Everywhere we turn in today’s society, technology is changing how we work, play, and communicate. A limitless amount of information is at our fingertips, and the use of data allows us to personalize what we watch, how we shop, and where we eat.
When virtually almost every product experience a person has is personalized today, shouldn’t a college education be personalized too? Instead, higher education lags far behind the technology curve, leading to greater spending, bigger buildings, and higher tuitions within the historic model of education first established in the 14th century, a model that is anchored in an autocratic approach with a singular source of knowledge imparted from a professor in a classroom.
A century ago, this model resulted in a high school diploma being the key to future success. Fifty years ago, it was a four-year college degree. Ten years ago, it was an advanced degree. Over time, the level of attainment has shifted, but the fundamental premise remained the same: the student went to the school, and the more time and money spent, the better the outcome.
At Zovio, we believe a digital-first, 21st-century mindset must prevail in higher education to ensure the skills attained are relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s jobs.
There are some basic facts that cannot be ignored. There are seven million jobs in America that are vacant because there is a shortage of qualified workers. Today, there are 44 million “middle skills” jobs that require skills beyond a high school degree, but not a four-year college degree. The cost to attend a university has increased nearly eight times faster than wages.
Given the evolution of technology, there is simply no reason why the educational experience cannot be one that is personal, focused, delivers real value, and moves at life’s speed. For students, this means education comes to them, not the other way around. And the curriculum responds to the needs of each unique student, rather than generalized, standardized, chronic approaches designed for the past — failing to position individuals for tomorrow’s success.
This institutional mindset will mean the employer will receive college graduates that benefited from a clear educational pathway that is focused on the skills and training needed, not an arbitrary amount of time in a classroom with blurry educational workforce-related outcomes. This will allow job seekers to move from application to employment in record time, as well as dramatically expand the pool of people that can apply for an opportunity. Because the education is customized, an employer can tier the educational progression of the employee based on their needs and, if desired, align the education with specific training certifications that may be required.
At Zovio, we are charting an exciting new path to enable tomorrow’s success that meets the learner where they are, on their terms. Technological disruption can be a positive force for change, creating the most cherished individual right of all: opportunity. At Zovio, using technology to create opportunity will enable each person to be in a class of their own.