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New Collaboration Models Coming

The buzz at the recent Educause Annual Conference was that higher education is at a tipping point.  As prospective students become increasingly diverse, the successful higher education institutions of the future will create new types of collaboration between employers, faculty, IT professionals, and students.  These schools, in turn, will use the insights gained through this collaboration to rethink their business models and competitive positioning by fundamentally changing their student learning experiences.

For example, one change will be that many programs will become competency, instead of credit hour, based.  Essentially, students will get academic credit for what they already know and the program will focus on the competencies that they haven’t mastered.

Consider what this means for business professionals 35 to 45 years old who can now expect to work until they are almost 70. They are likely to retire from a management position that may not exist today, so they are highly motivated to develop new competencies that will keep them employable until retirement.

Working professionals who don’t have either an undergraduate degree or a MBA is a sizable, relatively untapped market segment. Today, they often aren’t enrolling in place bound degree programs that won’t give them credit for the competencies that they have already mastered.  This is a potentially enormous new market for schools that are willing to adapt to new mindsets around credentialing, innovative uses of technology and new ideas around shared value-creation and design partnerships with employers.