Questions for Kaplan’s Dientje Francis-Lawrence


One of the maximum superb other people in upper ed don’t paintings for faculties or universities. They paintings for corporations that paintings with faculties and universities. Dr. Dientje Francis-Lawrence is an instance of a type of superb other people.  She has been operating for the closing 15 years to assist universities develop their on-line techniques. Because the International Head of Partnership Expansion & Transformation at Kaplan, Dientje is deeply concerned within the rising tale of nonprofit (college) and for-profit (corporate) collaborations. Dientje graciously agreed to respond to my questions on her occupation trail, the function of businesses in academia, and the place she sees upper schooling heading.

Q1:  Probably the most commonplace conversations I in finding myself in in this day and age is with historically educated teachers who’re questioning about occupation choices outdoor of a conventional tenure monitor college process. You’ve a doctorate in schooling from Johns Hopkins College and, prior to that, some years as an educator. You’ve basically labored in edtech, maximum not too long ago at Kaplan. Are you able to percentage with us your schooling and occupation adventure and why you made a decision to construct your occupation in an edtech corporate and no longer a school?

Rising up, my largest dream used to be to get a school schooling. My dad taught me the price of an schooling in converting lives and driven me to be the primary one in our circle of relatives to get a faculty schooling. I got here to the U.S. from the Commonwealth of Dominica with simply sufficient cash to pay for one semester of tuition. When my finances began to run low, I started to fret that I’d have to go away the rustic, however one perceptive college member came upon and lobbied the varsity to present me a complete scholarship. That scholarship modified my lifestyles. I went directly to graduate on the most sensible of my magnificence after which on to finish an MBA.

Earlier than my MBA, I used to be a trainer. After my MBA, I sought after to pursue a special trail, so I discovered this little startup that used to be proper within the cross-section of schooling and industry. We curious about serving to universities actually scale massive techniques on-line.

On the time, there used to be nonetheless some stigma round on-line finding out. I remembered the monetary boundaries I had going to school as a result of financing and I knew that there have been a wide variety of non-academic boundaries to getting a top quality schooling, particularly for grownup freshmen.

This function gave me the chance to assist universities clear up the get entry to problem that such a lot of scholars face. As I’ve labored with universities during the last 15 years or so, my paintings has no longer most effective helped turn out to be college coverage and procedure in choose of the grownup learner, however I think like I’m doing now what that one professor did for me goodbye in the past. I’m doing away with boundaries for freshmen, boundaries that are supposed to by no means were there within the first position.

When I finished my doctorate, I considered going to paintings at a school, however at Kaplan, I am getting to make a distinction throughout such a lot of universities and freshmen. I be capable of affect results for such a lot of extra freshmen of numerous backgrounds this manner. I’ve discovered that to be vastly rewarding.

Q2:  How has schooling modified from the times during which you had been an educator? What are the most important variations between these days’s panorama and what you skilled a few years in the past?”

There is numerous dialogue that I did not pay attention again then concerning the worth of a school level. That is a arguable matter, needless to say, however it is indisputably a dialog value having.

We’re seeing employers doing away with the level as a demand. We’re seeing them put money into upskilling and re-skilling their staff. We are nonetheless seeing faculty enrollment shedding, and as any person who actually believes in a school schooling, that is somewhat bit disheartening. Within the face of emerging faculty prices, more youthful American citizens are making possible choices about their lives and careers which can be so much much less level centered than they was once. Greater than ever, scholars need to be in keep watch over of their very own finding out. They would like and be expecting to co-design their finding out and credentials at their tempo and at a worth level they may be able to find the money for – debt loose schooling has transform the function for lots of of those scholars.

There are nonetheless many highschool graduates actually worried about entering the fitting faculty and curious about entering their dream faculty, however we’re seeing the ones numbers decline. We also are seeing a emerging quantity of highschool graduates make a selection extra entrepreneurial paths—with era because the enabler. As well as, we all know they are going to have more than one careers, proper?

So, there is no one level that is going to organize them for each and every process they’ll be employed to do. I believe there’s a emerging sense that universities want to reply to those traits and need to turn out to be to take action successfully. And I believe universities, albeit slowly, are addressing the ones considerations – which in the long run need to do with higher connection and alignment of schooling with marketable talents that set scholars up for good fortune within the place of business.

Arguably, the discussion on talents has been happening for a while, however now universities and employers are in reality expanding funding in talents building – actual motion is being taken. And Kaplan is supporting each universities and employers in assembly talents wishes. Now we have a powerful sense of the price of a school schooling, so we need to assist our college companions additional turn out to be to fulfill the wishes of freshmen and employers these days. 

Q3: There are lots of variations of what the long run seems like on the subject of on-line schooling and coaching. The place do you notice traits or paths that can take grasp sooner or later? What’s Kaplan’s function in shaping or reacting to that?

It’s transparent that tough and efficient on-line finding out techniques are changing into a crucial a part of the long run for most faculties and universities – we already see this taking grasp. That’s to not say that each one lessons will pass strictly on-line or revert to strictly in-person, however what the pandemic has sped up is the creation of choices.

I believe one commonplace pattern that may proceed is scholars in need of to be told in numerous techniques. In a 2021 Scholar Voice survey, performed by means of Within Upper Ed and Faculty Pulse and supported by means of Kaplan, just about 80 % of faculty scholars mentioned that they would like lectures made to be had on-line so they may be able to return and assessment. And nearly part say they would like the choice of whether or not to wait lessons in user or on-line.

To that finish, we are already seeing numerous establishments leveraging a hybrid type. What I believe we’re going to stay seeing is freshmen will an increasing number of be expecting to direct their schooling as a substitute of being instructed what their schooling will have to be—whether or not it is modality, whether or not it is content material, whether or not it is duration or value. Moreover, the standard adoption of on-line schooling manner it’s changing into an increasing number of without boundaries, so I believe we’ll see rising world festival as scholars are in a position to find and get entry to finding out techniques around the globe.

Kaplan used to be based at the trust that schooling opens doorways –  empowering scholars to reach their lifestyles targets. This has transform specifically related within the face of a converting staff that’s highlighted an opening between schooling and employability. Our center of attention has all the time been on outcomes-based finding out that is helping scholars and pros advance, originating with making ready people for high-stakes checks.

Lately, we additionally assist universities draw in and give a boost to scholars and assist employers recruit, broaden and advance ability. This will imply pathways techniques, occupation advising, interweaving levels with a credential or a license or bootcamp specialization, education-as-a-benefit techniques – all to spice up employment marketability.

The expansion of on-line get entry to provides a vital and dynamic measurement to the supply and achieve of those techniques. I believe the hot button is that we are listening, finding out, and adjusting.



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