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The EvoLLLution’s Special Features

Periodically, The EvoLLLution® focuses its content on a specific topic for a limited amount of time. During that time, the topic in question is explored from a range of angles and perspectives, providing readers with an in-depth understanding of the given discussion. These periods of focused content are called Features.

This page is a pathway to all the Special Features and shorter Mini Features The EvoLLLution has published.

Special Features

Continuous Improvement and Innovation

The higher education marketplace is not for the faint of heart. The demands of students and employers are rapidly and constantly evolving. The resources institutions have at their disposal are dwindling. The competition facing colleges and universities, both from other accredited institutions and from alternative providers like bootcamps and MOOCs, is growing.

Succeeding in this space requires institutions to move quickly, respond to market shifts rapidly, and to be constantly focused on innovating and improving to keep pace with the demands of their environment.

This Special Feature explores what it takes for institutions to develop and maintain a culture of continuous improvement, sharing articles and interviews by some of the industry’s leading innovators focused on a range of related topics, from how to manage change across an organization from how to move innovation from the periphery to the core.

Learn more about Continuous Improvement and Innovation.

Big Data and Analytics

The Big Data and analytics era is well and truly upon us in the higher education industry, but what does it all mean for colleges and universities? While some leaders are excited by the opportunity to improve efficiency and student support, others fear a slow march away from the personalization that makes postsecondary education a transformative experience for learners.

The truth is that, for any institution, Big Data is what institutional leaders and staff make of it. But when effectively leveraged, analytics can help a college or university deliver the personalized, contextual and high-quality experience today’s students expect… at scale.

This Special Feature dives into what it takes for institutions to adapt to the Big Data era and shares insights into numerous aspects of this conversation, from how to create a data-driven culture on campus to how data visualizations can help translate numbers into action.

Learn more about Big Data and analytics.

Alternative and Next-Generation Credentialing

In recent years, the higher education space has seen stunning transformation in the way we recognize and credential student learning.

With the resurgence and expansion of competency-based education, we’ve seen the value both students and employers put into mastery and learning outcomes. With the expansion and success of coding bootcamps—as well as institutional non-credit offerings—we’ve come to understand that a degree is not the ultimate goal for many learners.

This Special Feature explores the new higher education reality and shares some insights into how colleges and universities can compete and succeed in today’s rich and competitive postsecondary marketplace.

Learn more about alternative and next-generation credentialing.

Student-Centricity as a Benchmark for Success

“Elite” and “market leader” are no longer synonymous in today’s higher education marketplace. However, the ranking systems used to define the success of higher education institutions are based on outdated models that still look for prestige over performance.

The realities of today’s higher education environment don’t allow for the institution-centric approaches to management that long characterized the postsecondary space. Students are looking for a postsecondary experience that closely matches their needs and responds to their expectations. While many institutions have recognized this shift and are adapting to it, the systems we use to dictate institutional success have remained firmly stuck in the mud.

This Special Feature explores the true meaning of student-centricity and breaks down how the current design of the higher education ranking system could in fact be doing more harm than good.

Learn more about student-centricity as a benchmark for success in higher education.

The Cloud in Higher Education

Doing more with less is the mantra for today’s higher education leaders, and IT solutions have emerged as the best way to accomplish this lofty goal, with cloud rising to the top. While hosting major systems and services in the cloud provides a range of benefits for institutions, especially when it comes to meeting the high expectations of today’s students, the cloud should not be seen as a panacea.

This Special Feature focuses on true value of the cloud, what it takes to successfully shift to this approach to computing and how it can transform the student experience.

Learn more about the potential for the cloud in higher education.

Managing Online Postsecondary Programs

College and university students are no longer exclusively 18-22 year olds looking for a traditional, residential, coming-of-age higher education experience. There are more non-traditional students enrolled in higher education today than traditional, and these students have a range of highly-diverse needs. Most critical, though, is their need for access.

It’s no coincidence that the growth in non-traditional students has followed the improvement and spread of online programming. Online programming offers the flexibility non-traditional students need. Of course, managing a successful online program takes more than simply putting courseware online.

This Special Feature focuses on what it takes for higher education institutions to successfully develop and deliver online programs.

Learn more about what it takes to manage online programs.

Maximizing Value for Non-Traditional Students

Non-traditional students account for at least 73 percent of all students enrolled at a college or university in the United States today, but how much do higher education leaders really know about this demographic? Their expectations for how institutions should operate—both inside and outside the classroom—and their priorities are significantly different from those of 18-22 year old, ‘traditional’ students.

If institutions want to serve non-traditional students, and make them feel their educational investment was worthwhile, it’s critical to understand and meet (or exceed) these expectations.

Over the course of this Special Feature, we published articles and interviews shedding light on the expectations of non-traditional students and sharing thoughts on how to meet them.

Learn more about maximizing value for non-traditional students.

Operational Efficiency in Higher Education

Leaders across the higher education space are under more pressure than ever to do more with less. After all, student expectations and needs are growing, as are external expectations for the performance of higher education institutions. However, the operating budgets for institutions are dwindling.

Improving operational efficiency and streamlining outdated processes are emerging as silver bullets for the long-term viability of colleges and universities, but what does it take to make efficiency effective?

Over the course of this Special Feature, we aimed to find out!

Learn more about operational efficiency in higher education.

Innovative Approaches to Graduate Education

The demand for graduate education is growing steadily, and higher education institutions are responding by developing a wide range of new programs in a variety of subject areas. But is content enough to set institutions apart?

Over the course of this Special Feature, we went beyond academic content and published articles and interviews from contributors across the higher education world exploring innovation in program development, strategy, marketing, service and more.

Learn more about innovative approaches to graduate education.

Vendor Partnerships in Higher Education

As the cost of delivering higher education continues to skyrocket, and institutional operating budgets continue to decline, many colleges and universities are turning to service partnerships with vendors to help serve students. Of course, there are a number of questions surrounding the melding of academic and corporate America. Institutional leaders face a number of challenges in this new paradigm; from determining what services to keep in-house to getting buy-in from all stakeholders to understanding the new roles of the institution and their service providers.

Learn more about academic and administrative Vendor Partnerships in Higher Education.

View external resources on vendor partnerships in higher education.

Commoditization and Competition in Higher Education

The past decade has seen sweeping changes in the higher education space, the most significant of which has been the increasing competition in the post-secondary marketplace. The popularization of online learning has expanded the competitive landscape from the few local institutions and catapulted it onto a global level. At the same time, the number of institutions has ballooned and now includes everything from for-profit schools to MOOC providers and more. What this means is that students must now choose between thousands of schools, programs and courses. But do they see the options as being interchangeable? And how can institutions differentiate themselves?

Learn more about Commoditization and Competition.

The Future of Higher Education

Through its history, higher education has evolved very little, but has thrived on relatively small changes. Today, a number of innovations are forcing higher education administrators to accept the fact that post-secondary education is on the precipice of a major transformation, and it’s becoming increasingly important to think about what the industry might look like in 10 years, 50 years and beyond.

Learn more about The Future of Higher Education

Competing for Adult Students

The modern higher education landscape is vastly different than it was even ten years ago. Increasing numbers of adult students are returning to the academy and state funding for higher education has been steadily declining. Of course, as the landscape of the industry changes, strategies for success must change along with it.

Learn more about Competing for Adult Students

View external resources on non-traditional students in higher education.

Corporate Training and Higher Education

This is a critical issue to higher education, as well as society-at-large. On the one hand, higher education institutions are experiencing slashed budgets and defending themselves against accusations of irrelevance. At the same time, corporations are struggling to bridge a skills gap that threatens to negatively impact the entire economy. Corporate training stands to help colleges and universities generate new revenue and increase ties with industry while also giving employees a way to stay abreast of change and expand their skills.

Learn more about Corporate Training and Higher Education

View external resources on corporate training in higher education.


Project Management and Implementations

Success in today’s competitive higher education marketplace, where students have higher expectations than ever before, requires colleges and universities to strategically leverage and deploy IT solutions. Of course, some of these solutions and systems are massive and significant undertakings, requiring buy-in from a wide range of stakeholders and collaboration between a number of different units and teams.

This Feature dives into what it takes to get a major project off the ground and reflects on the process of going from idea to implementation and beyond.

Learn more about project management and implementations.

The Staff Experience and Institutional Success

Administrative staff play a critical role in the success of a modern postsecondary institution. Today’s students have incredibly high expectations around efficiency, service and quality, all of which are impacted greatly by front-line and back-end staff. However, the work of delivering a great experience to these staff-who have such a direct impact on student satisfaction-tends to get overlooked when exploring how best to serve students’ needs.

This Feature dives into what it takes to deliver a great staff experience, and explores the impact of the staff experience on student satisfaction and success.

Learn more about the impact of the staff experience on student and institutional success.

The Benefits and Limits of CRM for Non-Traditional Divisions

Students today expect more from their postsecondary experience than ever before. Having become used to the high levels of personalized service delivered by leading retailers, banks and other organizations, today’s learners of all ages demand a similar level of engagement from their colleges and universities. This has led many institutions to invest in a veritable arsenal of technology systems and tools designed to drive student engagement, improve operational efficiency and support resource management, all while reducing costs. Unfortunately, in many cases, the rush to bring in a new technology supersedes the importance of ensuring that tool is designed with the particular higher education context in mind.

This Feature explores this question from the perspective of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and discusses the opportunities and benefits these systems bring to the table while also highlighting some of the deficiencies and challenges they create.

Learn more about the benefits and limits of CRM for non-traditional divisions.

The National Adult Learner Coalition

It’s no secret that the higher education ecosystem in the United States was not built with today’s students in mind. Traditional students—an 18-year old enrolling in a full-time degree program straight of high school—are no longer the majority demographic attending colleges and universities across the country. Instead, today’s students are largely non-traditional—they are adults, they are working, they are supporting families while enrolled. This means the policies that manage higher education across the country need to evolve to ensure they are truly supporting the needs of this population of learners. Unfortunately, adult learners have not had a single, cohesive voice on Capitol Hill lobbying for their needs. Until now.

In February 2017, four major associations joined together to form a cohesive voice advocating for adult students and the institutions that serve them. With support from Lumina Foundation, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), President’s Forum, and University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) came together to form the National Adult Learner Coalition (NALC).

Learn more about The National Adult Learner Coalition.

Improving Two-Year to Four-Year Transfer

For students just out of high school or enrolling from the workforce, transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution is a far more affordable approach to earning a baccalaureate degree than completing all four (or more) years at a four-year institution. However, while the idea of transfer is a fantastic one, the process is rarely as simple as it seems.

Administrators both at the two-year and four-year level have a crucial role to play in overcoming the obstacles transfer students face. Over the course of this Mini Feature, we dive into how administrators and students alike can work to improve the transfer process and, by extension, the attainment rate.

Learn more about Improving Two-Year to Four-Year Transfer.

Leveraging Technology to Overcome Obstacles

Overcoming the obstacles posed by today’s higher education environment is a challenge higher education leaders at institutions across the country are navigating. While leaders at institutions big and small, rich and poor, are all searching for answers, the impact of the obstacles to be exacerbated at resource-constrained colleges and universities.

In this Feature, leaders share their insights into the importance of leveraging technological solutions to improve business practices, differentiate from the competition and transform the student experience.

Learn more about the importance of leveraging technology.

Doing More With Less: Scaling Higher Ed

Today’s students expect their entire experience with an institution to mirror what they see from major online retailers and service providers; personalized, supportive and flexible. However, institutions are having to deliver on these heightened expectations with smaller budgets and less capacity to increase prices than ever before.

Scaling is absolutely critical for higher education institutions in today’s marketplace. Through scaling, institutions can “do more with less”—they can meet the sky-high expectations of today’s discerning students while keeping their costs and prices low.

Learn more about scaling in higher education.

Innovation in Higher Education

If anything has become clear for college and university leaders over the past decade, it’s that the status quo is no longer enough for higher education institutions to stand out and succeed. Student demand has evolved, technology has changed the game and expectations from external stakeholders (like government leaders and employers) are sky-high.

In order to succeed in this new marketplace, institutions need to find innovative ways of developing programming, delivering on key student outcomes and improving processes and efficiency. This Feature highlights some of those innovative ideas and provides a platform for leaders with innovative programs in the works to share their approaches.

Learn more about innovation in higher education.

The Free Two-Year College Movement

Given the importance of postsecondary credentials to succeeding in today’s labor market, access to and completion of two- and four-year degrees has become a high priority for higher education leaders, government officials and employers. In 2014, Tennessee launched the Tennessee Promise, which granted Tennesseans tuition-free access to two-year colleges in the state. Oregon, in 2015, passed a similar piece of legislation and President Obama made America’s College Promise—a national roll-out of this style of program—a hallmark of his State of the Union address.

While the program goes great lengths to create unprecedented levels of access to higher education, the focus must turn to how colleges will manage life in this new reality and how the higher education marketplace will have to shift to adjust to this new level of access. This Feature focuses on those elements of the free two-year college movement.

Learn more about the free two-year college movement.

Serving Underserved Student Populations

The twin challenges of increasing demand for postsecondary graduates and declining numbers of the traditional postsecondary student population (first-time, full-time, residential students) are putting more and more pressure on higher education institutions to tap into new marketplaces. The more difficult part of the equation is determining which groups institutions should be focusing on, and understanding what changes institutions need to make to better-serve these students.

Over the course of the Mini Feature, The EvoLLLution published articles and interviews exploring five different underserved student marketplaces that higher education institutions could capitalize on, and discussing the institutional changes that need to be made to ensure these students succeed.

Learn more about serving underserved student populations.

Competing in the International English Language Program Marketplace

As the numbers of traditional-age students decline across the United States, higher education leaders are scrambling to find new student markets to access and capitalize on. One market that has been flying under the radar for decades is the international student marketplace, and one way to bring these students into the institution is by offering robust language education.

But is competing in this market as easy as setting up an English language program geared towards international students?

Learn more about competing in the international English language program marketplace.

View external resources on international programming in higher education.

The 60% Degree Completion Initiative

As the United States begins to wake up to the realities of the knowledge economy, increasing the degree completion rate has been identified as a critical method to buttress the workforce. To this end, the Lumina Foundation and the federal government have both set national degree completion targets of 60 percent to be reached over the next decade. This Mini Feature will explore the degree completion target from every angle; from the efficacy of the target to its impact on other areas of higher education.

Learn more about the 60% Degree Completion Initiative.

Financial Support for Non-Traditional Students

While higher education costs are skyrocketing and government support for postsecondary institutions is dwindling, individuals are constantly being reminded of the importance of earning a credential for their viability in the labor market. What this means is that more and more adults are either returning to college or university, or enrolling for the first time, but have very little in the way of financial support available for their learning. This Mini Feature discusses the importance of this funding for adults, explores the avenues that are available for these learners and share some innovative ideas about changes that could reduce costs for non-traditional students.

Learn more about Financial Support for Non-Traditional Students.

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