What is Pearson Higher Education?

What is the future of higher education?

Don KilburnDon Kilburn leads Pearson’s activities across North America. Blogging from the Aspen Ideas Festival, he writes about what he sees as the ripe opportunity for improving higher education, and how technology holds the key to that progress.

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I recently had the pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony at Bunker Hill Community College. Bunker Hill is an excellent example of how our American higher education system is continuing to offer educational opportunities to all – and one Pearson is proud to support. The graduation ceremony was a sea of eager multi-cultural faces, many of whom were the first to graduate college in their families and are still on a path to U.S. citizenship. These new graduates are a fabulous example of the future of America. They are our future workforce. And, they are also why we can’t remain complacent when we talk about higher education.

As a parent, like all parents across the country, I want the best for my kids too. I want to see a wealth of opportunities available to my children who, I hope, will be life-long learners in their own right. I want to ensure my son and daughter can find the right path to higher education learning that sets them up for success in all aspects of their lives.

At this point, though, the U.S. higher education system feels like a tale of two cities. It is still the crown jewel of our education system – a proud tradition of world class research and innovation. Yet, that same system faces a growing number of challenges: How do we make education more affordable so students are not graduating with a mountain of debt? How do we make it more accessible, offering more people the education and training they need? How do we make sure our education ecosystem is more focused on measuring and impacting meaningful outcomes for all our students? So, as my colleague Sir Michael Barber pointed out last year in his Avalanche report: standing still is not an option.

The current environment is ripe for further embracing technology and breaking through to new, impactful models.

Already, Pearson is actively engaged with a diverse set of higher education institutions – from community colleges to for-profit institutions to bricks-and-mortar campuses – to make learning available to as many students as possible. And, although each institution, course, and classroom is unique, we are working with educators to overcome struggles with an often unprepared and unengaged student body, decreasing retention rates, and huge institutional funding issues.


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