SEEING WHAT’S NEXT
Where is education heading? What does that mean for organizations, individuals, and the systems to which we are are accustomed? How does learning look, and how does it happen? What are we (not) thinking about?
It is high time for higher education to move past the rhetoric of innovation and affordability, and consider relevance as being worthy and noble. Higher education must adapt to offer diverse pathways to credentialing and recognition, whether those pathways result in a degree (as we have known it) or credentials that offer industry recognition and portability.
As 2020 comes to a close and we set our sights past the pandemic and into the future, it is time for higher education in the United States to stop talking about the future of higher education and, instead, step boldly into it. Putting lipstick on the digital pig during the pandemic has served only to shine a spotlight on the seismic shift facing higher education.
Consider the question carefully: what if we were addicted to deep and relevant learning? What would that mean, apart from a departure from the Taylorism still so pervasive in education, most notably in assessment?
As the leader of a fully online institution of higher education that constantly looks to the future in an effort to anticipate how we should and will evolve in order to meet the needs of learners, I read with great interest articles that purport to inject fresh thinking into the heightened public discourse during the Covid-19 era on what is termed ‘distance education.’ Though I long for the day when we refer to it as ‘education’ with no qualifier in front of it, I am struck by the profound disconnect between higher education and K-12 education, when it comes to quality instruction, pandemic or no.
It has been a consistent narrative in education conferences for the past ten to fifteen years: "we need to become more agile, more innovative, more digital, adopt a growth mindset, and focus more on the user..." I have attended a fair number of conferences during this time period, and I think that all of them have featured speakers and workshop leaders who repeat either this exact mantra or something quite close to it. The Covid era has served as an accelerant on the fire.