Reinventing Universities: Continuing Education and the Challenge of the 21st Century

Ken Coates

Abstract


Canadian universities are in the midst of a lengthy period of financial uncertainty and public pressures to change, circumstances that add to the pressures on continuing education units and create opportunities for innovative change. The emergence of MOOCs, demands for research relevance, and concerns about the employability of graduates have forced campuses to consider new approaches, implement alternative financial models, find additional revenue, and search for efficiencies.

In this environment, continuing education professionals have significant opportunities to provide to the campus-wide university, even after years of being marginalized on many campuses. Continuing education units work with external audiences and clients, have experimented with new revenue sources, have explored and evaluated distance delivery/ technology-based methods, and have become accustomed to living with constant change.

While it will be difficult for continuing education units to attract campus-wide attention, particularly from traditional academic disciplines, there is a strong likelihood that universities as a whole will need the insights, strategies, approaches, pedagogy, and business models that have evolved in the outreach divisions in recent decades.


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