The Future is “Blended”: Creating Global Capacity for Higher Education

global skills gap and capacity for universities colleges

2019 Saylor Academy Summit convened experts from higher education, workforce development, industry, and nonprofits on Nov 14-15, 2019 in Washington DC to discuss issues and trends on the theme of Closing the Global Skills Gap. Saylor Academy is a nonprofit offering free and open online courses for learner around the world.

The Summit featured five panel discussion on following themes (videos available here including keynote by Michael J. Saylor, Trustee of Saylor Academy):

  • Connecting Credentials for Lifelong Learning
  • Tapping the Talent in Emerging Economies
  • Lessons for the International Community in Modern Education
  • Creating Capacity for Global Postsecondary Education
  • Aligning Education and Employment

I moderated a discussion with the following panelists on “Creating Capacity for Global Postsecondary Education.” One of the core questions of the panel discussion was: How can innovations in higher education/postsecondary education meet increasing demands for degrees and credentials? What would it take for Higher education will need to adapt to serve emerging/underserved student markets globally?

  • Bakary Diallo, CEO- African Virtual University
  • Marci Powell, CEO and President-Marci Powell and Associates
  • Vijay Kumar, Associate Dean Open Learning & Executive Director, J-Well- MIT

Here is an excerpt of my interview with Jacqueline Arnold at Saylor Academy:

JA: What is a megatrend? Why do they matter for the future of higher education?

RC: I borrowed the definition of megatrends from John Naisbitt as “a long-term, transformational process with global reach, broad scope, and a dramatic impact.” When we think of higher education on a daily or even yearly basis, we often miss out on the more substantial external shifts which take place over several years and transform the fundamentals. Megatrends have the power to make us pause, think, and act in the interest of long-term changes. Among the key megatrends is the intersection of demographics, employment, and technological shifts, which are resulting in capacity and skills mismatch.

JA: Where do you see possible shifts in growth opportunities and demand for higher education?

RC: From my viewpoint, the keyword for the future of global higher education is “blended.” Here I use blended in a broader sense than just blending online and offline learning. I am advocating for the potential of blended offerings in terms of disciplines, countries, and institutions. In other words, bridging capacity and skills gaps is about interdisciplinary learning options that span geographic and institutional boundaries.

JA: Why should higher education administrators pay attention to these trends? If you were a university president, what next steps would you take?

RC: Higher education institutions are at its core social institutions grounded in communities and economies of the region. Ignoring these megatrends will result in a failure to achieve the public good mission of the institutions. It not just about failure; now, we are at the onset of talking about the survival of institutions and mass unemployment unless institutions proactively respond to these megatrends. I would focus on blended as the core philosophy and strategy where partnerships with institutions, experiments with learning modalities, and synthesis of disciplines will guide the future.

>> Invite Dr. Choudaha as a keynote or plenary speaker at your conference/event.

Related plenary summary from SIT on “Accelerating Campus Internationalization with Technology: Emerging Trends and Strategies.”