The State of Continuing Education, 2021

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Amrit Ahluwalia, Editor in Chief of The EvoLLLution (an online publication founded by Modern Campus), joined the podcast to talk about the results from their State of CE survey addressing the gap between what modern learners want and what higher education actually offers.

Nearly fifty eight percent of students,when they're asked with their primary reason for enrolling in a degree program, theysay to achieve career outcomes, of professional outcomes. You're listening to enrollment growthuniversity from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders lookingto grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growthtechniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place.Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, aproud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'm Eric Olston with Helix Education andwe're here today with Mr Allawalia, editor in chief of the evolution.I'm welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. Iappreciate it. So excited to talk with you today about the results from yourrecent survey addressing the gaps between the modern adult learner and what higher education isactually offering them. Before we dig in, can you give our listeners a littlebit of background on both the evolution and your role there? For sure. So the evolutions and online newspaper focused on call it non traditional higher educationand transformation. We were founded by modern campus in two thousand and twelve basicallyfocused on trying to share stories exploring how higher education is changing and how collegeis the universities are at that to keep pace. So what we do isfocus exclusively on working with institutional leaders at the higher edstitutions in Canada and theUS basically to talk about that and are our focus since we started was reallyon demographic changes and shifting student expectations and what that means to be, Iguess, to the norms of our higher education industry. I'm grateful for theresearch work that you're doing because a lot of very, very interesting a hascame out of this work. I'm or to kick US off. Can yougive us just kind of that high level overview on the goals and methodology behindthis specific recent survey? The State of...

Continuing Education Two thousand and twenty one, exposing the modern learner engagement gap absolutely well. This is our second yearrunning this state of see survey and basically, I guess, the roots of thesurvey or in the lack of data. Living in the nondegree continuing ED space. There's a huge amount of data on on the traditional higher education side, but one of the things that we've noticed is as continuing education in nondegreelearning in general becomes increasingly important, there's almost no data around what the standardsof the industry are, what's happening in the space, what Challenges Higher Edleaders are facing when they're working in the continuing at or nondegree space. Sofundamentally that's what we wanted to solve. So we ran our first day tosee you survey last year in public, which that last February, I believe, and then this year's survey. Again, it's basically a survey of our oursubscriber base. Anyone who's in evolution subscriber with a Dott eve view oradopt see email address of capacity to answer answer our questions. And Yeah,what we're basically trying to do is is is get to the bottom of what'shappening in the nondegree, non traditional higher ed space. You know, wefound US hum alluded to and pretty amazing stuff. You know, the veryfact of the matter is that more and more higher ed institutions are are reallyprioritizing nondegree or continuing education, but very few institutions are really resourcing those divisionsto make substantive change. You know, we have higher ED leaders who recognizethe importance of the digital experience to engaging the learners that they're serving, butalso don't really believe in their own infrastructure to deliver the experience their students expect. So it's been interesting, with this year's survey, kind of seeing,I guess, the ideal state for what higher end couder should look like andthen the you know, facing the reality of where we are. Yeah,and I'm grateful for the Longitudinal nature of your survey that nothing crazy happened inthe past year. So I'm guessing these are just, you know, verysame as old data. But I'm ready.

You actually teased out. I thinkthat a couple of things that I was the most excited to to digin with you. So let's start digging into some of these learnings or whatyou do with this data. So I admit that I was a bit surprisedthat sixty eight percent of adults considering going back to school would prefer a nondegreealternative program talk about this broader trend toward non degree programming and where you believethe learners are at with US demand versus where higher at is at, withofferings to match it. So to give appropriate credit to that specific that camefrom strata network and that was part of their public viewpoint surveys from from twothousand and twenty where basically what they were doing is surveying the American public ontheir higher a demand. So what we found particularly fascinating about that sixty eightpercent sat and the reason why we wanted to integrate it, or at leasthighlight it as part of the state of thee is to give a sense ofthe fact that, you know, the interest in nondegree and continuing education isn'tsomething that's happening in the vacuum, you know, in back room the collegesand universities. It's something that the market actually wants and it makes a tonof sense. Nearly fifty eight percent of students, when they're asked what theirprimary reason for enrolling in a degree program they say it's to achieve career outcomesor professional outcomes. I believe you cela recently did a survey of their incomingfreshman class and something like eighty percent of students highlighted the value of their educationto career outcomes. So a desire for career impact is nothing new for orany higher education student. The problem is that they're recognizing that, you know, the more traditional pathways to education that that we've sort of forged out aren'tleading there a burning glass. Survey that was released towards the end of lastyear pointed out that nearly two and five bachelor's degree holders are underemployed in theirfirst job. And when you consider the fact that the majority of students areenrolling because they want career outcomes, something, what is that? Forty percent ofstudent seeing underemployed in their first role...

...is borderline unacceptable. So, youknow, looking at that in conjunction with the expense of the traditional degree programand you know the promise of it, most nondegree programs being very specifically aroundcareer outcomes, it makes a ton of sense that students are starting to recognizethat maybe there's another way. So that's yeah, like that's sixty eight percentstat on its face can be a little surprising, but I'll tell you Imean as someone who has who has managed a publication focused on nondegree education forthe past decade. It was really almost abreast of fresh air. Yeah,to see that. You know, this thing that we've all been talking aboutin in sort of generalities is in fact very much of the case when therubber hits the road. You know, at the end of the day,it's our recession playbook as an industry is vastly outdated. We're not meeting studentswhere they are and it's the reason that there was a three percent enrollment dipin a pure aerod of massive unemployment, which generally leads to between a onepoint nine and two point five percent enrollment increase for degree programs. Yeah,I'm right. What did this survey tell us about internal concerns with our institutionsabilities to add new programs to chase these trends at the pace of market demand? You know, it's really interesting. So one of the things that wefound, obviously, when we asked about the biggest challenges to scaling or expandingnondegree add folks pointed to the things that you'd expect. So, you know, they were concerned around the market demand. So they wanted to make sure thatprogramming actually needs labor market expectations, skills expectations, the administrative burden ofsimply developing and launching new programs, the cost of launching new programs, thetime to market for new programs, like all these things that we understand isbeing a common road blocks, especially the nondegree program launches, because for themost part, you know, schools aren't really set up to do programming outsideof a semester schedule. Schools aren't really set up to do programming that hasto go to market extremely quickly and cannot,...

...you know, literally fall off theside of someone's desk in an approval process. So we certainly saw thosebut one of the really fascinating things that came out was, you know,that there were multiple choice options for that question. And then we also askfolks if there's anything else that they'd like to add in terms of school toStaling you dempanding nondegree and looking at that, doing a keyword analysis on the response, as we kind of lumped it into for buckets. So you know, acceptance and support of nondegree programming from from the main campus, yeah,is lacking right the capacity for staff to actually do innovative work. They're challenged. There's a lack of budget and financial support. So, you know,really nondegree programs. Continuing at units are generally cost recovery, so being ableto commit additional fight additional resources to innovative programming can be a challenge. Andthen at its court they don't, technology at the base being completely insufficient whenit comes to actually delivering on these high expectations. These are all things thatkind of stem from a lack of practical support from senior leadership when it comesto the role and capacity for continuing a divisions to help keep their respective institutionscompetitive. I'm right. How about digital gaps? What are our most commondigital gaps? Preventing Easy enrollments? High, a Tane, high value learning experience, specifically for these see learners. Absolutely well, I mean continuing atLearner and frankly, every learner today is an experienced season consumer. You know, this is someone who shops on Amazon with incredible regularity. This is someonewho consumes media through the Netflixer, Amazon prime or, you know, anyof the other five hundred streaming services that are available. This is someone who'sgiven up on taxis because Uber allows you to do it so much quicker andeasier. Right. So these, regardless of your forty eight and looking forupskilling or sixteen and trying to find your...

...first school. Every learner today isbasically a digital native. Every learner today is fundamentally a technological expert when itcomes to how they want to engage with major service providers. Right, likewhy is the university behind the banks or the cable companies when it comes todelivering a customer experience? So I'd say that's fundamentally are our first and biggestgap is students have this expectation for an experience that's going to be foamless,for experience is going to be straightforward, for a website that's going to,you know, provide them some sense of what it is that they need,based on past browsing history, based on, you know, previous enrollments, basedon any of the things that any other company takes them to account whensomeone lands on their home page. But we don't do that and higher youknow, we very much have this expectation that, you know, the studentis fortunate to even be considered by us. And and so you don't behave thatway. And as a result, boot camps have done very, verywell, right and and Moos, you know, despite the fact that peoplelook at them and say, Oh, look at their completion rates. Havewe ever considered that we're applying a traditional higher standard to a fundamentally non traditionaleducation providing mechanisms? Maybe students don't want to take all twelve moots. Maybethey wanted a specific piece of information and they managed to log in, findthat information and go right. So maybe the question isn't did they do thething we wanted them to do? Maybe the question is did they do thething they want to do? And I think fundamentally like if you look atwell, what's what's the thing that higher ed institutions need to do to closethe digital divide? I think that's basically what you're asking. I would say, first and foremost, why don't we think about students like people and thentreat them that way? I'm right, there's so much good stuff in thissurvey. Any specifically additional Aha moments for you, things that surprised you andyour colleagues? I would say that you...

...know. relatedly, it was athing about the website. So you know not to give too much away.Obviously we want both to tell up the research, but here here two stats. Then if you're going to take anything away from the survey. Take thesetwo stats away with you, all right. Stat one, seventy three percent ofrespondence say the institutions website, website, should play a leading role in deeplyengaging students and facilitating their registration. Right. So the website itself shouldbe high quality, it should be personalized, it should provide some clear sense ofwhat the consumers looking for and what the what the service provider, inthis case the institution, is able to do to address their expectations. Weneed seventy three percent. Only ten percent of respondence rate their website as veryeffective at driving student engagement, enrollment and retemption. M Yeah, right.So three quarters of folks look at the look at their website and say wow, you know what? What amazing thing is the website could do is anengagement engine and only one in ten stay. And our website does that. Youknow, it's a startling divide because, when push comes to shove, werecognize that every consumer is digital first. We recognize that the majority of folksfind our institutions online. We recognize that people want to use the websiteas a way to facilitate their enrollment process. They want to pay online with acredit card, they want to, you know, go to the websiteand have an immediate sense of whether it's actually going to help them get totheir endpoint. They want to find the website on their phone, start buildinga shopping cart and then go on the computer to finish the purchase like youwould on Amazon or on wayfarer or any of these other services. But wejust don't let them do it. So I would say if we're looking atwell, what's what's the ideal student experience? Right, it's starts at the firstimpression and that's the website. So that's I say. That's the majortakeaway for me, and I apologize because...

I know that's more tactical than Ithink folks might be looking for, but that's also the problem. We cannotthink of the website as being this tactical thing that only ten percent of thethe staff at an institution need to worry about. Yeah, right. Thewebsite should be first and foremost to our our way of communicating with every stakeholdercoming to the institution. If you're an alumni and you want that individual toeither enrolling continuing education or donate to the school, they should have a homepage when they go to come first point. University, DOT eedu right. Theyshould be able to see Pathley specifically designed for them to get to theoutcome the institution knows they should be moving toward. Right, just like again, any other company with any other set of personas will have a clear senseof who the people are coming to their website and how they want that personto progress. Right and fundamentally, if that's not strategic and if it's notstrategically designed around the outcomes that you, the institution, or trying to putinto place for your learners, then we the institution. It failed because,again, we expect the student to feel fortunate that they're they're being considered byUS, as opposed to be all the alternative, which is that, youknow, fundamentally, we the institution, or fortunate that a student is consideringUS com ord such such great stuff. Finally, any next steps advice forinstitutions who are looking to shrink that gap that you've talked about today, thatgap between post rational student trends and the institution's own offerings? Where should theystart? First? Absolutely well, I mean again, and this is ashameless pee to the research, but but the last Phage does outline about tenaction ising, but we feel are incredibly relevant for folks, given some ofthe staff that we bring out in some of the findings that we unearthed inthe research. But I would say at its very core, senior institutional leadersneed to, I guess need to shift the thinking in two ways right.One is the continuing education division and its role. So this is not aunit that you know, sits on the...

...periphery of the institution, does someinteresting stuff and generates revenue. I mean they do do that, but weneed to recognize the role of continuing education is more of a strategic comparative forthe institution itself and we need to resource some appropriate right again. Now,one of the things that we found was that seventy six percent of respondence saidthat they had senior leadership buying to scale and expand non degree courses in programs. Seventy six percent of respondence say they have senior leadership by and to scaleand expand on degree programs and courses. But if you'll recall, the obstaclesthat I are highlighted earlier kind of all route back to a lack of genuinesenior leadership support when it comes to buying, when it comes to resource and whenit comes to maybe a little bit of true support around the engagement betweencontinuing education in the main campus. The fact that cannibalization is still a concernfor folks when it comes to expanding online education programming is a major, majorconcern. We should all be worried about that. So I would say firstand foremost, you know, senior institutional leaders need to recognize their role instrategically supporting and resourcing continuing education to do the great work that we expect continuingeducation units to do. Yeah, you know what, that's the major takeaway. I think that's that's the most important thing and again I'd highly recommend downloadingthe report. There's a lot of great information in there. We do layout a number of other recommendations and and opportunities, especially around, you know, types of credentialing that that seems to be on the horizon and teaser.It looks like stackable credentials, micro credentials are are major areas of opportunities thatfolks are identifying. But you cannot achieve that outcome and less continuing education issupported and resource appropriately. And will, of course, put a link tothat survey in the show notes or thank you again so much for joining us. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have anyfollow up questions? For sure, I'm on Linkedin. You'll see how myname is Felton in the show notes and...

...you can certainly connect with me there. You can email us at info at evolution with three L's upcom. That'sin again, info at evolution with three albumscom. Those ls, by theway, stand for lifelong learning. Just a fun facts for folks. Andthen, if you do want to download the research again, I know thatthe show notes will have this link, but just in case, you canvisit modern campuscom flash see twenty one. That's again, modern campuscom flash twentyone. Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm right.Thank you for having me for a lot of fun. Attracting today's new posttraditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wideapproach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new educationlandscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbookwith fifty percent brand new content. On how institutions can solve today's most pressingenrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You'vebeen listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you nevermiss an 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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