Reflections on the June 2017 University Professional and Continuing Education Summit for Online Leadership

The future was the focus at the recent UPCEA Summit. Kicking off the conference was the Leadership Roundtable where chief online learning officers gather for a half-day to reflect strategically on both the current and future state of online education. This year author Jeff Selingo, visiting scholar at Georgia Tech's Center for 21st Century Universities and special advisor to the Arizona State-Georgetown University Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, and Bridget Burns, executive director, University Innovation Alliance, provided insights into the ways universities need to think about the future. Their guidance included, “starting with the future and what it will be” vs. simply asking, “what can we do?” According to the panelists, envisioning a future of who/what we want to be and what we want to achieve unlocks creativity and reduces the problem-solving that inevitably finds its way into future and strategic planning. This dynamic was demonstrated by means of a vendor-facilitated scenario planning exercise conducted during the session.

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Reflections on the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education Annual Conference

Teamwork, professional development, assessment. What links these concepts? The APUS assessment team recently attended the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE) Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Participating in this event as a group allowed us to build and enhance team connections and share daily feedback on new ideas, alternate processes and innovative methods and how we might apply those learnings to our ongoing initiatives at APUS. With our assessment initiatives in mind (e.g., rubric integration into our classrooms using iRubric, rebuilding and reshaping the university assessment committee, continuous improvement through triennial program reviews, and several others) we went forth to attend the daily sessions.

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Preparing Students for the Workplace

At the recent Eduventures Summit in Boston, we were asked to reflect upon a question in preparation for the for-profit leadership panel but it was never addressed, even though it may well be among the most important: How are we preparing our students for the workplace?

Today’s employers are seeking skills and mindsets in new employees that few institutions seem able to provide their graduates. Is this gap widening? Narrowing? Why, or why not? How do we, as institutions of higher education, respond to this skills gap? Are degrees the only solution? Is there a shorter-term credential at perhaps a lower cost? And how do these choices impact the business model of higher education?  

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Changing Demographics and Strategies for Student Success

On June 8, I had the privilege of participating in a session on student success at the Eduventures Summit in Boston with for-profit co-panelists Alan Drimmer, CEO of Promoted Inc. and former provost for University of Phoenix, and Diane Longhurst Johnson, president of New Charter University. Topics focused on our student demographics, the relevance of tax status to how students learn, policies/ actions we hope to see from the new administration, the potentially changing competitive landscape and implications of the proposed Purdue-Kaplan acquisition, and such issues as gainful employment and default ratios. These were clearly some difficult questions for any such panelist, let alone a new president like myself, to address.

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Leveraging Education in the Workplace to Contribute to the Public Good

As part of my practicum for my Master of Public Health degree for American Military University, I participated in the #Bhepbfree campaign launched May 1, 2016, during Hepatitis B Awareness Month. The campaign resulted in 1.1 million Washington state residents being reached through social media and has become a prominent topic well beyond as many other states and organizations have similarly raised awareness about a disease that is rarely discussed. The agency that used this application is known as Thunderclap, a crowdsourcing tool that helps to amplify the message on a specified day and time across different social media platforms.

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