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Five Minutes with ACHE

  • May 25, 2018 1:27 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Association for Continuing Higher Education
    80th Annual Conference and Meeting
    Newport Marriott Hotel • 25 America’s Cup Avenue • Newport, RI

    We hope you are making plans to join us the 80th Annual ACHE Conference and Meeting October 8-10, 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island. 

    The conference theme this year is “Keeping the Beacon of Continuing Education Burning Bright,” emphasizing the important role of continuing education in the mission and vision of higher education as a whole.

    Through concurrent sessions, workshops, and keynote speakers, the conference program will emphasize innovation, future-forward practice, and technological vision in the delivery of post-secondary education, all aiming to refocus us toward a brighter future.

    Learn more about the 80th Annual Conference and Meeting, register to attend, explore the lighthouses of Rhode Island, and discover the Top 12 Things to Do in Newport.

    Jeni Maple
    Conference Committee Co-Chair
    Southeastern Oklahoma State University
  • May 18, 2018 10:01 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    The MidAtlantic Conference took place in Annapolis, Maryland April 11-13 at the Westin Hotel. Twenty-eight participants attended the event. A Welcome Reception sponsored by University of Delaware Professional and Continuing Studies kicked off the conference. The informal gathering was a great opportunity to catch up with friends throughout the region and form new relationships.


    Rick Kantor’s keynote address entitled “The Creative Mindset: GPS to the Future” was a high point creating positive energy and setting an upbeat tone for the conference. Rick encouraged higher education professionals to “…let thoughts roll” and be catalysts for change. He advocates the concept of owning one’s own creativity and focuses on the FourSight Model: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement. His message resonated with members as numerous institutions in our region face challenges to develop and grow programs in an ever-changing landscape. He traveled from sunny California to be with the MidAtlantic group. Rick serves as a Creativity Consultant, Catalyst, and Speaker; Adjunct Faculty at Drexel University; and the Secretary of American Creativity Association. He was awarded the Champion of Creativity Award in 2017.

    General Session

    Attendees experienced a change of pace with a lively General Session entitled “Putting Students First: A Critical Sociological Perspective.” A group representing Mary Baldwin University (faculty and staff: Bob Robinson, Virginia Trovato, and Carrie Boyd; and two adult learners: Corey Chandler and Gina Edwards) led this session. The group presented research and plans for the creation of a student union to give a voice to formerly marginalized students.


    Sharon Barnes of Mary Baldwin University, Dr. Regis Gilman of East Carolina University, Dr. Honour Moore of Grazt College, and Phillip Moore of Grazt college led a panel discussion focusing on the theme of “From Valleys to Peaks” to begin the second day of the conference. Each panelist shared peaks, valleys, mountain top experiences, and thoughts of the present and future from their respective vantage points, followed by a question and answer session.

    Concurrent Sessions

    In addition to the Keynote, General Session, and Panel, participants experienced a variety of presentations looking at the theme of Ahead of the Curve: Innovative Ideas and Strategies You Can Implement Tomorrow, including: 

    • digital marketing, 
    • the needs and demands of online students, 
    • barriers for enrollment and persistence, and 
    • other key issues.

    “What’s in the Secret Sauce” presented by Mickey Baines resonated with a number of members. He shared creative approaches and tactics he has used successfully to increase enrollments at four different institutions over the past five years in the role of an Interim Chief Enrollment Officer.  

    Business Meeting

    The Regional Business Meeting included reports from the Chair and Treasurer. The meeting included a discussion about next spring’s conference. Planning is underway; the location and dates will be forthcoming this summer.

    Enjoyable and successful conference – sharing quotes from evaluations

    “A great spirit to the small group. Very connective and restorative (and with good info to take back), A great 'time-out' from regular work days. I don't think this can be discounted when planning and promoting this conference.”

    “The conference in Annapolis provided a positive experience in the midst of the landscape of challenges and uncertainty in higher education.”

    Thank you to the MidAtlantic Board who worked diligently to plan the conference and to Mary Baldwin University Online and Distance Programs for sponsoring one of the luncheons. We appreciate Ann Solan’s photos capturing highlights of the conference also.
  • May 11, 2018 10:28 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Working at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) provides the opportunity to see in microcosm the larger national conversation about different modalities of learning.  We have a traditional New England liberal arts college, almost a century old with about 4,000 students, a national online college with 90,000 students, and a competency-based education (CBE) program with more than 4,000 students.  The CBE programs partner with national workforces as well as international programs that educate employees of all levels and refugees in several foreign countries.  These operations are the reason we state with conviction that there is no single student type and, if we are to be true to our mission of creating rigorous learning environments that increase the likelihood of student success, we must be prepared to meet students where they are.

    One of the initiatives that we are working on is creating learning experiences that are adaptable.  Our universal interoperable prototype is built in such a way that individual learning experiences are small enough and independent enough to be used on their own for competency demonstration, and also capable of being interwoven (or stacked) into larger experiences (such as traditional courses or other engagement types).  Consider having a learning experience for effective communication that could be paired with other modules in such a way that the learning environments and assessments might be different experiences for students in business, natural sciences, or humanities.  In this paradigm, a basic “Lego block” of curriculum can be built based upon the needs and interests of the students rather than one predetermined learning path.

    In the music industry, albums were replaced with cassettes which were in turn replaced with compact discs.  In very short time periods how we listened to music, as well as where and when changed.  Yet for a substantial amount of time the packaging of the music remained the same—an album with a dozen or so songs was still what you got when you bought a cassette or a compact disc.

    The creation of Napster shifted things and, while the traditional music industry was able to shut that down through lawsuits, it was clear there was no turning back.  Soon there was iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify while tools transitioned from Mp3 players to iPods to smartphones.  No longer would consumers have to spend $15.99 for a package of 12 songs when they only wanted two of the songs from that package.  They might still buy 12 songs, but the twelve they purchased could be purchased individually and combined through playlists and podcasts, fitting the needs of the consumer rather than the insistence of the producers.

    Almost overnight institutions that had banked on the durability of music production and distribution like Tower Records and MediaPlay vanished.  We see a similar opportunity in creating learning experience models that would allow students to assemble learning experience “playlists” that suit their needs as well as the parallel resources that would support their experiences.

    There are many factors that must be considered in this opportunity:

    • Is there a new “right size” model that will replace the 3-credit course?
    • How does one rethink a course, which is an iterative interwoven learning experience with independent stacked modules?  In other words, if each learning experience is a brick (or song) that may be placed into various structures (or playlists), how do we develop a capability to agilely supply mortar around such bricks to ensure a unified learning experience?  One that does not have holes or gaps in learning?
    • How might the various roles within academic and student affairs (or the music industry) change?

    One irony of this kind of rapid evolution is that the core skill sets continue to be those that make us most human—effective communication, ethics, interpersonal relationships, and leadership skills (the ones that are periodically referred to as either soft or vital). 

    Southern New Hampshire University has focused on deliberate outcomes in the general education curriculum that are workforce-related competencies, empowering students to master skills that are transferable and scalable from one job to the next.  We continue to refine our frameworks.  Rather than focus on a given area of the social sciences (sociology, psychology, anthropology) in a buffet-style model, we look to ensure that, regardless of their field of interest, students become knowledgeable about how societies, cultures and organizations interact and how they can apply their skills in increasingly complex situations (personal and professional).  This way, as technology continues to advance, students will continue to apply their uniquely human interpersonal skills in ways that make them perpetually valuable to the world.

    Dr. Gregory Fowler
    Chief Academic Officer & Vice President for Academic Affairs
    Southern New Hampshire University

  • May 04, 2018 10:00 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Greetings, Colleagues!

    This week, the Boston area is enjoying its second 80-degree day in a row. On campus, commencement preparations are well underway; students are engaged in the final push of the semester; and administrators welcome the summer months in expectation of another academic year.

    For the planning committee and me, our efforts are increasingly occupied with the 80thACHE Annual Conference, Newport 2018 on October 8th-10th.   I am happy to announce that conference registration is now open!

    For those of you who haven’t been to Newport previously, there is plenty of fun in store, from the beauty of The Breakers to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

    Come early for Columbus Day Weekend, as there's plenty of holiday events planned, including the Amica Newport Marathon and the Jamestown Classic.  Most importantly, the Newport 2018 planning committee has a wonderful conference in store for you, from keynotes who are leaders in our field to workshops and sessions which feature the best of continuing education.  

    A good piece of local advice - book your accommodations early, as Columbus Day Weekend in Newport is a popular destination!

    I look forward to seeing you there.


    With Warmest Regards,

    Bill Boozang, Ed.D.
    ACHE President, 2018
    Boston College

  • April 27, 2018 11:29 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Association for Continuing Higher Education
    80th Annual Conference and Meeting
    Newport Marriott Hotel • 25 America’s Cup Avenue • Newport, RI

    Dear Colleague,

    Join us for the 80th Annual ACHE Conference and Meeting being held in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island,
    October 8 - 10, 2018.

    The focus of our annual conference is “Keeping the Beacon of Continuing Education Burning Bright." 

    Why attend our conference?

    • Dynamic learning opportunities
    • Enhanced understanding of learner needs
    • Develop increased awareness of technological changes
    • Increase understanding of the dynamics of our knowledge-based economy
    • Renew professional relationships
    • Establish new connections

    Mark your calendar now and plan on attending the upcoming Association for Continuing Higher Education Conference. 


    Add to Calendar (.ics for Outlook, Apple)


    Add to Calendar (for Google)

    Think about it… Newport, Rhode Island, ACHE and you! What could be better for continuing education!?

  • April 20, 2018 4:35 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    The ACHE Great Plains Regional Conference was held March 8-9, 2018, on the Northeastern State University – Broken Arrow Campus near Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The conference began the evening before with a Meet and Greet Dine-Out gathering.  New friendships were formed, and existing ones were strengthened through high-energy conversations that turned to laughter, exchange of contact information, and visions of an engaging regional conference.

    Over 50 participants attended the conference from community colleges, regional, private, and comprehensive institutions.  

    Panels and Presentations

    Attendees had the opportunity to hear and participate in lively panels that focused on graduate education and community colleges.
    Choctaw University, winner of an ACHE National Award, shared details of their various programs and how those components have led to continued learning through both credit and non-credit programs.  


    Keynote Speakers

    Dr. Marthann Schulte, Pearson Online Learning Services, presented on The Career Pathways Landscape:  Lower Barriers and Improve Prospects.  Career Pathways is the collective term for a workforce development strategy to support workers as they transition from education into jobs.  As workers mature, career pathways provide opportunities to improve skills, obtain new credentials, and therefore change or advance into new employment.  Finding ways to seamlessly and efficiently integrate career pathways requires unique partnerships between academia, companies, government, and education service providers.  This session provided background information for career pathways and then advanced the discussion to practical and actionable steps that institutions can take to improve student certificate, credential, and degree pursuits.  Using an audience collaboration approach, attendees shared their own higher education challenges to seek new opportunities and solutions.

    Dr. Katherine Wesley presented at the luncheon on the National Council of Instructional Administrators (NCIA) NCIA formed in 1977 and has evolved these past 40 years to focus on leadership, innovation, advocacy, and development of instructional administrators.  NCIA is housed within the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and is positioned perfectly to support instructional administration and administrators through faculty whose research interests are elements of the community college.

    Ms. Rita Robbins, with Microsoft, ended the afternoon Keynote with a thought-provoking and stimulating discussion on Changes, Motivations, and How to Attract New Leaders.  A great discussion was engaged by many who asked questions that resulted in some superb dialogue.  Ms. Robbins continued the many conversations stimulated by her presentation during a late afternoon Wine and Cheese reception sponsored by Personalized Map Company.

    Regional Awards

    Regional awards were given with the University of Oklahoma (OU) winning the Best Conference Award and Northeastern State University (NSU) winning the Best Credit Program Award.  Both OU and NSU each won an award for Best Non-Credit Program. 

     University of Oklahoma
    Best Conference

    Northeastern State University
    Best Credit Program 

     University of Oklahoma
    Best Non-Credit Program

    Northeastern State University
    Best Non-Credit Program 

    Dr. Eloy Chavez

    Dr. Robin Plumb
    Chair Elect

    Dr. Marthann Schulte

    Ms. Jeni Maple

    Business Meeting

    At the Regional Business Meeting, new officers were selected.

    Conference Success

    The conference setting was beautiful with superb food service.  Attendees enjoyed and complimented on the content, the campus, and the keynote presentations.  “I appreciated everyone coming to eastern Oklahoma to enjoy some NSU RiverHawks hospitality coupled with hearing and sharing great, innovative information on the new ways of thinking and doing,” said Chair-Elect Dr. Eloy Chavez

    We would like to offer special thanks to the NSU staff and the Regional Conference Committee who organized this year’s conference.  All of us look forward to another great regional at Rose State College near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, March 7-8, 2019.  See you soon!

  • April 13, 2018 10:00 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Having a competitive edge, being able to differentiate one’s educational product or degree from other institutions has become the driving force for many universities and colleges.  To thrive in an educational environment of dwindling student numbers and unstable revenue sources, higher education institutions have turned to aggressive marketing strategies focused on the institution’s value propositions.  Most higher education institutions use some flavor of student-centricity as their value proposition – the student experience, student outcomes, student learning, or the institution’s support of the student.  However, are universities set up to set up to really fulfill this proposition?  How do they know – even measure – the return on investment (ROI) to current and future students?  Student satisfaction research by Destiny Solutions in their 2017 Year in Review finds:

    • 44% of American students said they would have had a better experience if they could interact digitally with their university;
    • 47% of students expect administration to be easier to manage, given the fees they pay;
    • 33% of American students said poor administrative systems negatively affected their view of the university; and
    • 33% of students are frustrated by the paperwork and the complexity of institutional administration.

    These are some pretty significant gaps, considering the price point of the product Universities are selling. Given the long consumer life cycle and the vetting that goes into the selection process (for most students), one would expect these numbers would be much lower. One would expect satisfaction levels to be quite high.

    In conversations with higher education constituents across the country, this multi-faceted problem is deeply rooted in technology and process challenges. While not as flashy as a new building or getting picked up as earned media through a press release, colleges and universities must increase their investment in their IT infrastructure (and, not just servers and band aid solutions). In the Age of the Consumer, corporations have managed the shift by recognizing the role the consumer plays in the sales process, and meeting the consumer where they are. In the educational environment, student information systems are lagging in keeping up with the times. All Universities and Colleges would benefit from investing in a system that supports student/customer relationship management – a CRM. Let’s talk about why.

    Relationship. Relationship is everywhere in higher education. Enrollment and admission officers work for students to feel an attachment to a University before they set foot on campus. There is relationship in the classroom, in an advising office, with administrative support, with internal communities. The list is endless, really. University retention officers know that relationship is key to retaining students through to graduation. Imagine a system where any transaction with a student is recorded, and able to be referenced to any others (covered under FERPA) who have a need to know. Knowledge transfer can happen immediately, through secure data sharing. That is the power of CRM.

    Let’s look at the situation that Sally Student finds herself in.  Sally is six weeks into her second semester, when she comes down with a severe illness. She goes to her advising office to explain this painful situation, where her advisor recommends she withdraw from her courses and return to school once she is well. What would happen next at your University? If the answer is something like: Sally walks a withdrawal form (paper) to her instructor(s) for a signature and then to the Registrar’s office and then to Financial Aid to advocate for a tuition refund, you need CRM. 

    With CRM in place, the advisor creates a case on Sally’s record. The case notifies the instructor that Sally has been advised to withdraw from her courses. The notification and approvals are routed electronically to the Registrar, who sees appropriate approvals to withdraw the student after the withdrawal period. Imagine next, Sally doesn’t need to visit Financial Aid to plead her case for backdating tuition charges; it has been notated on her CRM record that the Dean has already approved returning funds due to the seriousness of her circumstances. No one without a need to know has seen any HIPAA-protected medical documentation. Sally is able to leave the University to focus on her treatment, only having to discuss and self-disclose the severity of her illness to one person (her advisor). She is amazed at how easy the administration made it for her to take care of herself, tells others about her positive experience, and returns one year later to successfully complete her degree. She then goes on to graduate school at the same institution.

    Satisfaction. Why did Sally come back, when it may have been easier to drop out entirely? Why did she tell all of her friends about her University and how much they care about her, and even return for a second credential? Because her experience was the result of an operational process centered on satisfaction. So often, experiences in higher education allow the full onus to fall on the student. For example, the student is out full tuition because they withdrew from a course 3 hours after the drop window. Or, the student fails their course because a LMS glitch ate their term paper. Yes, some responsibility must fall to the student. But, students should not be asked to jump through needless administrative hoops to earn a degree they are paying 5-6 figures for. Who would ever recommend a company whose refund policy is so complex and so strict that if you pick the wrong size widget, you’d be out $800? No one.

    Efficiency of processes. If you want to know how long a task takes to complete in higher education, take the time of that same task in a corporate environment and multiple it by 1000. Why? Academics are generally more comfortable thinking, researching, thinking, researching some more, deciding, researching to be sure the decision is correct, thinking, and then communicating the decision.  Slow procedures and processes are an expected and accepted reality in the academic environment. This contributes to the increasing costs of higher education. Universities pay staff to process paper, route that paper by mail carriers, have it signed by multiple administrators, and then hand enter that data back into an SIS.  CRM allows for the automation and digitization of human and paper processes that take significant amounts of time, and cost large amounts of money to support.  And, in doing so, it increases efficiencies in every office and process it touches.

    Insights through analysis of data. At higher education institutions, critical data often is living in disparate systems. Maybe an admissions portal has some critical data, an SIS has some more, a financial system has some other important stuff, and a learning platform has yet more essential information. What do you do when you want to know how provisionally accepted graduate students with lower GPAs are performing in their coursework at mid-term, which may impact their financial options? Do you look across 5 datasets in an Excel spreadsheet? Or, access four different systems for bits of information you need to know about these students? In a CRM system, you leverage the technology and its flexible Application Programming Interface (API) capabilities to provide a window into all other systems where these datasets exist. You create dashboards – splicing and dicing the data sets – to prove or disprove a theory that low-GPA, provisionally accepted students struggle more in their first graduate level course. Data problems solved.

    Financial impact. The common theme in all of the above is ultimately financial impact. Retention, efficiency, relationship, and business insights through data all contribute to the bottom line. When implemented and leveraged correctly, the ROI of a CRM is proven.

    At the end of the day, CRM provides the tools for a University to meet its value propositions on student outcomes and the student experience. It helps an institution support relationships, increase satisfaction, sunset outdated processes, gain insights, and see a return of investment to improve the bottom line.  If your institution does not leverage this technology, you may want to reconsider.

    Michelle Littlefield, MBA
    Assistant Dean of Finance and Strategy

    Martha K. Wilson, Ph.D., DSW
    College of Graduate and Professional Studies
    University of New England

  • April 06, 2018 10:20 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Happy Friday!

    Last Wednesday morning, a deluge of texts, phone calls, and emails arrived from ACHE colleagues nationwide. While generally, our field of continuing education is competitive, and we sometimes find ourselves candidates for the same positions on-region, a wonderful trait of ACHE is that we celebrate each other’s achievements and accomplishments with great enthusiasm!

    The ACHE community has reason to celebrate, with the appointment of Dr. Van Horn (ACHE President, 2014) to serve as Mayville State University’s 17th President.  This small public university in North Dakota seeks Dr. Van Horn’s leadership and expertise, evidenced by his tenure at Murray State, where his division realized a 50% enrollment increase over the last decade, the addition of numerous programs, and the establishment of a top-notch administrative team.  Murray State University owes a great debt to Dr. Van Horn, but it is now time for him to assume the presidency.

    For those of us who know Brian, we had no doubt that he was destined for a college presidency. Having been a constant presence in ACHE for over twenty years, Brian has served in nearly every capacity in both regional and national leadership. We have witnessed his professional growth and his preparation for the presidency.  As Brian has benefitted from close mentoring relationships with deans, provosts, chancellors, and presidents among our ranks, he has also “paid it forward” generously with his leadership and mentoring of our younger colleagues.

    When I called to congratulate Brian on his presidency, I asked how ACHE has contributed to his professional and personal development in preparation for higher education leadership.

    ACHE has been a critical part of my professional life and personal life. I have been supported by so many over the years from ACHE that have served as mentors for me when I moved up through the professional ranks. I learned significant leadership qualities from ACHE professionals that I use everyday.

    I'm honored and excited to have been chosen as the 17th President at Mayville State University, and my time in ACHE has helped prepare me for this opportunity! We will serve all students including adults with the commitment to success that ACHE best practices have helped teach me.

    Dr. Van Horn's leadership in higher education is testament to the opportunities afforded to us through ACHE’s professional engagement, networking, and informal and formal leadership roles.  We are confident in President-Elect Van Horn’s continued success at Mayville State University. As always, his ACHE family will be on-call to support and cheer him on!

    In the upcoming months, I hope that you and your colleagues seize the numerous professional opportunities that ACHE offers. Nominate a colleague for the 2018 Emerging Leaders Institute in Chicago. Join the planning committee or submit a workshop proposal for ACHE Newport 2018, our 80th national conference.

    I look forward to seeing many of you next week, at ACHE Mid-Atlantic and ACHE South meetings.


    With Warmest Regards,

    Bill Boozang, Ed.D.
    ACHE President, 2018
    Boston College

    Office: 800.807.2243  |  Address: 1700 Asp Ave, Rm 114  |  Norman, OK 73072
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  • March 30, 2018 4:25 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footsteps on the moon!”

    Continuing higher education’s role in lifelong learning is what makes us realize that the sky isn’t the limit to the possibilities of the future – for ourselves or for our students.  As long as we keep learning, we keep pushing them to learn.  And together, we can surpass all the limits others might try to put in front of us.

    According to the 1994 First Global Conference on Lifelong Learning cosponsored by the American Council on Education in Rome, lifelong learning is “a continuously supportive process which stimulates and empowers individuals…to acquire all the knowledge, values, skills, and understanding they will require throughout their lifetimes… and to apply these with confidence, creativity, and enjoyment in all roles, circumstances, and environments.”[1]

    Underlying that definition is a philosophy that supports our work in continuing higher education.  Although it was written in 1994, it shapes the way we think today and has implications for tomorrow:

    • Continuous—This means that lifelong learning never stops.
    • Supportive—We don’t do it alone.
    • Stimulating and empowering—It is self-directed and active, not passive.
    • Knowledge, values, skills, and understanding—It’s more than what we know.
    • Lifetime—It happens from our first breath to our last.
    • Applied—Lifelong learning is not just for knowledge’s sake.
    • Confidence, creativity, and enjoyment—It is a positive fulfilling experience.
    • All roles, circumstances, and environment—It applies not only to our chosen profession, but to our entire life.[2]

    Historical Role of Continuing Higher Education

    As you know, Continuing Education has a long history in American higher education. The early concept goes back to the days of the land grant movement, “when Agricultural Extension was created with the vision of academic researchers working with farmers in the field to improve agricultural production.”[3]  The 20th Century brought expansion of Agricultural Extension units, and simultaneously, many Institutions of Higher Education “also created centralized ‘General Extension’ or ‘Continuing Education’ units to link other academic departments across the institution to the larger community these institutions served. Over time, these centralized Continuing Education units became expert at matching university resources to community needs.”[4] They supported innovation and delivered a wide range of Programs and services including:

    • Community needs assessments;
    • Evening and off-campus credit courses, certificate programs, and degree programs, including related student support services to adult, part-time students;
    • Noncredit workshops, professional development programs, and consulting projects;
    • Academic research and technology transfer conferences that create academic and professional communities around university research interests;
    • Summer youth camp programs; and
    • Liaison between academic units and employers and other community organizations related to responses to community development needs.[5]

    Future Role of Continuing Higher Education

    Interestingly enough, services have not significantly changed. However, in the 21st Century, we must re-envision, re-conceptualize, and re-imagine programming to address emerging trends and changing needs of diverse learners and communities.  How do we hold tight to the enduring truths of adult learning while loosening the reigns to allow for strategies of reaching the changing audience?

    Futurist Harish Shah writes:

    The future of Adult Learning is not about acquiring knowledge, skills, aptitude or other attributes or competencies to keep up or stay relevant with the times. The future of Adult Learning is about being equipped with competencies, before the necessities for them arrive, by first forecasting what competencies are likely to become necessary or relevant ahead, so that the adult is prepared, when a change demands their adaptation to it.[6]

    Additionally, Learning Systems Architect Anne Knowles, said of the future of adult education:

    By 2030, we should expect that adult learners will enroll in low-cost classes that align with their goals; stay engaged with an adaptive system that responds to their actions; and listen to world-class human experts - all as one seamless experience. This integration of learning science, adaptive technology, and quality content will transform the learning experience to enhance decision-making and ultimately our survival.[7]

    In its report, Education to 2030, The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasted the future of education across 25 world economies, including the U.S.  Three trends emerged:

    • Shifting demographics as a result of public expenditure on education and the affordability of tertiary education, trade schools, and colleges;
    • Future of work and the skills needed to succeed, which is resulting in a rise in STEM graduates while also resulting in a rise in youth unemployment when graduates aren’t prepared for the demands of changing jobs; and
    • Use of technology, particularly the Internet in education contexts.[8]

    The report advised that “all institutions involved in the provision of education … will need to work together in various combinations … to make sure that students are acquiring the skills they need” for the future economy.[9]

    John Ebersole, inductee to the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2015, identified three forces coming together to keep the need for Continuing Education before us for the foreseeable future:

    1. Global competition,
    2. Accelerating pace of change, and
    3. Decline in the period of knowledge relevance, especially in areas of technology.[10]

    He also identified challenges and threats: “One of the challenges for continuing higher education of the future will not be whether there is demand, but rather its ability to meet complex needs which are coming quickly and demanding relevant updates…. The greatest existential threats to continuing higher education will come from provider ability to see emerging needs, to develop programs to a sufficient level of specificity and relevance, and to promote and deliver quickly, efficiently and at an attractive price.”[11]

    Continuing education must remain nimble to stay relevant.

    Future Clients of Continuing Higher Education

    Continuing higher education’s clients (a.k.a. lifelong learners) are diverse by background, language proficiency, personality, behavior, interests, motivation, social and emotional development needs, abilities, learning styles, and much more.  I consider some of the students served by our Continuing Education unit as well as by unique programs across the nation: international students, students with a variety of disabilities, racial minorities, sex trade workers, retirees and empty-nesters, veterans and those in active military service, inmates, students in rural and remote locations, just to name a few.

    We, ourselves, in our diverse membership of ACHE are among these diverse lifelong learners as we seek out continuing education for our personal and professional needs as well.  Having this frame of mind will be essential if we are to meet the needs of those with whom we work and collaborate.

    This picture[12] – comparing equality, equity, and liberation – expresses key ideas for how we can meet the diverse needs of our future clients.  

    In the first pane, all three people have one crate to stand on. In other words, there is “equality” because everyone has the same number of crates. While this is helpful for the middle-height person, it is not enough for the shortest and superfluous for the tallest.

    In contrast, in the second pane, there is “equity.” Each person has the number of crates they need to fully enjoy the game. It is important to note that some individual students and communities may need more since we don’t all start at the same point.

    The problem with the graphic in its original form, with only the first two panes, has to do with where the initial inequity is located. In the graphic, some people need more support to see over the fence because they are shorter, which is seen as an issue inherent to the people themselves. That’s fine if we’re talking about height, but if this is supposed to be a metaphor for other inequities, it becomes problematic. Some feel these first two images imply less than and therefore reflect a deficit model; consequently, the Interaction Institute for Social Change contributed the third pane, which uses the fence to represent the context around these sports fans. The fence stands as a metaphor for historical oppression.

    If we want to offer lifelong learning opportunities and ensure access to all, we must remove inherent barriers that have existed for decades and centuries in our society. As such, we must work with our programs to build the capacity of our institutions to reimagine what lifelong learning means for existing and future clients. Our future depends on preparing everyone for success.

    Belinda Biscoe, Ph.D.
    ACHE Executive Vice President
    Interim Vice President of University Outreach
    The University of Oklahoma


    1. UNESCO. (1994). Creating and sustaining learning organisations: integrating the development of human potential. First Global Conference on Lifelong Learning, Rome: November 30 - December 2, 1994.
    2. Collins, J. (2009). Education Techniques for Lifelong Learning: Lifelong Learning in the 21st Century and Beyond. RadioGraphics 2009; 29:613–622.
    3. Miller, G. (2015). Re-Imagining Continuing Education.
    4. Miller, G. (2015).
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    6. Shah, H. (2016). The Future of Adult Learning: The 10 Years Ahead.
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    8. The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2016). Yidan Prize Forecast: Education to 2030.
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    11. Ebersole, J. (2016).
    12. Interaction Institute for Social Change, Artist: Angus Maguire based on the original work of Craig Froehle,
  • March 23, 2018 1:40 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    As the official journal of ACHE, the Journal of Continuing Higher Education features articles specifically for our members.

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    Click here for the Call for Papers.

    Learn more about Editor Dr. Bruce Busby.

    Factors Affecting Adult Student Dropout Rates in the Korean Cyber-University Degree Programs

    Few empirical studies of adult distance learners’ decisions to drop out of degree programs have used large enough sample sizes to generalize the findings or data sets drawn from multiple online programs that address various subjects. Accordingly, in this study, we used a large administrative data set drawn from multiple online degree programs to investigate meaningful factors (derived from a conceptual model for adult dropout) affecting adult distance learners’ decisions to drop out of online degree programs in a cyber-university. The findings indicate that adult students who have a low level of basic scholastic aptitude, the studying motive to go on to graduate school, more physical constraints, less learner-content interaction, frequent learner-instructor interaction, low level of satisfaction, and low GPA are more likely to drop out of degree programs. Surprisingly, this study found that learner-instructor interaction has a significant, but negative, effect on student persistence.

    Hee Jun Choi (Associate Professor) & Byoung Uk Kim (doctoral student)

    Pages 1-12 | Published online: 28 Dec 2017

    The Online Classroom: A Thorough Depiction of Distance Learning Spaces

    This study investigated the online higher education learning space of a doctoral program offered at a distance. It explored the learning space, the stakeholders, utilization, and creators of the space. Developing a successful online classroom experience that incorporates an engaging environment and dynamic community setting conducive to learning is essential in maintaining distance-student enrollment and expanding online education. Students and faculty were surveyed and responses were coded for the emergence of themes. The expanse of distance education and progression of technology has supported instructors in developing classrooms that emphasize students and incorporate both online interactive spaces and the physical space learners inhabit. Both faculty and students contribute to this classroom, and it is utilized primarily as a space where learners engage.

    Kelly McKenna

    Pages 13-21 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    Reimagining Student Engagement: How Nontraditional Adult Learners Engage in Traditional Postsecondary Environments

    Adult learners are a growing population in U.S. postsecondary education who experience distinct barriers to academic success. However, higher education institutions continue to create and adhere to policies that favor traditional college students. Thus, adult learner experiences must be better understood to ensure this population is supported. This study used data from the 2013 and 2014 administrations of the National Survey of Student Engagement to identify characteristics of adult learners and compare their engagement with traditional-aged students. Our regression analysis revealed that adult learners were more likely to take their classes online, begin their education at another institution, and enroll part-time. Adult learners also were more engaged academically and had positive perceptions of teaching practices and interactions with others, despite reporting fewer interactions with faculty and peers and less supportive campuses. These findings challenge institutions to continue to seek a deeper understanding of how adult learners engage with postsecondary education.

    Karyn E. Rabourn, Allison BrckaLorenz & Rick Shoup

    Pages 22-33 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    A Private, Nonprofit University's Experiences Designing a Competency-Based Degree for Adult Learners

    Competency-based higher education focuses on workplace competencies and often enables students to progress at their own pace. The university in this case study decided to pursue competency-based education (CBE) to offer working adults a convenient, self-paced way to earn a bachelor's degree. The mission of the university—to provide open access to career-oriented degrees for adults of all ages—drove many of the CBE decisions. However, after piloting the competency-based degree, the university found students were uninterested in an entirely self-paced program, so the institution incorporated self-paced mini courses into its traditional degree. This case study examines how external regulations, as well as internal economics and policies, influenced the CBE program's design. The purpose of this research was to understand the key design decisions, so others may learn from the findings. The innovative, self-paced approaches that evolved from this study may interest other institutions serving adult students.

    Nancy A. McDonald

    Pages 34-45 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    Quest: A Hybrid Faculty Teaching and Learning Community

    Faculty members often collaborate on research and service projects, but teaching remains a relatively solitary activity (Gizir & Simsek, 2005; Ramsden, 1998). While students attend classes taught by various faculty members, faculty members remain largely unaware of the innovative and pedagogical improvements in teaching made by their colleagues. Exceptions occur when colleagues present and share ideas through organized activities like teaching workshops, published articles, or through informal settings such as social events. Creating a culture where faculty members frequently interact formally and informally can result in fruitful discussion of issues related to undergraduate education (Massy, Wilgar, & Colbeck, 1994). Collaboration amongst faculty can be a powerful vehicle to promote faculty learning and professional development and an effective way to maximize the impact of institutional investments in faculty (Baldwin & Chang, 2007). Thus, collaborative faculty development is an essential tool to maintain a dynamic institutional climate that sustains productive faculty members and ultimately promotes a healthy learning environment for students.

    Siny Joseph, Jung Oh & Patricia Ackerman

    Pages 46-53 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    One State's Use of Prior Learning Assessment to Augment Its Workforce Development Agenda

    Long before Tennessee legislators demanded a focus on adult learners, the notion of helping adult students earn a degree was part of every postsecondary educational institution in the state. Some had robust adult degree completion programs, while other institutions treated adult learners the same as traditional-aged students. The complications increased as a number of institutions began to use some form of prior learning assessment (PLA) to help returning adults complete their degree.  A substantial body of literature indicates that students who earn credit through PLA have better outcomes than those who do not participate in PLA. PLA has been shown to reduce time to graduation, increase graduation rates, and improve other academic outcomes (Rust & Ikard, 2016). However, because each institution created its own PLA policies and procedures, students often could not transfer their PLA credits to other institutions.

    Mike Boyle, David Gotcher & David Otts

    Pages 54-58 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    Notes and Trends

    Eighteen short notes and comments on trends from various articles and news stories comprise this entry.

    Mary S. Bonhomme

    Pages 59-61 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    Adult Learning Degree and Career Pathways: Allusions to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

    In a previous edition of JCHE's Distance Learning Exchange, several authors (including this one) wrote on the topic of career pathways. That article examined the career pathways landscape through the lens of institutional policy, associations, and organizations that individually dabble in this emerging field (Schulte et al., 2017). The distance and online learning space was emphasized in that article. Inspired by that more intricate discussion, this new discussion will embark on a lighter examination, with the intention to ease communication concerning what career pathways are and how they benefit the learner.

    Marthann Schulte

    Pages 62-64 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

    A Review of Poison in the Ivy: Race Relations and the Reproduction of Inequality on Elite College Campuses By Byrd, W. C. (2017).

    Byrd grounds the study in Poison in the Ivy on 28 of the most selective colleges and universities in the United States. The author uses intergroup contact theory to examine how students of the selected 28 institutions interrelate regarding inter- and intraracial social interactions, and how these interactions influence the students’ beliefs and attitudes on race. In addition, Byrd examines the effect of college courses, which expose students to different perspectives on race, and the long-term effect these courses of study have on student beliefs throughout and after college.

    Keondria E. McClish

    Pages 65-66 | Published online: 20 Mar 2018

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