Future-Ready Learning: Helping More Students Take on the Challenges of Today and Embrace the Promise of Tomorrow

The future is coming fast—faster than ever—and education has never been more necessary to open the way to personal, community, and national possibilities. However, the world of education is struggling to help more, and more diverse students get on, stay on, and succeed on their pathways through education. In this presentation, we’ll dive into explorations of five vital focus areas that will help us get ready to help our students get ready for the challenges of today and the promise of tomorrow. We’ll explore (1) embracing digital transformation in our teaching, learning, and student support infrastructures; (2) expanding the learning options for students; (3) doubling down on the importance of psycho-social factors and student agency; (4) making the most of advanced analytics platforms to focus data use on fostering a “culture of care and enrichment”; and (5) leveraging all of the above–together with strategic advocacy–to help significantly more striving and all-too-often struggling students gain access to and experience success on the pathway to possibility that is education.

Take Some Advice from Millions of Successful Striving Students

*Building on the student success innovation of the last two decades, and by pulling together the data footprints of more than 20 million students over the last decade, this presentation offers some advice for students—and those championing their cause. We’ll unpack the power of personal purpose and clear pathways. We’ll also explore how getting mindset right, getting connected, getting support all make a powerful difference—much more than you might think—in how students successfully navigate the pathway to possibility that is education. Finally, we’ll offer some suggestions for taking this work to the next level, challenging students to reach back and support those that follow on the path.

*this presentation can be geared for student audiences, educator audiences, or mixed

A Healthy Change in Education

In this presentation, we’ll explore the data-fueled changes in the world of healthcare over the last two decades — changes that have challenged long-held assumptions, inspired a renewed focus on the basics as well as innovation, and improved outcomes. We’ll then show how the world of education is following suit, using large data sets and advanced analytics to learn more about the predictors of challenge and success for striving students; leveraging communities of practice to act on these insights through outreach campaigns, student apps, and new pathway designs; and seeing promising results that are fueling even more innovation and inspiration.

The Golden Age of Learning: Advancing the Work in Progress

In education, we are often pummeled by the problems. Almost daily, we see distressing data on student learning, fixed mindsets, completion rates, equity gaps, affordability issues, lack of workforce readiness, and significant life-and-logistics issues–especially for first-generation and low-income students. But there is a strong case to be made that we are entering a golden age of learning. Not only is our country (and our world) making real progress on many fronts, important work is being done by educators, community leaders, and policy makers to make significant strides in how we teach, reach, and engage striving students. Indeed, more, and more diverse students than ever have access to more learning than ever before. In this conversation, we’ll present a framework for the optimistic among us to help continue to advance this work in progress by (1) embracing the inclusive education imperative; (2) thoughtfully leaning in to emerging technology, learning science, and innovative teaching-and-learning models; and (3) bringing a tough-minded approach to transforming our institutions and systems with deeper data, creative problem solving, and inclusive leadership to power our work to help students thrive in an increasingly “living-learning” world.

Next-Generation Leadership Seminar Series

The need for education is rising. So too are the internal and external expectations. From deeper student learning to increased employability to fiscal sustainability to improved access, success, and equity outcomes for all students, education leaders are feeling the pressure. As policy, practice, tools, and technology innovations aimed at achieving these outcomes continue to emerge, what is also on the rise is the need for institutional teams to hone their skills so they can lead their institutions forward. The Next-Generation Leadership Seminar Series brings leaders together to explore the issues, innovations, and insights of today and plan to build out systems and cultures able to catalyze positive change for tomorrow–in short, to help their institutions move from innovation to transformation. Your organization can either book a single topic area for a learning session, or we can put together a half-day or full-day package tailored to your interests/needs. Key topic areas include:

  • Leading Access, Success, and Equity Innovation in Education
    As student success, engagement, and experience efforts continue to serve as top priorities for education, keeping access and equity central to our work is critical. This session explores how education leaders are working toward balancing success, assess, and equity through integrated planning, policy, and practice. In addition, we’ll share models, practices, and resources that have increased student success outcomes, while promoting access, equity, and post-graduation outcomes. 
  • Leading Change in Learning: On-Ground, Online, Blended, VR, AR, Competency-Based, Learning Analytics and More
    Today’s ever-evolving learning modalities and learning analytics provide promising opportunities to reach a growing population of students that expect us to keep up with their distinct learning needs. Session participants explore these diverse opportunities to serve students through multiple modalities and discuss the reality that we need to have a much better understanding about how we deliver learning, for whom, and to what end. Moreover, we’ll wrestle with the yin and yang of the need for scale and the desire for personalization.  
  • Guided Pathways, Precision Engagement, and Improving the Student Experience
    There is a great deal of energy and urgency surrounding efforts to put in place or strengthen degree and career pathways. Numerous national, state, and local initiatives focus on providing students with a clearer understanding of their purpose, as well as their academic and/or career roadmap. The presenters discuss guided pathways models, as well as precision student engagement–outreach nudging in particular–to enable students to learn well, finish strong, and continue learning into their careers. Finally, we’ll bring design-thinking techniques to bear to explore how this comes together into an improved student experience. 
  • Sustainability Strategies: The Radical Importance of Institutional Finance, Advancement, and Fundraising to Helping Innovation and Impact Scale
    As funding for education continues to tighten, creative and alternative funding strategies are on the rise. To this end, leaders, now more than ever, must have stronger financial acumen, as well as skill in and understanding of fundraising and institutional advancement. During this session, we share successful financial strategies, practices, and innovations that support student success, access, and completion–and enhance institutional sustainability!
  • Bringing It All Together in Education Ecosystems: Hard Truths and Successful Strategies in Politics, Policy, and Change Management
    The effectiveness of an institution is often a direct reflection of how well its politics, policy, and change management are integrated within a regional and sometimes national education ecosystem that includes K-12, community colleges, universities, employers, and civic groups–together with internal constituencies and boards. The degree to which these critical and ever-changing dynamics work in support of each other is the difference between shared cultural and political understandings and alignment, and real challenge. The presenters explore and provide examples of strategies for “bringing it all together” in support of striving students. 

More, More, More: Taking On the Enrollment, Equity & Completion Challenges of Today and Tomorrow

Whether you’re wrestling with regional or national economic imperatives or the need for an engaged and informed citizenry, one thing is clear: to respond to today’s challenges and tomorrow’s possibilities, we need more, and more diverse students, being more successful on their learning journeys than ever before. Whether their paths take them to a technical certification or a Ph.D., these demographically, economically, and experientially diverse students deserve our best effort to help them learn well and finish strong. In this presentation, we’ll unpack this “more, more, more” challenge, and explore a range of impactful initiatives—e.g., policy, practice, technology-fueled and deeply personal—that are already moving the needle. Moreover, we’ll wrestle with the organizational and cultural issues that can either cripple or power this vital work.

The Art and Science of Student Success: Using Design Thinking and Data Science to Help Students Learn Well and Finish Strong

Using examples from other sectors that bring together the best of design thinking and data science to achieve their diverse missions—from business to athletics to healthcare—we’ll catalyze a conversation about how we leverage this approach in education. We’ll then dive into examples of these insight and action analytics efforts in education, showing how schools, colleges, and universities are innovating with everything from predictive modeling to early-warning systems to engaging apps for students, faculty, and advisers that help more students learn well and successfully navigate their educational journeys.

Challenging Students to Step Up: Readying Them to Learn, Earn, and Live Well

What do we need to expect of today’s students and the diverse education systems that serve them if we want education to continue to be a workforce, societal, and personal game changer? This presentation will share strategies and vision a future where we (1) challenge students to bring purpose, growth mindsets, and grit–what many call non-cognitive factors–to bear on their learning journeys and (2) put innovation and technology use in our institutions on purpose to create more learning-centered, data-rich, and high-value education pathways. If we do this work well, especially in partnership with regional education, business, and civic partners, students will be better prepared for a dynamic workforce and to live well in a fast-changing world.

Leading Toward Student Success

The education field is galvanizing around the challenge of helping more students learn well and finish strong. From strategic outreach and support for struggling students to providing greater challenge and richer learning to high-performing learners, the innovations abound and the call to action is getting louder. Moreover, there is a greater need for these efforts to impact at scale and to work in and between sectors—e.g., K-12, community college, four-year, graduate, and workforce.  This session will draw from the lessons learned from leaders in this work—government, foundation, administrative, faculty, student support, and student leaders—to explore practical strategies and powerful visions of what’s possible as we help more striving students succeed on their education pathways.

The Power of Practical Magic

This presentation summarizes the results of a comprehensive national study of teaching excellence award winners that resulted in the best-selling publication, Practical Magic: On the Front Lines of Teaching Excellence. From what inspired them to become teachers to what core strategies they use to teach content and reach students, this presentation provides faculty with a clear picture of what works in teaching and learning. Listening to the voices of these award-winning faculty promises to be motivational, inspirational, and useful!

Coffee Talks and Cornerstones: Waking Up to What’s Important

This session was drawn from hours of “coffee talks” with my father in his last year and a half, as he fought a battle with small-cell lung cancer. These Folgers-fueled conversations woke me up in more ways than one. When combined with my own experience in working with energizing, inspiring, and thoughtful people over the last 15 years, they crystallized the importance of key cornerstones in living, working, playing, and learning.

Energizing Observations on Leadership

This interactive workshop is best suited for smaller groups (i.e., 5 to 40 people).
This dialogue explores some energizing observations on leadership based on work with graduate, regional, national, and international leadership programs and consulting work with hundreds of colleges, corporations, and other agencies. We’ll take the time to talk about the whys and ways of leadership, and present strategies for fostering positive, dynamic, and high-performing organizations in times of great change.