May 28, 2024


Education is everything you need

Questions for Kaplan’s Dientje Francis-Lawrence


Some of the most awesome men and women in increased ed do not perform for faculties or universities. They work for companies that function with faculties and universities. Dr. Dientje Francis-Lawrence is an instance of just one of those awesome folks.  She has been operating for the past 15 a long time to enable universities develop their on the internet systems. As the World wide Head of Partnership Growth & Transformation at Kaplan, Dientje is deeply concerned in the emerging tale of nonprofit (college) and for-revenue (corporation) collaborations. Dientje graciously agreed to respond to my questions about her profession path, the job of providers in academia, and exactly where she sees increased education heading.

Q1:  A single of the most widespread discussions I find myself in today is with customarily properly trained academics who are pondering about career selections exterior of a regular tenure track faculty task. You have a doctorate in training from Johns Hopkins University and, before that, some several years as an educator. You have mostly worked in edtech, most lately at Kaplan. Can you share with us your instruction and profession journey and why you made a decision to construct your job in an edtech organization and not a university?

Growing up, my major desire was to get a university training. My father taught me the worth of an education and learning in transforming life and pushed me to be the first one particular in our family members to get a higher education instruction. I came to the U.S. from the Commonwealth of Dominica with just plenty of cash to fork out for 1 semester of tuition. When my cash started to run small, I began to get worried that I’d have to depart the region, but just one perceptive college member discovered out and lobbied the college to give me a complete scholarship. That scholarship adjusted my lifetime. I went on to graduate at the top rated of my course and then on to entire an MBA.

Right before my MBA, I was a teacher. Soon after my MBA, I needed to go after a diverse route, so I observed this tiny startup that was correct in the cross-section of education and enterprise. We centered on aiding universities really scale substantial systems on the net.

At the time, there was even now some stigma around on the web finding out. I remembered the economic limitations I had heading to school for the reason that of financing and I realized that there were all sorts of non-tutorial obstacles to getting a excellent schooling, especially for adult learners.

This purpose gave me the opportunity to aid universities resolve the accessibility problem that so many learners confront. As I have labored with universities over the previous 15 decades or so, my perform has not only helped completely transform college coverage and process in favor of the grownup learner, but I truly feel like I am doing now what that one particular professor did for me so long in the past. I am taking away obstacles for learners, limitations that ought to never ever have been there in the initially place.

Soon after I concluded my doctorate, I imagined about heading to work at a college, but at Kaplan, I get to make a variance throughout so numerous universities and learners. I have the potential to impact results for so several extra learners of assorted backgrounds this way. I have observed that to be greatly satisfying.

Q2:  How has schooling altered from the times in which you were an educator? What are the most important differences in between present day landscape and what you experienced several years back?”

There is certainly a whole lot of discussion that I failed to hear again then about the worth of a higher education diploma. Which is a controversial topic, for certain, but it is really definitely a dialogue really worth getting.

We’re seeing companies getting rid of the degree as a requirement. We’re seeing them spend in upskilling and re-skilling their workers. We are continue to looking at school enrollment dropping, and as a person who really believes in a university instruction, that’s a very little little bit disheartening. In the experience of climbing school charges, younger Us citizens are building decisions about their lives and professions that are a large amount fewer diploma concentrated than they employed to be. More than ever, learners want to be in manage of their individual understanding. They want and anticipate to co-design their discovering and qualifications at their pace and at a price tag place they can manage – financial debt no cost instruction has turn out to be the intention for lots of of these pupils.

There are nevertheless many significant faculty graduates seriously nervous about getting into the ideal faculty and concentrated on finding into their dream college, but we are looking at all those numbers decline. We are also seeing a climbing number of substantial faculty graduates decide on extra entrepreneurial paths—with technologies as the enabler. In addition, we know they will have various careers, right?

So, you can find no just one degree that’s likely to get ready them for each work they’ll be employed to do. I assume there is a rising sense that universities need to have to respond to these trends and have to change to do so effectively. And I feel universities, albeit slowly and gradually, are addressing individuals worries – which eventually have to do with much better relationship and alignment of training with marketable skills that set learners up for good results in the workplace.

Arguably, the dialogue on abilities has been going on for some time, but now universities and employers are actually expanding investment in capabilities advancement – authentic motion is being taken. And Kaplan is supporting the two universities and businesses in meeting techniques wants. We have a sturdy sense of the price of a university training, so we want to aid our college associates even further rework to meet up with the requires of learners and companies currently. 

Q3: There are numerous variations of what the long run appears like in phrases of on the net education and instruction. Exactly where do you see traits or paths that might just take hold in the long term? What’s Kaplan’s purpose in shaping or reacting to that?

It is crystal clear that sturdy and productive on the web mastering programs are turning out to be a significant portion of the long term for most schools and universities – we previously see this using maintain. That’s not to say that all programs will go strictly on the net or revert to strictly in-particular person, but what the pandemic has accelerated is the introduction of alternatives.

I feel just one common craze that will continue is pupils seeking to learn in different methods. In a 2021 Student Voice survey, done by Inside of Greater Ed and Higher education Pulse and supported by Kaplan, approximately 80 p.c of faculty learners said that they want lectures created obtainable on-line so they can go again and evaluation. And almost 50 percent say they want the selection of whether or not to show up at courses in particular person or on the internet.

To that conclude, we are already seeing a ton of institutions leveraging a hybrid model. What I think we will maintain seeing is learners will progressively expect to immediate their education rather of remaining instructed what their education should really be—whether it really is modality, whether or not it is really articles, regardless of whether it is really duration or price. In addition, the widespread adoption of on the internet training usually means it is getting progressively borderless, so I assume we’ll see increasing world competitiveness as students are in a position to discover and obtain learning programs throughout the globe.

Kaplan was established on the belief that schooling opens doorways –  empowering students to reach their daily life goals. This has develop into especially suitable in the face of a changing workforce that is highlighted a hole in between schooling and employability. Our aim has usually been on outcomes-centered studying that aids college students and gurus advance, originating with planning people for large-stakes tests.

These days, we also help universities attract and guidance pupils and support companies recruit, produce and progress talent. This can mean pathways courses, occupation advising, interweaving levels with a credential or a license or bootcamp specialization, education and learning-as-a-advantage systems – all to improve work marketability.

The advancement of on-line obtain provides a substantial and dynamic dimension to the shipping and delivery and reach of these plans. I think the key is that we are listening, studying, and adjusting.


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