The higher education space is transforming and, though continuing education divisions once quietly sat at the periphery of the institution, they’re now being thrust front-and-center as their key competencies are necessary for the long-term survival of the institution. In this interview, Michael Horn reflects on a few of the key challenges and opportunities CE divisions are navigating, and shares his thoughts on the role these units need to play in supporting the long-term viability and success of their institutions.
The EvoLLLution (Evo): Why did you and your colleagues decide it was important to investigate the trends impacting continuing education?
Michael Horn (MH): More adults right now are enrolling in postsecondary programs than ever before. We know that’s true and we also know that number is going to continue to increase, so there’s a lot of activity in the continuing education space.
We also know a lot of those adults aren’t enrolling in traditional colleges or universities. Instead, they may be enrolling in bootcamps or online course providers or mobile course providers. As such, the space of continuing education within universities is really important because this is a growing demographic but, equally so, there are competitors coming in that they have to contend with who are figuring out and leveraging new technologies to create new learning models that, in many cases, better fit the needs of these adults.
Shining the lens on what continuing education programs should do about this, to reclaim their leadership and their historical legacy of being the place for workforce and societal shaping of adults, is really important.
There’s one other piece of this that is no secret, which is that the business models of a lot of colleges and universities are broken. Continuing education can be an innovation hub for these universities to create new programs, transform pedagogy not just within their own right but across the university as well, to really bring in new revenue and to help the overall university restore its health.