Monday, February 20, 2017

Education Leaders: 3 Initiatives To Keep Up With The Demand Of The New Era

In the age of digital technology when more alternatives are becoming available to non-traditional students, one of the biggest challenges facing education strategists is to sustain their business models and reinforce value propositions. As a graduate student at Northwestern University with an interest in education and marketing strategies, I find myself regularly involved in conversations over the impacts of digital disruptions across industries and reflect on my educational experience. I recently found two insightful articles discussing the future of education and thought it would be useful to share with you the key take-aways to prepare better for any challenges that may come your way.

In his Huffington Post article “Welcome to the Campus of 2019,” Dr. Scott D. Miller of Virginia Wesleyan College discussed how technology influenced the way students perceive the world today, how this in turn emphasized the need for campus facilities to retool and for academic departments to restructure. His argument was that technology would redefine students’ role as curriculum drivers and knowledge regenerators. Therefore, the new academic model will require departments to collaborate, offer inter-disciplinary course offerings to add dynamic skill sets to the mix. He also proposed that the campus of the future will fully bloom as a center of marketing, where those institutions with clearly defined missions, markets and audience insights, communication strategies and operational efficiencies would come out on top.

Source: Carleton

While the above article envisioned the overall future education landscape, “Three trends that will influence learning and teaching” by Debbie Morrison examined specific themes with real life examples and key drivers statistics. Morrison strongly suggested that MOOCs facilitated a large variety of learning options that disrupted higher education and more institutions would be joining the movement to create more alternative learning pathways. She supported the “reinvention of teaching models and learning spaces” as the appropriate response to digital technology and culture, where the approach will shift from instructors-focused and passive to students-centered and active.

Reviewing these articles from the perspective of an aspiring marketing strategist, I have developed 3 action items you could consider now to make technologies work for you and sustain your institutions’ business models: 
1. Put students first - Design the educational experience around the needs of digital-age-students. Use technologies such as interactive video exercises to free up classroom time spent on lectures (instructors-focused) and instead focus on mentoring interaction and even peer-to-peer coaching (students-centered).
2. Personalize learning - Make use of big data (comprehensive dashboard) and small data (real-time interaction) to monitor performance and progress. While this allows students to be in control of their learning goals and pace, it helps ensure appropriate intervention to each student’s learning pattern.
3. Redefine achievement - The future of transcripts will likely be more similar to portfolios: projects involved, products built, people helped… Rethink achievements - give employers reasons to believe and your students reasons to be proud.
Changes are inevitable, and education leaders should be the ones well prepared enough to navigate the radically changing environment and support students to thrive in the digital age. The above 3 initiatives could be the core to a compass system that will help education leaders keep up with the dynamic development of demand for educational services.

Amy Dang is a digital technology enthusiast and lifelong learner. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Medill - Northwestern University. She will be graduating in December 2017 with specializations in Brand Strategy and Media Strategy. Amy has 4 years of professional experience in marketing and aspires to work on higher education development strategies.  You can get in touch with her on Twitter @a_myzing


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