I facilitated a delegation of Deans and Economic Development representatives form the UMN to attended a Ed Campus briefing from their CEO. Hosted at their current HQ in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, the delegations got to see a grand overview of their model of the future of education. This spanned next generation facilities, architecture and community integration to new forms of experiential learning, industry internships, and a integrated system of K – Higher Education in career planning and development. Many of these new models have been taken from extensive global research on effective education models and the funding of education. Of particular interest is the model is built around advanced curriculum developed by multiple academic institutions and industry partners combining academic and applied knowledge. The collaborative nature of the partnership provides a best of breed alternative to solo institutions and creates opportunities for differentiated learning where degrees and certificates are coming from multiple leading institutions from around the world. The funding models also change how education can be funded to build a more sustainable system in comparisons to today’s student debt models.
There was extensive Q&A from the attendees and acknowledgment of the innovations and large base of institutions collaborating around the model, including many prestigious institutions will to participate in our region. Reflecting on the conversations it was clear to see the desire to understand the model but at the same time the fear that the new models of education happening in the world will disrupt the older models that are struggling in the USA today. The challenge universities like UMN will face is that these opportunities will be available in the coming years and offer much more attractive options that the systems that are currently failing today. Remaining to be seen is whether our universities will become a part of the change or be left behind by the disruptive forces while holding on to an internal financial compensation model that serves them but not the greater good of society.