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Future of Higher Education Technology

The Future of Technology’s Role in Higher Education Learning

Brandon Busteed, CPO and Global Head of Learn-Work Innovation at Kaplan, says success in the classroom relies on a blend of technology and personal skills.

Brandon Busteed

CPO and Global Head of Learn-Work Innovation, Kaplan

How critical is it to consider each student’s unique needs in order to optimize the higher education experience?

As much as it’s important to find ways to cater to students’ unique needs, especially in the case of first-generation immigrant students, there are some fundamental ingredients of success. Mentoring relationships and work-integrated learning are critical for every single student.

What are challenge colleges and universities face when changing their infrastructure to ensure student and institutional success?

To foster an environment and culture where every student has some form of a mentoring relationship, as well as a work-integrated learning experience, requires colleges and universities to shift their cultures and reward systems. What if the reward system was more like a “mentor or meander” approach where faculty are recognized more for student mentoring and teaching? What if the “extra-curricular” activities or work opportunities were embedded in the academic core of the institution where students get credit for internships or co-ops? These kinds of shifts go a long way toward ensuring student success for all, not just a lucky few.

What are your thoughts on hybrid learning, and is the college experience worth it if completely online?

Coming out of the pandemic, there is certainly strong demand for a return to in-person, campus-based education. But the majority of students still desire the option to take classes online. Surveys of college staff and faculty are showing a strong desire to continue working from home to some degree. In fact, in a recent survey at Duke University, only three percent of staff and faculty want to return to campus five days a week, while 36 percent want to remain remote full-time.

How does data inform strategic decision-making for college and university leaders?

Colleges and universities are certainly getting better at using data to inform decisions. However, there are still big gaps in their alignment with student and employer trends and preferences. Looking carefully at regional labor market data and trends, for example, can help universities identify new degree and non-degree programs to invest in, and potentially to identify programs that should be cut.

How does higher education benefit career paths or create value and new opportunities?

A college degree, with several caveats included, still provides a strong boost to career earnings compared to not having a college degree. But with rising tuition costs and significant doubts about the work readiness of college graduates, there’s growing evidence that students are turning toward other pathways to a good job. Degree-seeking enrollments in higher education have dropped by more than 2.5 million students since the peak in 2011. Movements among leading employers to drop degree requirements for certain jobs and to begin offering their own training are further eroding the value of a college degree.

What is the future of higher education?

Degree-seeking student enrollment in higher education has been on the decline for 10 consecutive years now, and there’s a real possibility it will decline for another 10 years given population age demographic shifts that will result in fewer 18- to 24-year-olds in the coming years.

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