Future-Focused Leadership: Cooperation, Creativity and Purpose

Interestingly enough, the hottest jobs at Facebook require a “human touch.”  Why?  They are looking for people who can close sales because their revenue relies heavily on ads (Anders, 2014).  Perhaps the most future-focused distance learning administrators should consider blending “high-human touch” with “high-tech” in new and interesting ways that holistically add value to the lives of learners.

Future-focused leaders in distance learning are using technology to change the game of education and life. One person cannot do it alone in a world that continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace; rather, distance administrators should innovate in teams with a spirit of cooperation and creativity.   Together, with a common purpose, distance leaders can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, develop content, streamline design and monitor analytics while creating meaningful educational experiences and innovating the world of distance education in ways not yet imagined.

Thanks for following and celebrating this blog series focused on the future-focused leadership in distance learning.  Keep those ideas and trends coming!

Go Wild with the Future of Learning!

-Dr. Connie

The manuscript, Future-Focused Leadership:  Three Mega-Trends Influencing Distance Learning (including references used in this blog series), can be downloaded online by visiting the Kimmel Education and Research Center’s Digital Commons site:  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/kimmelfacpub/24

Mom's Birthday Cake
Thanks for following and celebrating the AskDrConnie.com blog series on future-focused leadership in distance learning! And, a Very Happy Birthday to a Special Someone in my family!! 🙂

Megatrend 3: Decentralized Global Marketplace

Distance learning is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer-Learner” who has a buffet of educational choices.   The empowered consumer-learner decides what educational experiences and knowledge they need, when they need it and how they want to experience it.  The wide-array of non-credit and for credit choices makes for a very competitive marketplace but also a field of new opportunities.

Venture capitalists continue to invest in distance education because of the return on investment potential.  Big Data is being used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns.  It is also being used to examine various areas of teaching and learning.  Data can help create bite-sized, customized courses and programs that are both personalized and interactive (Koller, 2012). Technology enables the delivery of information and education anytime, anywhere and from anyone in a way that makes sense to the learner while adding value to their lives.

It’s no longer necessary for people to enroll in college, formal classes or workshops to learn.  They are learning what they want to know from their networks and resources they find on the Web, through Apps or in iTunes.  People will increasingly be able to create and print their ideas from wherever they choose with 3D printing.  Technology, combined with the continued growth of self-expression and meaning, will continue to change education at a rapid pace.

Value is becoming less about college credit and more about meaningful outcomes and self-expression through enhanced skills and evolving abilities.  The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything, including educational experiences.  Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed.  Many of these same individuals are transforming distance learning in new and innovative ways.  Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, when, where and whether-or-not to meet face-to-face and connecting over common causes.  Education, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized.  Savvy consumers seek and create the value they crave to transform their lives.   They are choosing whether or not they want a badge, certificate, credit hour or degree, and their demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends.  The Empowered Consumer-Learner wants a unique experience that adds value to their life.  Future-focused leaders who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Innovation Retreat: New Ideas and New Dollars on April 29!
As educators, what is the value we can add to a lifetime?

Megatrend 1: The Rise of the #GigEconomy

The rise of the entrepreneurial individual, and what is currently referred to as the Gig Economy, will create new challenges and opportunities for distance learning administrators.  How can institutions of education help learners create value for traditional employers and for their individual brands?   If not as many people are investing in education to land a full-time job, what does this mean for higher education?

An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways.   The number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living.  The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services as well as individual brands on the Web has created a need for education to add value to the lives of learners in innovative ways.  People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job.  In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a full-time job.

One common denominator will remain the same:  People need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web.  They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success.  Educational institutions should keep a close eye on the rise of businesses like Fiverr.com and the use of Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume = a resume in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Leaders should also consider building their brands, as well as those of students, faculty and alumni.  The rise of social networks and technology has enabled people to both learn and teach at anytime from any place.  These same tools have helped people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, which supports the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend.  Life purpose is shaping everything from healthcare to education.

Future-Focused Leadership Paper Accepted!

Received this great email today…

“Congratulations! The Conference Committee of the DLA2014 Distance Learning Administration Conference has reviewed your proposal “Future-Focused Leadership: Mega-Trends Influencing Distance Learning Administration” and accepted it for presentation. We received a record number of quality proposals for this conference, and are most pleased that you are among our presenters.”

Yes!!!  Now, I have to get to work and write a smashing paper!!  This is one of my favorite conferences for a number of reasons.  The first paper I submitted to this conference, A Framework for Entrepreneurial Learner of the 21st Century, earned a Best Paper Award in 2005. The atmosphere is great, and I always learns a lot from the other attendees.

I would love to hear from all of you.  What mega-trends are shaping distance learning and education?

I am planning to celebrate this great news with my family this weekend with some fun…not in the sun but possibly in the snow!  🙂   The sun will have to wait until the conference!!

I know my Friday has been awesome, and I hope yours has been too.

Go Wild with Learning!

-Dr. Connie

PS:  Thank you Distance Learning Administration Conference Committee!

Child's Shovel and Pail at the Beach