July 1, 2011

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Higher Education

Utah Business Staff

July 1, 2011

Utah’s higher education system faces difficult challenges, from excelling with reduced funding to meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse population. The state’s education leaders weigh in on those challenges and describe how they would make the greatest impact with a limited investment.

We’d like to give a special thank you to Vicki Varela of Vicki Varela Strategic Communications for moderating the discussion, and to Holland & Hart for hosting the event.

David Tietjen, Argosy University; Mike Bouwhuis, Davis Applied Technology College; Steven Roy, USTAR; Mark Bouchard, CB Richard Ellis, Prosperity 2020; Bill Sederburg, Ph.D., Utah System of Higher Education; Joe Peterson, USU - CEU; Richard Nelson, Utah Technology Council; Mike Benson, Ph.D., Southern Utah University; Rob Brems, Utah College of Applied Technology; Larry Smith, Utah State University; Ian Wilson, Ph.D., Utah Valley University; Scott Wyatt, Snow College; Dave Pershing, Ph.D., University of Utah; Cynthia Bioteau, Ph.D., Salt Lake Community College; Michael Bassis, Ph.D., Westminster College; Carri Jenkins, Brigham Young University; Darris Howe, University of Phoenix; Suzanne Winters, Ph.D., EPSCoR/BiG; Ann Millner, Ph.D., Weber State University; Tom Metzger, Roseman University of Health Sciences; Vicki Varela,Vicki Varela Strategic Communications; Stephen Nadauld, Ph.D., Dixie State College

How is higher education innovating in the way we teach our young people and adults?
HOWE: Institutions of higher education really have to look at personalized education. In our dynamic environment, new professions are being invented every month. Professions that didn’t exist just six months ago are now available. So institutions have to be very, very nimble, be able to adapt very quickly to these new challenges and demands. And that includes technology—being able to adapt the way we deliver our education.

One of the challenges that we have at University of Phoenix is that we have Boomers, we have Generation X, and we have the Millennials—and they all have different learning styles. We have to adapt to that and be nimble at delivering modalities that fit each of their learning styles.

We’ve done virtual simulations, online education, simulations in the classroom—anything that we can to meet these different needs. We look at education now not only as degree completion but as a lifelong venture.

JENKINS: Down at BYU, looking at innovation, one of the things we can capitalize on is the language ability of our students here in Utah. I know 70 percent of our students at BYU come speaking a second language fluently.      

This has given us a real opportunity if you’re looking at outreach and innovation. We now have business classes that are taught in 11 languages. We teach 55 at any one time, and that’s allowed us to really collaborate.

We have a Chinese flagship center, we have a Middle East language research center, and then we have an international business outreach education center. That’s a skill that our students come to us with. We just need to be innovative in how we use that and make sure they have the opportunities.

BIOTEAU: The ways that higher education and business complement each other are really experiencing a cultural disruption. If we speak to Clayton Christensen’s and Thomas Friedman’s work, higher education can no longer do business as we did in an agricultural age, where we took summers off and had isolated silos of discipline.

If we look at the workforce development needs and then project five years ahead, we see a convergence of disciplines and needs, not only for our learners but the businesses that we are supplying a workforce to. That is very different than what we saw in higher ed even five years ago.

The innovations that we’re all grappling with are those where we look at specific competencies needed in the workforce and—whether we use UCAT or public education or non-credit education, industry certifications—build upon those competencies so that a person comes in wherever they are in their lifeline and can build upon not only their workforce experience, but where they want to go in the future. They don’t start way back from scratch in an isolated discipline; they build the competencies that then allow them to create an associate’s degree and then, with articulation, a baccalaureate degree through the partnerships of anytime, online and on-site education.

And so we’re the seeing convergence of everything: How we bundle education, how we provide it, how we even create learning experiences.

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