I’ve written regularly about the pace of change and increasingly multi-modal forms of learning in the higher education ecosystem. Technology is a central driver of the changes we have seen in the economy and employment sectors, some influenced more directly and profoundly than others at this point but all inexorably linked to these forces. Technology is also a critical enabler in the education environment for learning that is not simply a discrete lifespan event but instead something that must be done continually over the course a working career. The formal degree at the bachelor’s and master’s level are anchors in the education ecosystem but are increasingly situated in a growing environment of non-degree learning opportunities tied directly to employment (or potential employment) performance.
A recent report by the Strada Institute on the Future of Work estimates that advances in lifespan will potentially extend the working career to as much as 100 years, necessitating continuing education and retooling to meet changing workforce demands. The degree is an important anchor but one that is also supplemented by certificates, specialized training, and focused learning tied directly to specific skills and which enhance the intellectual capabilities germinated in a degree program. Contemporary observers and scholars have written extensively on the importance and rapid growth of non-degree certificates and credentials, many of which are “stackable” interfaces or supplements to degrees.
My conversations with our alumni and post-degree surveys indicate that Norwich graduates are engaged learners and desire opportunities for continuing and professional education. In fact, many of you are actively and regularly involved in learning beyond your degree, whether it be for career advancement, performance enhancement, acquisition of new skills, professional education requirements in your field, or personal interest. The importance of professional development for our students and alumni cannot be stressed enough given the trends noted above. Until now we have not had a robust way to serve our students and alumni, but that has changed.
Continuing and Professional Education with Norwich Pro
After a year of research, planning, and implementation, I am extremely pleased that our new continuing and professional education initiative will launch as Norwich Pro in early April. We built a new Norwich Pro website, a platform for easy course registration, a Moodle learning platform designed specifically for noncredit courses, and a full schedule of courses and certificate programs ready to go. Some of the first noncredit programs out of the gate will include Military History, Project Management, Supply Chain, and Corporate Compliance, with more to follow. We’ll be asking everyone to help spread the word, so watch for Norwich Pro emails with details and additional information coming soon. The future has arrived; we hope to see you in Norwich Pro soon!