The educational landscape is on the move.
As the cohort of students continues to evolve, including an array of learners, from adult to part-time to working professionals, those in the business of learning must adapt to meet their needs and provide educational programs that offer students true value in today's world.
In tandem, over the past few decades, the needs of employers have changed. With cutting-edge digital technologies empowering customers and the emergence of disruptors becoming all the more prevalent, companies need employees that are skilled in a variety of specialized areas, coupled with staff that are considered generalist, with a wide range of knowledge under their collective belt.
With this in mind, the education people require has and will continue to change, rapidly. Find out 8 ways educators can identify gaps in their training portfolio to keep up with pace.
1) Perform a course audit
The key to developing fresh educational programs that drive enrollments is understanding what currently works. By drilling down into digital data and discovering which courses are working and why, you can gain a great deal of insight into your institute's areas of educational strength.
A rising number of digital student touchpoints means its more possible than ever to gather significant amounts of data, the kind that can help you spot potential weaknesses within your educational offering while capitalizing on the elements that work the best. Data-based insights will give you an accurate gauge of your performance, giving you the power to take actions that will be most valuable to your organization.
These insights can range from course completion and pass rates and through to anecdotal data from students based on their overall learning experience.
By analyzing these insights and digesting student feedback, modern educational organizations stand to increase retention rates, improve the value of their course content and identify trends that could provide significant assistance with future curriculums or campaigns.
2) Revisit personas
With student demographics rapidly evolving, an astute change in course enrollments is only natural.
To drill down and gain a meaningful understanding of your new target students, you should revisit your student personas, updating them with fresh data and insights to ensure they offer optimal value to your institution.
It's reported that 56% of businesses have built higher quality leads by using buyer personas while 24% have gained more leads. So student personas are worth revisiting.
To enhance your institution's personas, you should examine current records and communicate with key faculty members to see if they have identified any notable shifts in student demographics.
- Are your students getting older?
- Are they looking for more flexible educational options such as blended learning?
- Are enrollments leaning to one particular subject area as a result of changes occurring in the digital world?
All of this will prove invaluable to your new and improved student personas.
3) Assess outputs
With soft skills including analytical thinking and problem solving becoming more critical and attractive to today's employers, you need to assess whether your courses offer the practical elements that will help your students to develop these skills.
Are apprenticeships offered as part of your core programs or work experience placements in an eCommerce environment? Do you provide real-world workshops and assessments?
Sit down with key stakeholders within your organization, breaking down each of your primary courses. Identify the areas that need improvement concerning the skills most relevant to today’s workforce, assessing each potential output, and develop strategies to meet the needs of the modern student base.
4) Examine job markets
One of the most effective means of understanding the skills demand of the current occupational market is to examine the job listings and advertisements of businesses both big or small, across a range of relevant sectors.
Studying job boards or online recruitment sites will help you gain a greater insight into what today’s employers are searching for and gain the ability to tailor your educational offers to meet these requirements, using direct and practical approaches including real-world assessments, digital work experience placements and learning outcomes based on emerging skills, as mentioned.
Particularly useful job posting sites include:
5) Engage with students
Regarding valuable feedback and astute insights that can offer significant assistance with filling gaps in your institution's training portfolio, engaging with students is perhaps the most valuable.
Your students are ideally placed to provide feedback on your various learning programs. To gather this invaluable data and use it to enhance your institution's educational offerings, you should adopt these approaches:
- Perform student-centric surveys and workshops to identify the elements of your training portfolio that are working well, in addition to the areas that need attention. Ask them what’s missing in their learning journey and see what they believe the solutions could be.
- Create social polls asking offering multiple choices on the areas of your educational offerings they would most like to see improved.
- Develop a portal or leave forms and boxes around your physical campus, should you have one, for students to leave regular anonymous feedback on a regular basis without any specific pressure to do so.
This approach will ensure you are provided with valuable student insights on a regular basis to assist with the continual evolution of your institution’s training improvement initiatives.
6) Reconnect with alumni
In addition to the feedback, thoughts and opinions of your current students, retrospective insights from your institution's alumni can also prove incredibly useful when it comes to improving your gaps in your training portfolio.
Not only are your alumni familiar with your institution and course content, but they will now be working in the commercial world and will have seen changes in the skill sets required as well as hiring practices present in today's professional world.
By holding focus groups or producing surveys for members of your alumni, in the same way, you can with current students, you can leverage these insights to your advantage.
7) Study competitors
In such a wildly competitive environment, there must be a leader in your field, and locale, that is seeing a significant rise in their number of enrollments.
By conducting research to understand the reasons why this is happening, you'll be able to use the approaches of successful competitors as inspiration for your organization's educational offerings.
To gain the kind of competitive intelligence that yields positive results, you should:
1. Identify top 10 competitors
2. Analyze and compare your competitor's content (blog posts, social media posts, video seminars, eBooks, case studies white papers, etc.,) with your own.
3. Look at your competitors' social media integration. Is there messaging and communication consistent across all channels; how do their students and alumni respond to their post and communications.
4. Identify key areas of improvement. Taking the best elements of your competitors’ efforts for inspiration, use this new information to decide how you can improve on these methods to gain a competitive advantage and improve your training programs.
8) Assess learning techniques
As students evolve, so must the way they in which are taught.
At present, around 67% of people now use mobile devices to access learning. Moreover, with the average employee only able to devote 1% of their working week to professional development, micro-learning is on the rise.
Online learning suits the needs and requirements of working professionals as well as part-time learners. As new technologies emerge and current user touchpoints become all the more sophisticated, a host of new learning mediums have emerged, offering forward-thinking institutions the opportunity to engage, inspire and teach their students through a host of interactive mediums.
To offer optimal value to your potential students, you should ask yourself whether there's a facility to launch new and innovative learning mediums, and if not, why not. Perhaps online learning alone not proving successful does there need to be an element of classroom or workshops in the mix. Understanding this will paint a clearer picture on the actions you need to take to enhance learning programs.
While presenting significant challenges for today’s educators, these seismic shifts in the professional world, as well as student behaviors, present a wealth of opportunity for those educators that embrace the change and use a raft exciting new digital developments or methodologies to their advantage.