Pearson--lessons in strategy and change from a global education company

Mar 1, 2015

A recent story in the Fortune magazine traces the transformation of Pearson from a traditional publishing house to a global education company poised for an digital learning era. The attention-grabbing headline "Everybody hates Pearson" leads the reader into an insightful story of opportunities and challenges faced by Pearson in the pursuit of its strategic choice of focusing on "data-driven education." Here is a timeline of the major milestones in Pearson's history.

Pearson north america and emergin markets

Pearson in its recently released annual report notes that "Pearson’s strategy centres on a significant and exciting long-term opportunity: the sustained and growing global demand for greater access, achievement and affordability in education." It adds that "Pearson stands at the intersection of new technology (with its ability to engage, personalise, diagnose and scale) and new, more effective, ways of teaching." In 2015, five priorities will guide Pearson's work:
  1. A business model focused on helping more people achieve better learning outcomes: efficacy is now at the centre of our business model and a major part of how we create value.
  2. New digital products: launching new digital products to meet demand for better learning outcomes.
  3. A more focused company: more modular and scalable products, deployed on a smaller number of global platforms.
  4. A more consistently high performing culture: a series of actions, including changing how we recruit, appraise and reward our employees.
  5. A strong and trusted brand: build Pearson as a global education brand, focused on educational impact and learning outcomes, and being open and transparent in holding ourselves to account in achieving these goals.
Pearsons strategy of combining digital, teaching and scale
 
The annual report notes "In 2014, we completed the major restructuring and product investment programme, initiated in 2013, designed to accelerate Pearson’s shift towards significant growth opportunities in digital, services and fast-growing economies." Given below are the priority products by different segments:
 
 
Bringing focus to a large, complex, changing and global British company of $7.5 billion revenue (60% from North America) is challenging to say the least. The transformational process has tested patience and commitment of the organization to its core strategy. Many are watching Pearson closely as they get directly or indirectly impacted by its strategic choices and size. One thing is clear, it will be an interesting and insightful story of strategy and change in education services.
 
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

AIEA Conference Presentations: Impact of Internationalization and Retention of International Students

Feb 12, 2015

I will be presenting two sessions at the upcoming AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators) Conference in Washington, D.C. More than 800 international education professionals are expected to join the conference. Here are the details of my presentations:

speaking on impact of internationalization
 
The Role of the SIO in the Retention and Engagement of International Students
Monday, February 16 from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m
Increased enrollment of undergraduate international students in the US calls for focused student engagement, retention and campus integration. This session will unveil the latest research related to international student retention and international student engagement and the presenters will discuss the implication of the research for Senior International Officers. Using a case study method, the session will provide examples of effective approaches to retention and engagement of international students. Presenters:
• Dr. Fanta Aw, Assistant Vice President of Campus Life, American University
• Ms. Sheila Schulte, Senior Director, Professional Learning Services, NAFSA: Association of International Educators
• Dr. Rachawan Wongtrirat, Assistant Director for International Initiatives, Old Dominion University
 
Enhancing the Impact of Campus Internationalization
Monday, February 16 from 4:45 to 6:00 p.m.
Despite increasing importance of campus internationalization, often the allocated financial resources are inadequate. One of the reasons why internationalization does not gets the resources it deserves is the limited demonstrable impact of internationalization at the campus level. This interactive session will bring together comparative perspectives on how to engage campus community to align, assess, and advance the goals of campus internationalization and enhance its impact. Presenters:
• Prof. Christopher Hill, Director of the Graduate School at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
• Prof. Anne Pakir, Director of International Relations at NUS, Singapore
• Prof. Ralph Wilcox, Provost and Executive Vice President at the University of South Florida
 
Look forward to the conference and engagement on #AIEA 2015
 
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Success with global engagement strategies requires a systemic integration of diverse university elements, says Webster University President

Feb 11, 2015

Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble
President, Webster University
 
Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble was named President of Webster University in 2009. She leads Webster University's mission as a worldwide institution transforming students for individual excellence and global citizenship. She has expanded partnerships locally and globally has strengthened the university's reach and impact in the 60 cities, eight countries, and four continents students call home. Dr. Stroble has received numerous awards for leadership, community relations and international development. Stroble received her doctorate in curriculum studies from the University of Virginia. Her career includes academic and administrative appointments at the University of Akron, the University of Louisville, and Northern Arizona University.

Rahul-Webster is celebrating its Centennial anniversary and working towards the Global Impact for the Next Century strategic plan. Could you please share what would be your strategic priorities for next five years on global dimensions of the university?
Beth- In 1915, the Sisters of Loretto founded Webster University as one of the first colleges west of the Mississippi River to provide bachelor’s degrees for women. Throughout our history, Webster has evolved and innovated to meet students’ needs. As an independent, co-educational nonprofit university, Webster currently serves over 20,000 students in 8 countries on 4 continents. Our mission is to ensure high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
 
As we close our first century, our new strategic plan, Global Impact for the Next Century, extends our pioneering, capacity-building commitment to academic and operational excellence. We have established international residential campuses; achieved dual U.S. and international accreditations; developed a global citizenship curriculum; facilitated mobility of faculty, staff, and students among our global network; and forged strategic worldwide partnerships.
 
Next we will place priority on integrating, articulating, and leveraging Webster’s network in a sustainable manner. As a truly global university, we will provide transformative learning experiences that prepare all the members of our worldwide community to lead as global citizens. We will achieve impact via:
· Global innovation through inclusive leadership
· A global student-centered experience
· A network of academic and operational excellence
· Strategic and sustainable development.
 
Rahul-Webster already offers several online programs. How has the pace and change in technology-enabled or online learning models influenced the future global engagement strategies at Webster, especially related to infrastructure-heavy international campuses?
Beth- For over 40 years, Webster has offered part-time master’s degrees onsite at metropolitan locations and military bases to help working adults and service members advance in their careers. Since 1999, as many service members were deployed far from home bases, Webster created fully online web-based programs for these students and adult learners. Webster currently offers more than 25 fully online graduate degrees, 5 undergraduate degree completion options, 2 undergraduate programs and a growing number of certificate programs.
 
As Webster keeps pace with change, we optimize engagement through robust technologies and culturally-acute campuses. We create hybrid courses—partially online offerings that culminate in short-term international study—and add video to course delivery. Traditional residential students and graduate students who value small classes, schedule flexibility and convenience create demand for new online offerings and constantly-evolving technical course delivery. Webster creates impact through the global community by investing in physical presence and global connectivity. A global Wide Area Network (WAN) and video-enhanced classrooms at key locations help to enable the synchronous teaching of classes across geographies and cultures. We embed our presence in local communities campus by campus and originate teaching and interactions from globally dispersed campuses to build a global community.
 
Rahul-If you have to distill your extensive university leadership experience into top two lessons to succeed as a global higher education institution, what would they be?
Beth-In my experience, success as a global higher education institution requires that we adopt mission-focused strategies for meeting the needs of those we educate and the communities we serve. We do this through a global mindset that welcomes immersion in new ways of living and thinking, an education that opens up our world and opens the world to us. I contrast this premise of global education with a “missionary” viewpoint, that of exporting an American worldview, or an “imperial” perspective that aims to plant the institutional flag at international branches for the benefit of the home campus. To be successfully global requires a systemic integration of programs, services, scholarship, student and employee talent, operations, and engagement among and with members of a global community.
 
Intentionally developing globally diverse and inclusive talent at all levels of the institution facilitates needed leadership that is distributed across individuals and the global community. Smart teams depend upon diversity of thought and experience among team members. Complementary strengths and talents among individuals build the strength of a team. For a university that aspires to global impact, a diversity of lived experiences among leaders and team members is essential.

Data-driven international student enrollment strategies

Jan 19, 2015

Interest in recruiting international students is growing among many institutions, for reasons ranging from reputational to financial. However, strategies translating intent into action are often devoid of research and insights. This lack of thorough examination before designing strategies often results in inefficient, expensive, and unsustainable enrollment strategies.
 
strategic enrollment with data and insights
Often, institutions underestimate the importance of research in facilitating the understanding of international student decision-making processes in informing enrollment strategies. The key is to know more about international students throughout their enrollment process—who they are, how they choose institution, and what are their experiences.
 
Some institutions make the mistake of extrapolating national or regional trends, which may or may not apply in the context of their campuses. In other cases, school allows anecdotal evidence and stereotypical views on international students’ needs and behavior to drive the strategies. Finally, the strategy sometimes boils down to “outsourcing” to a third-party commission-based recruiter.
 
Expanding international student populations on university campuses while maintaining the goals of cost, quality, and diversity is a complex optimization problem. It requires assessment of institutional goals, priorities, and capacities; investigation of student needs, profiles, and experiences; and, finally, mapping institutional and individual needs through a comprehensive strategy.
 
In sum, it is important to “zoom-out” to look into big picture megatrends, but then to “zoom-in” as well, to see the applicability and relevance of these trends at the institutional level.
 
 
Rahul Choudaha (author)

New book offers strategies on increasing international student engagement

Jan 17, 2015

international student engagement practices and strategies
The issue of enhancing international student experiences and engaging them with the campus communities have been gaining more traction in US universities and colleges. A timely book entitled, "International Student Engagement Strategies for Creating Inclusive, Connected, and Purposeful Campus Environments" provides several examples and cases that can be adapted to diverse institutional contexts. - Rahul Choudaha 
 
Chris R. Glass takes a social psychological approach to researching issues in American higher education, with an interest in how the presence of others affects educational outcomes such as achievement, motivation, and social development. He researches international students, academic work, and publicly engaged scholarship. You can learn more about his research and teaching on his website.
 
1. RC- Why is the issue of improving international student engagement and experiences is becoming important? How does your book addresses this need?
 
CG- It’s important because not all international students are the same; they arrive on-campus with a range of academic preparedness and financial resources. Our research shows these differences matter. A key part of developing a sustainable international enrollment strategy is creating more inclusive, connected, and purposeful campus environments for international students once they arrive. So, the focus of the book is on what universities are doing right. It draws on evidence from a national dataset, the Global Perspective Inventory, to explore 5000+ international students’ engagement in curricular and co-curricular experiences, their sense of community, and the nature of their interactions with faculty. Throughout the book, we also weave in first-person narrative experiences of international students to illustrate the real-life consequences of more- and less- purposeful institutional policies, practices, and programs.

2. RC- What are some of the examples of effective institutional strategies for creating inclusive environment for international students?
 
CG- Universities are doing some really innovative work that’s worth sharing. The book highlights campus case examples that readers can adapt to their own campus context:
* the StudyUSA program at Elon University; * internationalization of the curriculum at Florida International University;
* proactive case management for student success at Indiana University – Bloomington;
* the International House (I-House) at Northern Arizona University;
* the International Student Advisory Board at Old Dominion University;
* campus and community engagement initiatives at Valencia College; and
* faculty development efforts at Valparaiso University.

The institutions highlighted in this book are just a handful of a larger number of institutions that are doing excellent work.

We believe each institution has to develop its own approach to international student engagement. So, the book emphasizes reinforcing an institution’s existing strengths and capacities in the development of strategies that will enable it to create a more inclusive campus climate. It focuses on strategies to strengthen active collaboration with all departments and offices across the campus, with the larger community, and most important, with the international student community itself.

From Quick-fix to Sustainable International Student Enrollment Strategies

Jan 11, 2015

What can Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon teach higher education leaders about international enrollment sustainable enrollment? A recent ranking by the Harvard Business Review identified Bezos as the Best-Performing CEO in the World based on long-term results. Bezos demonstrated his passion in a 1997 letter to Amazon shareholders when the company went public. “Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade-offs differently than some companies,” Bezos wrote.

The recession has fuelled short-termism among higher education institutions in terms of their student enrollment goals. The fiscal challenges, competitive landscape and complex markets, have increased the pressure to on colleges and universities to adopt quick fixes. These short-sighted strategies not only resulted in poor experiences for international students, as well as financial and reputational risks for the institutions involved.

In order to successfully recruit and retain international students, higher education institutions must move toward sustainable enrollment strategies that seek to maximize long-term value. These are the four questions every institution needs to ask itself in order to move from quick-fix international enrollment strategies to sustainable ones.

1. Are you focused on quantity at the expense of quality?
2. Are you reacting instead of proactively planning?
3. Are your efforts integrated with those of other campus stakeholders?
4. Are your decisions based on evidence?
 
 
International student enrolment is a complex, costly and competitive endeavor. It can become even more challenging when ill-informed, short-term and quick-fix approaches are used. In order to create successful, sustainable strategies, institutional leaders must work towards long-term solutions.

Is your institution making the right trade-offs as Bezos made to create sustainable, long-term international enrollment strategies?

 
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Efficient Design and Delivery of Higher Education Service

Jan 2, 2015

Patrick Harker, president of the University of Delaware was interviewed based on his commentary "Making Sense of Higher Education’s Future: An Economics and Operations Perspective" published in Service Science. (On a side note, Service Science is an interdisciplinary field that aims at studying and improving service systems. My dissertation focused on developing a curriculum for a master's program in engineering and management. Service Science is supported by IBM.)
 
Harkin borrows from the principles of operations management and characteristics of services to argue for a change in the design and delivery of education. From operations management, we know that design of the service or product drives its performance, as it is influences the cost structures and delivery constraints. "Design determines how competitive it is in the marketplace. A great design delivers efficient value to customers or clients."

efficiency of higher education services and cost reduction

Harkin argues that one of the limitations of design of education services is that we "we assume teaching is the same as learning" and with the increasing cost pressures and the emergence of online alternatives, this assumption is being called into question. "Too much variety in learning modalities disrupts our highly optimized, highly engineered teaching system."
 
The solution to squeeze cost out of this design is by changing the delivery model. Harkin asserts that "To better deliver our value proposition—to design a university that truly creates lifelong learners—will require a major change in both pedagogical concept and method. Instead of engineering teaching-efficient factories, we need to engineer learning-efficient ones."
 
We know from the nature of services that "customers/clients of the service are actively involved in its production." Thus, "focusing the design of such service delivery processes on making the customer highly efficient is one of the keys to success. Translated to the university environment, this means a greater emphasis on learning, as opposed to teaching."
 
What student learns (curriculum) and how it is delivered is central to improving the learning processes and achieving the economies of scale. "The use of MOOCs or other online and interactive learning platforms seems worthy of consideration to deliver the basic courses in our curricula, which then allows us to free up faculty time to teach the advanced seminars, supervise undergraduate research projects, and provide the much-needed coaching and mentoring for our students."
 
I have previously written that the confluence of cost and funding pressures, technology-enabled learning innovations and new paradigms of quality and teaching, will further force universities to redefine their value. This will become a theme of increasing conversation among university leaders who are developing or assessing their internationalization strategies. More questions will be raised about making strategic choices between high cost, infrastructure heavy branch campuses vs. flexible, innovative and low cost engagement strategies through technology/online learning.
 
Dr. Rahul Choudaha (Author)

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