Reflecting on 2018, and (Tentatively) Projecting the Future (Inside Higher Ed)

December 12, 2018

Just like that, another year is almost over. If it’s been as much of a whirlwind for you as it has for us, you’re likely struggling to make sense of all that changed on the digital learning landscape this year.

Our second annual year-end recap is here to help. We gathered some of the most thoughtful observers of the field to ask these three questions:

  • What digital learning development from the past 12 months (either a specific piece of news or a trend) will we still be talking about five years from now?
  • Why is this development likely to stick around as a topic of conversation and a driver of innovation?
  • How will the conversation evolve in the coming years?

Here’s what they said.


Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning, University of Illinois at Springfield

This will be remembered as the year that higher education realized traditional certificates and degrees were no longer fully serving the needs of learners. Driven by advancements in technology, jobs in the workplace have begun shifting and disappearing underneath the graduates holding those jobs. Whether you call these changes the rise of the 60-year learner, lifelong learning or lifetime learning, the message is the same. No longer will one, two or three degrees suffice to support a career. No longer will occasional, continuing education sustain the learning needs spanning a career.

In June, Harvard’s dean of continuing education, Hunt Lambert, hosted a symposium on the 60-year curriculum. Also in the summer, Washington University’s vice provost of Continuum College, Rovy Branon, wrote about certificates supporting lifelong learning for the work force. Building in part upon the remarkable record of Georgia Tech professional education led by Nelson Baker, in April the university adopted an extraordinary vision for the future, Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Learning — calling for the Georgia Tech Commitment to a Lifetime Education.

Looking ahead, we must envision anew the way we serve the learner. Emerging are models of a subscription approach to support lifelong students on a large, continuing scale. Among early examples of subscription is the Michigan Ross School of Business, where they offer a free lifelong subscription to selected continuing education. Some years ago, my good colleague Vickie Cook taught me a new learning practice of self-determined learning, heutagogy. In the coming years, providing lifelong career learning will evolve beyond continuing education classes into university subscriptions to an online heutagogical learning environment of robust continuous support of self-determined learners. Students will return again and again to fulfill their needs.

Read the full story here.


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