Education for Mid-Career Transitions

February 23, 2015

Richard Eisenberg wrote an article in Forbes last week about how colleges are failing to create degree programs for the baby boomer generation. Instead, the vast majority of higher education institutions offer programs primarily geared to 18 -21 year old students. He argues that programs marketed toward adults are often expensive and elite (at Harvard and Stanford, for example) or are an offshoot of a program that is still geared toward youth and doesn’t meet the needs of an adult learner. Eisenberg’s article really drives home that what we think of as “the average student” is changing rapidly.

Eisenberg mentions that offering credits to adult learners for “knowledge areas and skills they’ve picked up” would be an important innovation for a population that doesn’t have time or money to waste on skills they already know. Capella’s competency-based FlexPath program is designed to do much of what Eisenberg discusses. It allows a motivated professional adult the ability to demonstrate and get credit for what they know and fill in the gaps that they need for a new degree.

What makes FlexPath and the other degree programs at Capella even more dynamic and well-suited to the baby boomer generation is the support that we provide to learners. As mentioned in the article, this particular generation is going through a transition: a new career, or a new way to contribute to the community. Capella, of course, has career-specific resources, such as career counseling, but we also provide coaches and academic advisors to all enrolled learners. Part of a coach’s role is to help students explore their interests, set goals, and serve as a resource for them as they move through their degree program. What I hear most from our FlexPath learners especially is how much their coach has helped them throughout their time at Capella.

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(PODCAST) School for the Working Adult: Tracy’s FlexPath Experience

February 17, 2015

In my latest podcast, I speak with FlexPath learner and soon to be graduate, Tracy Dudley. Tracy will be attending our commencement in March in D.C.

Photo of Tracy Dudley

Tracy has worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs for over 26 years and decided to go back to school to get her degree because she felt professionally incomplete without one. Tracy speaks about how FlexPath was a great fit for her as a working adult and how she was able to move at her own pace toward degree completion. She discusses that even with over two decades of professional experience; she still learned new competencies that translate to her day-to-day work. Tracy also talks about the support she received in the program that helped her achieve her goal of graduation. Check out the podcast here.


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(PODCAST) Dr. Cheryl Bann, A Faculty Perspective of FlexPath

February 12, 2015

For my latest podcast, I spoke with Dr. Cheryl Bann, a Capella alum and the chair for Capella’s MBA program in the School of Business and Technology. Cheryl also helped to spearhead the competency-based MBA FlexPath program.

Dr. Cheryl Bann, MBA, FlexPath, Capella Faculty Chair

In our conversation, Cheryl speaks about her interesting employment background in several different sectors and talks about going back to school to get a PhD as a working adult. Cheryl also shares her insights and strategies for student success in the FlexPath program. Finally, we discuss the FlexPath program from a faculty perspective and how the role of faculty is different in FlexPath than a traditional program. Check out the podcast here.


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(PODCAST): Conversation with FlexPath learner, John

February 9, 2015

In my latest podcast, I spoke with John Scafide, another FlexPath graduate, about his story and experiences at Capella.


John recently graduated with a B.A. in Business and will participate in commencement in Washington D.C. this coming March. He has a compelling story about his time at Capella and his 12-year journey to getting his bachelor’s degree. John is now continuing his education and is currently enrolled in Capella’s MBA program.

John’s story, as well as Tapitha’s in my previous podcast, addresses many of the challenges that adult learners face today. Hearing about their determination to keep going and work through those obstacles is a perfect reflection of the spirit of many Capella learners—I hope you enjoy the podcast here.


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Innovation in Higher Education

February 5, 2015

Harvard Business Review recently did a podcast with David Duncan, a senior partner at Innosight. You can listen to the podcast here. He has some great commentary about how companies are building innovation processes to both generate and execute ideas in a more systematic way. He contends that companies can’t leave innovation up to good luck and chance, but rather that innovation is a way to maintain value and growth.

David suggests that after deciding what kind of innovation to focus on, the next step is to observe the customer and see what needs aren’t being met. In the higher education industry, that means looking at not only our students, but also their potential employers. How can we, as colleges and universities, create and improve programs that give busy learners the skills and competencies that employers need, and how can we do this in the most efficient manner?

It’s a really exciting time to be in the higher education industry because universities and policy makers are attempting to address that question. I’m proud of what’s going on at Capella. We are partnering with industry leaders to design and develop competencies that are aligned to employer needs. And certainly with FlexPath, we are leading the way on efficient, high-quality degree programs by focusing on competency and not credit hours. In my podcast, I recently spoke with one of our first FlexPath graduates, Tapitha Jamison. Click here to listen to her perspective on the program.

Speaking of innovation, Jeff Grann, senior manager of Academic Quality Analytics and Accreditation at Capella, recently submitted a video to Educause Learning Initiatives competition that overviews Capella’s data-driven environment to help support current learners. You can check out all the submissions and vote for his video here!

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