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Five Minutes with ACHE

  • 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).
    5. Miller, G. (2015).
    6. Shah, H. (2016). The Future of Adult Learning: The 10 Years Ahead.
    7. Knowles, A. (2015). Adult Learning In 15 Years. eLearning Industry.
    8. The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2016). Yidan Prize Forecast: Education to 2030.
    9. The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2016).
    10. Ebersole, J. (2016). The Future of Continuing Education. Evolllution, July 19, 2016.
    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.

    Login to the ACHE Website to view this issue of the Journal

    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

  • March 16, 2018 11:20 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    ICCHE and ACHE Great Lakes Region Learn to Change
    at the ICCHE/ACHE Great Lakes Joint Conference

    “Learning to Change” was the theme of the joint conference hosted by the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) Great Lakes Region and the Illinois Council on Continuing Higher Education (ICCHE) in February 2018. It proved to be an object lesson on that theme as well as an opportunity to gather wisdom and network with peers. 

    The conference began with a pre-conference workshop on February 7 and was originally scheduled to continue through February 9 with a day and a half of keynote speakers and breakout sessions. However, change was in the air as an approaching blizzard descended upon Chicago. The planning committee adapted to this change, and concluded the conference Thursday evening. In swift motion by experienced continuing education professionals, Friday’s speakers were rescheduled into additional breakout sessions on Thursday afternoon and the famous “basket raffles” that usually conclude the conference were drawn for during an extended break on Thursday afternoon. A headcount was taken of those who would be staying in the hotel on Thursday night so that Friday’s breakfast buffet catering order could be adjusted to serve them. Decisive change in response to a shifting environment was a lesson quickly mastered.

    All types of more typical change were addressed in the conference sessions. Shannon Brown from the University of St. Francis set the stage with her pre-conference workshop, “Understanding Personal Change” and led attendees through the book: Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.  

    Keynote speaker Carolyn Nordstrom of Kaplan University addressed the topic, “Why Change in Higher Education is So Hard and What to Do About It.” She drew on the work of Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) to illustrate how the way we process new ideas can affect how we react to proposed change. She stressed the need for “patience, persistence, and perspective” for getting through any change. She outlined the distinction between conscious and unconscious competency (knowing or not knowing why/how you get good results). She has found that teaching those with “unconscious competence” how to be more conscious of their competence enables them to be more comfortable with change.

    Breakout sessions addressed faculty development, program design, curriculum revision, institutional reorganization and more. Bonnie Covelli helped ICCHE/ACHE members in “Linking Together through LinkedIn.” Anne Rapp and Lesley Page showed the group how to keep both “The Market and the Mission” in mind when negotiating organizational change in adult and graduate education.

    ICCHE’s 2018 Innovative Initiative Award went to the University of Illinois System for; Project Coordinator Dena Lawrence was on hand to accept the award and to provide an impromptu breakout session on her organization’s work. Charles V. Evans Research Grant recipient Layne Morsch was also on hand to present his research project. ICCHE’s 2018 Past Presidents’ Award for Outstanding Service was bestowed upon Vickie Cook in absentia.

    Despite an early departure, the participants evidenced an appreciation for new insights and for the opportunity to connect with one another.

    Provided by:

    Hilary Ward Schnadt, PhD
    ICCHE Communications Chair
    Associate Dean for Academic Services & Programs
    University Center of Lake County, Grayslake, IL

    Bonnie J. Covelli, EdD
    Chair – ACHE Great Lakes Region
    Assistant Professor/Chair
    University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL

  • March 09, 2018 4:16 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)
    As a consultant, I have the benefit of seeing many institutions’ successes and challenges – both in their marketing efforts, and in their recruitment as they search to attract and convert prospective students into enrolled students. As I consider how the trends have shifted over the past 12 or so months, the scary realization is that the strategies used to accomplish these tasks vary less among these institutions than the results of their efforts do.

    Let me state this again: The strategies institutions employ to attract and convert new students aren’t that different, and haven’t changed significantly over the past year. But the results among those institutions vary widely.

    I can share, however how several small, tactical adjustments in marketing and recruitment seem to have the most impact.

    1. Search: Students don’t search for you; they search for programs. Collegis Education reports prospective students are increasingly searching for preferred academic programs first, then the brand names of the colleges and universities offering the programs. 
    What does this mean for you? As you optimize both your web content and digital ads, the focus has moved toward the programs you offer. Your online ad and web content must follow suit. While the challenge to optimize and remain atop the search results continues to be great, those who don’t address the issue may fall dramatically in the results. If you aren’t among the top four to six search results, consider yourself ignored.

    Institutions with strong marketing agency partners tend to excel more in accomplishing this simply because those partners know how to customize and optimize the ads and web content necessary to get to the top.

    2. Web and Ad Content: Now that we know how students are searching, we need to think about content we deliver so that it is relevant to them. Companies like Hubspot do a lot of research into what types of content help convert prospects on a web page. And while the answer may seem simple enough to do, it is much more challenging than most consider it to be.
    Most of the content I review on program web pages is focused on the program and not the prospective student. If you want to improve the effectiveness of the content, be sure that it answers the prospective student’s questions.
    What are the top three initial questions a prospective student asks when they express interest in your programs? This is a simple but very important question to help you engage your prospective student. These questions and answers should drive your content.
    If your site doesn’t provide the answers to those questions, what information does it provide, and is that more important than the answers to the prospect’s questions?
    Remember if they can’t find what they are looking for on your site, they won’t necessarily search for it on your site – they may search for it on your competitor’s site.

    3. Recruitment: After more than three years of stressing this point, I now find more programs and institutional leaders listening. Recruitment is a focal point that can typically provide a more significant opportunity to impact enrollment.

    Most colleagues with whom I discuss this topic seem to understand the concept that not all prospects are equal, but few think of those differences among prospects, applying that to their recruitment strategies.
    For example, there is a dramatic difference in how a prospect converts based on the source through which she connected with you. A prospective student that clicked on an online ad to submit a Request For Information (RFI) form on your site will convert at a significantly lower rate than a prospective student that was referred by another student or alumna.

    The source type is just a single data point that can help you better engage prospects. Other points include where in your enrollment funnel, or enrollment process a prospective student is, or any special audience segment you particularly serve well, such as veterans.

    If you build your recruitment strategy with a significantly more detailed level of personalization, you will should find a deeper, more enriched level of engagement with prospects in return.

    If you read through each of these three points, you will find a common theme. That is the customization of content around each individual prospect.

    Over the past five years, I have become equally focused on technology as well as enrollment strategy. That’s not because technology drives the prospective student’s experience, but because it enables you and your team to customize the experience. It is your team, the people involved in making the connection and engaging with prospects that drives your enrollment.

    If you design your content and ads to engage prospects with the information they need and strategically build your recruitment around your team’s ability to engage and connect with prospects, you will have a more meaningful connection with your new students and a higher satisfaction with those responsible for making the connection.

    Mickey Baines
    Kennedy & Company

  • March 02, 2018 8:23 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Greetings, Colleagues!

    March has arrived, and I recently attended the ACHE Great Lakes/ICCHE Conference in Chicago, as well as the ACHE West Conference in Salt Lake City.  Both conferences offered wonderful opportunities for professional development, networking, recognition of achievement in our field and conversation on current trends in continuing education.

    Visiting Brigham Young University’s Salt Lake Center brought to mind the rich history of United States higher education, and the integral nature of our colleges and universities as ground zero of new ideas and new industry throughout our country. How did this unique, diverse landscape of over 7,000 post-secondary institutions in the United States come about? A majority of our college and universities, like Brigham Young University, were established in the 19th century by religious denominations. As denominations continued to emerge, grow, and thrive in the U.S., higher education ensured the indoctrination of good church people, an educated congregation, and pragmatically, a socio-economically stable base.  These denominational institutions grew into the top private U.S. universities, because the mission mattered. Both religious and laypeople contributed to the exponential growth of institutions of higher education from nine chartered colleges in the late 18th century to nine hundred at the close of the 19th century. Certainly, the sacrifice and a shared vision that contributed to the establishment of these universities attest to the higher purpose which they represent: a spiritual mission, as well as a charge to serve the betterment of society.

    In today’s continuing education, adult education, and professional studies divisions, the mission matters now more than ever. The charge to provide affordable, accessible training, certificate, and degree programs still rings true for our programs, as we continue to innovate to broaden geographic and demographic reach, strive to offer in-demand degrees, and ensure student success and satisfaction. Through tireless reinvention and dynamic delivery of high-quality programming on behalf of our colleges and universities, the mission matters on a daily basis. We make lives better through the democratization of opportunity - all made possible through higher education.

    I look forward to continuing the conversation in the coming weeks, with my visits to the Great Plains conference in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, as well as Mid-Atlantic in Annapolis and South in Austin.


    With Warmest Regards,

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

  • February 23, 2018 10:01 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Ms. Nicoletti's recognition at the 79th Annual ACHE Conference and Meeting by 2017 ACHE President Clare Roby

    Kathie Nicoletti
    University of Oklahoma

    2017 ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant Recipient

    ACHE's Memorial Staff Development Grant

    In 2015, ACHE lost two champions of continuing higher education just prior to the Annual Conference and Meeting in St. Louis: Charlee Lanis of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, and Don Devilbiss of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. But Charlee and Don were not just champions of the students they served. They were also champions of supporting their staff in obtaining key professional development needed to do the important work of serving adult and non-traditional students. In honor of the spirit and character of Charlee, Don, and other ACHE champions of continuing education who have passed away, the ACHE Board of Directors authorized establishment of the ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant to assist with funding participation of continuing education unit staff in professional development activities.

    Each year, ACHE will award one grant in an amount not to exceed $1500 for a continuing education staff member to attend an ACHE professional development event - to include the annual or a regional conference, leadership training, or other type of activity as seems appropriate to the needs of the selectee - to further their professional development growth and hone their skills. 

    The 2017 recipient was Kathie Nicoletti, a member of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies (SWCHRS) at the University of Oklahoma.  SWCHRS is host and coordinator of the National Conference for Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE®), and Kathie is the NCORE Logistics Coordinator.  Here is her story!

    Key Learnings and Applying New Knowledge

    Attending the 79th Annual ACHE Conference as a Memorial Staff Development scholarship recipient was a tremendous honor. My two consistent goals in life are to find ways to continue my education and to share what I have learned with others when appropriate. I was so fortunate to be able to attend, and I tried to make the most of the opportunity.

    I chose sessions of various topics during the conference to learn the latest trends, to open my mind to new ideas, and to take away bits of knowledge that are useful for myself and others. I took notes and have been sharing ideas at our staff meetings when it is my turn to facilitate. We are charged with providing an educational component in addition to run-of-the mill work updates; the content shared by presenters at ACHE has proven to be very effective in this area.

    For example, wisdom and experience tells us that communication is a vital factor as we strive for success in our daily work and as we tackle common projects. This means crafting and tailoring your words when sending email, making phone calls, and speaking in person. Learning how to identify communication styles amongst team members is an important factor when determining successful communication. I learned one should pay attention to the communication style of individuals and try to match that style as closely as possible in order to be effective. For instance, if a person is particularly concise with their words but you speak in a more elaborate manner, you should go against your normal style and use fewer words. Doing so will meet that person where they are most comfortable and they will receive the message better.

    Lifelong learning is a passion of mine and I enjoy sharing what I have learned with colleagues and friends. I believe we are only able to navigate through life by communicating with others and I was fortunate to learn this aspect of effective communication at ACHE. 

    Special thanks are in order for the generous support of ACHE members in establishing and maintaining the Memorial Staff Development Grant. Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing Charlee Lanis and Don Devilbiss, their commitment to helping staff acquire critical professional development is evident with this grant. While I learned many interesting concepts at the conference, I will also take with me Charlee and Don’s ideas to become a champion for those I work with to continue their own professional development.

    Make an Impact in 2018

    You can make an impact on the life of a continuing education professional’s career trajectory by giving to the 2018 ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant.
  • February 16, 2018 10:13 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    As your Newsletter Writer and Digital Content Manager, I have a unique perspective on trends in continuing higher education – your trends, that is – and I think your reading trends over the past year may even give me a little insight into where 2018 may take continuing higher education.

    I get the privilege of reading the daily news, blogs, and reviews of scholarly articles in higher education.  In doing so, I’ve noticed a few things about what seems to get “ink space” in the mainline higher education periodicals, and topics related to continuing higher education are definitely among them.  Some of the topics of interest to continuing higher education professionals are even evident in general news sources from around the world. 

    But what makes a news story (or more likely, a news headline) one that interests the ACHE membership?  As a mathematician, I’m fascinated by the analytics I get to see about how many clicks each link gets in the weekly ACHE News You Can Use, and as a researcher, I’m fascinated by the themes I’ve noticed emerging over time.  Let’s explore a few trends!

    The most clicked link in the last year, “The Twelve Most Innovative Colleges for Adult Learners,” hits two of the top topics during the same time frame: innovation and adult students.  A similarly popular headline, “4 Ways Universities Can Better Engage Nontraditional Students,” hits another couple of hot topics: engagement and nontraditional students.  But I noticed something else about these two very popular headlines, they both have lists (one identifies 12 colleges and the other identifies 4 methods).  Therefore, I’m going to share with you my lists.

    The 5 Most Clicked News Topics (of the last twelve months in ACHE News You Can Use newsletters):

    • Online learning
    • Alternative credentials
    • Adult students
    • Nontraditional students
    • Multiple (or alternative or nontraditional) pathways

    Other frequently clicked topics are evident in this word cloud I created based on my qualitative analysis of news themes.

    The Seven Most Clicked News Stories (of the last twelve months in ACHE News You Can Use newsletters):

    I’ve also noticed some recent changes in these trends.  For example, two of the most frequently clicked headlines recently relate to prior learning assessments/credit for prior learning, but several months ago, these types of stories were not grabbing the attention of many in our organization.

    My Predictions from Your Trends

    So what do I think I have learned by reviewing these analytics?

    • Well for one, in “True Confessions of Kerri White,” I’m hopeful the longer I’ve been in this role that this ongoing review has helped me get better at spotting the information that helps you do you work.
    • Secondly, I’ve learned that we are a diverse membership.  For every highly clicked story, there are other topics that are consistently clicked by a steady few.  So don’t worry, if the topics identified above aren’t the ones that get you excited about receiving your Tuesday Newsletter, I won’t stop including stories on those other topics (or geographic locations) that aren’t as popular but seem to be meeting someone’s needs.
    • Thirdly, the times are changing.  As more of you are getting interested in prior learning or microcredentialing, for example, you’re not alone.  These stories are becoming more popular in mainline higher education periodicals and blogs as well.  It’ll be really interesting to see when some of these emerging best practices enter general newsprint.
    • Finally, I think 2018 is going to include a lot of innovation of new approaches to attracting, supporting, retaining, and graduating adult and nontraditional students. 

    Several of the most popular stories over the last year have featured colleges, universities, and programs whose leaders and instructors are members of ACHE; therefore, I anticipate that ACHE members will lead the way in exploring new possibilities as well as scaling up promising practices in 2018. 

    I’ll continue to “study” your habits of reading while you continue to study the best ways to improve your practice in support of our students.  Thank you for the opportunity to learn from you!  

    Kerri K. White, Ed.D.
    ACHE Newsletter Writer and Digital Content Manager
    University of Oklahoma Outreach

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