Our challenge is one of pathways,channels, and opportunities required to meet the needs of this post-traditional student. In some ways these challenges are the same we've been dealing with for a long long time. In other ways these challenges present us with new and different opportunities. Prior learning assessment, for example, is a must! In the past, PLA was a secondary or tertiary option. For the post-traditional student, PLA should be a first consideration. That means that we have to develop more efficient and meaningful mechanisms for PLA.
The post-traditional student is not strictly an adult learner. The post-traditional student is not circumstance-based (single parent, retraining, etc.). This is the student that needs skills and knowledge attainment -- and experiential learning conversion.
Tuition is going up while funding options are shrinking. So what's the likelihood that UC can negotiate a higher discount rate for part-time post-traditional students? Maybe that's the wrong question to ask. Maybe we should be thinking about options that replace the credit hour costs with options for receiving the credit through PLA and experiential learning.
Post-secondary knowledge and skills are still in high demand; increasingly important for the post-traditional student. Challenge to opportunity = build the learning into the work. Lots of talk about the resurgence of the corporate university, particularly in regard to the legitimacy of badges and credentials (for example, Disney, Microsoft, WalMart). These companies are investing $500 billion in post-secondary opportunities NOT focused on higher education. Businesses require employees with expert thinking and complex communication skills. These are the core skills necessary to work and function across disciplines. The opportunity for us is programming that allows students to develop these skill sets through practice-based applied instruction. Or we should be looking to validate/assess corporate university credentials.
We need new instructional, credentialing, and financing models. This is the area where we at UC can be innovators. Let's not start by thinking about what we already have in place. We have to start with the ideal -- with the solutions to the problems. Let's not be prohibited in our thinking by what we think we know about the obstacles and resistance with the University.