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H. Leitner

Harvard University (UNITED STATES)
Today’s learners live longer. They will change careers several times during their lifetime, and will need to adapt repeatedly to evolving job requirements. These learners already live in a society where 65% of the jobs that a typical middle-schooler will fill do not yet exist. 85% of learners are not traditional students, which implies they need flexible forms of educational experiences. Even a virtualized 4-year or a standard apprenticeship program, while arguably necessary, cannot provide enough learning to last through the multi-stage career of a 100-year life. Education and training services must continue to be relevant and available across learners’ entire career path at convenient times and places. Done well, this allows learners to maximize their contributions through yet-to-be invented jobs and careers, as well as fulfill their civic and social responsibilities in a world of rapidly evolving technology, globalization, and environmental change.

The easy parts for higher education to wrestle with today are courses and programs; many great brands exist from decades of progress in teaching and learning. Universities who have earned powerful reputations now have the opportunity to become educational product aggregators of their and others’ great curriculum, learning experiences, services, and credentialing in order to cover learner’s work, career, and life skills and knowledge needs. These institutions can package and personalize these services for learners at all stages of life and deliver them in on-campus, online, at work, and hybrid modes, according to the individual learner’s need and goals.

The hard part for higher education in the near future is integrating life-long meta-curriculum and credentialing services with services ranging from advice for planning life transitions, planning career and job changes, mentoring, trusted consulting, sustaining community connections, personal resilience building, and life management skills.

Harvard DCE is developing a new academic, administrative, and information systems infrastructure, and extending its educational services to support 60YC learning and learners.

It’s new academic stack and development strategy is based on the following principles.
• Personalization
• Virtualization
• Collaboration
• Certification

Our current development objectives fall into three general categories:
• Curriculum and Learning Experience: Engage faculty and learning engineers to design and build the long-term 60YC curriculum; establish stackable credentials through academic policy.
• Continuous Service: Add affordable career coaching, concierge advice, mentoring, etc.
• Credentials: a comprehensive approach to records that is a superset of degrees, micro-credentials, etc. that ensures relevance and accuracy and democratizes credential ownership, using capabilities like digital certificates and blockchain security

If universities fail to integrate 60YC learner services with modernized courses and degree programs, and manage long-term learner relationships well, it is likely that a few global institutions or private companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet will capture and monopolize integrated, long term educational relationships. The other surviving institutions will serve only localized workforce needs. That binary outcome would be a huge loss in the diversity of education and knowledge creation, as well in the ability of higher education to serve the unique needs of local communities.