Solving the Rural Student Underrepresentation Problem in Higher Ed

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Leslie Daugherty, Education Designer at Education Design Lab, joined the podcast to discuss their BRIDGES inaugural cohort and how creating workforce partnership pathways can help solve the rural student underrepresentation problem in higher ed.

Until we create environments that areintentional and both seeking out and supporting roral students, this issueis going to persist: You're listening to enrolment growth,university from Helik Education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'm EricWolsen with helicks education and were here today with Doctor Lesle Dardyeducation designer at education, design, Leb Leslie. Welcome to the show thanksEric I'm excited to be here so excited to talk to today about solving theroral student underrepresentation problem in highered. Before we dig intothat Leslie. Can you gov the listeners a little bit of background on botheducation, design lab and your role there sure. So the education design labis a non profit. We were founded seven years ago by RCEO and president stilltoday, Catine Galaski and so at the lab. We work with a variety of partnersreally to ask the question: How might me Co create or co design approachesthat really put the learner at the center of these solutions? Over thelast seven years, we've work with so many different learners of truds forstudents, single MOMS workers, looking to upskills students, hps to use andreally many many different types of learners. Essentially, the core of thework as elab is ensuring that learners needs and goals are front and sinnerwhen it comes to creating policies and procedures that are directly impactingtheir access to ind success with education and training that ultimatelyleads to employment in family staining jobs and careers. At the lab, we use ahuman center O design AFOM. That follows a four face: stucture ormethodology really to identify and address what I like to call opportunity:spaces forlern. All of our design projects begin with an indeptunderstand, phase focus on the needs, wants and behaviors as learners and endwith the institutions or teams implementing pilots that they'vecreated and tested with their learners, and so I was very, very lucky to comeinto my role at the education to Sim Hav after working for about fifteenyears. You know at institutions and really started in in a working andfirstyear admissions and left as the transfer coordinator at a regional,forer, O Public Institution, and I had the opportunity to coach our saestransfer pathmace project, which is one of our first codesigning models that weused at the lab. So you know, since...

...that I've looked on a varadio projects,but I'm really really excited as a a world kid who grew up in rural whostill lives world to really explore. You know some of thethings that we're going to talk about today. Superhelpul context, love themission of your lab and love that we're getting into this challenge. That's Ifeel like becoming more and more visible as a growing problem, but Ihaven't seen a whole lot of solutions on it. So I love what your team isworking on right now to kick us off. Can you just help us understand thisbroader problem of world student under representation and high red? It's agreat question, and you know as we're exploring this I I was reflectingreally on again. I talked about my you know: Early Start in higher educationin general as a first year, omission counselor for a small privateinstitution that served a large group of royral students as at initioncounselor. I visited a lot of small high schools who rarely saw anadmission. Rep come through their doors. You know, and I grew up attending oneof those high schools where a lot of people didn't come through the door andreally honestly, if there wasn't someone who had gone to my Ol mamaterbefore me, I'm not sure where I would have gone to college or really wearingMa, be right now, so that first year I made at amission really to visit eachand every one of the world's chools. In my recruitment area, however, that tooka lot of time and even more resources, something even early in the earlytwosand you know was limited on campuses, and so I think that this lackof exposure for both the learners and really the institutions to thesewarners have definitely contributed to the underrepresentation and reallyuntil we create environments that are intentional and both seeking out andsupporting reral students. This issue is going to persist right. I alsorecognize that there are a lot less resources at the secondary level. I insome role areas when it comes to creating a college point culture. Ijust read an article a couple tays ago that was talking about the same topicand they quoted someone who, as listed as a Science Teacher College, CounselorRihtand, I mean that alone, really shanes a lay on the capacity resourcesthat are available a lot of our woral secondary institutions. Although youknow in our project the term underrepresentation yields a little bitdifferent than a national narrative, which jis really focus more on thatbachelor's degree antainment at institutions that are not necessarilyin these marners backyard right. So there's been a lot of research, aingseverywhere in his past here on how this pantimic is really impacting all areasof the country, but particularly the decline in in Anroan in world comunycolleges, yeah, and so again it goes back to somete treesources. You knowthese institutions and lot populations...

...are already historically underinfested,and then you know that's when we're not in the global candemat right andepademic has really fast capacities, and so the same thing can be said forthe world high schools who are trying to ensure that their studentnts havetechnology and infant structure at home to complete school niversualenvironment. So our project is really focused on how communities can worktogether to build. You know in strength and the capacities of these communitycolleges that exist to serve the woral learners in their back yard, to reallyhelp them in the pursuits of finding this meaningful employment often times.I think those looking at some of these world issues and approaches. You know,aren't looking at what we can bring to woral populations, and so I think thatyou know, as we start to explore this issue more, wereally have to think about what they have to offer, especially when it comesto their connection to place their investment in their communities, andyou know the strong relationships they have. You know to their families andtheir friends yeah. It's a huge access issue for these students. It's a hugeenrollment potential opportunity for these institutions. Can you give us aquick overview on this project? You reference this bridges, Annogrocohordes and the goals of the initiative, sure yeah. So we wereextremely lucky to partner with the SDUM education group early last year toreally start rethinking approaches. You know in roral communities that reallyfet into their larger Marin agendo when it comes to just world communities androral education. So we came together with this idea of bridges, roral and sobridges means building rural innovation and designing education strategies. Sothe project began last April and we sent the last nine months really doingan extensive research project to learn more about Wal community colleges, Theilearners, their communities. The summer we brought together a group of royalpractitioners and experts really to create some early concepts and ideasthat our first pulort will begin to explore with your community startingthis year and again, I go back to the labs process, which is a structuredesign methodology that will start with the understand, move to ideation ofconcepts and into prototyping and testing with their learners and willend with the pilots so late. This full, we announce the five institutions inour first COHORP, really excited to be working with the College of EasternIdaho, Eastern Maine Community College, the Finger Lakes Community College,which is an upstate New York, and then we have both insaan state in Washington,state community colleges in Ohio. So again throughout the next year, we'regoing to be codesigning approaches with these institutions to really createpilats that are focused on increasing the capacity of our institutions toserve as these critical engines of economic gorth for their learners ACANthe communities.

These communities are extremely, ofcourse, Resilia and already doing so much to create these additionalopportunities for their learners and their communities. So really, our goalis to help build on that momentum and also focus on expanding their communityof practice when it comes Bot, designing scaling and really sustaininginnovation. There are many amazing people, ind groups already working myth,and you know in ruyral communities, and so really one of the big objectives is:How pin we harness this knowledge in this work so that all institutions andcommunities had the chance to learn and grow with their learners Leslie with somany institutions, fresh off, really upping or trying to up their onlineeducation game this year. Some listeners may be thinking where Iinitally went some yew readfully pushe back on, so remind us. Why can't omineeducation alone be a solution for this world student challenge yeah? You know,I think that there's a little misinformation on sort of where we arewith Rodbiand. You know in general- and I mean the biggest infrastructuralfarrier still is reliable broadbry and to our world. trutity is so we hearstories all the time, O soll the news about how students and teachers aresitting them parking lot of fast food, restaurants, community colleges andjust about anywhere else that has open access wifide. So this is a isolutionright. This is a Bandy to a huge barrier for roral areas when it comesto these connections- and we have to remember that some statistics aboutInternet access in different areas may not again show that full picture. It'snot just about Sometho having Internet access, it's about them, havingreliable, high spee Rabian, which is so important Mo me cop. You know when wetalk about online learning or virtual learning environments and in additionto that online education may certainly it does have a mole to play in theseapproachches in our rural areas, but just like Worl is it a monolit onlineeducation? Isn't a model Iero S, variety and learneur experiences acrossdifferent onine platforms and settings so whether we're designing it in persononline or higrelearning experience. We have to consider who, with thedifferent learners, were trying to seserve our and work with them todesign those environments and experiences that are responside totheir Pol. Their needs right, their lifestyle, learners, intersectional,idenities and pobably important to be comvinabl all the time rate, butespecially with online education and the learning experiences we mightdesign for and with Alactina single mother and rural area who works threepart time. Jobs might be really different from at who would we haveworked with you know what might work for a similar person in urbanenvironment or a different person in a different world community? That's notto say right that there's not! You know...

...a lot going on with online education inthese communities, but there's also the fact. You know that a lot of programsstill require the hands on technical training that is not yet available ormight never be available in an online efvetioal entirement. So we're seeingsome ral communities, especially during this pandemic design. Some really cooland innovated hybrid programs, where institutions across the state or regionare really working together to create curriculum, that's accessible tolearners. In an onlane format and then work with the individuals within thosecommunities who can provide the technical hands on peace. So we seethis move really as innovative and colaborative as an innovated plavrativhis approach that they can build upon the strength of those again withintheir communities, as well as bring additional training and opportunity tofields that for a lot of rural and smaller institutions, are reallyexpensive to not only create, but to maintain that's a really exciting oneto hear Leslie. What are the primary challenges beyond technology beyondbroad en access that you anticipate this cohord having to address in orderto improve role? STUDE completion? Yeah, you know, I'm not, I'm not a huge fanof the world wore challenges, but there are some. You know very real barrierswhen it comes to accessin higher education and Really Post SecondaryTraining for R world communities. In our work over the summer, and alreadythis year with our institutions, we've identified some areas. You know forfocus when it comes to meeting the meeds of these ledof populations, likemost learners financial constraints play heavily into their decision onwhether or not to really extend their education here in high school. Manyrural earners are working during high school, so the prospect of giving upwhat might be a fulltime job, AF ter graduation to start accruing debt rightto continue that education. It just doesn't seem practical. You know,especially if there's not a direct connection on how that certificatecredential degree, whatever it is, translates into a job or career. Soagain, you know, there's still there's a lot of fear in stigma around acollege, DEP rout problem and it's a real concern for our world communitiesand again goes back. We go back to having that conversation about work andthere's a big concern that these learners are going to have to quitworking alltogether. Some employers are just not willing to work aroundschedules and Roal community colleges do not always have their resources tooffer flexible formats from scheduling or again go back to the Pravuan to havean online. You know curriculum. So again, we just have to really ingestour mindset when creating this programs and startbing thinking, and how can wemake this accessible to all learners in our communities? Another barrier istransportation. This is a big UNE.

A lot of these community colleges areworking at service areas for the furthest. Community College might be ahundred Ari'm. Sorry, this furthest community might be a hundred miles frombetween ew college right, and so you add in right today I was siy. It's noweven sat moth riht. What's your weather floods like givepossible bountness terain right, these transportation barriers seem templyoverwhelming and, unlike their urban and Supurban toparts, their learnersreally can't rely on public transportation. So again, this is wherewe see hybrid models and bringing opportunities Directly Tho. These gincommunities, important and last I'll just mention one more definitely, notleast, is that in addition to these barriers, there's just a reel stigmasurrounding community colleges or you know, college in general, nd Somef,these pareers n. We have to rethink how we are APPROACHIV and havingconversations with our community members and high school students. Mostof what they've been told or exposed to is something that looks like thetraditional four year college experience, and we just know thatthat's not the case for a majority of learners, not just in world just ingeneral right. So how can you reimagine in story of it? What it means to be alearner or a student after high school is important. He mentioned the studentsemployment as a potential barrier. Let's look at employment as a potentialasset here, talk about workforce partnership pathways and how thosemight be a potential high value saul for this population that that's a greatquestion and really something we've been working on and at the forefront ofthe labs mission for the last seven years. You know again I'm caution against the word. You knowsolve right because, as we know, Guiney solution is temporary until we get towhatever the next barrier or opportunity the paces for learners. Sobut that being said, there must be a place for o workforce partners at thetable and beyond just a space right. There needs to be a method for acontinuous engagement. This just came ut yesterday and one of our conveniongswith our institutions. You know they told us, we don't have you know aproblem with employers wanting to work with us, but we really don't have themechanism to create communication and an engagement structure that issustainable, and so something that we've done in the bridchest project isthat we've asked our institutions to bring their employers or others intheir workforce, BECO system to their corzineten and so for us. The poordesign team is really that on the ground team that is during the day theday work within the project. So you know too often we are designingprograms and path, maves and Siluns, or asking for input from our employers atthe frant or the back of the Cathwor...

...pressess. So we really have to rethinkwhat collaboration and engagement looks like all the time, including for futureemployers and learners. In the conversation, we also have to thinkabout anthese partnerships as pathways and how com you build. Hathways TATsupport learners throughout their working lifecycle, not just at one time.noncredit certificate learners are unable to use as they progress throughtheir work, life and goals. We know that opportunities are going to involveand change within their communities and for themselves, so we have to work onways to support them where they are and also equip them with the skills andknowledge necessary for whatever is next and a lot of that is going tohappen. While they are wotking right, it's not a work school and that en we call this, a weve wo can see this onour website where it's just like our learners are constantly dipping in andout of work in school and at the same time. So how do we support that weave?And I think, finally, I'm excited that we can start rethinking. Perhaps whatwork looks like especially he uppery morth many companies, large and small,sent their employees home last March, and some of those companies are nowthinking differently about what it means to have an in person workforce.So you know we're really focused on how these roral institutions can work withthese employers from the very beginning, as they start expanding, really thegegraphical bounds of who their workforce can be, and but also again,having that collaboration to think about what additional training can bein situtional provide. But again, as we talked about our barriers, whatadditional infastructure might be needed that the employer can come tothe table with, and so again it's about continuous engagement and learning andwhen it works, it's just a Windwin for the institutionbeing player and, most importantly, for their learners. Lierally is such anexciting initiative. I can't wait to see what you and your team and yourpartner institutions learn and uncover over this next year and any final nextteps advice for institutions looking to improve their utreach to roral students.Where should they start first with their students right so again, as wethink about user center and your nurse in Er and approach, you have to talk to your learners. Youhave to ask them what they need. You have to ask what their bolls are andthen listen to them right and work with them and their communities of supportreally to create the approaches that are going to impact their needsdirectly. You know I estarted romant management.You know few years ago, and you know an Rolan Management has really come a longway when it comes toponitative data, but we know that data can only tell usso much that Youdo, so we need to start...

...exploring the why? Behind theselearners, BAS, disinterest in our institution or distrust of the systems,we've created a lot of work that we do in the lab is helping institutionsuncover this way and t really redesigned your materials programspathways to better serve the students whose needs that they just are notmeeting, and I think all the all of the institutions really need to take acloser look at the students that they're not serving whether that's alarge four year, prevate institution WHO's, looking to increase thei worldto TNO population or a local world community to college whose studentpopulation does not reflect the community in which they serve once youexplore whom you are not serving, you need to go to Tet. You need to ask. How can I serve youright? We really has institutions in a nation can't simply wait for them tocome to us. We need to prove AFTIR and seek them out, listen to how we canvestserv them and ensure you know that when they step on our campus andwhatever capacity that looks like these days, that we are prepared to supportthem, you know and achieving their coals. Yeah I'll leave with this O, I'mreally interested and learning how this pantomake is going to change, how wetraditionally recruited really unretained students. Some institutionswere already looking at ways to leverage technology so that morestudents could access their institutions a lot of institutions whoare not thinking that way. Ora had to quickly adapt and adopt this pastyear.So I think my advice to those institutions looking to improve theiroutreach specifically to world students is again to remember that role is not amovulit hit, means that whatever you are designing or frading should startwith the understanding of this and build on the strength and asset of whatthey are bringing to you and Youark Camvus and, quite frankly, not theother way around Leslie. Thank you. So much of your time and your brain today,what's the best place for listeners to connect with you, they have any followup. Questions yeah, definitely check out the education design lab ourwebsite. A design lab do org. You can also email ye directly or contact thelab. The lab also has an innovator network that you can sign up for tolearn again. More about the riches project, but all of the reallyinteresting coll projects that we're doing at the lab, I'm also, of course,on tritter linked in and just you know, wherever you can find me, you knowtlet's. Let's have a conversation and start talking about these things. Sheopened the door for you, folks, walk into it thanks, so much for joining usto stay Leslie. Thank you for having me attracting today's new posttraditionallearners means adopting new enromant strategies. Kelics educations datadriven enterprise, wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helpingcolleges and universities thrive in...

...this new education, landscape and Helexhas just published the second edition of their enrolment growth playbook,with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing andromant growth challenges download it today for free at Helocks,Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromentgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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