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Episode 18

transformed: 5 Themes from the ASU+GSV Summit

Higher Digital has just published the next installment of its new audio interview feature, transformed. Every other week we interview experts on higher education, digital transformation, and the challenges and promises represented by both.

This week, President Joe Gottlieb welcomes back Co-Founder and CEO Wayne Bovier to discuss the recent ASU+GSV Summit. Listen in to hear a detailed debriefing and the five core themes of the conference.

Joe Gottlieb: (00:02)

Welcome to transformed a Higher Digital podcast focused on the new whys, the new whats and the new hows in higher ed. In each episode, you will experience hosts and guests pulling for the resurgence of higher ed while identifying and discussing the best practices needed to accomplish that resurgence culture, strategy and tactics planning, and execution people, process and technology. It’s all on the menu because that’s, what’s required to truly transform. 


Joe Gottlieb: (00:35)

My name is Joe Gottlieb, President of Higher Digital. And today I am once again, joined by Wayne Bovier Co-Founder and CEO of Higher Digital. Wayne, welcome back to transformed


Wayne Bovier: (00:54)

Thanks, Joe. It’s great to be with you today. What should we cover? 


Joe Gottlieb: (00:58)

Well, I thought we’d cover ASU+GSV. The recent conference that was held in San Diego and because so many things happen at that conference and I know we’ve got plenty of things we could chat about on that front. 


Wayne Bovier: (01:14)

Yeah. It’s one of my favorite conferences and there are a lot of things to talk about. So, where do you want to start? 


Joe Gottlieb: (01:23)

Well, we observed five key themes. We thought it would probably be best if we took what we observed and just sort of distilled it into five key themes that our listeners might find interesting. And they go like this. Partnerships, difficult but transformative would be one theme. Another is student versus faculty centric cultures. We saw some interesting perspectives on that workforce development, always interesting topic, but perhaps notable in some of the remarks at ASU+GSV, how it’s starting to become more of a priority for different participants in the higher ed ecosystem. Fourth would be innovation in the classroom. How could you go to ASU+GSV and not talk about that? So I think that’s a big one and then last but not least the surging investment in ed tech, of course, ASU+GSV being oriented around investment in higher ed and higher ed technology. No surprise that that was a theme, but just some of the numbers that we’re seeing there, we want to talk a bit about that. So five themes, all of them. Interesting. Let’s pick them off one by one and see what we can cover for each before we wrap this puppy up. What do you say?


Wayne Bovier: (02:38)

Sounds great. Let’s dive in. 


Joe Gottlieb: (02:40)

Partnerships, first up. Why don’t you start getting started on partnerships and I use this sort of subtitle difficult, but transformative. Partnerships are always hard. But you tend to find, once you get outside yourself a little bit. What you can gain. And of course they’re quite necessary for the ecosystem to work. So what were some of our observations here? 


Wayne Bovier: (03:01)

Yeah, yeah. So this is a really interesting one to start with, you know, just to kind of compare and contrast. We’ve been coming to ASU GSV now. I think this is my fifth year. Right? And so one of the things that really struck me is the actual theme of partnerships was such a prevalent topic. There are at least four sessions that really stood out to me. I’m sure that there were more, um, and it really runs the gamut. So not only the topic, but the breadth of the topic, the one session I would just go through the titles of some of the sessions. And then I’m going to circle back on giving you some thoughts, you know, the first session radically changing the world of higher ed partnerships, right? The second was creating high value partnerships for innovation, the third one was transformative partnerships in higher education. 


Wayne Bovier: (04:02)

And then the fourth one is unlocking partnerships between universities and ed tech companies. So it is clearly a vested interest in ed tech companies, as well as institutions, as well as alliances and systems to, to fit. Well, let me start, there’s, there’s a realization right? That institutions or systems can’t do it alone. And ed tech, you know, being in tech and I guess we’re considered an ed tech company as well, is there’s a, you know, altruism that goes with this, right? That we’re, you know, this industry is, is an important industry. Um, it betters society as a whole, as well as individuals and so on and so forth. Right. And so, um, you know, these partnerships, uh, sessions really ran the gamut between institution to institution, right? And in many cases, institutions have been, you know, they call what coopertition right, where they’re cooperating and higher ed is really good about that, right? 


Wayne Bovier: (05:09)

That the whole word collegial, right. Being able, collegial working with working with other institutions or professors at other institutions around a particular subject or whatever is very common. And it has been a part of the history of, of the industry. But really what we’re talking about here is at a much deeper level, right? What type of partnerships will we talk? Um, if you’re good at nursing as just an example, um, but you also have a lot of other classes and programs that you offer, you know, do you partner with another institution that, that has a desire for nursing? Um, but it has the other ones, right? So you’re, you’re, you know, you’re, you’re cooperating on and partnering on one particular subject, but the other is your competition, right? So there’s a, you know, there’s an interesting, you know, for lack of a better description, you know, each of these sessions were really valuable, really insightful, but my, again, part of this podcast is really sharing our observation, our insight with this, there’s a clumsiness to the conversation because it’s, it’s kind of unchartered territory a little bit, it’s uncomfortable. 


Wayne Bovier: (06:21)

Um, you know, the other parts of this is, you know, the not only institution institution, but institution, the EdTech company, right. And you and I have covered this ground when we’ve, you know, multiple times in previous podcasts around, you know, online program management, which now there’s a whole discussion about with some of the mergers and acquisitions that have happened, that, that the OPM online program management term that no longer fits. Right. And so anyway, you know, there’s no one has a clear sight of how this is going to work. Everyone, I think generally understands you can’t do it alone. Um, I think the, uh, the clumsiness and uncomfortable part is, oh, okay, well, who do I turn to? Where do I go for help? Um, where, who do I trust? Right. Trust is a major part of all of these partnerships. So, you know, so there’s really a lot of good conversations around that. 


Wayne Bovier: (07:19)

Some of them had to do with clients of ours, like Dr. Fowler’s president of UNGC, right. Really talking and sharing about how important it is, right. To, to, to be able to do at an institution institution, um, to be able to share. Right. And I think president fella really talked about the, the Maryland system, that there are a lot of institutions, uh, really, even within a relatively small state system like Maryland, you got a lot of haves and have nots and even then you’re not, you know, even then there’s an opportunity, but no one’s capitalizing on it as how do you partner in a way to help the have nots if you’re one of the hats. So, you know, so there’s, there’s a lot of, you know, a lot of things that, that really have came out of that, that, what did you know, what are your thoughts, Joe? 


Joe Gottlieb: (08:08)

Well, I had a, a few points to add to that one would be, you know, partnership and you could see it in the sessions. Right. And you actually mentioned it earlier about the, the, a lot of the schools that show up at ASU GSV are the leaders, right. They have something to share and they’re, it’s part of their showcase for, for advancing innovation or doing something unique. And I find that with partnerships, it’s quite true, right? You’re if you’re very confident and you’re in a strong position, it’s easier for you to not be threatened by the exposure and the potential coopertition dynamic that happens in a partnership right now, I will add to that and say that with partnership used to be even easier in higher ed before the online disruption, because you at least had the, the, the insulation, the protective barrier of geography, um, that could allow you to partner with schools that are far away, that were less threatening to you in your target market, to be able to share best practices and to help each other along, but with the online disruption, right? 


Joe Gottlieb: (09:14)

We’re all institutions are more exposed to competition for more places. And therefore partnering with anyone could enable another institution to more effectively compete with you, even though it might be remote. So that’s a given. And yet with this disruption already happening, we do still see alliances happening. And I think we’re going to continue to see it from those that feel strong. And I figured out the ways to unlock what they can only get by looking outside, like, like, like the example, just hearing, um, in the university innovation Alliance. And this came up in the transforming partnerships in higher education, uh, um, presentation, um, uh, uh, actually, no, this was, this was a different presentation that, um, uh, Dr. Crow and, uh, Kim Wilcox from, um, UCR university of California, Riverside was in, and they talked about how they are finding a way to drive student centric commitments to that culture via help getting help with other alliances, other institutions that have broken that ground and sort of benefiting from their skills and expertise that have made good progress. 


Joe Gottlieb: (10:33)

And so we’ll talk about that, another theme, but that’s, that’s one, I think that’s starting to shift this whole, this whole dialogue. You also also mentioned OPM, right? And this w w which did come up in the pre in the session that you mentioned here, transformative partnerships in higher education, it came from, you have a global campus, um, uh, president, um, uh, uh, about how you have a acquired Ashford university and OPM, uh, it was run by OVO, right? The OPM that was running that university, um, they acquired it to be their starting point and online delivery to be this global education delivery vehicle with the intent of merging it back in, you’ll start out independent, but it’ll merge back in. So here’s a, here’s a new angle on getting to online in this case, uh, via in a form of partnership. This is a, you know, an acquisition, right. But it’s going outside versus trying to build it organically. 


Wayne Bovier: (11:30)

Yeah. And it falls on the heels of Purdue doing the same thing with Kaplan. Right. You know, with, and, you know, if you’ve been following that, you know, the, you know, the financial reports have been coming out where the first year, um, really missed that expectations. The second year things started to you still miss the expectations, but improved. Right. So there’s indication Billy’s produce moving, moving in the right direction. The other, the other thing I would, I would highlight as part of the partnerships, right. Is that the system level, right. If for those that are in higher education or for the listeners that are not in higher education, you know, there’s, there’s, you know, states have systems, you know, the case of, uh, of Pennsylvania where I grew up, uh, it’s called pocket. The acronym is poshy, Pennsylvania state system for higher education. There’s, uh, well, they’re going through a merger now, but basically 12, 14 institutions. 


Wayne Bovier: (12:26)

Right. But you had the system level, right. So you got multiple layers of administrative, overhead and oversight, and traditionally systems have, um, had, uh, uh, you know, not a whole lot of say, you know, they could influence, but they couldn’t, they couldn’t dictate. And, you know, something we’ve been seeing as a company for quite a while is that these systems are becoming more valuable, um, as a result. And so hearing, you know, uh, melody rose the chancellor at, at, uh, Nevada, uh, system, um, talk about a lot of these things really kind of struck a chord with me and really it reinforced a lot of my, my beliefs, our beliefs as a company that, you know, that institutions are going to be better served in the future by systems that help offload manage centralize some of the common services to reduce the costs and, and overhead and all that kind of stuff. So, um, you 


Joe Gottlieb: (13:29)

Know, melody rose the chancellor of, of Nevada system, um, really articulated that the system operates as a super partnership. So she was referring to like the concept of partial applied to how a system should operate. And she pointed out how, you know, shared services are table stakes. What she’s trying to get to is innovation at scale. So she even called out some very practical things like two police departments versus eight, like a cost savings and operational delivery advancement in terms of one service, uh, as, as an example, but really trying to get to how will we going to pool our energy and our investments on innovation, uh, together to get some, to get an output to that, because that’s going to be harder, it’s going to be harder. So we might as well pull resources. Um, another thing she said about that was that getting partnering right on the inside, I E within this system makes them better and more attractive at potentially for partnerships external, right? So it’s like, get it right inside when you have some more ability to control it. And therefore when you’re faced with an external opportunity, which might be a little less comfortable, might have more of that coopertition, uh, context. Um, you’ll, you’ll, you’ll be more able to actually drive that forward. You’ll have more benefits to, to offer up and you’ll have more capability to make it happen. Yeah, 


Wayne Bovier: (14:54)

That’s a a hundred percent, right. You know, our view is the systems today. You know, we work with a lot of them. Um, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re all over the spectrum. Some find it very, you know, uh, there’s a lot of friction between the system level leadership and each institution, right. There’s a lot of authority and that, you know, each institution has budget authority, decision-making authority that supersedes the system. And so, you know, there’s a lot. And then you throw in the politics, lot of cases, the government, the state government, or the county government is involved. Right. So you’ve got layers upon layers of here are partnerships, but I think it’s in everybody’s vest. And this is one of the key takeaways I think of the partnerships is that it’s in everybody’s vested interest to get to, to, to, to work better together. Right. Because you can’t do it all. And there’s a there’s efficiency and opportunity that these partnerships present that you can’t do on your own. 


Joe Gottlieb: (15:54)

Yeah. It’s, um, it’s a fascinating area. And, uh, and I just, uh, we’re gonna, let’s move on to the next theme, but I think as we’ve talked about, the system has an opportunity to pool its resources, such that it can be more effective at evolving in the face of this online disruption. Right? So the systems are, are collections of, let’s just call it traditional institutions that have been serving at the community college level, typically in the university level. You know, so it’s a good, it’s a good range of, of institutions. And yes, there are other, um, uh, consortia of, of private institutions, but the cyst, the state systems are one that like, there’s already some shared mechanisms that they can leverage. Yes, there’s bureaucracy too, but there are some shared mechanisms. They should be able to leverage in some shared mission that they should be able to leverage to be more effective in responding to this online disruption. 


Joe Gottlieb: (16:55)

And obviously the U of a, uh, example is one example. Um, Melanie was sharing her thoughts on Nevada system and how they were responding, uh, et cetera. Um, so interesting thing to keep watching and keep talking about. So let’s, let’s move over to our second theme that student versus faculty centric cultures, and I, I was particularly moved by this one, um, session that included, uh, Dr. Michael Crow, president of ASU and Kim Wilcox, a chancellor at the university of California, Riverside. This session was entitled how collaboration doing the work, how collaboration among America’s biggest colleges is helping more students complete their degree. Notably included in that panel was Bridget burns the executive director of the university innovation Alliance. And it turns out that the university innovation Alliance is a group of about 11 institutions that have come together to figure out how to, how to compare notes on innovation. 


Joe Gottlieb: (17:49)

And so with ASU being involved, you’ve got to know that, that, um, there’s some interesting fireworks that are going on, right? That’s a pretty big participant to be throwing into the mix. Um, and it was really interesting though to see, you know, um, chancellor Wilcox is perspective that, that he had gained through this experience. And in particular for the university of California, Riverside as just one little example, how they really were able to tap into this notion of, of, by learning from others, they were able to really make the commitment to student centrism, um, at leadership commitment that was very demonstrable on the part of, of Kim Wilcox and, and the leadership team there, but even more importantly, connecting it to the existing culture so that it felt like an aspect of their identity and even something they were proud about. And we’re even starting to, um, involve in their recruiting campaigns to really, really put it front and center as they were looking to attract students, um, with the student centers. 


Joe Gottlieb: (18:55)

And then Dr. Crow shared very interesting background on his trajectory in, in, in, you know, his participation in the higher ed industry. Uh, I believe he was at Princeton, uh, formerly, and they add, he articulated Princeton as having a extremely faculty centric culture. And one of his missions as he got to ASU was to make ASU a much more student centered culture. And so he could relate to both and, and the, the what, what is nice and, um, you know, in terms of how it does reflect the supplier centric model, right? So when we talk about institutions not needing to change to make their product better for consumers, I E the students, it does reflect a very supplier centric model, a model whereby there’s no need to change because the, the institutions have been able to grow. And yet over the last couple of decades, we’ve seen the evolution of what the consumer actually wants, the evolution of what outcomes are actually happening or not happening. And so we’ve, we’ve, we’ve, I think we’ve woken up to a market that’s evolving in terms of what’s expected. And the student centric play at least in theory, is a recognition that we ought to work harder to earn our customers trust and commitment and, and, and delight, you know, every day. And that’s happened in many other industries where, where, what, what was a supplier centric industry? Ultimately, you know, technology is a good example, right? Look what apple did to consumer electronics. Um, you know, as a great example of well 


Wayne Bovier: (20:33)

Phone industry, you bet, 


Joe Gottlieb: (20:35)

You know, we can work harder. Uh, we could, we could create more, uh, excitement and of course, more profit followed from pulling that off. And so not that it’s always, uh, not without its financial, uh, interest as well, any, any, you know, reactions on this one from you. 


Wayne Bovier: (20:54)

Yeah. You know, um, uh, I love the fact that this was the culture was the topic, right? That w that, that actually got some serious attention. And, you know, uh, you know, we’ve been dealing with culture right, as it comes to digital transformation and change management for institutions, but it was interesting, you know, we’ve kind of danced around this before, but, you know, student versus faculty, you know, as, as, as the core, right, we grew up in an era where the pretty much ubiquitously every institution, the faculty was a center center. Right. And you know, it, and there’s a lot of rationale, historical rationale, why that was right. Primarily has to do with rigor, right. That not every student can meet the qualifications. You gotta, you gotta, you gotta meet the bar. Right. Otherwise you fail out and that’s okay. Right. Uh, that’s the historical view, um, today’s view has really, really evolved quickly where the institution, it is in the institution’s best interest without sacrificing rigor. 


Wayne Bovier: (22:09)

Now, this is, this is the crops without sacrificing the rigor. Well, as long as the student can demonstrate mastery of the skills, whatever it is, writing math, science, right. As long as they do it, if it takes them an extra week to master it, who cares, right. Like as long as we’re supporting them, that we provide the tools so on and so forth. So, so I think in a fundamentally, when you, when we start to think from a transformation point of view, you know, one of the key things is how, how, how far along the spectrum are you on being a faculty center culture versus a student one, right? Because again, it’s the, you know, it’s, you, you touched on it, it is supplier versus buyer, right. In commercial, in other industry terms, you know, uh, is being disrupted. And it becoming more buyer centric where, you know, that’s what the internet has done retail. Right. Um, that, and, and really kind of democratized a lot of that. And I think that’s what we’re seeing in higher ed 


Joe Gottlieb: (23:16)

And how can you make it not an us versus them thing, I think becomes the real question for culture, right. And leadership. Right. It’s like, how do you, how do you say, uh, I can commit to student centrism without having to make the case via a castigation of faculty or, or the historical, you know, faculty centric, posture, or whatever. Like, how can I, how can I take, what’s rich about the history of our, um, of our, uh, the, the advancement of our faculty, uh, the great research we’ve done, right. And all of those things. And, and now make that part of the value proposition that is going to rededicate itself to serving the customer. And I think that’s what this is about. 


Wayne Bovier: (24:03)

Uh, you know, my view and I have a very strong view about this is, you know, I’m very sympathetic to the faculty, right. Um, uh, you know, there’s been a lot of promise that technology is going to help them do their job, and it’s only done the opposite. And so, you know, when we get to it about the EdTech energy, I really do hope, and this is one of our focus areas as a company is we need to, we need to figure out a way to free up faculty from a lot of these, um, duplicative, uh, administrative tasks that, you know, really become a barrier for them to engage with students. Right. So they can provide the rigor. Right. We need to make sure that the faculties have academic freedom, right. That’s another really important aspect to this, but academic freedom doesn’t mean that, you know, they can disregard, you know, the laws of economics, right? 


Wayne Bovier: (25:00)

Like they gotta be able to support the students in economical way, the programs that they’re in, in courses that they teach have to have interests, right. There has to be an applicability to, you know, one’s degree. Right. And ultimately the degree for the job. Right. So, so you can’t be isolated truly in an ivory tower in today’s world. And so I think faculty, um, need to give a little bit, but I think the industry in particular administration, I think ed tech, as well as it leaders really need to do a much better job of making faculty’s lives, easier to teach and do their traditional jobs. Because I believe very strongly look, I’m a liberal arts guy, you know, that was my undergrad degree. I strongly believe in a liberal arts degree, um, that, that rigor and that process produces results. But you got to get the technology out of the way. You gotta be able to provide faculty with the freedom, but also the tools to do their job versus getting them. 


Joe Gottlieb: (26:09)

Yeah. The unfortunate truth here is that there’s enough blame for the thing, you know, to go around for the finger, pointing to leave the situation at many institutions, to be one that’s, uh, you know, a bit tense. And yet the, the, the path forward would seem to be that we do a better job with change management. That includes technology and a better job of incorporating stakeholders, particularly faculty who are, are a critical delivery engine, if not the engine, right. For teaching and learning, and how do we make that great versus how do we, you know, um, do a poor job and leave faculty scratching their heads, right. So moving onto the next theme, and that is workforce development, and we gave it the little extra help in the, in the, in the categorization here by saying, becoming a priority. And what we mean by that is it’s starting to show up in more aspects, more parts of the higher ed ecosystem. And by that, I mean, not just institutions, but also employers. And so there were some interesting sessions here that were pairing, not just institutions, but people that are doing a lot of hiring. Right. And what are they looking for? And, and that whole dynamic, but let’s, don’t you take us through this one for starters and I’ll, I’ll try to add some stuff, um, at the, at the backside. 


Wayne Bovier: (27:28)

Yeah, sure. Similar to partnerships, you know, this was, this is a growing theme. You know, this has been a topic or the last couple of years at ASU GSV, it actually seemed to have more meat, more sessions, right. Uh, dedicated to it. And, you know, there are ongoing common themes in this particular, you know, uh, subject around workforce development, you know, the session, um, around reskilling, um, and in particular, Dr. Angela Jackson at new profit, um, really shed a lot of, lot of insight, um, uh, on this, uh, in, in her session, you know, she, she highlighted the fact about, you know, in today’s world, they’re in the U S right, uh, that there are 10 million job openings. Um, you know, you have an unemployment rate at what, somewhere in 5% range, you know, so, and that, that, that, that job openings is actually going up pretty significantly. 


Wayne Bovier: (28:28)

Like, I think I calculate in the last five years, it’s gone up, it’s doubled. Right. Um, and so, but yet, you know, you have a lot of this country that, um, has, uh, anxiety, economic anxiety, this kind of stuff. Right. And so, because automation is displacing a lot of, you know, lot of, especially in the rural, right, where farming equipment or factories, all these types of they’re really embracing automation. And so, you know, the, the automation requires higher skills to maintain these tools and stuff. Right. So, so as an industry, as hire as an educator, as an educator, you know, we need to figure out a way to lower the costs and provide a better access, uh, to this, you know, the other, the other part too, one of the other sessions that came up for one of the other, um, had to do with around, uh, working nation and, uh, tab zipper. 


Wayne Bovier: (29:27)

Um, who’s the president, I believe of Wiley. And he talked about English majors, you know, that not only like there was a kind of a plea, you know, and I’m going to, you know, full disclosure, I’m an English major. So I caught my attention and, uh, I’m all, I’m all for that. Right. But, um, you know, a lot of, uh, companies that tech companies, even, even, uh, higher education institutions, when they’re looking to hire, you know, they only look for cotton computer science degrees. Um, I was fortunate enough early on in my career where I worked with some senior technologists that really had a much broader and actually progressive understanding that, you know, technology is a utility building technology using technology requires a lot of life skills, a lot of deeper understanding around that. So, so that was one of these things where, you know, yes, it doesn’t, you don’t need a CS degree to get into this world event tech and, and some of the, some of the new jobs, um, that, uh, that are coming out. Um, so Joe, what are your, what are some of your observations around this? 


Joe Gottlieb: (30:39)

Well, a couple, like in the one, one of the, you mentioned the, um, uh, earlier the session where Dr. Fowler for UNGC, um, was talking about, um, uh, different alliances that they have. And so he mentioned, for example, if they’re working with Southern New Hampshire university in Western governors university on open skills network. So the open skills network for those of that heard about it as this effort to try to identify what are the skills needed by the employers, so that, um, educators can be in touch with that. And, and also start to sense the evolving demand and the, some of the characteristics of those skills that we could be educating people to have. Uh, so that I find that interesting, another, uh, comment I’d make would be how, um, the jobs that are most likely to be placed displaced by automation, right? Are, are going to leave us with a number of people that if we don’t re-skill in the right way, they’re going to be unemployed. 


Joe Gottlieb: (31:44)

And so you mentioned accessibility, but I would add to that, not just accessibility, but then also granularity and the sort of skills, specificity, and potentially very different from the liberal arts education that you received Wayne, as a, as frankly, a privilege. Right? But let me target an upskilling for you to either help you transition to a new job or to get you back in the workforce. Cause you’ve already been displaced by automation because we know this trend is already happening and going to grow. Right. So then I think that is a, is an interesting thing. Another point on this is our Dean Williams, vice president of workforce development, Amazon, who, by the way, I’m just stunned by this stat. Amazon now employs 1.3 million people. And so this is the person in charge globally. Yeah. This is the person in charge of workforce development for Amazon. 


Joe Gottlieb: (32:36)

And if you don’t know about what Amazon’s in this arena, at least one of these items will be interesting, I think, and that is they’re literally helping their employees see how the skills they can obtain while working for Amazon will help them get a different job outside of Amazon, because they believe in the grand scheme of things, being able to attract people with that potential career trajectory that they know they can’t satisfy forever is going to be the only way they’re going to be able to keep their jobs filled in many cases with entry-level positions. And so here they are, she’s she literally called this out. Sometimes it can be hard to get certain people within my company, Amazon, especially CFOs to focus on upskilling employees, that they can go work at other companies, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. Right. And when she talked about, when she was asked, it was interesting, she goes, so what do you like from what you see of what’s going on in higher ed right now, she called out, she goes, she knew she was being asked for an opinion. 


Joe Gottlieb: (33:40)

So she put it out there on the table. She goes, well, I really like Western governor’s model for an all. You can eat very competency-based education because she is all about filling and upskilling along a competency based rubric that will satisfy their needs. And when she asked what she wants from the future, she said, I, what I really want is just in time training to deliver skills needed, to employ X, to serve client Y. And so like when she really thinks about the fabric of training, she wants it happening in real time. And so that is a signal to potential partners, right? In the higher ed world that will help edgy edge, uh, that will help Amazon fulfill its, um, its staffing and, you know, human capital requirements of what they’re ultimately looking for. 


Wayne Bovier: (34:31)

There’s a lot of, uh, really interesting stats. The fact that it’s 1.2 million, you know, globally. I mean, that’s, that’s an impressive number. Um, and, and, and ultimately it’s an investment, right? It’s an argument to the CFOs. Anytime you’re trying to argue for money, right? You got this one is an investment, but it’s, it’s a little bit intangible of how you’re going to get a return now where I also see this playing a major role is the fact that, you know, Amazon’s business. But, you know, they’re a little bit of an outlier today, but the reality is most businesses are kind of falling on their heels, right? Automation and things like that, that Amazon’s business, right. And their needs continue to rapidly evolve. So as they, you know, as their new services or new ideas that they’re bringing to market, they’re going to require new skills. 


Wayne Bovier: (35:27)

So when you go back to, you know, the, the statistic that Dr. Jackson mentioned about, you know, our highlighted from the labor statistics in the United States, that for the first time ever, we have over 10 million job openings that week w companies are struggling to fill. And it’s mainly because, you know, there’s a, there’s a gap between, you know, the skills that is that a, if a business needs and the labor being able to affordably get access to the necessary skills. Right. Um, on a, on a personal note, you know, one of my, you know, one of my, uh, I have four kids, blended family, one of my children, um, went to school for a year and dropped out, but she’s now getting a job with a company that is promising her that, you know, and they have a long track record of training internally and providing the support for her to get her degrees and so on and so forth. So, you know, she’s not walking out with 150,000 student loans, you know, she’s now is able to upskill, right. And it’s, you know, the necessity aspect of the market dynamics. So very, very interesting. 


Joe Gottlieb: (36:40)

Yeah. I know we love this topic, but if you, if you think about where this is headed, right, again, that, that liberal arts education, which we know is great for producing well-rounded, uh, diversely studied, um, graduates. That is a certain thing that can, I think, feed typically, you know, management populations and, you know, with these, and with more advanced degrees, you have more, you know, more, more, more advanced specialist roles to be played. But a lot of the massive employment requirements of our planet, right, are gonna are going to the new labor, right. Is going to be, I think, ultimately brought into this portfolio of humanity where they’re given more targeted skills to produce more explicit outcomes and you’re right. Those are going to constantly be changing. So what that Mt. Implication being is that the unit of delivery of education slash training gets smaller and is therefore apparent is paired to a requirement to produce an outcome. And we need to make, let it, we need to build a system that can dynamically shift and flex with that more granular pairing of skill and requirement. And that’s a, that’s a disruptive force, but also an opportunity for greater innovation, which brings us to our fourth theme innovation in the classroom. And I know that was a pretty big announcement. That was exciting, and a great demo to check out, um, with ASU and Dreamworks, but let’s talk a bit about innovation in the classroom from the things that you saw Wayne. 


Wayne Bovier: (38:22)

So, yeah. You know, so the major announcement, you know, this is one of the major drivers spotlights of the conference was, um, the ASU GSV. Um, they, they, it off, I think over a year ago, they’ve been working in the lab around this, um, and really kind of making a virtual reality much more immersive, more hands-on right. Um, and so on and so forth. And so, you know, there were a variety of other sessions, uh, around innovation in the classroom. Um, typically we S you know, we have not focused on classroom technologies, you know, I used to be at Blackboard. So, you know, uh, this is not unfamiliar territory, but, you know, the, the idea about, um, augmented reality, virtual reality and extended reality. So extended reality was a relatively new term for me. Um, then I started to pick up and it really is a, it’s kind of a hybrid, uh, where, you know, you have your existing and maybe in a classroom using some VR tools, some other things, right. 


Wayne Bovier: (39:26)

There’s a kind of a multi-type of, uh, reality, uh, tool set being used and, you know, it’s, I find it all interesting. Um, and you know, the, the key takeaway for me on all of these sessions that I sat in on, um, we’re just at the beginning, like a lot, there’s a lot of, you know, when you, when you’re at an early stage age of technologies, you know, there’s a clumsiness to it. There’s a expensive aspect to it. Um, it’s hard to see scale things like that. And I think that’s really where we are on, on a lot of these things. No one really knows it’s a lot of theory about how these classrooms, whether it’s K-12 or higher ed, how these are going to be impacted, um, clearly, and I think this was very, you know, in my face theme between the haves and have nots, it’s clear that this conference, I mean, it’s not cheap. 


Wayne Bovier: (40:23)

You know, those that are attending are spending a lot of money, not only to attend, but typically investing or meeting other people, investing the build business, whatever it might be. Um, so it’s hard to really understand or visualize how, from a economic point of view, you know, school districts and, uh, inner cities, rural or towns are going to be able to have access to this. Right. But the potential here to really start to, you know, expand the learning potential, um, and really explore things from an education perspective that we never had, like walking on the face of the moon or whatever, right. At a virtual reality. Like that’s kinda cool. Um, I think there’s a lot of value to it, but, you know, again, for me, the big takeaway is we’re just at the beginning of this. Um, and I think for those in the audience, you know, this is something that will be coming. I think, you know, don’t put your head in the sand, um, you know, be smart about it and practical, I think, on using some of this. Um, but you know, but, you know, pay attention, but there’s nothing immediate, uh, to jump onto Joe, what did, what were your thoughts? 


Joe Gottlieb: (41:45)

Well, I think, I think all that guidance fits well with the very advanced thing we saw with the ASU and Dreamworks demo, right? So the notion of really exploring this alternate reality where even some fabricated species of organism, we’re, we’re helping illustrate how, how species have evolved and behave and things like that. Right. It was very, all very compelling, um, super advanced, for sure. And like, they talked a bit about the scale points, what would be required and you can start to think about, okay, wow. If headsets are driven by the gaming industry to become more cheap, that could become the unit of, of, um, of hard investment needed, where everything else has great scale, like compute power and, and, you know, delivery technology and bandwidth and all that. But you’re quite right, this, this thing, I think the thing holding that back, we’ll be getting the content into that format. 


Joe Gottlieb: (42:41)

Right. And so that comes back to the educators and how are they going to use, how are we going to make it easy for educators and content to find its way into these more advanced delivery methods? So if I, I I’d like to compare or contrast that frankly, with super futuristic, but interesting and exciting, and something to keep an eye on with even some of the current methods of, um, of teaching and learning, right with, with learning management systems. Well, we’re already starting to pay attention to, um, asynchronous delivery models. We’re leveraging asynchronous delivery models, we’re breaking down lecture components so that we’re not asking a student to have a attention span that they can’t manage or that they, or that diminishes over time. We are, we are, we are measuring engagement. We are measuring outcomes. We have more iterative testing, right? We are using, uh, context switching to exercise, memory and, and, and, and aid memory. Right? And so these methods are starting to happen. And so on the, if we stole the Gartner hype cycle, um, terminology, we might say some of these things are super, super hype and a ways off, but some of these things really are here. And so to your point, don’t put your head in the sand, be, be paying attention to what is ready and fitting for you while keeping an eye on the things that are triggering more of the art of the possible. I think that’s the best, best guidance we can provide. 


Joe Gottlieb: (44:10)

All right, let’s bring this home with our last theme. And that is the surging investment in ed tech, all this stuff, all this crazy. Um, and this would be the place to observe it. Right. But, um, let’s talk about how, uh, investment in ed tech, uh, is really poised to grow dramatically. 


Wayne Bovier: (44:25)

Yeah. You know, what what’s interesting about this is, um, you know, a couple of days before the conference kicked off the, you know, the, the kind of upsurge with COVID, it introduced, you know, they introduced some additional, um, you know, requirements like, you know, negative tests, 72 hours and so on and so forth. So I think that had an impact on the actual physical attendance, but from what I saw, you know, the energy level, um, both online and in the conference, uh, and the data, um, really was ratcheted up more so than I’ve ever seen it again, comparing this to previous events. This event was always around ed tech and innovation and, you know, uh, trading ideas and so on. But you know, some of the things, you know, some of the statistics that really stood out to me, you know, today, I believe the ed tech industry, if you want to call it that right services, all professional K-12, uh, you know, higher ed, um, uh, currently stands around 5 trillion, right. 


Wayne Bovier: (45:39)

But over the next four and a half years, that is going to increase to over 7 trillion. So essentially seeing a surge of around 2 trillion over the next four and a half years, that’s an ungodly sum. That’s a lot of technology that is coming right. And, and what I, when I step back and I think about this, um, you know, again, I, I’m kind of, of two minds, you know, the first is, you know, I always like picking on venture capitalists. I have, uh, friends that are venture capitalists. I like the calm Vegas, right. They’re Vegas guys, they’re betters, right. And they’re professional betters. Um, and they’re good at their job. And they, they do a lot of analysis to, to make wise investments because they’re dealing with other people’s money and they’re looking to make money too. Right. And so those that do this for a profession are clearly betting money in a very short period of time, clearly, you know, uh, accelerated awareness, all this kind of stuff with COVID and what we’ve gone through the last year plus, but, you know, the, the, there seems to be an awakening, um, on all sides that technology has a role to play in education. 


Wayne Bovier: (46:56)

Um, that there’s an enormous amount of opportunity to improve efficiency, to improve costs, to improve the education outcomes on, on, on many, many layers. Right? So, so on one hand, you, you, you, you see that on the other hand, and again, this kind of gets into what we do, right. And our specialty as a company. But on the other hand, when it comes to higher education, um, every Institute like we’ve talked about how higher ed has a very complicated, every institution has a very complicated technology ecosystem, right? Regardless of size, dealing with a lot of vendors, a lot of disparate types of siloed technology, that’s hard to integrate it negatively impacts or makes the user experience more challenging. The costs tend to go high, all this type of stuff that, you know, on one hand, you have the betters saying, we need more technology. And on the other hand, you have institutions that are like, you know, a uncle crying uncle saying, Hey, we don’t know what to do with what we got now. 


Wayne Bovier: (48:02)

So how do we handle this? Right. So clearly, um, there’s a need in the marketplace to help institutions really start to rationalize, where do they turn? Right. What do they outsource? What do they source? What are they, what do they want to be good at? Where do you partner? Right. Getting that back to the beginning topic on this. Right. So, um, so anyway, these are the types of things that really kind of stood out to me in terms of the energy around this, but what was, what was missing really was what are institutions and what, what, uh, you know, even, uh, high schools and middle schools and districts, how are they going to, um, adopt, how are they going to consume this, this, you know, these new technologies. And so, again, that’s kind of where our specialty kind of comes in. Joe, what are your thoughts? Yeah, 


Joe Gottlieb: (48:54)

To me, I would just add one point. And that is, I think the reason this massive shift is happening, uh, growth, uh, it’s already a big, big business, but the big growth that is forecasted, I think is because it’s a lot driven by the, by COVID accelerated it for sure. But meanwhile, what was happening even before COVID was, this was this opening up of the online market, the online market represented disruption, right? Where the geography, the geographic barriers are being broken down and, and opening up to the non traditional aged student. That’s a market opportunity, growth opportunity, right. And serving that remotely becomes a really, a more efficient market, um, and, and call it good enough education if you like, but it that’s a growth market. And so the online disruptors and the capable responders among the traditional higher ed institutions are going to lead. 


Joe Gottlieb: (49:49)

And with them in motion, there’s a motion in the market now where those bets are going to happen and in bigger force, because it, that, that value prop is those value propositions are going to show up in the marketplace. And so what it leaves institutions that are, that are still operating traditionally to think about is how am I going to respond? How, how can I rededicate myself to my customer in a shifting market that has fewer barriers to entry visa, VI geography and delivery method. So two dimensions, right? So I, so I no longer get to be secure in my Haven by obscurity on the geography side, like I’m a local community college serving my local community. Um, and nor am I probably able over the long haul to not evolve my teaching methods to better use technology. Um, and so that’s why this big market bet is happening because the market is opening up to it. And so that becomes the thing for, for, for institutions to figure out is how am I going to participate in this and what are the risks going forward? Um, as I try to manage through my change, right. And, and that could be a Bon avoiding change or adopting change. Uh, there’s always some risk. So we’ve been to these five themes, uh, all, I think very interesting. Uh, maybe give us some summary points, uh, Wayne during this home, and we’ll close this one out. Yeah. 


Wayne Bovier: (51:23)

Sounds good. So, you know, just at a high level, right. You know, just some of the things to kind of take away, uh, for me, um, you know, again, let’s start where we just left off the energy level, excitement, um, the, you know, putting your money where your mouth is, that that side of the equation, um, is really at an all time high, um, you know, optimism, investment, the need, the analysis is really making a lot of strong business cases. Okay. Um, this translates into, you know, the technical title wave that has been ongoing really since the late nineties. I, you know, some would argue even before that, but I, you know, to me, the LMS really, really started to be a game changer in terms of the technology that’s hitting these institutions or education providers, you know, we’ll continue to grow. Um, and it’s going to make an, a, a complicated environment, even more complicated. 


Wayne Bovier: (52:19)

And, and, and with that complication comes a lot of risk, right? So it’s totally understandable of why cultures, uh, in certain institutions are like, whoa, whoa, slow down. I, I don’t know what to do. I need help. Where do I turn so on and so forth. Also part of the reason that I’m bringing this back to the beginning of the partnerships, right? The, you know, the, the necessity, right. Uh, and the realization that you can’t do it on your own, um, is really driving partnerships in the value of systems, uh, increases. And it’ll be fascinating to see how exactly all of this, uh, evolves. Um, I also think, um, one of the things, another takeaway is that, you know, institutions have to be able to learn, right? They need as an organization, they need to be better at learning to be able to say, Hey, I, I, you know, I got my PhD. 


Wayne Bovier: (53:16)

I can teach this particular class in a particular way for the next 30, 40 years. I think that’s, that’s, you know, that, that, that year time has gone, right. I think we’re in a new world where I still believe, and, you know, the human to human interaction is the best way to teach. Um, so that’s not, I don’t think that value is still very strong, but I do believe as an organization, you know, uh, as, as we, new technology comes out, as new science of learning continues to evolve, I think organizations need to adapt and institutions higher education institutions have been traditionally very, um, slow at evolving and learning. Um, I also, we didn’t, we didn’t really highlight this, but one of the things that has come out with some of the data at ASU GSV is that the demand, right, the, the demand for education is going up. 


Wayne Bovier: (54:16)

Um, how long on IQ, uh, predicts that just in higher ed alone, over the next 20 to 30 years there, we’re going to go from, you know, 600 million plus, uh, learners to, uh, almost a billion, right? So a 300 billion increase and that’s, you know, so the demand is only, you know, that’s only gonna increase, right? So this world where, Hey, we only have so many 18 year olds that we can pull from, uh, to, to bring into our undergraduates. I think that is, you know, if that’s a very narrow mindset and very narrow view, right? You gotta look at abroad or you gotta start to diversify. Um, I think, you know, being open location independent and being integrated, I think is, is, are some key takeaways for institutions. Um, and that really, uh, the success on all of this, what underpins it all is being able to transform this disruption will continue to increase. 


Wayne Bovier: (55:19)

Um, there will be technologies that none of us have predicted that’ll show up, you know, uh, today that will show up five years from now that will completely disrupt everything. Fear and displacement are reality, um, for not only, you know, retraining and re-skilling, um, uh, displaced workers in, in all different locations. I also think fear and displacement in higher education as an industry is also real. Um, but there’s opportunity. And so we can kind of offset that. So again, being able to transform to embrace, to adapt, I think, are going to be critical, uh, mindset and skill sets for institutional leaders, uh, going forward 


Joe Gottlieb: (56:03)

Well said, great summary and a, I think a good place to end this particular episode. So Wayne, thank you so much for joining me today and thanks to our guests for joining us as well. We will be, have a great day and we’ll look forward to hosting you again on the next episode of transformed.

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About The Host


As president of Higher Digital, Joe supports customers with strategy development, change management, and strategic operations. He is energized by the complex challenges and profound opportunities facing higher education and is motivated to have and share discussions around these topics.

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