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Education 3.0: Connecting the Learning Experience Webinar Series (Episode 6)

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 0:11
Hi, everybody. This is Shaunak Roy, founder and CEO of Yellowdig. So we are yet back again with an exciting webinar on our connected learning experience series. And this time, I have the wonderful Dr. Wally Boston. So we are going to have a very interesting conversation in the next 45 minutes. And if you are tuning in, please, you know, get some of your questions ready. I mean, we are going to have him for some time. So I'm going to add some questions that I'm going to roll with. But if you have questions that you would want to ask him, please post it in our zoom chat. We're also live on LinkedIn as well as on YouTube. So you can also ask your questions there and our team will relate to me. With that we are about to get started. So before we get in, so Dr. Wally Boston, if you haven't, you know seen or met him. I mean, of course, if you have been educated probably you know him already, but if you haven't, he is somebody who has been in education for the last only like 20 years or so. You know, right now he is a co founder of green State Street impact capital, which is a venture fund focused on education and health care. Previously, Dr. Wally Boston was the CEO of APUS, which is the American Public University System, which teaches about close to 80,000 students. I think that's the, you know, kind of Wally joined it back in 2004. And have been, you know, running that organization for a long time. And I think he retired in 2020. Prior to that, while he was in healthcare, so he has had executive roles there. And I'm very interested to actually get his point of view around moving from healthcare, to education, and now to investments. So, he has a, you know, definitely a very interesting area. So with that, let me just pass it on to Wally, and Wally, why don't you kind of give us a little more color about your background?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 2:22
Thanks, Shaunak. I think my background probably illustrates the fact that I'm a lifelong learner. So after spending nearly two decades and healthcare and feeling like I had mastered the highly regulatory industry, I said, I think I want to go into a less regulated industry. And so I look towards higher ed. Little did I know that higher ed over time, we've probably become as regulated as healthcare. But, you know, I certainly enjoyed my nearly two decade experience at HBCUs. And, you know, working through the changes in distance learning and technology while growing our university from 4000 students to 9000 students. I've had a leadership philosophy over the years that you really can't lead without listening and understanding. So as we had to figure things out, and assessment, learning outcomes, how to retain online students a little better, how do we engage those students in order to help retain them. And then, you know, most recently, over the last few years, artificial intelligence and helping improving learning, particularly in remedial learning, content marketing and search engine optimization. So, you know, I sort of rolled up my sleeves and got into a lot of things. And it's really been fun. And, you know, I'm enjoying learning on my next cycle. But it's trading trying to stay focused and education technology.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 4:03
Awesome! So Wally, this webinar series is focused on this new term that we coined called education 3.0. And this is based on a blog post that I wrote about a month or so back, explaining how we have moved from the industrial way of learning, which is how education was designed about 150 years back to today, through this incredible amount of changes that are happening all around us. So curious to hear about your point of view, if you were to define education, 3.0 you know, kind of whichever you want to take it. How would you how would you think education is changing?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 4:47
Well, you make a very good point. Education 1.0 really was built for the industrial age. You know, having classrooms attended to by a say Will instructor lecturing limiting terms. You know, it was different than the old days of one on one back in Plato and Aristotle. And so certainly, as we, you know, became a country here in the United States, not just talking about higher ed, but K through 12, where, when my grandfather graduated from high school in 1905, only 5% of Americans had a high school degree. And so the the same model that we applied to K through 12, we ultimately applied through higher ed and really was geared to moving people along. And if they dropped out, you know, that was that was bad. But nonetheless, if you persisted long enough, completed the courses that you were asked to complete, you get a high school degree to get a college degree. And, you know, for very few people, you get a graduate degree. Higher Ed 2.0, really came into being about two decades ago. And it's it's the world of higher ed, beyond the traditional campus. So higher ed 2.0, this is my definition, you utilizes technology, online modes of learning, competency based learning certifications, and more. And it really came into being because of the knowledge economy. So higher at 1.0 was industrial economy. And then we had the knowledge economy, and knowledge, societies are focused on common outcomes. So if you think about higher education, 3.0, which a lot of people are talking about, but I don't I don't believe we're there yet. Because it involves a complexity that you mentioned, in your blog piece about connecting. You know, connecting can be pretty complex when people are very mobile, and they're choosing to be educated from multiple sources. So I believe Higher Ed 3.0, is going to incorporate partnerships between accredited institutions and corporations, as well as non traditional educators to begin with. We're gonna be looking for validated credentials representing professional readiness. And career upskilling is going to be emphasized. I think the learners will be it'll be in their best interest to maintain their own dynamic, lifelong education plan with a lifelong education record, that tracks their personal skills, their knowledge, their experiences, and their competencies. Competencies. And skills are already being stacked into some industry recognized credentials, as well as academic equivalencies. But I think it would be done uniformly across the board. You know, we could spend the rest of this discussion just about credentials alone, and how to validate them and how to validate them and who should be the gatekeeper. But I think I'll skip that, while we're just talking about the definition. So traditional institutions are really going to have to transform to survive in this era, unless they're in that highly selective, elite category, and they'll probably be the slowest to change for the most part, communications. And connecting between learners and instructors, peers, employers, prospective employers, and others is really going to be critical. So, you know, to sort of summarize this, I think the education experience is going to be centered on the learner and be much more personalized. And once again, in addition to formal education, assessments and certifications are going to be regularly added to that individual's learning record, as they're completed instead of at the completion of a certificate or degree. I that's all I have,

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 9:20
Yeah, that's it's a wonderful explanation for 3.0. You know, one thing that strikes out is this whole emphasis on lifelong learning, which is, you know, where I think the current education system broadly even though average age of students are increasing because more and more students from are coming back to the universities to get up get to upskill themselves. But in this new definition, there is kind of a glue that connects the learner right from the time they enter college and even before they're that to till the day they retire from the system. And that's a grand vision and that's how we can get to the entire working population. especially in this kind of new economy that we are living in, what do you think is the biggest challenge or the biggest gap, we need to fill from a change management from, or from a transformation standpoint, because Academy, of course, you know, has been built over the years. And, you know, it's not that easy to change, because a lot of effort takes to kind of make any one small change, but it's a big vision. So if you were to choose one area that universities need to work on to get towards that vision, what would be that area?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 10:29
I think if I was the head of a traditional university, I focus on making sure that the my students understood the return on investment for their education. And, you know, I don't take that term lightly. I think that we've, we've talked over the years, as an industry, and by industry, I mean, the higher education sector, that lifelong earnings for someone who completes a college degree, are a million or so dollars more than someone who just completed a high school degree. And I think that, you know, whether that average may still be appropriate. And in some cases, I've seen studies and take that average and cut it by half, you know, after tweaking it for certain, you know, let's say, the standard deviation at, you know, anybody beyond the standard deviation and above the high earners, like, you know, doctors and lawyers and CEOs. But, nonetheless, depending on how you look at it, I think that's it, looking at it based on an average is not going to resonate, well. We're already seeing declines in enrollment. And in traditional higher education, I think we'll continue to see declines in enrollment in higher education, not just due to the demographic bump that's going to happen around 2025. But people were really looking to say, How can I spend time learning in the shortest time as possible, and in the most exciting way possible, and have that give me meaningful employment. And so if I'm a college or university president, I'm really going to have to say why I'm going to have to demonstrate why someone should spend four years at this particular institution, and heaven forbid, if they end up having to spend six, and justify the cost and the loans that are taken out to do so with the job that they may not be guaranteed at all when they graduate.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 12:47
Yeah. So you know, it kind of goes back to the value of education. Because at the end of the day, the students would have to come and invest the time and the money. One question that comes to my mind, Wally, is that the quality of education that we are delivering, there's a lot of talk around, you know, the how the educational experience have evolved over the years. And if students are satisfied with the level of delivery, and the quality of education that they're receiving from these institutions, and one particular area that I've seen, and you've done a lot of work is the framework around community of inquiry, which is something we as a company also follow. You know, I think, folks, some of the folks who have kind of probably follow this space, have heard about it, if you use Yellowdig, you probably know about this framework, but Wally, you have a long history with the Community of Inquiry framework, so if Can you can you share a little bit more around, you know, your thoughts on instructional quality and, you know, things around community frame Committee of Inquiry framework and these kind of frameworks and how these can actually help increase the quality of education that our students are receiving, you know, through these institutions.

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 14:03
Sure. You know, that, I'm going to guess that if you didn't build us as, as having something about COI that, you know, a number of people listening will probably semi tune out during this part. But, you know, at AP US we became interested in the community of inquiry theory, primarily because it was designed by practitioners at very traditional institutions, who were looking at ways to apply the constructivist theory developed by John Dewey and others in the 1920s to asynchronous online education in order to get better learning outcomes, better student retention, etc. Basically ways to build a better course. And you know, they think Athabasca University was sort of the center of the hub of development. But it's spread beyond that. And so that are the originators, of COI believe that there are three dominant presences during an educational experience there's teaching presents a social presence, and a cognitive presence. And so if you're designing a course, it's going to be taught remotely taught asynchronously, not synchronously with people, you know, the instructor and the students in the classroom at the time, that you need to have these three presences. And they need to complement each other, with with the common denominator between the three being engagement. And so we actually, at AP US, our provost at the time, Dr. Frank McCluskey was an active member of the Online Learning Consortium now, but it was called the Sloan Consortium back then, we recruited and hired Dr. Phil ice, who was really a member of that small knit group, focusing on research on the COI. And among the things that we did, and in addition to taking our faculty through, you know, training and development on the CLI and the processes and how not to build build their courses. We, in order to measure it, there was a validated COI survey that we implemented as our end, of course survey for a number of years, I think we finally got it out and about, we had about a million surveys that we had the data for, and the surveys were not insignificant that were either 28 or 35 questions on them. So all designed to, without bias, measure each of the presences in an online class. You know, the COI was very valuable for us to build a culture of understanding as to how asynchronous courses should be developed and taught. And then once that culture was built, really, it allowed us to go beyond that, you know, it was ingrained into the faculty people really understood engagement was important, particularly student, you know, student engagement with faculty. And, you know, I just say once you got it once, once it got into our culture, even though we didn't use the validated instrument to measure it anymore. We constantly looked at students student survey results, you know, reflecting how much engagement was there, as an as indicating whether there was a satisfied satisfactory appreciation for the course. I think that the reason the COI has not received mainstream adaptation is that most colleges that offer online courses also offer face to face courses. I mean, there's very few of us that are online only. And, you know, you have a tremendous percentage of faculty who are teaching both. And if you've taught face to face, I think you you believe with a little bit of instruction, you can, you know, teach online, I think we found out that was a little harder than that, during the pandemic. And certainly the schools that benefited the most for the schools that provided additional training for the faculty how to how to teach more effectively. And, you know, I saw with my own daughters who were in college at the time, how over a two year period, the courses that were being offered online at their institutions really, really improved. But But I think that the, the, the institutions that basically offer face to face and online, very few of them look into something like the CLI because they think that they know, they know how to teach, and that, you know, teaching online, really isn't that much different other than maybe, you know, moving down there.

You know, this the size of their lectures into bite sized chunks if they record videos, instead of a lengthy 45 or 50 minute lecture, but I you know, bottom bottom line, it's a little complex, you got to dive into the research, but there's a lot of great research. And I believe the institutions that have embraced it have have done pretty well with student engagement and student retention.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 19:24
Yeah, no, I 100% agree with that. And, you know, I mean, one of the things we see in our platform, which is based on largely based on the COA framework, in terms of building communities is that once implemented, there is substantial improvement in retention and persistence from the students based on the data that we have analyzed with our partners. A related question, Wally is, you know, one of the early podcasts we did was with Mark Miller on from WVU, and he's at Nash university now. So one of the points he made realize that some of the challenges in designing the right kind of learning design or learning spaces is over emphasis on the courses. So where essentially the content gets highly emphasized in terms of, you know, what should be taught, but not enough emphasis on the context in the community that is needed for it to be successful. COI definitely addresses the community side of things, what's your thought in terms of, you know, designing the right kind of courses or learning spaces so that the students are engaged, and they are getting the quality of education, you know, that they, you know, they should get in as part of their investment of time and energy.

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 20:42
I hope, I just, I wholeheartedly agree with Mark is a guy that I've known and respected for a long time. You know, if you think about it, for most of us who've had a traditional college experience, you know, I doubt that very much. Our most memorable experiences were all inside the classroom. You know, or if you look at, if you say, well limit your memorable experiences to the classroom, what were they, you know, I can think of group study sessions, when I was an undergrad at Duke, I can think of Team case studies and analysis in graduate business school. And I can think of my cohort learning experiences when I earned my doctorate at Penn, you know, anyone who has the right experience and credentials can build a course based on using a textbook or other, you know, learning, learning, reading material for content, directing, that learning towards targeted outcomes, and assessing the students progress towards meeting those learning outcomes is really what we do in traditional courses, as well as online courses, in education 2.0. Building a community of learners, particularly an online is a lot harder. You know, I think of some of the things that we did at aapos, such as, you know, making our librarians available 24 by seven to our students, as well as breaking down the sections of the library, by our schools, and by our degree programs, making it much more easily accessed in an online environment by somebody who was looking to get an answer. You know, that is part of a community, you know, the librarians were introduced during our online orientation to students, and they let they learn where to go. I think, you know, we did that, at aapos, because we had a head librarian who was really interested in online learning and wanted to make the relationship with the students with the librarian, which which he valued when, and his graduate days, you know, as important to the students as it was if he walked into a physical, physical library, physical library. You know, I'll give you one example of how you can do this in a academic major. So we had a program at aapos, which was a master of arts degree in emergency and disaster management. And all of our faculty were practitioners who happen to have academic credentials, including doctoral degrees, we had a gentleman who was a captain of the Tampa fire department and had a PhD. As one of our instructors. And, you know, because of the faculty's credibility as practitioners, the students who enrolled in that program really, really loved it. And because the faculty knew a heck of a lot about emergency management. For years, our online only program was rated number one by IAE M. I don't exactly remember, I think it's the Institute of American emergency managers. And it may still be but I'm retired. So I haven't kept up on what, what programs are rank. But, you know, we were the program was the first to receive recognition by FEMA, by something they'd set up called the foundation of higher education for disaster emergency management, but the students were really, really tight. And so they felt like they needed to identify themselves when they would go to conferences. As being you know, members of the master's program at AP US are amu. And so they create a design for a T shirt that utilize the international symbols for a disasters, and over them the words American Military University masters of disasters.

We like that design so much we put, we put the shirt in our school store, I made it available. And you know, but those students, when they would come in, for our in person graduation, the first person that I would want to find would be one of their faculty members who, unless they were lucky and happened to, you know, run into him at a conference, or if they, you know, all work for the same department of homeland security, or FEMA or whatever. You know, this, this was the first time they were seeing them after spending several years and a master's degree program. So, you know, it is it is far more important, particularly online to build that sense of community and to build that sense of engagement, both both inside and outside the classroom. And if you do it effectively, it's it's, it's not just going to improve your retention, but it will, you'll get something that's really rare, you'll get a you'll get a student who comes in the door with without having to pay for advertising, you will get a referral. Yeah, absolutely. I

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 26:16
mean, they are the, the marketers for the program, if they have a great experience, I love the term, which is masters of disaster. You know, it's, it's almost like, you know, students are not only creating these new ideas, but they are like, so much more filled in, I'm sure they're feeling a lot more belonging to the program, so that they're coming up and investing their time to kind of really get more out of their education, which is a wonderful story. Great. So, you know, so Wally, the one question comes to my mind is this, which is, you know, in terms of, you know, the CY framework or other frameworks, which are out there. And also creating these kind of communities and other engagement opportunities for the students is wonderful. But this is an area of struggle. I mean, a lot of universities that we work with, they're wonderful partners, they use Yellowdig, and other tools, but there's always challenges in terms of integrating technologies like Yellowdig, or other tools that might be useful for the students to create this better learning experience with their existing infrastructure, which often is not only some, sometimes these systems are old, because it has been there for a long time, it serves a lot of purposes over the years, it's not so easy to move them to a new platform very easily because of the investment that has already happened. Sometimes there are challenges around budgets, you know, we are in this specially interesting times where, you know, a lot of schools are struggling with enrollment, so they have to really look at their budgets carefully. At the same time, you know, without better quality experience, new learners won't come back, right, I mean, then you may not be able to retain the students that you have. So it's a kind of a chicken and egg problem. What do you see as a solution to this like, because unless the the educational experience is improved, a lot of that is using technology in this day and age. But there are challenge outside of a few well funded large programs, many, many smaller schools or midsize schools are struggling in this area. Any any words of wisdom?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 28:14
Well, I think IT? Well, I'll take a step back. So I've been involved with technology in my career, ever since I graduated from business school and started working as an MBA student, or as a consultant with Price Waterhouse. And, you know, then, when I left to take a leadership role in healthcare, and my nearly two decades there, and then my two decades in higher ed, in online, higher ed, tech technology has been important to the success of many businesses, but at the same time, particularly when you're in a trailblazing situation is many of us who were able to scale and, you know, grow during, you know, the early years of of online, you know, so that if you look at the, you know, 20 institutions or so that are out there that that serve more than 25,000 online students. Almost all of us have been doing that for a couple of decades. But, as you said, you know, you build it, you build these systems, and sometimes you build custom systems because there's nothing on the market to do it the way that you want to do it, and then you've got an investment. And so, you know, sort of, you know, the classic story of the ship at sea, that's traveling at 30 knots and somebody falls overboard, you know, how long does it take you to stop you know, the 210,000 ton ship and turn it around and go back and find and the personnel that the answer is kind of irrelevant, the purse, likely will frozen if you're in the North Atlantic in the middle of the winter. But, you know, I think it's possible, because there are edtech companies out there that offer some technology stacks, I, I don't really see anyone who's fully integrated across the board with with all the solutions. I think anthologies accompany that in the last couple of years. You know, it's it's private equity funded, and it's very large. They own campus management, which is an integrated si es system, they purchased Blackboard, they're trying to integrate that with their product. I think campus management, though, will integrate with most of the major LMS learning management systems. And, you know, they have other products that either Blackboard developed or purchased over the years, as well as some of their other integrations. But, you know, even if you have what I would call to the perfect solution, you know, that you could buy from one company, you still you still got the issues on how you integrate it and how you implement it and, and what parts you use. I mean, you know, my famous example is just ask people, you know, how many of the features and word do they use, and there's features in Word that I'm sure most of us don't even know, exist, and probably will never use. And, you know, there are features, and many of these, you know, large software systems that try to integrate everything across the campus that, you know, some people are just going to not take the time to implement. And so, you know, are there platforms that can help smaller schools that, you know, want to get into online in a bigger way. Last week, the New York Times had an article about cost sharing. And so there were several cost sharing platforms, I think KTM may be the biggest rise may be the second biggest. And, you know, this is where schools can utilize, you know, sign consortial agreements with other schools, and utilize the teachers and instructors for excess seats in certain classes. For their own students. I thought that was a great example about Adrian College, who had added 50 students, they were pretty counted up 50 or 51 students in had enrolled in degrees or certificates that Adrian College had not offered a few before 2018, when they participate in this course sharing, of course, sharing is not the only example. As you know, there's just a lot of technology. But I think that, you know, it would also be who somebody, I mean, look, look at what you all do with your product, which, you know, I mean, I've known you a long time, your your products kind of morphed a bit since the first time I met you six or seven years ago. And, you know, you probably have to spend, I'd say a decent amount of time educating people on your product and what it can do beyond what you know, a traditional implementation, you might have to do that just to sell the engagement. And then you know, you've got to help your client provide an educational experience, so that the faculty understand how to maximize the potential for this product. It's, it's complicated, I'm not saying it's impossible, but you just have to have a you have to have a core staff that's, that's dedicated to do that. And whether those staff may be implementation consultants, because the entire it has been outsourced. You, you still can't count on whoever you're buying the technology or leasing the technology from, to be, you know, to fully encompass everything, you've got to have a process that educates your users and educates them on the best use and the most efficient way. And then you still have the one issue that kills you, whether you you've built the software in house, or you're actually getting the software from someone who particularly orders versions and updates is that you're always waiting for an update. We discover new solutions, or we have great ideas. And we're told either from our in house IT staff or we're told from the vendor. It's going to be a while, you know, the next scheduled release is x months, X years. Never, you know, there's no priority for your idea. And, you know, short short of being being a programmer and running it yourself. and saying, oh, yeah, I'll, I'll take care of that. And we all know that's not likely to happen. This, this is what you live with.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 35:08
Yeah, no, that's, you know, it's spot on. And that's the challenge. And we as a company, what we have seen is what works really well, especially as an ad tech company in the space is to have a deeper relationship. Because technology or the product is only one part of the solution, the integrations with the existing systems, that data transfer agreements, the training of faculty, training of students, students, supporting students, you know, 24/7, these are all extremely important to be successful, because otherwise, just the technology itself is not going to make it successful. As you're pointing out, it's kind of important to have the full end to end, you know, kind of supply chain in place. There's a question that came up, which is very interesting. And I want to kind of first give it to you. And I'll kind of add a few things there as well. But here's the question is, what are the key factors for building a learning community? And while one thing you did mention when you were talking about learning community is that it's hard. It's not easy. I mean, people think it might be easy, just because there are functionalities of social posting and commenting doesn't mean the community is going to come come in place. And you give a wonderful experience an example of one of your courses, which has done it successfully, but in your experience, what is needed for a community to come in place?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 36:27
Well, it's, it's certainly made a lot easier when you have instructors who love to teach, and you have students who want to learn. If you don't have those two factors, I feel sorry for you, because it's just going to make it much more difficult. But, you know, that may be the obvious, but sadly, I don't think that happens everywhere. You know, it. So, if you think about a traditional campus, you've got all these wonderful co curricular activities that have been developed over the years, whether it's activities related to your living group, whether you live in an independent dorm, or fraternity house, or whether it's activities relating to, you know, the fact that you there's a literature group on campus that meets occasionally, or if you're a language major. You know, when I was an undergraduate at Duke, I started as a German major. And so we had a German table at lunch that, you know, we could maintain our fluency and and, you know, it's much easier to build a community with a traditional campus. So if you're referring to how do you build that community with online students? You know, my first suggestion is be available, you know, don't turn off the switches, after five o'clock, when, you know, some of the campus things shut down, you know, be available, have activities listened to interest. I mean, at one point in time, at aapos, we had over 2000 student clubs. Now, we didn't have that many student clubs when I retired, but we wanted to embrace building communities. And so we, we had a piece of software that we were utilizing. And if we had, you know, I'd say, you know, probably as few as five students who were interested in something like, you know, you know, a lot of AP US students were serving in the US military. So if students were at certain base, and they wanted to try to put together a study group, or they want to try to put together, you know, a special interest group for their major, or they just wanted to put together social group of students that would go bowling, you know, we let them form a group. And, you know, over time, though, we decided that it was much more important to have our groups adhere to standards. And so we actually, you know, created a gaming atmosphere where, you know, groups that did certain things, and we were, you know, awarded them, I think, initially like a bronze silver or gold medal for accumulating certain types of activity points. And those activity points, allowed them to get, you know, a little little higher budget funded, funded by the university for their activities. I mean, you could do it a number of ways and I'd say there's, there's there's nothing magic other than listening. And, you know, trying to support the people that have an interest in doing doing something. I mean, you know, AP US as probably one of the largest groups of history allowance and you may say well, you know, how did you guys do history you know, back in the old days, why did why did for profit universities did history Well, we, we did history because We didn't, we weren't approved for Title four, back in the old days, when distance learning was was not participating in the program until they set up the demonstration project. And then when they allowed distance learning to participate in Title four, there was a short period of time, to higher education access, if you wanted to apply to be a liberal arts institution, you could and AP US did. So one of our largest group of alums are history. And so not only does the do they have a history club, or to an AP US, because I think they have a Military History Club, and they have another history club. But APLs produces a history journal that's produced by the students with their best papers, and the students manage it, and they edit it, and we publish it. So, you know, it can range the gamut for the types of things you do. But I think most importantly, you need to listen. And you need to have people that are attuned to that listening and willing to support helping that community build out. And by the way, I started you have to have instructors that are interested in Yeah, that the students are interested in. And that's the most important but most important thing, but I think that being able to support it with with the staff is critical as well.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 41:16
Yeah, no. So that's a wonderful answer, Wally, and, you know, very consistent with what we have seen, you know, in building Yellowdig communities and our partners, which is, as you're pointing out, which is kind of having patients so that it takes time to build those communities. And also it requires the support, and feedback and listening to be able to kind of really get to the right design. So a lot of internet intentionality is needed in terms of being successful. You know, and the last final thing you mentioned is around gamification, or game fulness, which we have found is very, very helpful, actually, to kind of build communities and sustaining them over time. So we have only three minutes left. And I have one last question, waiting for you, which is the need for soft skills, you know, a lot of the end, which also ties back to our social learning or community based learning, you know, a lot of the educational discussion happens around hard skills, or very particular kind of skills that are needed for us to be kind of successful in the workforce. But soft skills are becoming increasingly more important, especially in the economy that we are living in, which is very much collaborative, where people worked with one another concrete solutions. What do you think is the role of institutions to kind of really help learners build that kind of skill sets? And have you seen some effective strategies, maybe community based strategies or strategies to really help learners build those kind of skill sets?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 42:43
Well, look, I can make a pitch for the liberal arts as as being one of the greatest ways to liberal arts degree programs and degrees to build soft skills. But you know, since since we're running out of time here, I just did a blog post reviewing. Dr. Jason WinGuard, spoke the college devaluation crisis. And Jason is currently president at Temple University, but he's had this wonderful career where he's, I think he was vice dean at door at Wharton and Dean at Columbia, Chief Learning Officer Goldman Sachs, if you read his book, he has a section that specifically addresses because, I mean, he's pretty blunt about the fact that, you know, he thinks half the colleges aren't going to make it by 2030. I mean, it's a little beyond the date that crazy Clayton Christensen had, but he's pretty candid. And among the things that he says, in addition to developing shorter credentials, and finding ways to partner with industry, etc, etc. He says, It can't just be the hard skills, it has to be the soft skills, and in some ways, particularly liberal arts oriented colleges. That's that's in their sweet spot. The hard skills as in skills, not not not learning, as in STEM may not be their sweet spot. So I would just say, rather than, you know, me, trying to cram it all into two or three minutes to get the time to download or purchase that book. You know, it's called the college devaluation crisis. I take a look at it, because I think he's done an excellent job of outlining.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 44:17
Yeah, no, absolutely. And I saw his blog post also about it, which was wonderful. There is a question in our Q&A, which is, why is gamefulness helpful? What sort of proof is there for that assumption? One thing I can say is there is if you reach out to our team, if you just write to us through our website, we can send you some studies, Yellowdig is a gamefully designed, community based platform, and we have done multiple studies to see the impact of game fullness in designing learning communities. And the short answer to that is it's pretty huge. What gamefulness does is that it not only motivates the students who are already motivated, but it also more rates are at risk students who are typically would not participate in a community. But those students we have seen start to participate if there are, you know, kind of intrinsic motivation built into the design of those communities, so happy to send you some studies, if that would be helpful if you just reach out to us. And final thing I wanted to also going to reiterate is we are inviting exciting speakers like Dr. Wally Boston, to our series that we have started. So if you're interested, I think we just posted a link in the chat as well as this is the upcoming speakers. We have Aaron Rasmussen on October 24. He is the CEO of Outlier, also the co founder of masterclass and then we have many other exciting speakers are right after him. So do go to our website and sign up for the series, you can also scan it here, I think it's just on the screen right now if you just pull up your phone and scan that barcode, you should be able to go to the directly to the registration link from there. With that, Wally, it was an absolute pleasure to have you on this show. And this was really helpful for at least for me, I'm sure for the audience as well. Any final words? Before we bring it to a close?

Wally Boston - President Emeritus, APUS 46:22
No, but I'll I'll I have one add on about gaming, and I'm sure you have some great papers to share. I once had the University of Maryland, Baltimore County UMBC that Dr. Freeman Hrabowski just retired from was known for its promotion, the STEM and they actually have one of the had one of the first degrees related to developing software games. The city of Baltimore actually has a number of gaming companies that have sprung up over the last 30 years. And it's really hard to get an program and I met the faculty member who was responsible for the program, but he was asked he also interviewed every candidate one on one. And I said well, how does what's the interview consist of? He goes, they come over to my house and we play games. And I said you play games? He goes Yes. Because because I could see how they think. So, you know, just just think about that. Because, you know, there is a lot about game design, and how to design a game for people or players and people are good players probably think a little differently than someone like myself who might once in a while play a game with my children or nephews and nieces.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 47:38
Yeah, no, that's that's a wonderful way to end the webinar games could be educational. Yes. All right. So with this, we are going to bring close this webinar. So everybody have a wonderful rest of the day.

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