FULL DISCLOSURE: I am the Director of Marketing Communications for Destiny Solutions. We develop continuing education management software that helps schools forge, manage and cultivate lifelong learning relationships. We're offering more than operational improvements. We're revolutionizing continuing education and workforce development by providing next generation intelligence for the new knowledge economy.
Anyone who has seen Kaplan University’s marketing campaign (“A different school of thought”) knows that the business of education has changed. “Where is it written that the old way, is the right way,” they ask in their “Desks” spot. “Where is it written that a traditional education is the ONLY way to get an education?” The campaign stands out because of its strong messaging around the fact that today’s learners are not well served by traditional learning models. It is a good example of how schools need to look at their learners as customers, and serve them appropriately. It spotlights the lengths schools are going to in order to capture interest, of how important it is to acknowledge that learning and education have changed, and how difficult it must be to convince learners that they should go to “your” school.
Times have changed. We are in a new knowledge economy. Markets are constantly changing, an incredible amount of pressure is being placed on the workforce, and students are forced to continually update and adapt their learning objectives. For schools, this means they are experiencing unprecedented demand, without the tools to manage it. “Community colleges usually see more students during economic downturns, but this time students turned to community colleges in much greater numbers than they did in the past,” said Judy Jeffrey, Director of the Iowa Department of Education in a 2009 report. “Unemployed workers are fueling unprecedented growth and waiting lists for many high demand community college programs,” she concluded.
This doesn’t just apply to community colleges. “Even in lean times, the $400 billion business of higher education is booming,” writes Tim Copeland in his blog Higher Education Marketing and Enrollment Management (May 6, 2010). “Nowhere is this more true than in one of the fastest-growing … sectors of the industry: for-profit colleges and universities that cater to non-traditional students.”
The implications aren’t just economic in nature. Yes, the entire business structure of how higher ed schools operate is changing, but at a very integral level so is their relationship with students. The definition of a student has changed and higher education is no longer dealing with throngs of people who are simply “going back to school.” They’re dealing with lifelong learners.
Check out how we're helping schools deal with this problem at Destiny Solutions.