An estimated three-quarters of higher-ed students possess at least one non-traditional characteristic, and for these students, the report argues, higher ed is long overdue for a redesign. These are the students behind the Learner Revolution.
This Learner Revolution consists of “a future where power [will] shift away from institutions that define degrees to consumers and employers who are beginning to measure learning by other yardsticks.” It won’t happen overnight, but deLaski notes that it is happening quicker than anticipated.
Research cited in the report demonstrates how some employers are beginning to look past degrees–they are moving away from pieces of paper and are looking more for skills in their hiring process. In fact, when EDL surveyed its employer partners, all 20 said they need new hiring tools that recognize credentials other than, or in addition to, a degree.
Over a five-year period, EDL worked with a number of institutions, including George Mason University, Arizona State University, Miami Dade College, and Harper College, to help institutions navigate the Learner Revolution and reframe thinking and design.
5 ways institutions can navigate the Learner Revolution
EDL’s research reveals five major ways traditional colleges and universities can revamp their existing models, or create entirely new ones, to meet the changing demands of the Learner Revolution.
1. The Platform Facilitator: A few institutions will be able to fashion themselves into Netflix-style distribution curators, while others will be content providers for those platforms, licensing courses, experiences, certificates, and other services.
2. The Experiential Curator: These institutions will double down on their role as the curators of expansive learning experiences, using advances in assessment, the maturation of online and hybrid education, and the increasingly connected globe to provide, measure, and certify transformative experiences outside the classroom.
3. The Learning Certifier: These institutions are recognizing learning across a wide range of contexts, in particular helping students codify, even gamify, their out-of-classroom learning experiences and translate them into a coherent whole that makes sense to employers and themselves.
4. The Workforce Integrator: These institutions are building deep connections with employers, ensuring tight connections between the competencies learners acquire through their programs and the competencies needed for employment in specific fields or jobs.
5. The Specializer: These institutions are taking a niche specialization or characteristic, such as religious affiliation, and reimagining it.
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