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Industry Updates

July 25, 2022

A Long-Term Perspective on the Future of Education

Andy Rosen

Chairman & CEO, Kaplan, Inc.

Andy Rosen on education trends: more mobile, accessible, personalized, outcome-focused, and global

The accelerated adoption of online learning, major demographic shifts, and a changing workforce economy are driving significant changes in education. Andy Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc, recently sat down for an interview with Rod Berger, a partner at education and healthcare strategy firm Strategos Group, to discuss where education is heading and Kaplan’s role in its future.

On the need for disruptive thinking

Any time you try to do something different, there are a lot of people who will say, “You’re trying to ruin education.” You need some people who are willing to say, “Well, I’m going to do it anyway. And I’m going to keep pushing, even against some of the tides, to do it, to prove that there’s a market demand, and that the outcomes are high quality.” Education tends to resist change, but if you keep on pounding away and prove the outcomes, you’ll get there eventually. But you have to have a long-term orientation to do that.

On early adoption of online learning

Back in the 90s, we were grinding it out building online programming for professional programs, for test prep programs – building technologies, processes and pedagogies even against withering criticism from essentially all of academia who said, “That’s a terrible idea, that doesn’t even count as education.” Eventually, we demonstrated enough market demand that more traditional universities started to get into online education and started to build some of their own capabilities. So when the pandemic hit, there was some expertise.

On the increasingly global nature of education

Education feels inherently local but when you have a digital education, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as it’s high quality. American institutions assume that their competitors are the ones that they can see. And their competitors over the course of the next decade or two are going to be the ones they don’t necessarily see: Indian universities, Singaporean universities, Australian universities, or companies or providers who aren’t linked to universities at all.

Education appears to be at an interesting inflection point with online models and cultural shifts. What changes in education most resonate with you today?

It’s about thinking more mobile, accessible, personalized, outcome-focused, and global. All of those things are focused on work readiness and they are clearly going to happen. Instead of focusing just on today’s issues, we try to concentrate on the issues that are almost inevitable over a long time. You don’t just think about a company as being long-term oriented. You think about your customers and students being long-term oriented and the universities and companies we serve.

Your book is titled, Rebooting for the new talent economy. Tell me about the word “rebooting’ and the need to press the reset button to some degree.

It’s been clear for a long time that what our education system sees as its goals doesn’t always align with what our economy needs for its future. Imagine a pipe going through education, but that pipe is not always connected to the work pipe. Kaplan sees itself as a bridge or joint that can pull those pipes together and bring the system closer.

If you chose to update your book (published 2011) and wanted to add a chapter, what would be the next truth-telling entry from Andy Rosen?

One thing that is still not as embraced as it should be is that higher education is increasingly going to be global. When you have a digital education, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as it’s high quality. High-intensity focused universities and companies around the world will become competitors. The future of education will be borderless, maybe not entirely in five years, but you’ll start to see the movement in one or two decades.

Taken from an interview with Dr. Rod Berger, a partner at education and healthcare strategy firm Strategos Group. The full audio interview can be found here on the On Balance podcast.