The industry experts that institutions collaborate with should be continuous learners themselves.
Higher education institutions are heavily focused on increasing student enrolment instead of focusing on student satisfaction. Considering that 92% of students rely on recommendations from friends over any other form of advertising, it is important for institutions to ensure that students achieve their learning goals. Research shows that the subject matter knowledge of the expert who is teaching has the most significant impact of learning outcomes and therefore, institutions must pay attention to who is teaching in the classroom to achieve growth.
Fifteen years ago, it was sufficient to have only theoretical knowledge whose applications you could investigate post graduation. Today, technological prowess has made it essential for a learner to get an immediate return on education by also achieving learning goals such as work readiness, new skill adoption and access to new ideas.
Determining the right expert to teach is no longer a simple case of identifying a faculty member to deliver the course. With educational institutions now catering to ageing demographics, new ways of working, and new geographies, “who is teaching” also has to evolve to adapt to the new needs of the learner. For instance, 68% of the attendees for the Coursera courses offered in association with top universities live in countries such as India, the UK, and Brazil, and their completion rates are between 5-10%. Online course providers have done a great job in making learning accessible, but by diversifying who is teaching these courses, they could make learning a lot more approachable to a diverse student group. Additionally, executive education is expected to grow to $325 billion by 2025 with skill gaps in topics such as product management, data science and machine learning. These executives are looking for seasoned experts to help them adapt to a new role, switch jobs or simply stay relevant.
Institutions can make the courses more approachable and applicable by using experts from industry to collaborate on designing and delivering case-studies, guest lectures and workshops. One of the mistakes educational institutions often make is to rely on personal networks, alumni or celebrities to collaborate on these sessions. This can not only cause disengagement from students, but also drain brand value. The industry experts that institutions collaborate with should not only have deep subject matter knowledge but should also be continuous learners themselves, have the ability to teach the target audience and have the motivation to teach. A continuous learner will not only have up-to-date knowledge but will move away from traditional lecturing to facilitating discussion. Ability to teach ensures effective delivery of concepts and identifying the right expert across different student groups is important as you need very different skillsets to teach an undergraduate class and an executive class. Lastly, the motivation of the expert to teach helps avoid cancellations, encourages ongoing industry-academia collaboration and is what puts the spark in the classroom—that is what transforms the session from ‘something you must do’ to ‘something you love’.
Educational institutions don’t need to isolate their business and learning goals: identifying the right experts to teach is not only a cost effective way of improving learning outcomes but done correctly, can help make the course more marketable, increase access to funding and increase collaboration on research. When thinking about where to invest, put your money on who is teaching.
By- Priyanka Agarwal, Founder, Connect2Teach.com