Future of Education

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A Mediaplanet Guide to a New Age of Education and Technology

Future of Education

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Eva Amurri The actress and writer talks about homeschooling her kids during the pandemic

Imagining the next generation of agile and flexible classrooms How universities can benefit from the shift to lifelong learning


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Keeping Your Students and School Secure We asked Yubico chief marketing officer Ronnie Manning about what teachers, students, and administrators can do to ensure their digital safety in this upcoming semester.

The Challenges Higher Ed Faces in 2020 and Beyond

What do you think the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be on higher ed? COVID-19 has forced higher education institutions to quickly transition to hybrid and remote learning — forcing them to revamp legacy technology stacks, reevaluate security best practices, and implement modern authentication for the long term.

Dr. Reggie Smith III Chief Executive Director, U.S. Distance Learning Association

What steps can higher education take now to improve security? Security should be top of mind during the transition to off-campus and hybrid learning because of new security threats that may be inadvertently introduced. All devices, communications, and information being accessed remotely or from the campus should be protected with strong, phishingresistant authentication to protect against account takeovers. What core values are needed in institutions’ missions in order to thrive and continue to grow for the better? Two core values needed are a willingness to learn from security peers at other institutions and the private sector; and the perseverance to keep educating your students, faculty, and staff on effective digital protection.


Amid a global pandemic, societal unrest, and a sky-high unemployment rate, America’s colleges and universities are at a pivotal moment. We talked with United States Distance Learning Association executive director Dr. Reggie Smith III about what schools can do to adapt and avoid being left behind. What are the greatest issues higher education is facing? First, the safety of students and staff based on this global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause USDLA to reevaluate some


physical events and closely watch expenses. The pandemic has now impacted nearly every country around the world with over 25 million confirmed cases, nearly 17 million recovered, and 850,000 deaths at the end of August. Countries around the world, including the United States, are beginning to reopen with some level of uncertainty due to a resurgence of COVID-19 and, in some cases, are closing back down because of it. Therefore, health and safety is the No. 1 issue facing higher education today, and institutions will open, modify, or close based on infection rates. Second, the price point for tuition will be a sticky issue for higher education. We see now that students are pushing back on the price tag of an education, and especially those institutions with a higher price tag for onsite vs. online and/ or those that charge the same price for both. This is nothing new, but it is something institutions in higher education will need to address.

Overall, the cost of an education will be challenged even more now during the pandemic, and the value of face-to-face vs. online education. Note that online education is an effective and efficient manner to obtain an education. What must higher education focus on in the next year, five years from now, and even in 10 years in order to continue to grow? For the next five years, higher education will need to focus on a blending approach that will enable the industry to provide a quality education either in person or via distance learning. This approach will enable institutions to shift in seconds to a fully virtual environment for when the next global disaster comes, and it will happen again. Ten years from now, we will see a much different job market, possibly accelerated by the pandemic to focus on smaller/micro stackable credentials. Those currently unemployed will also consider career changes, and higher education will need to accommodate that and, in some cases, compete with community colleges, which traditionally allow students and learners to explore a wide variety of careers at a lower price point and a smaller timeline to completion. n



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How Universities Can Implement the Reskill-Upskill Education Trend Education has been moving towards a lifelonglearning model focused on skills. To take advantage of this shift, institutions will need partnerships.


nline learning has been the future of education for some time — even before the global pandemic, the online education market was predicted to hit $350 billion by 2025. The drive to online learning has only accelerated since. “This is a time of seismic change in education,” says Justin Cooke, chief content and partnerships officer at FutureLearn, a leading social learning platform. “We’re moving towards a demand-driven world. People want to be able to learn wherever and whenever they want, from the best experts in the world, with a click.” Going digital But universities and other educational institutions seeking to develop online programs have found there are many challenges. “The demand for education is growing exponentially,” Cooke says. “It’s only through digitization and digital delivery that this demand can ultimately be met. But there are practical things you need to think about. What technology to use? What licenses are needed? Do they have appropriate security, are they able to guarantee pri-

vacy? What about digital storage and supporting connectivity? How will the faculty members be trained to facilitate virtual instruction?” Aside from the technical challenges, there’s the course content itself. “How do you make a course really engaging and really effective online with measurable outcomes?” Cooke asks. “It’s not as simple as recording a seminar with a video camera in the back of your lecture theater.” FutureLearn has quickly become a leader in online learning, boasting more than 14 million “learners” worldwide and partnerships with 25 percent of the world’s leading universities internationally. In March 2020, they launched FutureLearn Campus, which allows their partners to offer short courses to their students and staff. Removing barriers While the benefits for universities in terms of enlarging their pool of potential students and modernizing their offerings are clear, online learning is also crucial to the emerging “lifelong-learning” model. As the nature of work changes rapidly, workers will need to learn new skills for existing

jobs (upskilling) or whole new skills for different jobs (reskilling). “Automation and technology are causing a huge shift in the employment landscape,” Cooke says. “Rising unemployment combined with big skills gaps are driving a global need to upskill and reskill people to equip their workforces for the future. The need is now, and the need is real.” Flexibility for equity One solution is “microcredentials,” which can be used to reskill or upskill workers in very specific areas without the expense or time commitment of a traditional degree. “Microcredentials are sort of an unbundling of the degree,” Cooke explains. “They provide access to affordable learning, they are designed to be more targeted and have directly job-relevant outcomes, and they’re flexible — you fit them into your life and your work.” A recent piece in Wired Magazine suggests that learners are now seeking microcredentials with a view to stacking them into a degree later on. Cooke believes that the affordability of microcredentials and short courses is going to remove barriers to education. “It’s a real benefit of the online

model because we can pass on economies of scale to our learners,” he says, noting that microcredentials can be “stacked” to eventually translate into a full degree, allowing students to pay as they go. “Thinking about this as being a lifelong journey, we need to ensure that we are providing people with the right sorts of skills that they need to develop to have a significant impact of economic change in their lives, whether it’s getting back into employment, progressing in their career, or getting into employment in the first place.” It’s all about making the world a better and more equitable place. “Without education in a rapidly changing world, when individuals get left behind, economies suffer,” Cooke says. “The physical limitations of the current education sector make this an inevitability. Here at FutureLearn, we’re determined to make that history.” n Jeff Somers

Learn with experts from world-leading universities and organizations at futurelearn.com



Patty Berron is an early childhood educator in Texas and COVID-19 has created tremendous disruptions for her this year, as it has for all of us.

One thing that has been consistent for Patty and the 800,000 early childhood educators in her league around the world are the skills and confidences they’ve demonstrated during these tough times because they hold a Child Development Associate certificate (CDA). “More than ever, it’s been essential to put our profession’s competency standards into practice that I learned through the CDA process. Educating to these standards helps children move with success from one developmental stage to another,” Patty said. “I’ve had to stay updated about health and safety procedures. I’ve also had to be creative about using games, songs and children’s imaginations to encourage everyone to wear face masks and regularly wash hands — it hasn’t been easy!” A valuable certificate I know the CDA’s value because I earned one myself nearly three decades ago and it made me a better teacher. Now, I lead the nonprofit that administers and issues CDAs. Our focus includes encouraging those looking to make a job change to consider early education, including men wanting to switch careers. We also continue our effort to show all child care providers that they are valued professionals who deserve salary increases and job security. Patty shared another story with me. She once had a 3-year-old named Julio in her class who had always been under his grandmother´s care and was nervous to stay at the center. Patty’s training led her to look for clues about how to engage Julio. She noticed he was interested in cars and trucks because his dad was a mechanic. So Patty quickly put together a model toy car for Julio to engage with in his own area of the classroom. She then pretended her toy car broke down and asked him to fix it. Julio went to work and made the little car speed along again, just like his dad does in real life. This creativity and interaction gave Julio the confidence he needed to feel comfortable at the center, where he’s excelled at learning and making friends. This is the kind of caring and insightful activity that occurs every day at child care centers, in home settings, and with visits from trained home visitors. It’s also the type of thing we need even more of as we work to make up for the learning losses that have occurred this year because of closures and reduced class sizes. Thankfully, we know our CDAs and all child care providers are up to the task. Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr., CEO, Council for Professional Recognition



How One School District Is Ramping Up PPE and Safety Procedures The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System has implemented a growing number of procedural changes to ensure the safety of our students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures are based on guidance from our public health partners. Anyone entering a district facility must respond to health screening questions and have their temperature taken. Those who fail to meet health screening standards may not enter. Signage at entry points and floor graphics throughout each building remind all to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings, wash hands, and use sanitizer. Hand sanitizer stations, placed strategically in classrooms, offices, and throughout the hallways, are refilled frequently. Cleaning supplies are available at all sites and sanitizing protocols have been enhanced. High-contact surfaces are sanitized frequently with antimicrobial agents and “fogged” as needed. Water fountains have been disabled. Deep cleaning days have been established for all district buildings. Procedures are firmly established for people who may become ill, infected, or require isolation. Employees have their own supplies to avoid sharing with one another. They meet virtually to avoid unnecessary physical contact.


Why Early Childhood Educators Are the Engines for Learning

Parents and other visitors are allowed in restricted areas. We will likely make other adjustments to ensure safety as we prepare for students to re-enter school buildings. A different world Once we reopen for in-person instruction, we will continue to follow these best practices. In addition, students who ride buses will be screened before boarding, and will be required to wear face coverings as appropriate and adhere to appropriately distanced seating. Disposable masks or shields will be available for those who do not have them. Classrooms have been modified for social distancing and meal delivery has shifted to classrooms. Schedules for

entry, transition, and dismissals will be staggered. All hallways will be one-ways. Classrooms will be equipped with appropriate hygiene and cleaning supplies for use during the school day. Each student will be issued a refillable water bottle donated by community partners as water fountains will be unavailable. We all want to get back to traditional in-person teaching and learning. Our students want a return to normalcy — as does our staff. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the safest teaching and learning environment for students and staff. n Ann Levett, Superintendent, Savannah-Chatham County (Ga.) Public School System

Keeping Our Children and Families Safe This School Year We need a precision public health approach to protect ourselves and our children from COVID-19. So far, we do not have a national mandate, which has caused some confusing messaging. For now, there are specific things we can do to keep our children and families safe. If everyone followed them, we would see a great reduction

in the community spread of COVID-19. Here are five tools you have in your toolbelt — think of them as the “5 W’s”: • Wear a mask • Watch your distance • Wash your hands • When your child is sick (temperature of 100.4�F and over) keep them home • When the health department calls, answer the phone

A critical tool The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that face coverings are a “critical tool” in stopping the surge in COVID-19 cases. “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used

universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” Outstanding questions remain as to what kind of facial coverings are most effective. Medical-grade N95 masks are not recommended for use by the general public according to the CDC. Current guidance recommends N95 masks should be reserved for first responders and healthcare providers. Surgical masks are looser fitting and some people are wearing bandanas or scarves. Wearing masks or facial coverings protects each of us from possible exposure to the droplets that contain the coronavirus. A shield is not enough What seems to be clear is that face shields alone are not effective in protecting people from

the virus. Face shields may be effective for those who, for medical reasons, cannot wear a mask or face covering. Face masks are more preferable than face shields, as shields are open on the sides and at the bottom, limiting protection. Protecting the eyes with a face shield in addition to a mask or face covering is most effective, along with the other public health mitigation strategies of hand washing and maintaining social distancing. Parents can help their children prepare for school by practicing the 5 W’s — especially wearing face masks. Schools and families need to partner in order to keep students and staff safe as schools reopen for the 2020-21 school year. n Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN, Creator, The Relentless School Nurse SPONSORED

The New Classroom Is Agile As schools work to reopen in the wake of a pandemic, classrooms are being reinvented — hybrid classrooms in the age of social distancing require a new take on furniture that allows personal movement and easy reconfiguration. As schools around the world struggle with the question of whether to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, school administrators will need to consider how to make their classrooms safe today, ready for tomorrow — and able to encourage healthy movement. “Our own comfort and movement as adults is critically important,” says R.J.

Webber, EdD, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Novi Community Schools in Novi, Michigan. “Why wouldn’t that be the same for children?” Agile furniture Webber invested in agile furniture from VS America throughout his school district. “Their focus was educational furnishing — other manufacturers were just dabbling in the education market,” Webber says. “We’ve already seen the benefit of kids being able to sit in chairs that they’re comfortable in and given permission to ‘wiggle.’” One of the pioneers of agile furniture for classrooms is

David A. Stubbs II of David Stubbs Design. “I asked myself, can I create a system that could adapt to whatever you want, whenever you want — how you want to teach and learn? And can I provide you a set of diverse tools that enables you to make those modifications on the fly, not only per day or per week, but per hour?” Stubbs also sees the health benefits of agile classroom furniture that allows students freedom of movement. “We have to follow the science. To get up and move is providing oxygen to your brain. And that’s critical for alertness, for creative thinking. We sit too much — it’s killing us.”

Future-proof The pandemic has also emphasized the safety benefits of agile furniture in the classroom. “Everything fits through a three-foot door,” Stubbs notes. “Everything can be rearranged effectively within two minutes.” That flexibility means that classrooms can be configured optimally for social distancing as well as the material being taught. It also means that whatever new challenges the future brings, classrooms can be easily configured to meet them, making them effectively future-proof. For Webber, agile furniture is about more than safety today and flexibility tomor-

row. “We don’t have to say a thing to our students to tell them how we feel about them,” says Webber. “Space and design do that — investing in learning spaces for our children that show them we respect them and who they are. That’s where VS America is close to my heart because they get that as well.” n Jeff Somers

Explore what agile furniture can do for schools at www.vsamerica. com/agilespaces.



Leveraging Social and Emotional Learning to Help Students Without question, American education is experiencing unprecedented challenges as we confront the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing national concerns about equity and racism, and socio-economic inequalities affecting educational schools and districts today.


ncreasingly, educational leaders are emphasizing the importance of safe, engaging, inviting, and collaborative learning organizations — the hallmarks of effective social and emotional learning (SEL) in action. As a former superintendent, I have been deeply impressed by the commitment of our school district leaders to align students’ cognitive/academic achievement with their development of social skills, the capacity for self-regulation, and interpersonal communication competencies.


Our “new normal” consistently reinforces that student and staff health, well-being, and sense of safety and security must take precedence over outworn models of “teaching to the test.” Leading from the frontlines I am consistently moved by how superintendents throughout the country are leading the transformation of schools as we know them. To that end, I have seen numerous examples of districts integrating SEL standards into learners’ daily academic experiences.


High-quality curriculum in many districts now integrates social-emotional programs with academic instruction. Teacher-centered instruction is now being enhanced to place the student at the center of the learning process, including a growing national focus on collaboration, cooperative learning, and project-based inquiry. We are also seeing a greatly expanded focus on the importance of coaching and mentoring, ensuring every learner succeeds, and experiences a personalized and differentiated approach to their academic progress.

Leaders throughout the country are expanding professional development offerings to ensure teachers, administrators, and support staff understand and use SEL-compatible instructional and classroom management strategies — including a commitment to culturally responsive practices and trauma-informed organizational cultures. This process is also ensuring that parents, community members, and partner organizations understand and support the importance of social and emotional learning practices. I am proud of my organization’s ongoing commitment to SEL. For example, in February 2021, the theme of our national conference will be Social Emotional Learning: Focusing on the Total Child. We are also producing an extensive range of professional learning resources related to SEL leadership, all of which will be available on the AASA website. n Valerie Truesdale, Assistant Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

5 Ways to Advocate for Better Technology for Teachers and Students In today’s learning environment, technology and education are a package deal. This was especially true when so many schools had to shift to online learning with the spread of COVID-19 this spring. And as the pandemic continues, online learning is continuing into the 2020-2021 school year. While technology provides great opportunities for teaching and learning, many teachers lack the connectivity they need to instruct and support student learning, and students do not have the proper technology to continue their studies. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated inequities in our public education system, particularly

when it comes to accessing the internet and dependable devices. According to Pew Research, 37 percent of rural Americans do not have broadband internet access at home, and 35 percent of students from households with annual incomes below $30,000 do not have access to high-speed internet. Additionally, 25 percent of African American households and 23 percent of Hispanic households with school-age children do not have access to highspeed internet at home. The tools they need It is critical for every teacher and student to be equipped with the appropriate tools they need to teach and learn — and access the wealth of online

5. Use social media and work with traditional media outlets to get your message out, garner support, and mobilize. When speaking with school district leaders, school board members, and local, state, and federal lawmakers, ask them how your school district’s technology plan ensures all teachers and students have equitable access to technology and broadband. If there is no sufficient plan in place, ask what steps they’re taking to ensure every child and teacher has access to the technology and connectivity needed to teach and learn in a virtual setting. It is our duty to raise our voices to ensure every teacher and student has access to technology, and the opportunities that help them teach, learn, grow, and thrive. We can work together, especially during this challenging time, to ensure our teachers and students are well equipped to have a successful school year. n

learning materials available. It is vital that we take immediate steps to make a dedicated financial investment that will close our nation’s connectivity gap. We must advocate at the federal, state, and local levels to make these robust and equitable investments in education and technology. Here are five ways you can advocate for change: 1. L earn more about the barriers to access in your community by visiting EveryStudentConnected.org. 2. P articipate in district and school board meetings, and speak about the issue. 3. Send emails and letters, and make phone calls to decision-makers. onduct meetings with decision4. C makers and their staffs.

Leslie Boggs, President, National PTA

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How Eva Amurri Has Managed Her Kids’ Homeschooling During Quarantine

va Amurri, the actress and writer who started her own online lifestyle brand “Happily Eva After,” hadn’t planned on raising her newest child in lockdown, let alone managing her other children’s schooling from home. “My third baby was born the day Connecticut (my home state) went into quarantine lockdown,” Amurri said. “It was super disorienting to have a new baby in the family, and to be balancing caring for him, myself, and my two other kids alongside a distance learning situation. I had been planning on relying on the school hours for the older two as a way to rest postpartum, but that definitely did not happen.” A new challenge Homeschooling has been hard on families all across the country, including Amurri’s. “My daughter was in kindergarten and is a very social butterfly,” she said. “It was really overwhelming and lonely for her to do school in a distance learning model, and to suddenly just not see her friends or teacher in person.” The most challenging part for Amurri has been schooling two children at different ages and educational 8


COVID-19 has imposed tough restrictions on families, including forcing many into homeschooling. We talked to actress Eva Amurri about how her family has met this challenge.

stages, who are not independent with their schoolwork yet. “I really have to spend concentrated time with both of them,” Amurri said. “Managing the ‘online meetup’ schedules, along with a newborn feeding schedule, was really hard for me to keep up with.” The isolation took a personal toll on Amurri as well, as it has for many parents of young children. “I was so lonely not to be able to have girlfriends visit and support me while I adjusted to life with my third newborn,” she said. “I think we are still healing from the ‘loss’ we felt during that time.”


“I think we are still healing from the ‘loss’ we felt during that time.” Finding what’s best When asked to offer advice, Amurri said that every parent should work out a schedule that suits their family best. “I know some people who started distance learning school at 7 a.m. and were done by lunch time, and love that model,” she said. “Listen to your gut and know that all families work differ-

ently. Get creative, and just trust that eventually these strange and scary times will pass. “I am really hoping not to have to distance learn again this year. It was so hard for all of us involved, and caused a lot of anxiety and stress for both me and the kids.” Despite the trials, Amurri knows that practicing distancing is the best option for beating the coronavirus and having her kids safely return to school. “I believe in the guidelines my state has set forth, and I feel good about following them and keeping my family safe in the process,” she said. n Ross Elliott

What One University President Sees for the Future of Higher Education With Americans’ trust in higher education dropping, we asked West Virginia University president Dr. E. Gordon Gee, who has served as a university president for 40 years, about how institutions can positively move forward and focus on equity, accessibility, and diversity. What do you believe are the prevailing issues threatening the vitality of higher education? This is an existential time for higher education. When I became a university president in 1981, there was a public survey showing that 95 percent of people in this country thought higher education was important. It has now fallen below 50 percent, even though higher education is the most important element in our culture and economy right now. This is happening in part because change has not been part of higher education’s portfolio. Universities are made up of two elements: talent and culture. Most universities have very talented people, but they have the cul-

ture wrong. We need to spend much more time developing a culture of change, a culture of creativity. Universities are places of curiosity. We have great people thinking about great ideas and doing great things, but we have no curiosity about how we make ourselves better. If I were king for a day, first, I would get rid of colleges and departments, and create centers, institutes, and working groups, and organize around ideas. Another problem is that every institution is chasing after other institutions, rather than trying to be themselves. Because of that, I think a thousand institutions are going to fail over the next couple of years. How has your leadership at a number of universities and colleges prepared you for the current climate and circumstances of higher education? In my 40 years as a university president, I have experienced what I thought was every possible challenge, including wars, the 1987 stock crash,

riots, tragedies on campus, 9/11, and multiple recessions. But the COVID-19 pandemic is testing education — and every other sector of society — as never before. Personally, I am approaching our current situation a bit like a freshman showing up for their first day of class: a little anxious, but eager to try new things and learn all I can. This is a “Black Swan” moment that requires educational leaders to ask questions, rather than pretend we have all the answers. And, as we work through current challenges, we must constantly fix our eyes on the future. We must learn from our mistakes and from what we do right. Because changes to our world will linger after this virus subsides, we must find ways to educate and sustain our institutional families while operating in a new environment. In my conversations with senior university leaders, I have asked them to couple their immediate crisis responses with thinking “from the other side of the mountain.” This means thinking about how we can use what we learn to reposition

West Virginia University in a more powerful role of leadership locally and nationally. What is one piece of advice you have for leaders of higher education institutions to improve student success? The most important priority leaders can address today is increasing the quality of higher education while ensuring that it is cost-effective and affordable for students. In my state, West Virginia, you hear a lot about the need to create jobs, which is real, but the state also has many jobs that are wanting for people. We just have not trained them in the right way. While not everyone needs a four-year college degree, everyone needs some post-secondary training to succeed in today’s economy. I chaired the Commission on Higher Education Attainment, which issued an open letter to college presidents outlining some important ways to increase college completion and reduce student debt: • Create a campus culture that promotes student success and persistence • Provide greater support for nontraditional students • Find new ways to assess and provide credit for students’ previous learning experiences • Deliver courses more efficiently and in more flexible ways • Do a better job identifying at-risk students and provide better remedial help for them. n

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Envisioning a Radically Student-Centered Future for Higher Ed To meet the unforeseen problems of the future, higher education must start making a student-focused shift now.

COVID-19 has made us near-sighted. Over the past six months, the pandemic has resulted in so many changes to higher education that it’s challenging to define the future, much less imagine what it will be like. Is higher education’s future the next few months, as administrators and boards navigate the unknowns of resuming operations, or the spring semester, when a typical flu season could collide with a still-rampant coronavirus? Is it the 2021-22 academic year, in which many hope higher education will return to “normal?” Despite the extraordinary burden of “now,” higher education must look much farther out and see the future as a path to innovation and transformation. It’s not a destination, but a direction for the continued strengthening of higher education and the full delivery of its promise. By focusing on the direction instead of a specific endpoint, higher education can navigate through future challenges while still keeping on course.

Major shifts

One of the challenges higher education can anticipate is the significant shift in the numbers and nature of what we’ve called traditional students. This “enrollment cliff” has been well-documented. By 2025, there will be fewer 18-22-year-olds, and they will be more diverse than any previous generation entering the college class. Because of this transformation in who is going to college, we envision a future in which higher education thrives and fulfills its potential by becoming radically student-centered. By that we mean colleges and universities will, at last, have made significant adjustments to such things as academic policy, curriculum, calendar, pricing, and claims made in mission statements and marketing pieces. Higher education institutions will have received key support to make these changes for students, from partners that include accreditors and the Department of Education. Becoming radically student-centered will require transformation that will not be easy. Changes that focus on students will make pursuing a postsecondary credential more appealing and possible for adult learners, and, as a result, the overall enrollment in higher education will increase and buck the long-anticipated enrollment cliff. Many of these changes have been discussed by colleges and universities for years, but the pressures introduced by COVID-19 must finally steel institutions for transformational change that results in studentcentric decision-making on all fronts. Susan Whealler Johnston, President and CEO, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)



How UNCF Is Improving Academic Outcomes for Black Students The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has long advocated for, and supported Black students, at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or otherwise, and has increased its commitment in 2020. It’s been proven that academic success in college leads to improved outcomes in the form of career opportunities, advancement, social mobility, and more. But higher education isn’t just about landing the perfect job once you graduate. College oftentimes is where students “find themselves” and for Black people from all around the globe, HBCUs are institutions where students are immersed in African American culture — unfiltered understanding of the African diaspora where the celebration of Black identity isn’t trodden into just Black History Month. Attending an HBCU means students are immersed in a nurturing and supportive environment, and are able to engage with faculty who set higher expectations for their students’ success. HBCUs have always been engines for ingenuity, scholarly excellence, social justice, equality, and democracy. A key principle For 76 years, UNCF has had HBCU advocacy at the forefront of its mission and organizational values.

HBCUs were formed out of necessity to earn a degree of a higher education that was once prohibited by law to Black people in America. UNCF was formed out of necessity to support HBCUs. UNCF has helped pave the way to and through college via scholarships and professional development programs for students. UNCF scholarships have allowed more than 500,000 students to earn a college degree — from HBCUs and other institutions alike. While UNCF is mostly known for scholarships, it also advocates for K-12 education reform and manages a variety of internship and fellowship programs, such as the Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program, UNCF/Koch Scholars Program, Walton K-12 Education Fellowship, and the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program. Additionally, the annual UNCF HBCU Innovation Summit sends 150 students to the Silicon Valley tech community where they participate in workshops, engage with top tech executives, and network with recruiters. Innovative solutions to improve student success come in many forms — from curricula and technological enhancements to political action to continuous faculty development. UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) is an initiative designed to improve student success outcomes — ensuring graduates are prepared for a 21st-century

workplace and are well equipped for a broad array of post-graduate opportunities. In a critical time The year 2020, like most individuals and industries, has brought about challenges and unexpected triumphs. COVID has impacted us all — including HBCUs. Soon after the nation enacted social distance regulations and campus closures, UNCF advocated for the government to pass the CARES Act, aiding HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions with $1 billion in response to the pandemic’s ills on higher education. These funds brought much needed emergency funding directly to students and institutions providing distance learning solutions and faculty training, among other things. As a result of the social justice uproars and the increase in allyship from those within and outside of the African American community, UNCF has more than doubled the emergency funds scholarships disbursed to students. Since their inception, HBCUs have built a legacy of educating and graduating low-income, Pell Grant-eligible students, and providing a path for upward mobility and economic empowerment. UNCF has and will continue to support the HBCU community and students because “a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.” n The United Negro College Fund

Why Eliminating Redundancies Can Help Higher Ed Better Help Students With America’s colleges and universities figuring out how to improve and better deliver curriculum during and beyond the pandemic, we asked DIGARC CEO Richard Becker about how higher ed institutions can help their students succeed.

Richard Becker Chief Executive Officer, DIGARC How can schools better improve equity and access to education for their students? What is the differentiator in Accounting 101 in College A vs. College B? Likely none.

There is an inefficiency that can be solved for with technology-driven, remotebased learning and course sharing amongst colleges and universities. Build once, serve many. In doing so, colleges and universities can more readily focus resources on highly specialized course content and curriculum that aligns with the specific student outcomes that are unique to their institutions. There is too little differentiation across a universe of too many higher education

institutions. Eliminating redundancy across the higher education ecosystem will create an efficiency that will lower costs, improving equity and access to education. Standardization across core curriculum will improve student outcomes, and enable a greater proportion of university budget and resources to focus on truly unique institutional learning experiences and course development. What core values are needed in institutions’ missions in order to thrive

and continue to grow for the better? Efficiency, collaboration, and specialization. Institutions must first confront the incredible inefficiency within both their own institutions and the greater higher education ecosystem. Course content and delivery across an ecosystem of over 4,000 institutions is largely redundant — unnecessarily. Through technology, curriculum planning, access, delivery, and outcomes can be both enhanced and made

more affordable. Through institution collaboration, the redundancy of content and delivery can be reduced, with a higher level of learning effectiveness achieved through best practices, standardization, and technology-based interactive learning. Finally, with the institution more efficient and collaborative, true specialization can be achieved, with resources and funding dedicated to specialized curriculum that is unique and more carefully tied to those outcomes in which the university specializes. n



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