Engaging on Purpose in Higher Education: A Conversation Starter in Educause Review

Mark Milliron Catalytic Conversations Civitas Learning Space

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Product Managers and Data Scientists in Discussion I was asked recently to explore the topic of how and why diverse players in the education ecosystem—e.g., K-12, higher education, policy makers, foundations, and even vendors—can work together to meet the needs of a quickly changing sector with greater demands being placed on it than ever. My answer to both questions was the same: on purpose. Much as I argue when it comes to students finding their way on higher education pathways, without a clear and compelling purpose, it will be hard to make progress. The good news is the number of talented people in diverse education sectors willing to bring their skill and will to bear on helping more students succeed is growing. Moreover, they’re beginning to rally around some powerful purposes. Here’s a short excerpt from the opinion piece: “In the world of higher education, the needs are great, possibilities powerful, and partners diverse. Students are facing a future that increasingly requires deeper learning and labor-market-valued credentials, along with relevant work experience and civic engagement opportunities to help them take meaningful steps on the path toward living well and actively participating in today’s rowdy digital democracy. In the United States, state and federal governments, foundations, and associations are constantly calling for more—and more diverse—students to successfully complete higher education journeys to fuel the economy and brace us for a road ahead that promises innovation and uncertainty. Finding funding for these needs has been challenging, to say the least. The painful “new normal” is significantly lower funding with significantly higher expectations. Addressing this new normal will require a purposeful engagement of all members of the higher education sector. Thankfully an explosion in new tools, techniques, policies, and practice is at hand. Walk the halls of leading higher education membership association events (e.g., AASCU, AAC&U, APLU, AACC), the EDUCAUSE annual conference, or an ASU GSV Summit, for example, and one can’t help but be wowed by the possibilities. Those of us who are educators and who love experimenting to improve and expand education opportunities should do our best to make the most of the moment. We are entering a golden age of learning fueled by societal needs, economic imperatives, compelling digital tools, imaginative educational practice, and advanced data analytics that together can truly help us all, across the higher education sector, stretch the boundaries and improve the outcomes of our educational systems.” logo educause review onlineTo read more about how the education sector can take on these challenges together, on purpose, check out the full article in Educause Review.