College Degrees of the Future from MOOCs to Credentials was marketed as a CES panel session on transforming education, however it mainly served to raise more questions rather than providing answers.
The panel consisted of Jonathan Finkelstein Founder & CEO of Credly, Ryan Craig Managing Director of University Ventures, Melissa Loble Vice President Partners and Programs Instructure, and Jeff Young Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
There were the standard discussions on University degrees never being removed from the drawer and presented to employers, that employers value competency based advise when assessing future employees, that MOOCs have been over-hyped with massive enrolments yet very few completions, and that credentials were the way of the future.
Most of the discussion focused on what is occurring now.
Universities can, and do in some instances, issue advice on competencies developed in addition to student academic transcripts.
This growth of credentialing makes it easier for employers to understand skills developed by their workforce.
The critical issue that was highlighted, however, was skirted around on how to address and ensure relevance for institutions.
The key issue is that students are doing the minimum, and their study is about achieving career success.
Loble spoke of the change in expectations of students: “Students have redefined the idea of completion.
"It’s not necessarily finishing an entire course that matters anymore.
"They want the piece of paper, but they only want it for those skills that will actually matter to them and their career.”
There was a general position that students need to identify the career and skills they want, and then the education institutions will package solutions to meet that need.
Such a position is highly dependent on students being able to identify the jobs they want and the skills they need in a labour market that is undergoing massive transformation.
“The US is a bellwether for Australia," ACS CEO Andrew Johnson said.
"There are 27.5 million businesses in the United States compared to Australia’s two million, and 99.9 percent of US businesses are defined as small.
"What we are hearing from policy commentators at CES is that all new net job growth in the US comes from new businesses and start-up firms, while there is a growing trend towards self-employment.
"This will have significant implications for education models to identify the knowledge and skills needs that are aligned with career aspirations," Johnson continued.
"Not all education institutions will be able to focus on preparing for students for the traditional firm of an industrialised era.”
ACS President Anthony Wong commented, “Notions of traditional professions and disciplines are converging to create new roles incorporating digital and technological skills in the Digital Age.
"This will provide challenges for education institutions to ensure they remain relevant”.
Wong went on to say, “We have been observing these trends for a while and I am pleased to say that ACS is ahead of the curve.
"Over the past 12 months, the core body of knowledge for the IT profession has undergone an extensive consultation process and will be publicly released before the end of January 2016.
"The new framework is flexible and empowers universities to identify and respond to unique market characteristics to ensure their graduates succeed in the digital future.
"Millennials as the new consumers are increasingly selective when it comes to ROI considerations for their time invested while pursuing an education.”