Last week, Penn Foster traveled to Las Vegas to attend and exhibit at the 2017 CECU Convention. This conference has become an annual voyage for the Penn Foster team. The insights we extract from conversations with partners, colleagues and industry leaders are an invaluable tool we deploy to help us better improve on our education solutions. CECU provides us with actionable ideas for how we can better serve the needs of technical and career colleges.

Every year features new ideas, challenges and discourse. Here are three things I took away from this year's convention.

I. Sharp Focus on Student Outcomes Continues

Colleges continue to increase investments into programs that help ensure their graduates attain gainful employment. Schools are doing this with investment into areas throughout the student lifecycle. They are offering programs to incoming students to help prepare them for the rigor of college coursework, ensuring enrolled students are given the resources they need to excel in their studies, and then providing tools and training to help graduates transition to gainful employment

II. Data-Driven Decision Making 

Over the past decade, schools have been required to provide more data on student outcomes. This has required schools to develop IT systems yielding granular details into their operations and student success. Executives have adopted this data-driven mindset and used it all over their business, helping to improve not only student outcomes but streamlining operations and better improving resource allocation. Colleges now deploy a litany of new data points to assist them in making decisions that benefit the school and their students.

III. Growing Interest in Hybrid Courses

More and more schools are attracted to the educational and cost benefits of hybrid or blended learning courses. Programs that enhance traditional classroom style instruction by utilizing online course materials and innovative technology platforms are growing in popularity for obvious reasons. Online platforms are flexible, adaptable and can accommodate the needs each individual student, a tall task for an instructor singularly overseeing a classroom of 20+ students. Competency-based learning experiences improve comprehension, and coupled with advanced reporting features enabled through the platform, instructors can identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student so they can understand how to better assist their learning.


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