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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Strategic Plan from Lumina Foundation reinforces EdTech’s Connected Campus vision

Lumina Foundation recently released a new strategic plan advocating for a new Postsecondary learning system.  Education Technology Associates is proud to have both personal and local connections with Lumina Foundation – and have cited their Goal2025 on our website as a model vision for higher education. 

With the recent press release, Lumina has reinforced the need for the transformative changes required to ensure most Americans achieve a satisfactory outcome in postsecondary education.  In summary, the underlying objective is to move from a system centered on time and institution – to a system, instead, that is centered on students.

The Typical College Student
The Lumina strategic plan correlates to many of the values of EdTech Associates and our student engagement & retention solution, Connected Campus, starting with the vision of the typical college student.   “Typical” usually invokes visions of the 18-22year-old undergraduate, living in dorms or Greek housing, hanging out in the student union and taking classes in lecture halls.  But, consider these statistics:
  • 38% of undergraduates today are older than 25
  • 58% of undergraduates work while attending college
  • 26% of undergraduates are already raising a family
  • Nearly half of first-year students live at – or below – poverty level
  • Only 13% of today’s students study or live full time at a flagship 4-year campus

At the same time, college is more accessible than ever before.  Between 1996-2010, enrollment statistics increased across ethnic segments:  Hispanic (240%); Black (72%); white students (11%).

At EdTech Associates, we reflect on the challenges and circumstances of today’s student and build our product to support all students, but particularly those who:
  • struggle to manage commitments and stay on track academically
  • feel isolated and disconnected from the school and fellow students
  • don’t always know where to turn to for the help or resources they need when it is most pressing. 

Together, these issues often make degree completion impossible.

Lumina’s plan identifies similar themes, pointing out that financial pressures and ‘competing obligations’ create a far more difficult situation for today’s student – leading to a 38% drop-out rate of first-year students.

Students.  Schools.  Our economy.  Our global competitiveness.   We are all impacted by insufficient educational attainment.
The employment prospects and earnings potential of today’s students is greatly impaired when postsecondary education is incomplete. 

Lumina’s strategic plan points out that 65% of all jobs by 2020 will require postsecondary education; and further quantifies the average lost lifetime earnings per individual as equating to $1M when a bachelor’s degree is not attained. 

Our learning institutions are diminished by increased student attrition as well.  Revenue, credibility, recruiting, and operating efficiency are all impacted.  The Educational Policy Institute conducted a 2013 study of nearly 1700 colleges and universities and found that student attrition at those schools resulted in a revenue loss of $16.5 billion.  “Each student who walks out the door takes his or her tuition, fees, and other revenue the school might have been able to receive”; resulting in additional pressures on our schools involving regulatory scrutiny, stakeholder concerns and oversight recommendations.  Today, we are seeing a sea-change in both legislation and accreditation, driven by a renewed focus on the value of education and the expectations of the veracity of those charged with delivering it. 

Our economy and global competitiveness also suffer whenever a less-educated workforce exists.  Consider this from the Education section of the Whitehouse.Gov website:
In higher education, the U.S. has been outpaced internationally. In 1990, the U.S. ranked first in the world in four-year degree attainment among 25-34 year olds; today, the U.S. ranks 12th. We also suffer from a college attainment gap, as high school graduates from the wealthiest families in our nation are almost certain to continue on to higher education, while just over half of our high school graduates in the poorest quarter of families attend college. And while more than half of college students graduate within six years, the completion rate for low-income students is around 25 percent.”


Shifting Focus

"If we want outcomes for today's students to change, we must change the way higher Ed is delivered to provide all students the support they need to thrive." - Lumina Foundation

The Lumina strategic plan encourages innovation and changes to the way in which we engage students outside of the traditional classroom.  EdTech Associates is reimagining the digital campus experience, which has historically been full of disparate, disconnected and distracting choices.  With Connected Campus, we unify the delivery of school and staff resources into on beautifully designed, easy to navigate product that combines the best features of engagement and advising products into a single application.

This begins with the Private Online Community.  Inspired by Slack, Connected Campus creates vibrant interactions between students, faculty, and staff centered on common interests – both academic and social – while creating the organic groundwork for peer-mentoring in a digital landscape.  Connected Campus further enhances the experience by intelligently promoting and delivering personalized content to the individual student when it is required.  

Lumina's work points out that "...students need actionable, useful information to make smart decisions about postsecondary education."  Connected Campus delivers actionable, useful information directly to the student through its Integrated Advising Services both proactively and when 'at risk' behavior is recognized. These intelligent nudges delivered by Connected Campus are also personalized to each student, configured to match the unique academic rules of each school, and served up to facilitate academic, administrative, and enrichment items.  In addition to 'nudges' being delivered directly through the Connected Campus platform, students can opt in for both text and email notifications.

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Lumina Foundation continues to be a thought leader on the future vision of education.  We applaud their commitment to increase the proportion of American’s with degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60% by 2025.

At EdTech Associates, we play a part in that vision by providing our Connected Campus solution to schools eager to positively impact student engagement and retention.

Through personalized student resources, a private online community and integrated advising services, Connected Campus is well-positioned to do just that.

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