2012: A Year in Review
The Value of Adult Students in Higher Education
If a higher education institution decides to deliver industry education, it should be for the opportunity to be recognized as industry experts and the chance to influence day-to-day operations of businesses. Increasing revenue should be an afterthought and often will not happen in the short term.
Adult students have particular demands which affect their learning. To be successful, their college or university must understand and accommodate those specific needs
Given the growth of the adult student population base, the reduction in state funding for higher education and the national emphasis on increasing the number of credential-holders, it is imperative that higher education institution begin making greater efforts to enroll and serve adult learners.
Marketing Higher Education to Adult Students
Successfully marketing to adult students requires a college or university to go beyond simply having resources available. Those resources must be optimized to enhance the student’s experience, and designed in such a way that they felt understood.
It is important to ensure adult students understand the challenges they will be facing during their educational experience, but also that their institution has systems support them, in order to improve the chances at retaining that student until graduation.
By implementing robust mechanisms to determine which marketing activities are having the most success, higher education institutions can save money by focusing resources on high-return strategies.
Corporate Training and Higher Education
Reusing customized programs for other similar businesses and for open-enrollment courses can be a recipe to riches for higher education institutions.
Providing employees with support to complete ongoing higher education allows employees to improve their abilities and provides the employer a competitive advantage over competitors.
To better meet the needs of working professionals, higher education institutions must form closer bonds with industries and businesses and translate those relationships into developing in-demand programming.
Designing Adult-Friendly Programming
By making a greater amount of financial resources available to adult students, in addition to developing more flexible schedules that reflect the needs of adult students, the door would be open to a far greater number of adult students whose experience and wisdom typically enriches the experience of the rest of the class.
A program designed with adult learners in mind will help older students succeed in higher education.
Spatial, electronic and pedagogical flexibility are vital elements to a system geared toward adult student success.
Creating a Better Experience for Adult Students
Public universities and community colleges are not suited to the needs of adult students, especially considering scheduling needs and teacher-student ratios.
Adult students are making their presence felt in today’s higher education arena and its time for institutions, governments and corporations to work harder to accommodate and incorporate non-traditional learners into colleges and universities.
For-profit institutions may have bigger budgets, but there are some key elements that public and not-for-profit institutions could introduce to better serve adult students.
Adults and International Branch Campuses
While the American higher education system faces a great deal of criticism on the home front, an American degree carries a great deal of weight internationally.
World campuses that survive will contribute to their host countries, their home institutions and the internationalization of higher education.
Given the amount of funding European governments invest in higher education, the ability for continuing education units to expedite returns on taxpayer investments serve only to enhance the reputation of continuing and professional education.
Social Media and Higher Education
Leading universities are turning to internal social networks to break down interdepartmental silos, leading to more communication, more interdisciplinary learning and better results.
The understanding that social media is an integral part of successful adult higher education programming is becoming more prevalent, making it not so much a matter of if these technologies will be leveraged in the classroom, but when.
Twitter provides higher education institutions with a direct method to contact and engage with their alumni.
MOOCs and the Explosion of Online Open Source Education
In this interview, Koller discusses the popularity Coursera enjoys among adult learners, a theme she spoke further about in the talk she gave at TedGlobal 2012.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are taking correspondence learning to a whole new level. Curtis Bonk discusses how MOOCs are expanding access to education, and how we could see MOOC-degrees in the future.
The expansion of Massive Open Online Courses has seen significant changes in the way higher education is delivered and has raised many questions about how the industry’s landscape will continue to shift as they continue to spread into the market.
Understanding the Role of Continuing Education on Campus
As higher education institutions strive to be more financially accountable, continuing education departments are being turned to for best practice advice and programming strategy.
Higher education institutions need to work with their continuing education units in order to transform traditional academic programs and delivery models into something more suitable to today’s educational climate.
Continuing education units at big, name-brand universities may have less difficulty in attracting people through name recognition, but they must work very hard to distinguish their product for their prospective students.
Innovative Credits, Credentials and Degrees
By accepting credit and work done at prior institutions and through other learning providers, higher education institutions can take a big step toward making colleges and universities work for today’s adult student.
Higher education institutions must put more weight into prior learning assessment to expand accessibility for adult students.
If higher education institutions adapt to the badging movement, they will cement themselves as indispensible locations of lifelong learning. Otherwise they will continue ther slide into irrelevance.