alternative providers, but colleges and universities have a secret weapon: the deep bond they form with students, which should lead to a lifelong relationship, Chris Dellarocas, associate provost for digital learning and innovation and Richard C. Shipley Professor in Management at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. writes.

Photo: Istockphoto.com/elenabs

John Seely Brown, the former director of the legendary Xerox PARC laboratory, famously wrote in 2011 that the half-life of a skill is five years (and shrinking). This means that half of what we learn today will become obsolete five years from now. This idea is getting a lot of attention among higher education leaders, who must plan for a future in which students will need to keep learning new skills ever more frequently after they graduate.

The advent of continual reskilling on higher education institutions will be felt most acutely by the graduate professional education segment, which has traditionally been structured around traditional one- and two-year master’s degree programs. Says author and consultant Jeff Selingo, “Workers will likely consume this lifelong learning in short spurts when they need it, rather than in lengthy blocks of time as they do now, when it often takes months or years to complete certificates and degrees.”...

The Shift to On-Demand Learning
Much has been written about the potential decline in demand for traditional one- and two-year master’s programs in favor of short-term microcredentials. This has enabled all sorts of new players to claim a stake in the professional education market. Examples include skill-based boot-camp providers like General Assembly, on-campus adjunct packagers like Trilogy and a dizzying array of education platforms, from Coursera and edX to Udemy and Pluralsight. At the same time that many traditional colleges struggle to stay financially afloat, private investors are busy pouring millions of dollars into alternative professional education start-ups.

When industries undergo such dislocations, power often shifts from incumbent players to such intermediaries and platforms, who end up owning the relationship with the customer and controlling the flow of revenues. The plight of newspapers is a case in point. When things went digital, the emergence of alternative news sources (e.g., blogs, Twitter) and the rise of news-aggregator platforms (e.g., Google News) left all but the very best news outlets commoditized and financially struggling. What Amazon did to retailers is another cautionary tale...

New Models Open New Possibilities
Georgia Institute of Technology recently published the results of a three-year study by a Commission on Creating the Next in Education. Pointing to the resulting report, Rafael L. Bras, Georgia Tech’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, suggests a model in which the university becomes “a touchpoint throughout the student’s life.”

A key outcome of the commission’s work, called the Georgia Tech Commitment, suggests that “the successful universities will be those which invest in the pipeline to help students acquire and renew skills not only through formalized degrees and credentials but with programs, products, and services that are relevant and valuable throughout their lifetimes.”
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Source: Inside Higher Ed


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