“Investing in the Future: Sharing Responsibility for Higher Education Attainment” New Report

Final report of the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education national-com-fin-he-21st-centreleased
[download full report (PDF) ] [download Executive Summary only (PDF) ]

The Report is the work of the 14-member National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education led by two former governors and includes two state legislators, five university presidents and five private sector CEOs.

The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy and political history and strives to apply the lessons of history to the nation’s most pressing contemporary governance challenges.

The project director is Raymond Scheppach, Economic Fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs and Professor of Public Policy at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The commission produced ten white papers and a final report with recommendations. The Ten Reports Include:

“Crowded Out: The Outlook for State Higher Education Spending” (PDF) by Dan White and Sarah Crane, Moody’s Analytics

“Transformations Affecting Postsecondary Education” (PDF) by Jeffrey J. Selingo, author and columnist

“State Higher Education Finance: Best Practices” (PDF) by Martha Snyder, Brian Fox, and Cristen Moore, HCM Strategists

“Financing American Higher Education in the 21st Century: What Can the United States Learn From Other Countries?” (PDF) by D. Bruce Johnstone, professor, Higher and Comparative Education, University at Buffalo

“State Strategies for Leveraging Employer Investments in Postsecondary Education” (PDF) by Robert Sheets and Stephen Crawford, George Washington Institute of Public Policy, The George Washington University

“Understanding State and Local Higher Education Resources” (PDF) by Sandy Baum and Kim S. Rueben, Urban Institute

“New Directions in Private Financing” (PDF) by Andrew P. Kelly, American Enterprise Institute

“Higher Education: Social Impact Bonds and Income Share Agreements” (PDF) by Carlo Salerno, higher education economist and analyst

“State Support for Higher Education: How Changing the Distribution of Funds Could Improve College Completion Rates” (PDF) by Bridget Terry Long, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“The Federal Role in Financing 21st-Century Higher Education: Effectiveness, Issues, and Alternatives” (PDF) by Gabriel R. Serna, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Preview Released of the 2017 NMC Horizon Report

I am continuously surprised how far behind too many academics are with respect to digital learning environments, strategies, innovations, and influence on curriculum design, development, deployment toward the emergence of High Performance Learning Environments. This is not by any means everyone but the community is slow compared to the pace of change and the rapidity with which a new global digital learning environment is taking shape. The emerging global digital environment and learning resources, are changing all of the rules, driving new metrics, pushing innovation and pulling disciplines and curricula. It was with great anticipation we await the release of the 2017 NMC Horizon Report outlining 18 Trends, Challenges and Developments shaping Higher Education today. The preview is available now, put it on you radar and share it with your colleagues.

This edition is a collaboration between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). Learn more at http://www.nmc.org and http://www.educause.edu/el

While you are waiting for the 2017 full report to be released read the 2016 Report

nmc-horizion-report-2016The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition is a collaborative effort between the NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This 13th edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges, and detailed in succinct, non-technical, and unbiased presentations. Each has been tied to essential questions of relevance, policy, leadership, and practice. The three key sections of this report constitute a reference and straightforward technology-planning guide for educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists. It is our hope that this research will help to inform the choices that institutions are making about technology to improve, support, or extend teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher education across the globe. All of the topics were selected by an expert panel that represented a range of backgrounds and perspectives.”

About NMC

“The NMC was founded October 17, 1993 by a group of hardware manufacturers, software developers, and publishers who realized that the ultimate success of their multimedia-capable products depended upon their widespread acceptance by the higher education community in a way that had never been achieved before.”

About the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI)

“ELI is a community of higher education institutions and organizations committed to the advancement of learning through the innovative application of technology.”

Integrated Academic Strategic Enrollment Planning: Part 9

 

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Series Banner

In our practice, we encounter a lot of confusion and misguided understandings concerning what Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) and especially, what planning Academic SEM is about (see 50 Losing SEM Strategies). The laments around planning are numerous, “too complex, too big, too long term, make it simple, I need a quick fix…” blah, blah, blah. The cold hard truth is that Academic SEM is not simple and it is a primary reason why it is such an important emerging profession. Don’t take this the wrong way. There are plenty of ways to achieve short term bumps (see the Art and Science of the Bump) and bring in pockets of enrollments to backfill budgets. We all know those are an integral part of our tool box. Just focusing upon them, however,  out of context of the holistic spectrum of Academic SEM, is always a losing proposition. This post is a simple articulation of the scope of Academic SEM planning.ASEM Planning Layers

Academic Strategic Enrollment Planning and Management is an institution wide function involving virtually all divisions, units, colleges and key decision makers. This means a multiplicity of systems, functions and perspectives must align and work together in order to achieve optimum enrollment performance.

Four Institution-wide Integrated Layers

The various elements including systems, functions and perspectives must work together synergistically, to achieve optimum performance.  We array sixteen discrete elements in four layers, consisting of four elements each. Guidance and direction is provided within the Strategy Layer, the capacity to perform is detailed in the Capacity Layer, functions are defined and aligned in the Operations Layer, and the Systems Layer provides rules, content, metrics, automation, data management, etc. to make it all work.

The Strategy Layer

ASEM 1AThe strategy layer drives virtually all functions within an Academic SEM enterprise. The layer consists of at least four symbiotic integrated planning foci.  The Institutional Strategic Plan articulates the mission, vision, and major goals that define the future direction of the institution and establishes basic operational commitments. The Academic Master Plan  translates those commitments into a discrete academic portfolio and program functions. The (Strategic Enrollment Management) SEM Plan  seeks to align the Academic Master Plan through enrollment management efforts and initiatives with the dynamics of the global enrollment environment. The SEM Plan must inform both the Institutional Strategic Plan and the Academic Master Plan in iterative cycles in order to achieve alignment. Together, the Strategic, Academic and SEM plans function to develop a Strategic Position among peer institutions and competitors for resources, students, faculty and staff. Strategic Position is the result of academic strategy, marketing, and the net effect of multiple subsystems all coming together to create a sustainable competitive capability.

The Capacity Layer

ASEM 1The Capacity Layer involves at least four interrelated conditions that must work together to get any meaningful academic SEM initiative to work. The organization’s Human Capacity must possess the requisite knowledge and skills across critical functions in order to succeed. The work must be achievable in the work plans of the organizational entities and key individuals across the institution. An institution must have the Organizational Capacity including the systems, methods, tools, processes, as-well-as, the planning and management acumen to undertake and successfully complete complex, integrated, tasks that build to long term success. The Physical Capacity to manage enrollment loads, residency functions, and specific academic pedagogy requirements must be present. The institution must develop and sustain the Fiscal Capacity to develop the resources to support the enterprise.

The Operations Layer

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management is a comprehensive process designed to achieve and maintain the optimum recruitment, retention, and attainment of students where “optimum” is defined within the academic context and results in the strategic position of the institution in the learning marketplace.

Operational AcadeASEM 3mic SEM involves four primary lenses: Recruitment, Retention, Operations (back office, front facing, calendaring, scheduling etc.) and the Academic Portfolio.  Recruitment is defined as an active process an institution undertakes to influence a learner’s decision to attend. Retention is defined as the maintenance of a learner’s satisfactory academic progress toward her or his pedagogical objective until it is attained.

SEM Operations involves a number of cycles and their component processes. Cycles involve Curriculum Development and Revitalization, Recruitment Campaign Design and Development, Campaign Implementation, Yield Monitoring and Optimization, and Retention Management to name a few. Each cycle contains preconditions, policies, processes and procedures. They involve individuals from across academic and administrative units and result in predicted outputs all arranged in a time series workflow that is calendared  and resourced.

The Systems Layer

Both the Academic and Strategic Enrollment Management domains rely upon systems to provide basic functionality.  Any curriculum system facilitates learning content being conceptualized, designed, assessed, packaged, managed and delivered to a learner. All curricular systems have certain characteristics. For example:ASEM 4

All curricula reside within an institutional or organizational context. The context is defined by the mission of the organization in which it resides, the stakeholders who shape that mission, and their vision of where the institution is going and how it is to evolve.

All curricula result in outcomes, in other words, they have a tangible and often intangible impact upon those that engage it. The outcomes may be expected or unexpected. They may be intended or unintended. They may be measurable or difficult to ascertain.

All curricula have an economic reality that they exist within. It may be stable, adequate, inadequate, growing, shrinking, or in a state of flux. The economic realities shape a great deal of what the curriculum is and how it is delivered.

All curricula have an architecture either both well defined and articulated, or defacto, having evolved over time. By architecture we mean that all curricula have a defined structure that fits many parts together. Each identified part is defined and has a defined role to play in the overall function of the system.

The sum of these characteristics helps to define a curriculums’ (system) architecture. The curriculum architecture is framed, enabled and dependent upon the institution’s Information Systems; academic and administrative Policies, Processes and Procedures; the organizations Human Capital Development; and are informed and guided by the institution’s Performance Metrics. In Academic SEM Planning, we consider all of these elements and aspects of the academic and enrollment domains in the planning process. It makes Academic SEM Planning seem at first blush very complex. Upon reflection, it should be understood as a mega system of subsystems and key components that must fit and work together.

Overview of MGDA Curriculum Projects

MGDA works with curriculum across the entire spectrum of institutional types (see Carnegie Classifications) to enhance curriculum design, development, market value, learning experience, and competitiveness. A few examples are outlined below.

MGDA Curriculum Projects

In our engagements with clients, we use a variety of methods, tools, and models we have developed over the years to understand and enhance curriculum architecture, program of study design, course design, assessments, and learning experiences. The Seven Tier Curriculum Architecture Model (aka Proficiency Based Curriculum Architecture Model) depicted above is an example. Our blog contains numerous refrences to the tools and methods we us and we encourage you to explore the various blog posts on the subject of Academic SEM, Academic Strategy, and Strategic Planning.

 

Overview of MGDA Academic SEM Projects

MGDA ASEM Projects

One of the great quotes in contemporary American politics:

“It’s the Economy Stupid”
– James Carville (circa 1992 serving as chief campaign strategist) during the first Clinton campaign for President.

I often think back to that campaign for the Presidency of the United States and the impact those few words had on the outcome of the election. It brings to mind a nagging malaise among a number of client institutions who wish to energize their recruitment and retention success. I often parrot Carville’s quote, “It’s the curriculum, stupid,” when analyzing enrollment problems. An initial strategic enrollment management engagement often centers around harvesting any number of descriptive observations by client constituents: not enough students, too many students, too many here not enough there, students not the academic quality we want, the list continues with various emphasis and causal inference. Inevitably someone blames the economy, the web site, the enrollment management system, or admissions, or the president, or marketing. While any and all of these may be contributing to a problem the real heart of any educational, organizational success is the curriculum. This is not to blame faculty or anyone for that matter. It is about recognizing how to shape and promote curriculum for a competitive market.

Crisis has a way of blinding folks to clear thinking, realistic strategy development, focused tactics, and forced implementation on yield. One of the tactics that are very effective in the short term is what we call the ‘Bump Strategy.’ A bump is a short term windfall in enrollment that is based upon specific institutional characteristics. The Bump Strategy goes like this. An opportunity is discovered and developed to achieve a one time elevation in enrollment. These can be pockets of 40, 60, 100, even as high as 250 enrollments that can usually be achieved over three years or less. Looking at a longitudinal analysis they appear as a bump in enrollments if more serious long term strategies are not developed in parallel. We often deploy a bump strategy when dealing with an enrollment crisis. When engineering a bump we look for under recognized opportunity, incomplete or incomprehensible academic narrative, underestimated market/program of study value, or precious pockets of unrecognized market opportunity.

Bump strategies are a two edged sword. They do yield a temporary bump in enrollment. Because they are pocket opportunities, they cannot sustain a growth trajectory although they often can sustain a higher enrollment plateau. They have one lethal unintended outcome. They take the pressure off and derail investment in new long range strategy and allow reversion to the ‘old ways.’ If the money from the bump is wasted then meaningful growth falters. No institution has an unlimited number of bump opportunities and once they are used they are gone (they do not yield forever). Each bump is unique to the institution and is dependent upon finding the right enrollment alchemy using indigenous curricular elements to exploit known enrollment dynamics.

The best time to tune your Academic Strategic Enrollment Management strategies is when you are not in crisis. That is when a focus on your Strategic Position in the Global Learning Marketplace can yield the best outcome. When not in crisis is the time to carefully construct a long term academic enrollment management program designed to build forward momentum over multiple future cycles to achieve a sustainable enrollment profile.

Our projects are as varied as the extensive client base we serve. They include initiatives to significantly increase perceived value of General Education, the redesign of the first year experience, the reconceptualization of the general education model around engagement, integrating partner marketing into program design, exploiting pocket markets, aligning curricular narrative with market dynamics, differentiating curriculum among crowded competitive environments, curriculum narrative to entice early decision, and the list goes on.

To explore opportunities to collaborate use our Academic/Enrollment Strategy Clinic Offer.

Compliance as a University Wide (Enterprise) Issue

220x146-Regulation-Task-Force-ReportThe compliance problem is exacerbated by the sheer volume of mandates—approximately 2,000 pages of text—and the reality that the Department of Education issues official guidance to amend or clarify its rules at a rate of more than one document per work day. As a result, colleges and universities find themselves enmeshed in a jungle of red tape, facing rules that are often confusing and difficult to comply with. They must allocate resources to compliance that would be better applied to student education, safety, and innovation in instructional delivery. Clearly, a better approach is needed. Source: Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities

Every higher education administrator needs an introduction to compliance as an Enterprise (Institution Wide) Issue. Beware, entering the maze of rules, regulations, and requirements, is not for the faint of heart. It is complex, convoluted and confusing, and difficult to reconcile from the internal perspective of academic management as the lens most administrators rely upon. I recommend beginning with the 144 page report Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities cited in the opening quote and published by the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education (February 2015). Specifically, focus upon Appendix I, the Regulations Matrix (pages 43-57). This first matrix introduces the issues within a recognizable and approachable context of the issues related to the challenge of compliance as faced by front line administrators and institutional governance.

cover_trusteesdhip_julaug_13_0I recommend you next turn to the Board’s Role in the Regulatory Era available from AGB (Association of Governing Boards). If you are a member of a governing board then this is a must read. The succinct article is valuable to all administrators and those in academic governance as a means of building a cohesive awareness, understanding the scope and magnitude of the influence of a compliance culture on managing an institution. AGB just released a new publication Top 10 Campus Legal Issues for Boards that zeroes in on a finite list of legal risks that help campus citizens to understand that the issues of compliance may also expose the institution to legal and financial risks. AGB’s short list of issues includes:

  1. Sexual Violence
  2. Risky Student Behavior
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Online Learning
  5. Affirmative Action In Admissions and Financial Aid
  6. Workplace Issues
  7. Statutory and Regulatory Compliance Issues
  8. Federal Cost Accounting and Effort Reporting
  9. Construction and Deferred Maintenance
  10. Transparency, Ethical Conduct, and Behavior

If you have specific compliance concerns, findings, or wish to dig deeper then I recommend turning to the Higher Education Compliance Alliance (HECA) Compliance Matrix which provides a comprehensive list of key federal laws and regulations governing colleges and universities. It includes a brief summary of each law, applicable reporting deadlines, and links to additional resources.

If you wish to explore a career in compliance then I recommend the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA).

If you have other resources you recommend please feel free to append them to this post.

 

 

 

Future Proofing Your Strategic Plan, January 2016

LogoInsitute-Wide

 

January 20-22, 2016, Claremont California

The design of the Institute for Future Proofing Your Strategic Plan, 2016 recognizes that strategic plans developed under a 20th century paradigm and context do not adequately prepare institutions for the realities of the emerging global digital learning ecosystem.

Eventbrite - Institute for Academic Strategic Enrollment Management and Sustainability

There is mounting evidence that the condition of higher education grows more ominous. (Higher Education: Apocalypse Now?) One thing has become crystal clear — no more business or planning as usual. The Institute focuses upon the process of Future Proofing a Strategic Plan, detailing 10 vital planning initiatives required to prepare for the future to achieve fiscal and enrollment sustainability.

  1. Future Proof your Strategic Plan (The Importance of a Prototype and how to do one quickly)
  2. Revitalize the Academic Master Plan
  3. Engage Academic SEM Integrated Planning
  4. Develop and Implement Academic Program SEM Initiatives
  5. Revitalize CORE/GE Curriculum
  6. Refocus and enhance Strategic Position Strategies
  7. Optimize Resources
  8. Develop Capacity
  9. Solidify an Institutional Effectiveness System to Inculcate an Integrated IE Quality Culture
  10. Accelerate action, make room for the work

Academic leaders must plan to meet the challenges and opportunities of higher education as it is carried into the future by the paradigm shift to a global digital learning ecosystem. Without a Strategic Plan and Master Academic Plan that are aligned with future realities, institutions are powerless to forging near, mid, and long term strategies for enrollment and fiscal health of colleges, schools and programs.

Who Should Attend

The Institute is designed for institutional and academic leaders, including board members, presidents, provosts, vice presidents, deans, department chairs, faculty leaders, academic governance officers, interested faculty, accreditation team members, institutional planners, and institutional effectiveness professionals.

Session Summaries

  • Session I: Understanding the emerging global digital learning ecosystem
    The first session opens with building an understanding of the emergence of the digital learning ecosystem and the changes to the rules in education and learning it brings. A survey of the overall changes, the rules and sectors they disrupt and the emerging principles that govern the future will be covered.
  • Session II: Future Proofing Your Strategic Plan
    We begin with the importance of developing a Prototype Strategic Plan as a means of shifting dialog to  framing the future rather than focusing upon the discomfort of change or the disruptions of current or past dynamics. Then we will provide a method to do one quickly.
  • Session III: Academic Master Plan for the New Learning Paradigm
    This session focuses upon the Academic Master Plan (AMP) or as some like to call it a Master Academic Plan (MAP). The AMP is critical to the future because it establishes all of the basic elements of the curriculum’s architecture. It is in the Academic Master Plan where the foundations for the future are established. This session assesses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats emanating from the degree of alignment between architecture, program design, course options, assessment strategies, and curriculum-learner optimization pathways. Particular attention is paid to creating strategic advantage through curriculum architecture revitalization.
  • Session IV: Establishing and Optimization Curricular Value for Market Advantage
    Examines the principles of sustainability and applies them to various curricular scenarios (such as revitalization of the core or general education curriculum, establishing community of practice based programs of study…). Focuses on innovating from where you are with what you have. Emphasis is identifying opportunities and focused implementation.
  • Session V: Understanding Academic and Enrollment Strategies Tactics and Capacities
    Examines basic principles of effective enrollment management, the fit and friction points encountered in academic SEM collaboration. Introduces the tyranny or the synergy of the link, or lack thereof, between academic and SEM calendars and cycles.
  • Session VI: The Academic SEM Plan
    Evaluates and constructs the principles of integrating the Academic Master Plan with the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan.
  • Session VII: Securing a Strategic Position in the Global Learning Marketplace
    This session focuses upon the assessment of strategic position as informed through six lenses.
  • Session VIII: Optimizing Performance and Institutional Effectiveness
    Examines basic principles of establishing a comprehensive and cohesive system for institutional effectiveness. Identifying and defining capacity requirements and managing workflows and cycles to maximize fiscal and enrollment health.

Eventbrite - Institute for Academic Strategic Enrollment Management and Sustainability

Join us at one or more of our Institutes to more deeply explore critical issues facing higher education and strategies to address them.

Academic SEM Posters Now Available

Academic SEM Funnel [MGDA01]

SEM-Poster-512

Academic SEM Cycles [MGDA02]

SEM-Cycle-Poster-512

images[3]

 

 

Understanding Accumulated Student Debt, Rising Tuition, Public Policy

ASDThe impact of accumulated debt on federal financial aid policy/funding, state financing of higher education, institutional enrollment strategies, and student college going decisions is complex and difficult to unravel. The New York Federal Reserve Bank has released a staff report contributing to the understanding of the complex intertwined dynamics that deserves a thorough read and discussion at the institutional strategy level. I have some issues with causal inference and conclusions but the issue is of paramount importance. There are significant implications and ramifications to their findings. I have selected a couple of resources that help focus the dialog on strategic issues.

Consider the finding “We find that institutions more exposed to changes in the subsidized federal loan program increased their tuition disproportionately around these policy changes, with a sizable pass-through effect on tuition of about 65 percent.”

  • What does this actually mean? Does it infer that institutions’ adjusted tuition is based upon aid formulas rather than true labor and compliance costs? How does this play across sectors, types, regions and states? What are the political ramifications of this finding and what will happen in the hands of politicians in a national election cycle?

Consider the data published in the Chronicle of Higher Education that indicates “just 20 universities are responsible for a huge share of graduate-student debt, amounting to more than $6.5 billion in a single year (2013-14).” and goes onto show that Walden University ranked first with $756,336,024 in graduate student debt. (Walden U. Responds to Report on Graduate-Student Debt)

  • Billions spread over 20 institutions gets everyone’s attention. Is this an expose on exploitive strategy or does the data need to be contextualized? Contextualizing the data is something that needs to be done more adroitly by the higher education community. Again what are the implications and political fall out?

Consider the intensifying focus on the earnings to accumulated debt ratios being examined at the programmatic level as examined in the Brookings study included below.

  • The emergence of the relationship between debt, funding and earnings will intensify. The rate of return and schedule of payback, the value to society not just the individual will be asked again and again, and the focus on outcomes will become more intense and more heated.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank in their July 2015 Staff Report examines the

Credit Supply and the Rise in College Tuition: Evidence from the Expansion in Federal Student Aid Programs

 When students fund their education through loans, changes in student borrowing and tuition are interlinked. Higher tuition costs raise loan demand, but loan supply also affects equilibrium tuition costs—for example, by relaxing students’ funding constraints. To resolve this simultaneity problem, we exploit detailed student-level financial data and changes in federal student aid programs to identify the impact of increased student loan funding on tuition. We find that institutions more exposed to changes in the subsidized federal loan program increased their tuition disproportionately around these policy changes, with a sizable pass-through effect on tuition of about 65 percent. We also find that Pell Grant aid and the unsubsidized federal loan program have pass-through effects on tuition, although these are economically and statistically not as strong. The subsidized loan effect on tuition is most pronounced for expensive, private institutions that are somewhat, but not among the most, selective.

Huffington Post published the Average Student Debt Burden In Each State

Published data from the Department of Education, College Board, and The Institute for College Access & Success bringing student debt burden to the state level.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Reported “As Graduate-Student Debt Booms, Just a Few Colleges Are Largely Responsible

Published data focused upon graduate student debt burden as a separate issue. According to their table just 20 universities are responsible for a huge share of graduate-student debt, amounting to more than $6.5 billion in a single year (2013-14). Walden University ranked first with $756,336,024 in graduate student debt.

Brookings Reported in November 2014 an analysis of Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment

Brookings published an analysis of accumulated debt ratios for students enrolled in specific program types. The report also provides an interactive feature, Undergraduate Student Loan Calculator, to calculate the share of earnings necessary to service traditional loan repayment for 80 majors.

In closing

The relationships between accumulated student debt, graduates earning potential,  the earning to payback cycle alignment, and managing tuition price and discounting ratios, form a major issue stream that weighs heavily on the future of higher education. Institutions who understand this will focus on embedding as much value in their curricula as can be achieved. Then they will create a value narrative to guide implementation and align their institutional effectiveness model to close the loop and provide evidence of value. The context involved in achieving a higher value narrative requires we recognize the paradigm shift now underway. To align with the paradigm shift we must examine ways to future proof strategies within the broader context of how higher education is evolving.

Join us at one or more of our Institutes to more deeply explore critical issues facing higher education and strategies to address them.

Boosting Program Enrollments: Curriculum Development & Revitalization Workshop, October 2015

LogoInsitute-Wide

 

October 19-21, 2015, Claremont California

“The first and most important step in fixing sagging program enrollments.”

The Academic SEM Curriculum Development & Revitalization Workshop  (view agenda) recognizes that enrollment performance and the quality of the curriculum can both be significantly enhanced when curriculum is prepared, aligned, reengineered, or tweaked with enrollment markets in mind. The workshop articulates methods to recalibrate fundamental curriculum design and content to better align with the enrollment marketplace. The workshop is designed to help academics and enrollment managers to better position curriculum and programs of study in the complex global learning marketplace and improving enrollment performance.

Eventbrite - Academic SEM: Curriculum Development & Revitalization Workshop 2015

Session Summaries

  • Session I: Introduction to Principles of Academic SEM
    Reviews the foundational tenets of Academic SEM. Introduces strategic variables and options of competitive academic program strategies.
  • Session II: Academic Strategies, Tactics and Capacities 
    Introduces a structured approach to designing, developing and implementing academic strategies and developing new capacities required to meet the challenges of the learning age powered by a global digital learning ecosystem.
  • Session III: Curriculum Architecture and Specifications 
    Reviews the basics of curriculum architecture and assesses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats emanating from the degree of alignment between architecture, program design, course options, assessment strategies, and curriculum-learner optimization pathways.
  • Session IV: Integrating the 5 Workflows of Academic SEM
    Reviews the basics of integrating curriculum and enrollment strategies by focusing upon synchronizing the five fundamental workflows of Academic Strategic Enrollment Management.
  • Session V: Curriculum Options and Optimization
    Examines the principles of sustainability and applies them to various curricular scenarios. Focuses on innovating from where you are with what you have.
  • Session VI: Program of Study Strategies
    Programs of Study are the lifeblood of academic institutions. The fundamentals of effective program design, emergent models and methods of embedding marketable value into a program of study are examined and evaluated.
  • Session VII: Curriculum Prototyping and Modeling I
    Examines basic principles of effective academic management and the fit and friction points encountered in academic collaboration, strategy development and implementation. Developing synergy between academic missions, visions, perspectives, calendars and workflow cycles.
  • Session VIII: Curriculum Prototyping and Modeling II
    Examines basic principles of effective academic management and the fit and friction points encountered in academic collaboration, strategy development and implementation. Developing synergy between academic missions, visions, perspectives, calendars and workflow cycles.

Developing Academic SEM Strategies

Academic Strategy Illustrated

The Five Workflows of Academic Strategic Enrollment Management

SEM-Cycle-Poster-512

What participants say about our Institutes.

I just completed a 3 day Institute for Academic Strategic Enrollment Management and Sustainability (December 2014) with Michael and it was tremendously helpful. Not only did my enrollment VP and I gain a better understanding of the impact that the curriculum has on enrollment’s ability to recruit students but we learned many very practical examples of what works and what doesn’t in designing curriculum and attracting students. I think the Program of Study plan is very helpful in helping faculty design narratives that enrollment can use to sell programs. I would recommend Michael and his workshops to anyone who is open-minded enough to believe that higher ed needs to change and we have to get in front of that change if we are to survive and thrive! – Christine Pharr, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs, College of Saint Mary, Omaha, NE

 

I had the opportunity to attend Michael’s first institute of this series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management and Sustainability. As a former Chief Academic Officer who thought she had a pretty reasonable grasp of enrollment management strategies and their critical integration with academic affairs planning – I was astonished about how much I learned not just from MGD in his presentations and discussions, but from those enrollment management leaders in attendance . The institute served to crystallize in just 2 days an approach, a way of thinking and resources that all provide a pathway for the work we need to do for our own institutions. Based upon the postings already offered to us on https://mgdolence.com/, this next institute appears to be a very logical next step – especially for academic leadership – to fully grasp what is involved in a academic planning for meeting our enrollment challenges in this new learning age. – Margaret K. McLaughlin, Ph.D., Carlow University, Pittsburgh, PA

 

As a newly appointed Academic Vice-President for an institution of higher education, I enrolled in the Academic Strategies and Master Academic Planning Institute hoping to obtain the necessary elements to begin my new role with a clear understanding of my role. Given the current trends in education and in society in general, the Institute delivered clear guidance and exposure to excellent resources for my toolbox. However, what was most valuable for me was the outstanding balance between strategic vision and nuts-and-bolts advise that Dr. Dolence provided. It was an opportunity to obtain information and inspiration. I would certainly recommend this Institute to anyone facing the challenge of leading a higher education institution in today’s learner-centered and dynamic environment. – Tricia Penniecook, MD, MPH

Eventbrite - Academic SEM: Curriculum Development & Revitalization Workshop 2015

Future Proofing Your Strategic Plan (10 urgent initiatives that should not be delayed)

There is mounting evidence that the condition of higher education grows more ominous. (Higher Education: Apocalypse Now?) One thing has become crystal clear — no more business or planning as usual. (I considered titling this post “Sins of Omission: 10 urgent things you should do now, but probably will delay, and deeply regret it.”)

Strategic plans developed under a 20th century paradigm and context do not adequately prepare institutions for the realities of the emerging global digital learning ecosystem. As competition for enrollment increases, yield decreases, budgets tighten, and the outlook for higher education grows more perilous.

Higher Education generally appears to be languishing in a static, moribund routine, perpetuating the past while a few focus upon inventing the future. The current fiscal/enrollment malaise is not just a cyclical downturn in students and funding driven by demographics and economic bad times (although these are certainly the case), but rather a permanent shift to learning in a new paradigm.

Excuses and approaches bounce back and fourth between needing quick easy to implement ideas to stimulate enrollment, to firing people for not achieving enrollment, to being too busy to engineer a solid strategy and persist in its implementation, to just being too busy to do anything different. Failing approaches are generally myopic, underfunded, launched too late, or just ill conceived opinions of something that someone in authority believes should work.

While we need not fly into oblivion on autopilot, I fear some will, based upon all too often refrains such as: “we can’t do that-politics-you know,” “show me a strategy guaranteed to work and I am all in,” “that is too complex, I need simple solutions that require no time, no budget, and no talent,” “we have decided to wait until the future is clearer so we are not on the bleeding edge.” For more see 50 Losing SEM Strategies. One always has the option of just sitting by and waiting for the tide of the future to wash them away. If that is not the chosen option, then we must move beyond the debilitating, nagging, internal dialog resisting the forces that are shaping the future and get on with it.

Here are ten critical initiatives required to prepare for the future and acheive fiscal and enrollment sustainability.

  1. Future Proof your Strategic Plan
  2. Revitalize the Academic Master Plan
  3. Engage Academic SEM Integrated Planning
  4. Develop and Implement Academic Program SEM Initiatives
  5. Revitalize CORE/GE Curriculum
  6. Refocus and enhance Strategic Position Strategies
  7. Optimize Resources
  8. Develop Capacity
  9. Solidify an Institutional Effectiveness System to Inculcate an Integrated IE Quality Culture
  10. Accelerate action, make room for the work

Let’s examine each of these in a little more detail.

Future Proofing your Strategic Plan

Many strategic plans fulfill the need for a plan but focus on a paradigm that is rapidly being overtaken by a digital reality. Such a strategic plan, built upon the old paradigm, can completely miss the entire point of having one. A strategic plan is an opportunity to visualize the future of the academic enterprise and set it on a course toward what will be. For this reason, we suggest a curriculum-centered strategic plan designed to inculcate a learner-centered curriculum. Looking to the future requires that a plan set a strategic course that recognizes and optimizes the paradigm shift to a global digital learning ecosystem. The new paradigm connects the curriculum to the learner rather than requiring the learner to come to the curriculum. This fundamental change in strategic relationships establishes new competitive rules, alters the scale of enrollments achievable in a course or program, eliminates geographic boundaries, and creates global markets. A strategic plan must deal with increased competition for students and resources, and the pressure to reduce the cost of a credential. It must advance strategies for institutional effectiveness as well as reference market awareness and alignment. These are huge challenges made more complex by campus politics and distracting calls to return to the last millennium and the ‘rules’ of that playing field. The plain fact is that higher education has never received adequate public funding and the shift in burden has been steadily to the learner. Some call that approach the house that student debt built, racking up a whopping $1.2 Trillion in students loans. So above all, a future proofed strategic plan must chart a course toward sustainability.  The first step is to frame a prototype Learning Age Strategic Plan  that helps visualize the pathway forward and articulate the various options.

One option is to develop a rapid prototype strategic plan designed specifically for the 21st century as a preparatory and learning step to developing your strategic plan. The following graphic depicts a development model for constructing a prototype, much of which will form the strategic plan that follows.

Figure 1: A Model Prototype Strategic Plan

Prototype 3

Recalibration of an academic culture of the magnitude required to align with the emerging global digital learning ecosystem, takes time. Time at this stage is in short supply and demands are growing more intense. A rapid prototype provides a means to rapidly run through scenarios that help remove the scariness from the future and get a sketch of what a future focused strategic plan looks like. Further, multiple scenarios can generate more than one prototype so various entities can follow their logic and ideas to a complete concept articulated in their prototype. A Prototype is just that and not a final plan so participants focus upon the scenario and not politics first.  The result can be one or several competing prototypes that articulate different approaches and interpretations of the forces through an institutional lens. The graphic above depicts an approach we developed to illicit a framed prototype providing more detail of an approach. A great example of a pre strategic planning preparatory and learning process is captured in the Future of MIT report. Another great resource is The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) 21st Century Commission’s report, Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future. As you examine these resources be aware the entire process is anchored in Mission and Vision.

Revitalizing the Academic Master Plan (AMP)

In order to future proof a strategic plan, serious attention must be given to academic strategies and that means the Academic Master Plan or as some prefer the Master Academic Plan.  A revitalized AMP examines the scope of the curriculum, as well as program of study design models and emerging options for curriculum. The AMP should articulate a forward looking curriculum architecture that enables the institution to embrace the emerging  global digital learning ecosystem, such as the seven tier proficiency based model. A future focused planning process assesses different curricula generas such as, scholar practitioner, community of practice, proficiency/competency/outcomes based, optimized core/GE, and all the permutations they engender. The AMP must provide meaningful assurance through curriculum, learning, and learner assessments. The assessment processes and the use of what is learned from them must be embedded in both the curriculum review/revision process and learner engagement strategies. Above all, the AMP must be developed as a holistic approach to the new learning paradigm. This means tempering politics with reason and a restoration of civility as academic options and approaches are identified, reviewed, discussed, adopted or rejected, adapted and implemented. In the end, it is the curriculum that determines sustainability.

Academic Strategy Illustrated

Engaging in Academic SEM Integrated Planning

Even the best Academic Master Plan will under yield if the jagged rift between Academic Culture and Strategic Enrollment Management is not eliminated and a vibrant Academic SEM culture nurtured. That means that a quality curriculum must be informed by market realities and aligned with the tenets of academic excellence, public good and learner needs. Academic quality and demonstrable value are essential. The concept of perceived and real value must be understood, examined, and developed as a tool of recruitment and retention. New programmatic design models must be embraced as they emerge in a new paradigm. Academic programs and initiatives must connect inspirationally to the prospect’s decisions and choices. Deeper more connected programmatic narratives must emerge to undergird and advance institutional strategic position. In the process, the concept of geographic reach and service area must be reexamined and interpreted through a new, more global academic lens. Academics and SEM professionals must explore and optimize the social media tools and methods to engage potential enrollees. Academic SEM is, in fact, an approach that nurtures a community of scholars and practitioners engaged in extending institutional reach, strategic position and enrollment health. Understanding the complex cycles, interdependent timelines, integrated operational realities and managing them is an essential element of future proofing a strategic plan.

Figure 2: Academic SEM Cycles and Processes

SEMCycle-Steps

Developing and Implementing Academic Program SEM Initiatives

Academic SEM initiatives are fed by two factors, academic program development/revitalization, and strategic positioning strategies. Planning is essential but it is fruitless without tangible Academic SEM initiatives. These two sometimes dispirit communities come together most tangibly in a recruitment campaign (paradoxically often the most under designed aspect of a recruitment program). This means that campaigns must translate academic value into terms that can be understood, that are inspirational, that connect to campus visits, and that illustrate student engagement and reveal outcomes. Campaigns must provoke interest, capture imagination, open a dialog, intrigue the viewer and engage the curious. New program launches are not just an academic triumph but a significant SEM campaign challenge that requires expert timing, careful preplanning, and meticulous attention to detail. Existing programs must also be positioned and that does not mean just marketing and promotion it means the systematic development of competitive narrative that compels interest and drives enrollment. Every aspect of the curriculum and academic life must be examined and considered for use in achieving a competitive position in the enrollment marketplace.

Revitalizing CORE/GE Curriculum

Virtually every institution must take a critical look at their core/GE curriculum strategy. Given that it consumes 30% to 40% of the courses in an undergraduate program of study and accounts for 30% to 40% of the cost of an undergraduate credential, it must deliver value that is understood by students and their families. Contention is needless since the evidence is strong of the long term value but few tell the story well and even fewer optimize the design of their Core/GE for market value. Regardless of approach, core curriculum or distribution requirements, the basic tenets naturally align with core employability skills.  One only need review What Work Requires of Schools (aka the SCAN Skills Report) commissioned by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to see the relationship between employability outcomes and those of foundational programs such as Core/GE curricula, co-curricular and first year experience programs. Design must enhance a narrative about the curriculum’s value. The narrative must describe and explain the value and the curriculum must deliver the outcomes required.

Refocusing and enhancing Strategic Position Strategies

Strategic Position is defined as the sum of the competitive characteristics an institution or program possesses when compared to other institutions or programs in the global learning ecosystem or specific market segments. The concept comprises both marketing and branding and extends the efforts of competitiveness to a holistic, proactive, cohesive process defining, developing and implementing a strategy of sustainability. The roots of strategic positioning lie in the academic master plan and the academic culture and curriculum it defines, builds and sustains. The most effective enrollment management strategies are designed to build and sustain strategic market position. The process begins with institutional strategy emanating from mission and vision.

Strategic position is the term we use to sum the competitive position an academic entity has in a defined learning market. Strategic positioning requires a deep understanding of the emerging competitive market dynamics and institutional strengths and weaknesses with respect to attracting, enrolling, and retaining students. Strategic position is not branding, marketing, advertising or public relations, although all of these are tools used to help develop and sustain a strategic position.  The impact of strategic positioning strategies are the result of research, analysis, campaign design and implementation efforts along six interrelated dimensions. Enhancing strategic position requires assessing where an institution is with respect to what prospective students are looking for in an educational opportunity and what other providers in its competitive sphere offer. The assessment of strategic position is informed through at least six lenses.

  • The demographics lens examines enrollment strategy and performance against geographic scope, reach and yield. Scope assesses and defines target populations, reach details tactics to engage target populations and yield measures enrollment performance.
  • The learning outcomes lens examines the metrics and perceptions of the benefit and value added through the learning experience.
  • The academic programs lens examines the scope and focus of the academic program mix requiring an evaluation of saturation and opportunity against market dynamics.
  • The research and scholarship lens examines the comparative scholarly performance of the institution against competitors.
  • The employment domains and discipline spheres lens examine the requirements of employers, contemporary realities in academic communities and the performance and success of alums.
  • The community of practice lens examines academic strategies tied to emerging trans-disciplinary communities of practice that require a collaborative academic background to join.

Figure 3: Six Dimensions of Strategic Position

 

Strategic Position Diagram

Strategic Position can be defined as the sum of the competitive characteristics an institution or program possesses when compared to other institutions or programs in the global learning sphere or its specific market segments.

Optimizing Resources

Optimizing resources means aligning the allocation of time, money, and human capital with the evolving challenges facing higher education. It means building capacity and managing strategic effort, and the creative development  of resources to support the initiatives necessary to achieve the desired strategic position. Before one can optimize a resource one must first have it. This means the first step in optimizing requires assessing one’s strategic assets against future needs and challenges. The guiding principle in the process is found in the prototype strategic plan strategy (above) ‘Make Everything Count,’ toward the ultimate goal of sustainability. Inevitably this means making tradeoffs and it is here that many efforts fail. Success in optimizing resources means developing a keen sense of keeping things on the critical path forward and not letting artifact processes of the status quo derail the move forward.

Developing Capacity

Capacity is defined by the resources available that align with and support the initiatives necessary to achieve the desired strategic position. Capacity includes knowledge, skills, systems, methods, organizational strengths, and time. Time means room in appropriate work plans, schedules and projects. Knowledge, skills and methods means we must invest in people and recognize that apprenticing in the old paradigm and acculturating to old memes is insufficient to meet the demands of the future.  For example, after helping a client get budget approval for a social networking person we were disappointed to learn a road warrior had been hired instead crippling the social networking strategy.

Developing capacity also means getting the most out of institutional systems. We have experienced decades of implementing sub optimized systems. Choosing to install or engage only the minimum required to get a system to work, leaving till later the realization of a system’s true potential. We have seen this sub optimized approach in every institution we have evaluated.  Well, it’s later, and time to bite the bullet and drive toward true systems optimization. It is time to demand full systems implementation and full utilization of systems performance. Time to rectify bad decisions of the past and get on with getting the most out of the institution’s systems infrastructure. This does not mean just start implementing old or antiquated systems that were never optimized. It means take a fresh look, determine where optimization contributes to the critical path toward sustainability and move forward.

Solidify an Institutional Effectiveness System to Inculcate an Integrated IE Quality Culture

Yes, a system and it must integrate with the management culture and operations, planning, and decision making. Too often these elements are ad-hoc and not connected. A checklist of words are evaluated to determine we have that and that. But in fact, they are just isolated elements that do not contribute to decisions and operations. When key elements are isolated and fragmented they give the illusion that the bases are covered, when in fact, they are not. Time to close the loop and make sure that the assessments that are conducted inform the decisions of the future.

Accelerate action, make room for the work

Finally, comes the accelerating the processes and pace of work. Work is a combination of effective asset and resource management, optimizing tools and systems and removing what gets in the way. I am frequently reminded by clients that a meetings culture in their institution gets in the way of their work. Attention to the amount of time administrators and staff spend in meetings is valuable discipline. Where it exists, a very serious effort must be made to restrain runaway meeting syndrome and reign in the unrestricted claim on work time allocated to meetings that do not contribute to sustainability. A colleague describes a meeting subculture in higher education that has led to individuals defining their role by the meetings they call, attend, and require with little or no attention to the unintended cost in unrealized goals.

One of the biggest barriers to strategic planning success is that nothing happens because the plan or critical parts of it are not implemented. Room for the work must be carved out of the business as usual routine. Leaders who just keep heaping on items and expecting the human system to just continue to absorb the new demands have crippled many institutions. If willingness, ability, or understanding of the work to performed is the issue then that must be dealt with as well. This is a management function and in our experience poor management is an Achilles heal for higher education. Specifically, attention needs to be paid to strategic plan implementation. It requires more disciplined calendaring, time management, project management, resource allocation, and monitoring.

In Closing

Future proofing your Strategic Plan is not just a box to tick during accreditation review processes or a chore to be done because the Board of Trustees requires one. It is an essential element in making enrollment goals and achieving a sustainable position in an increasingly global, highly competitive, enrollment  marketplace. A strategic plan is not just a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) Analysis, nor is it just a table of SGO’s (strategies, goals, and objectives).  A strategic plan, if done well, articulates the pathway to sustainability. If it does not then it needs to be ‘Future Proofed.’