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Keynote: New Possible in Education [Learner Engagement Summit]

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 0:04
Yes, so welcome everybody. I am so excited to introduce Mark Milliron on who is not only of course, you know, he has joined our board about a year back but is a lifelong learner. So Mark, just a very quick introduction before I pass it on to you is the president and CEO of National University, which is one of the largest private nonprofit universities in the United States. And one of the exciting part of a national university that I'm really excited about is that your work with a non traditional learners or marginalized learners, who are benefiting tremendously from National University, outside of his role at national Mark sits on a variety of organizations as an advisor as a board member including trellis Foundation, Bennett college global online academy civet as learning. Many of you know that Mark also has been an entrepreneur back in the days, he was one of the co founders and Chief Learning Officer of civitatis learning. And prior to that he was deputy director for post secondary improvement at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So, outside of that, there are many other things my god, I'm gonna leave it on him to kind of talk about it, but I am so very excited to have him open the conference with the opening keynote. So Mark, over to you,

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 1:26
shortly, thank you so much for for welcoming me into the mix, we're gonna I'm gonna try to catalyze some conversations, hope you're okay with it, I'm gonna stir it up a bit and get this group thinking about some of the new possible and, and getting some dialogue going. So I'm going to present for a little bit in the very beginning part of this. And the PDF of this presentation will be available for everybody here. So the idea is, I'm hoping you can use this to start conversations in your own areas. And part of the deal is, I want to stay connected. I want to hear how these play out in your context and what this actually means. So stay tuned for the PDF as it comes out on those don't worry, it's not it's not death by PowerPoint is far more gotta like interactive and connective. And then I want to open it up for a dialogue and a conversation shining, maybe you and I and and the and the folks in the participant group can really kind of get rowdy in some conversations around what this might mean. So I'm good. Okay, I'm gonna share screen and then see if we can get guys if I can pick the right one. I'm thinking oh, my thing all set up. Okay. So let's start into this conversation a little bit. And talk a bit about kind of collectively what we've been going through as a as a team. And by the way, for anybody who wants to come on camera, who can go ahead and come on camera and find if we have that because of that PowerPoint presentation was big enough. But I want to just talk a bit about the last two or three years last two and a half years in particular have been, you know, we're kind of coming out of a deeply traumatic experience. And if you haven't read or dove into literature on on trauma informed leadership, it is worth the read, because it'll help you understand kind of the space we're in right now and how our teams are feeling and even given the need that is still present in the education space, how we're probably going to have to approach it and really be thinking about it because the last two and a half years have been hard. In my work at Western Governors University, and now national universities just be pointed to me. We we, we lost students, we lost faculty, we lost family members, a lot of people had to say goodbye to Dear Dear people in their worlds, and it was hard. And then on top of that, just all the fits and starts of the way in which education had to get we have we played out for so many people all across the country. And then you add to it the social justice challenges that we dealt with around the George Floyd George Floyd murder. And it got even harder even more difficult. A good friend of mine is the president of Bennett College. I'm actually on the board of Bennett College, which is an HBCU in North Carolina love Bennett and his classic kind of micro college very focused on the liberal arts. And in Suzanne Walsh, she had to take a deep breath, everybody was rushing out statements after the George Floyd murder, and really kind of just like trying to get on top of each other with the different statements. And she took about two and a half weeks to kind of formulate her response took a lot of grief for that. But she ended up pulling together this poem, which I love, called What shall I tell my students who are black women, and it is a powerful read. I would encourage you to take take a beat and take a look at that poem. Good because in that film, she really talks about how are we going to talk about this, how are we going to move forward so the combination of the pandemic, the social justice issues, and then the political upheavals we all wrestle with? Wow. I mean, this has just been hard. And I'm just laying this predicate because we have to realize the context that we're trying to innovate in. But even in part of the challenges because of all that, so many people after this is really felt like, for the love of all that's holy, can I please just go back to normal? Is there some way we can just go back to normal, and that cry for normalcy and some kind of regular pattern, but we get, we have to honor and we have to understand. And the challenge for many of us in the world of education, especially folks who really care deeply about access to access and equity form students, just normal wasn't working for a lot of people, there were a whole lot of people in the world of education that were not being served. Well, basic statistics that always stays with me, is if you're an upper income quartile student, in higher education, you're anywhere from 85 to 95%, likely to finish. And if you're a low income quartile student, you're still only 15 to 20% likely to finish that should break your hearts, because the very people who need it the most are the people who are not being served the best by it. And there's all kinds of cascading challenges around that. But we're just starting to kind of make progress around that and innovation within it. And so I think we have to kind of, again, stack hands and say, okay, normal probably isn't good enough. And I'm not sure new normal is enough. There are a lot of people who are saying, you know, the pathway to reaching and particularly like working students and students who have very complex lives. Oh, let's just take what we do. And traditionally we're going to do it at night. No, that's not that's that, to me, that's what new normal feels like. Well, we have to think about and start really thinking about how we can think differently about what might be possible. And I'm gonna use this term possible very, very specifically because that I stole this idea of instead of a new normal of a new possible from a guy named Hans Rosling Hans Rosling is an internationally renowned change maker who did a lot of work a nuclear winter a lot of work on global poverty. His most recent book is called fact fulness. He passed away about a year and a half ago. He wrote this book just before he passed, his kids who are both PhDs are carrying on his legacy. If you Google, Hans Rosling, you will see some of the most amazing data visualizations you have ever seen. He uses data to prove points to help you understand that the basic concept of his life, which is that change is possible and change is necessary. And I love this quote, where he basically makes the case that

he doesn't want to be called, he does not want to be called an optimist, he wants to be called a possible list. Because a possible list is somebody who looks at the facts and looks at the case, and actually says there is a pathway to difference and talks about what the crawl Walk Run strategy is going to look like. And realistically talks about how we can make to end the good example. He always uses global poverty, global poverty in the 1980s, early 1990s. Nobody thought we were ever gonna get below 30% extreme poverty in the world, and a group of philanthropists and change agents and people from around the world, the World Bank, and others all came together and said, Okay, if we actually that wonderful book was written, it's called The End of Poverty. And in that book, they make the case of a combination of debt relief, vaccines, health care, maternal health, we literally could probably change extreme poverty dynamics drastically and get into the single digits if not below, and people made fun of him. So there's no way that's going to happen. But if you actually look at the data, we got into the single digits in the last three years. So what what I'll say is, I agree with him, I think we are at a time now where we in the world of education shouldn't be thinking about the new normal, we should be thinking about the new possible and thinking about what we can do together with our teams to vision what's possible, and figure out the plan to kind of move us forward. And I've been around this work long enough. Now I'm coming from a well into my third decade, coming into my fourth. And I've seen these things change over time. And one of the things that's pretty clear is to do possibility work. If you really want to get into do possible. I'm going to argue you need to think about possibility, infrastructure possibility, design and possibility models. And what I'm going to do is walk you through a few of those. And again, hope you'll take this and think about the context you want to share in your conversations you want to catalyze in your own context. By the way, a whole bunch of this is going to be drawn from the work of some really wonderful innovators from all across the country and around the world. Some of this comes from this, this edition of change magazine, the magazine of higher education. In this journal, we actually I was one of the CO editors, we pulled together people like Sir, we're gonna grab and left got it from ASU. And you know, all people, you know, well, the whole thing was meeting the moment and it was innovating and changing the time of need and crisis. And it's a really powerful read, you'll kind of get a sense of where all this come from, but a lot of these core elements are going to be in the pieces and parts that come along with this. So let's talk a bit about infrastructure first, so that the weeds we need to think about what are the tools at our disposal? What are the infrastructure pieces that we have to be able to make this difference. And one of the things that's really nice, because I think we're finally because of the pandemic, and I just they say good things came out of the pandemic. But one thing that did is it really forced us to kind of get a whole our arms around the family of tools that we have in our infrastructure, because we had to innovate, when we couldn't do just face to face. And we saw a mass orientation toward digital infrastructure. And what I'm going to argue is that we need to think about what is our traditional infrastructure, our digital infrastructure, and really get away from the what's better online or on ground nonsense. Really think about how we can really think through how we pull together the best of all that infrastructure to meet a family of needs. So for the longest time, the key conversation when we're at, oh, blended learning, we need to think not just about blended learning are about mixed mixed infrastructure learning when you think about outreach, advising, financial aid, student activities, co curricular activities, learning internships, alumni, connections, whatever it might be, what is what is the family of infrastructure resources we can use to meet students where they are and help them make the most of their educational experiences, whatever that experience happens to be in that moment? And how can we use these different infrastructure pieces. And I get how hard this changes in the world of higher ed, I began my work in higher education, as an advocate and an innovator talking about the power of this crazy idea that was going to becoming I literally probably gave 500 speeches in the 1990s, all around the United States at community colleges and universities. And the essence of the speech was basically this and this was an you'll know, the timeframe, it was probably 93 to 97. And it was basically the whole speech was, you know, this internet thing you're hearing about, it's a thing, you're actually going to use it. And here's some ways we might be using it. And I mean, people say, Oh, that's all neat and fun. But that's not really how most education is going to happen. That's not how it's not going to be as big as you think it is going to be a fad. It's only going to be the guys, x y&z.

And what I've seen is whether you're talking about email, the Internet, mobile technologies, social media analytics, stuff goes from novel to normal, quicker than you think it'll go took us a while with the Internet. But we got there. And it got to the place of scale got to be able to suddenly things like the LMS and host of others. But we're seeing the these technologies go from novel and normal even more quickly than ever before. But we're on the same kind of trajectories. Now we're really thinking about how we can pull these conversations together. And what I'm going to argue is that we have to start thinking creatively about how we pull this infrastructure together, and we meet the moment and then think about how we can keep pushing it. We're clearly in this kind of like this stage where we're finally realizing the power of mobile and the fact that mobile infrastructure is probably more important than fixed infrastructure, and probably is the modal infrastructure for most of our students, you realize that more the smartphone penetration rate is now higher than the hot the home high speed internet rate, which is like it, again, is that crossover place where that is more ubiquitous than high speed home internet, and the realization that the vast majority of students are interacting with your web materials on mobile devices, and iPads, not necessarily on any kind of a laptop or a fixed computer. And if you look at the ratings, the students will tell you we get about a C or worse with about our about our mobile accessibility and infrastructure. So we have a lot of work to do on mobile. But mobile is interesting because think about what the pandemic has done for us around mobile. Like I won't go to the doctor's office the same way anymore, because now we have doctors clinics, where you go in check in and you go wait in your car until you're ready and they text you and tell you to come in so you don't get stuck in the waiting room getting sick from fellow patients, you do the same thing with the DMV now whereas the DMV, you get your appointment, you get pink, it was time to go in, you can sit in your car, do whatever it's gonna be and go pop in and connect out. And there's all kinds of different examples you can give them about how mobile devices are used to connect students to each other to be used for AR augmented reality, just you can kind of see where we're going with this. And speaking of augmented reality, what is going to be coming next. And when I could the same way I felt about the internet in 1994 to 1995 I feel about augmented reality and virtual reality and holographic technologies. Those three called family of I'll call the family of those VR, the VR family is going to be able to education what the internet has been. And when you if you can just get an Oculus demonstration, go check out the Oculus headsets, which are now more accessible than ever before, go to the education page on Oculus and meta and you'll be blown away by ocean demonstrations, massive demonstrations of human anatomy for demonstrations and you will realize where this was going like it is going to change education forever. And it's not just demonstration of curriculum. It's also community students Being able to connect with each other the idea that, you know, my son can go into a virtual metal room, basically with a cousin who's in another state across the country, and they can sit on a couch by a fireplace with a big screen TV, and they watch the same movie at the same time in the virtual living room. Right? Think about what that's going to mean. No longer we can have classes where the internet is really the kind of cartoon internet is the interface between everything, you're literally gonna have virtual classes, where students are able to kind of walk into virtual classrooms, it is going to be a thing. And we're gonna have to think about what this is going to mean and National University, we're really thinking about this, what this means for our curriculum, what it means for kind of our demonstration. So example, Gloria McNeill, who runs our nursing program, which is absolutely amazing. They leverage the VR technology to train nurses for COVID. Because you having them do clinical experiences in COVID, when they weren't ready was literally putting their lives at risk. So having re VR so they can get reps doing it again, and again. And again. And again, we're we are 48,000 students, and about a quarter of our students are military, we're very, very familiar with that part of the world, the military has been using simulations for years, they will not let you touch a billion dollar aircraft until you've done hundreds of hours of simulations, this is going to be the same kind of thing. You see the power of these simulations, but I don't think it's just going to be learning, it's going to be a student services, it's going to be a student support, it's going to be a whole family of things. But we have to think about the infrastructure that's at our disposal and figure out how we're going to kind of drive that conversation forward. But we have to combine that infrastructure conversation with a conversation on design, because it's not just that the technology fixes the problem. In fact, my biggest frustrations in the world of education has been this kind of simplistic idea that technology will improve learning. I hope you just bear with me on this. I do not believe for a second that technology will improve largely at all. I think that is that is simplistic and almost cro-magnon It's like technology good No, like us poorly. It can be an absolute disaster for students and actually create distance and causes them not to feel like they belong and they're disconnected. If it's used well, it can be hugely productive. And part of what we need to think about is how can we use technology more effectively. And that means design thinking. So think about design, we all learned about design thinking deeply during the pandemic. And we all had to think about how we pulled these tools together. And I just go back to some of the basic ideas like my kids love cereal. But this bowl, look how this bowl is designed, this bowl is designed in a way that actually allows you to monitor the sogginess level of your cereal so you can just bring someone cereal down and so it doesn't get super soggy by the end. And because my son's hated the soggy cereal by the end, this keeps it crunchy and just the right thing, you can gauge it based on how you like it. Again, the design of the bowl, which has now become one of those popular bowls in our house makes the enjoyment of the cereal better because the process is to enjoy the cereal if they're going to have it. Think about you know, my wife does not like waking up in the morning especially not to alarm clocks. So this this alarm clock actually works with your phone set the time you want to be awake by and over a period of about 15 minutes. It slowly lightens the room slowly lightens the room and slowly brings up music and it wakes you more gently again the design and technology is there use it use the technology to actually achieve the ends if you're going to do it. Probably one of the things that most recently and it really stuck with me is I live we have a house in western North Carolina up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If it was not for, you know basically cell technology and and Starlink there's no way we would have a high speed internet that we have because the fixed fixed wiring is not there that we have one of the clear internet desert. And when we bought this literally happened like three or four weeks ago, we have Starlink in in one of our friends houses down the road, we finally got Starlink for ours. And when the start like package came, you know you pay look whatever $500 to buy the entire system. It shows up, you open it up and I kid you not within 22 minutes, we had it set up and we had 200 megabit stuff quick and it's basically a satellite connector where you just like pop it outside, pop it down wire to the inside of your house, pump it into a router and bam, you're suddenly connected to that internet from all over the world. Just think about that for a second technology that allows me in a matter of 20 minutes to open a package with my son. And with no major technical expertise literally pop up a satellite dish and then wire it to my house and be able to turn on network we use our iPhone, connected in Wired, named everything and film our entire house was set up that was designed for the opening. If you haven't seen the box opening YouTubes for the Apple, go check those out. Because they literally designed it's what the experience of opening the box with was going to be like they wanted to think about how they could design that from jump so that your experience would be transformative. That there's a is a great book by this guy named Dave Epstein. He's a phenomenal writer. And he kind of in this book range, he blows up the 10,000 hour rule, the simplistic idea that the way to get good at something is to do it again again and again and again, are the things he says is now that's absolutely nonsense. When you look at the data, the people who make big breakthroughs tend to be people who come from broad backgrounds, and they learn from lots of different places, they have lots of good analogies, they can pull together to solve complex problems. Design becomes essential in that kind of process. One of the things he says is, especially in environments around education, and healthcare, he calls those wicked domains and simple domains, you can get into patterns and just do the same thing again and again and again, and you'll be very successful. But in Wicked domains, like education or healthcare, you actually need a combination of AI and AI, right human intelligence and artificial intelligence. And then together, you can really do some powerful things, a couple of examples on by the way, this book is phenomenal read, if you want to talk about the power of the liberal arts, and why the liberal arts probably should be a big component of any educational experiences you're going to drive for. So two good examples of this, in the world of health care. The my chart initiative was began in the 2000s, where they the Cleveland clinic's decided, just crazy idea, hey, let's give the patients their information. So it's not just you know, doctors, God, and they're gonna tell you what's going on, let's actually let people with chronic diseases, to be able to have their information so they can manage their health states and actually make better choices along the way. And the idea that my chart initiative is to give people with things like diabetes and Addison's their health data so they can day to day monitor their activities and understand what's happening coming out of their their health data, lose really controversial people did not want this idea of people having access to all their charts. But here's what was happening. And you get this is still happening today. People kept showing up at their doctor's WebMD pronounced, they've done their own research, and they were driving doctors crazy. They said they're going to do this anyway, let's at least point them to the right data. And like get them thinking about what they should be thinking about in terms of managing their own disease states. But my chart initiative was wildly successful. And you many of you probably have my chart variants coming out of your doctor's offices now. And probably the biggest popular version of this is, is the smart technologies that happened with the smart watches and Fitbits it to the point where people are completely tied to this stuff. A good friend of mine was at a terrible mood the other day, I'm like, What is going on? And he's like, Oh, my Fitbit ran out. It did Brianna power. I didn't get my sleep data last night, like what he's like, No, I've been tracking my RAM and my deep sleep. And like I suddenly didn't have it. It's like almost like because he didn't have his watch on the sleep didn't actually happen, right. But if you get it people are now getting tired having this kind of data because it makes them think about how things how things might be different for them. If they make different kinds of choices, they're actually seeing based on these data, oh, if I drink late at night, I'm actually have a harder time getting into a deeper sleep state. If I'm don't get the rest and exercise I need. I'm having these kinds of challenges. It's amazing how this code changes that larger dialogue for a lot of people.

But probably one of the most powerful capitals. One of the most personal is the MRI. The mini Have you ever experienced the MRI, I thought I knew a lot about MRIs. I did a lot of work in health care for a long time. I've watched the show house, like you see a lot of talking game and NMR MRIs. But I didn't really get an empathy for this until I I really tore my shoulder. I was doing the classic 50 year old dad thing working out with my older son who is a really, really strong athlete, I was lifting weights with them. And I tore my right shoulder just trying to do too much. And I go into the doctor and the doctor scans my shoulder and he's like, Oh my gosh, you you've obviously been a lot of stuff on your shoulder for the years. I've been an African a lot of martial arts and tennis and basketball. And he's like, oh, you know, you have you have what we call old man's shoulder or a shoulder? Is that a thing? Anything? Yeah, it's a combination of like bursitis and Chip bones and all kinds of things that are going on in there. Because but I also think you have a couple tears because I think those tears where we might actually have to do surgery. He goes, but I can't tell you for sure. He goes until we do an MRI and I'm like, Okay, I'll do the MRI. Didn't think I have a problem with an MRI. So I go to the MRI center in Austin. And, and it was really interesting. And I walked in and the guy who was the Tech is a guy I played basketball with at the YMCA. So I knew him and I'm like, Hey, what's going on? Here? What's up? We started talking. And he goes, Oh, because I know he was you've done with these before. But no, I've never done it before. You know, it's no big deal. He goes, he goes he goes just to you know, just lay down. He goes because you're not claustrophobic. And I'm like no, I don't think I'm claustrophobic. I've like literally gotten lava tubes two miles into the earth with my kids. I don't think I'm claustrophobic. And he's like, Oh, he goes you're probably fine that you're so many people who like given this button they can push it to like stop and then I can't like like, Wait, like over half the people can't handle this. It's crazy. It's like so I'm so glad you're not gonna have this problem like so crazy for starting with shame. Like, this is gonna be good. It goes Oh, and he goes, I'm getting a little freaked out because I, as I'm laying down to the thing, I look back and I look back at the hole and I realize I'm not gonna fit in the hole. At that point I was I was a little heavier, I was probably 40 pounds heavier than I am now. And I'm like, I'm at that point, I was probably like, 262 76 with four and I'm looking back and I'm like, oh, man, this is I'm not gonna fit in the hole. And I'm starting to go back towards the hole. And he looks at the hole and I look at the hole we both look and he goes, Oh, you might have to scoot your other shoulder over. I'm like skoosh Like what? And he grabs my other shoulder and he swooshes my other shoulder over I'm literally like this going into the hole in the MRI as it's going in. I'm being squished into the hole of EMR I looking at the blue line on the top of the thing I'm going in and I'm my heart starts going bananas. And then I kind of kind of freaking out and then the think to myself, Okay, well, it's only my shoulder. It's only going to go up to like maybe my waist, I'm gonna be fine. No, no, no, it goes all the way up to my ankles. I mean, I am toothpaste going back of the tube, I have freaking out by a fart of counting out of my chest. And then seems like oh, don't worry, this only takes like 35 minutes. It's like, it's got to be kidding me, I think leaves the room. So my heart is just going bananas, like pounding out of my chest. And I'm okay, I did a lot of martial arts for years, I was really, really into meditation. So I tried to calm myself down, I go into my happy place. I'm trying to like, mellow that out. And then he didn't get clicks back in the door. He's like, Oh, because by the way, you're gonna hear a bunch of clicking and popping. Don't worry about that. That's normal. And I'm like, okay, and he closes the door. And I'm like, again, I'm trying to stay meditative practice, stay calm. The MRI starts it's like sounds like this big. It feels like you're in a microwave radiation sound. And then suddenly, it's like the clicking and popping starts. And if you haven't heard the clicking and popping of an MRI, it's basically the entire time, rotates different sounds and completely freaks you out. So like, yeah, my heart is going crazy. Again, I finally tried to calm myself down. Oh, it was one of those experiences. And I've just kept telling myself the entire time other people have done this, you can do it. Other people have done it, you can do it. And I'm just trying to push my way all the way through. And God bless them. We got finally got what I thought was through the entire thing. I'm thinking we're finally we have to be done. And sure enough, we like he gets on a bike and he's like, Okay, we are buying but it's no, it's no way. Anyway, long story short, we get to the full 30 minutes and and and we get done. And let's suddenly

start coming up all Ooh, slows birthing process over who suddenly get out. I think I ran to my car naked. I'm not sure I got out of there as quick as I could. And I called a buddy of mine who was a doc, and I'm like, What is going on with the MRI? And he's like, Oh, he goes, Don't worry, because that is totally normal. He goes, we are having a huge problem with MRIs because Because adults like you end up having to bring in an anesthesiologist and he goes into you can't lock them out. You can only actually give them enough anesthesia to like where they can be controllable. It goes so cost us money. It costs us money on the drug test is money on the on the care, because then with kids, he goes, Oh my gosh, it's terrible with kids, because the vast majority of kids can't make it through an MRI. You can't knock them out because you have to be controllable. He goes and he goes, we actually goes we have a whole bunch of kids who end up with claustrophobia counseling, because of this whole thing. Because they're so freaked out like oh my gosh, that's terrible. He's like, No, he's there's a whole design project on this. And he sent me this article that'll you'll be linked to from IDEO. And GE, they were doing a big project to redesign the MRIs. And they did a full redesign of the MRI thinking about the child experience how they could change it for kids in particular. And I'll just show you an example of it. They had a whole bunch of different versions that were highly successful. The Buzz Lightyear was really big deal, but the one that one was the pirate ship, and I love the pirate ship. It's based on the Open MRI technology. The kids get an AR headset, they get noise cancelling headphones, they go on a pirate experience. In the process, this completely solved the problem, the kids actually enjoyed it. And for kids who have chronic challenges, who have to do memorize on a regular basis. This becomes absolutely amazing. It's fantastic. Now, what is it with me for a second? This is a really important metaphor for us in the world of education. This MRI was designed by incredibly intelligent people, dedicated doctors were trying to save people's lives. They were not creating a torture chamber. They were trying to create something that would save people's lives that would have a really powerful impact. And it did it's probably saved millions of people's lives. They were not trying to create a torture experience for a lot of people but that is the experience that has been for so many folks what they didn't when they designed it. They didn't take the patient experience into account. And with some redesign if they could design it differently. You'd end up with something with pirate ship or something like the Buzz Lightyear something told really different. You get the metaphor with us, I would argue a bunch of our educational processes and systems are designed by deeply caring really talented educators who just haven't taken the pay student experience into account. And if you go deep on empathy, which we have, through the pandemic, we've gotten a lot more empathy for our students, you understand, education might not be designed, the way we're serving, it might not be the design necessarily. So if we think about this possibility infrastructure, and then we think about the possibility design, we can start thinking differently. At National University. What this has meant for us is we are very focused on first generation low income rising and striving learners of all different kinds were more than 50% graduates. In fact, were 200,000 folks have graduated from national since 1971. Two thirds of them are diverse. In fact, we're the largest provider of graduate degrees to diverse students at the country number two for doctorate degrees for for diverse students. And is it for us it is from associate's degrees to PhDs and law degrees, we have to think about those experiences our students are going through. But a quarter of our students are military that come from they're almost always working very differently. They're almost always in like, sometimes they're in high power positions. Sometimes they're interested in jobs at Starbucks, or Amazon. But we have everything in between. So for us, it's figuring out what are the personas? And how do we take that whole human experience into account keep talking about the whole human experience. And the one fundamental truth that we've really found with our student population is our students are almost always and students, they are parents can students, they are workers and students, their caregivers and students. And because of that, and we have to design differently, because the student part isn't the primary part of their identity at this moment. That's the design challenge that makes it different for us. So we've really adopted this whole whole human education where we think about their and experience and figure out for Hey, for the rockstars, who are ready to go super fast, what they really want is for us to get out of their way so they can go quickly, then we have students who really need a lot more scaffolding, and how can we get them the right support at the right time you get it. But we have to design differently, because of the kind of student population that we actually have. It makes us think about how we use our infrastructure. And we're thinking about how we use our physical infrastructure to give them a sense of belonging and a place to connect combined with our digital infrastructure to be able to give them a way to learn in a way that's more functional. So some final things here, I want to give you some possibility case. And by case I'm a big believer, in this case, the case model stands for copy and steal everything really good educators really think about what other people are doing, and they want to learn from it. So I'm gonna give you some case things, what check out the mastery transcript consortium, they are really rethinking because of the pandemic where people looked at great, less education than ever before. And what you find is a great based education is something we invented around the industrial revolution to kind of allow us to create a more efficient and functional kind of factory model of education, we invented greats, make no mistake about it, we can undo that we could actually leverage competency based learning centered mastery based whatever you want to call it. And you can see great examples of this and what they've done with this consortium. The mastery based transcript consortium, if you go to, it's 500 school districts and independent schools that have all developed mastery based pathways for students. And they've actually created software to create the transcript for mastery attainment. And this transcript is now being accepted by major universities around the country at some of the most elite universities around the country. And the idea is that you can create a mastery pathway for students that isn't based on grades. Grades often lead to trauma for students and for faculty, because we end up with these weird arguments about points and about great levels. When in truth, what we want is for students to master the content and be able to learn and grow and develop grades often lead to blame and shame cycles, mastery transcript mastery processes lead to what's called challenge at what I would call grace and challenge cycles, where it's okay, I'm gonna give you the grace, she didn't get it this time. Here's what you need to do to catch back up. And then here's the challenge to get make sure you can pass this level. The Grayson challenge is how we would do our kids. It's how we would do people we work with, we're not always going to be having this specific grade based point based kind of thing. But explore that because that is that creates design in implications for how we're going to develop our design over time. And obviously, you know, lots of people are leading Avista global online academy has been doing this they have a great professional learning work around this. And by the way, these are the most elite private schools around the world that are leaning into this the global online academy is Sidwell Friends and and Lakeside Academy, Jakarta Academy, Beijing Academy. These are all folks who are looking at mastery based learning and trying to integrate it into their learning models. So it's a thing that people are going to be thinking about how they can use these technologies and this design to do learning in a different way. wgo obviously, is one of the biggest ones at scale that's out there. We had national been doing a one to one model for a lot of years. It's the idea of figuring out how you can personalize and connect with those learners to develop that kind of process. I love what the folks in the Austin Community College have been doing We have something called the accelerator. And they basically created a touchdown space, where students even if they're doing online learning, they have a place to come learn. It's a combination of pods, 600 station, computer pods, a coffee house meeting rooms for faculty and staff. But it's a place where even if you're doing online learning, you can come in and get just in time faculty support tutoring, you can get up you can meet with your faculty members, if you need to pick at a coffee house safe place to learn. We're looking at this at national and figuring out can we combine that with YMCA and childcare? Can we combine that with again, just in time support so they can get a sense of belonging and connection. But I really think this kind of Colerne space is probably going to be one of the trends of the future, where it's not just you know, class based facilities, it's actually using space to create a place where folks can get high speed internet, they can have a safe place to be making their childcare, a whole host of things like that. The accelerator is a powerful model for that they've been doing it in Austin now for about five years, and national work. And we're looking at that with our Colerne space, we've really adopted this whole youth mentality of kind of looking at, at really kind of thinking about the financial, the academic, the career, the family, and community and the social emotional elements of our students. In fact, we run one of the largest SEL training programs for K 12. In the world, we've probably trained close to 10s of 1000s of teachers. And we've probably impacted more than 15 million students with our harmony SEL programs. If you Google harmony, SEL you'll figure it out. So this whole idea of meeting that student where they are and thinking about the whole student is a big deal for us. And we're also really looking at this. How do we create healthier learning environments, and part of creating a healthy learning environment is creating an environment where students who are in Access and Success environments, and we're partnering with HSI is at HBCUs and access universities and community colleges and kickball school districts to look at the policy to practice the research and that reflection and leadership necessary to be able to make this more likely one of the things we've found is that we are really thinking about how do you braid multiple initiatives? How do you braid, your Dei, your SEL, your basic needs, your mental health and your thriving work in a way where you create this healthy environment where it's not easy. It's an environment where somebody can rise and thrive and do their best work, again, as part of our design challenge is to figure out how do you pull all that together in a way where you really create this, this healthy learning environment first, by the way, there's not a privileged parent on the planet, that's not making sure their student is involved in a healthy learning environment, they want their kid in a place where they can rise and thrive, we want to create the same kind of thing we have national in particular one a place where our students are challenged to be the absolute best. And they so the whole idea here, it's not just about support, it's about support and challenge to help them kind of rise and become the best. So lots of good conversations here. And I do think we have an opportunity here in a moment of the new possible to think differently about what this might mean. And I really hope you all can jump in on this, I got one more thing I want to share with this. But I want to open this up and get into a conversation a bit before I kind of share my final thing. So I'm going to stop sharing and both Sonic back end and and just kind of see where we can go from here.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 38:10
Awesome. Yeah, I mean, this was a very exciting presentation mark, and you know, everybody listening, please post questions, we have about 15 minutes to go through it. So Mark, you know, from my point of view, you and I, we were chatting about a year back and we thought about this connected learning experience, which also ties to the social and emotional learning. Can you talk a little bit about your thought process around? How does connect what's your definition of connected learning?

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 38:35
I'm gonna give you a predicate on that. And part of the predicate is part of our design challenge in the world of higher education, is we focus so much on the class, right? When first of all, if you're gonna do mastery based learning, you don't necessarily have to have a class, it's this idea of figuring out how learning can be broader. But one of the things we need to think about is if we're gonna do student experience design, which I feel deeply about learning experience, design, student experience, design is different than just designing great classes that came around and I wrote a piece that was an evolution, this last year, talking about the move to Student Experience Design, if you're gonna go to learning experience designers as opposed to instructional design, you have to start thinking about the whole family because there's so many people reduce universities or college experiences to a collection of classes. College is not just a collection of classes. College is a family of experiences that happens to include classes, but it includes other things from the very first time you find out about the university to the orientation to the student activities, to the co curricular to career support to connections you make with other students. What we're thinking is how do we as educators curate and connect those experiences in a way where that becomes a true whole and it's designed for purpose to get the best impact? This isn't that students don't want to come to us just to get a degree. It's about getting an experience that will change their lives, right. So what we need to think about is how do you create that connected experience for students over time? Time and how we as educators can think about be planful about it, can we actually help design the family of experiences that students can shard through with people that can connect with them where they can go to the connected experiences based on that idea of student experience, design, learning experience design? And thinking about how can I improve the first contact to the time there, there are successful alumni giving back to the university on the college? Like how can I shake a family of experiences and keep that connected net through line through and so I can say, this is what's happening during orientation. Here's the near peer you're going to connect with, here's the first set of courses you're going to take, here's the co curricular activities, here's the early career experiences, and that all those things kind of come together. And it's not just by happenstance or luck for that individual student, right? It actually is completion by design, it is experienced by design, right, as opposed to just having a kind of one by one. That makes sense.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 40:54
Yeah, no, makes complete sense. It's almost like and if you have a classroom and say that people talk to one another, it doesn't happen, it has to be designed properly, so that people actually have that experience. You know, one other thing that comes to my mind is this whole, you know, there is a lot of talk around belonging, you know, because I mean, Salesforce put out a report about a month or two back, where they did a big survey, and they found that the belonging is at all time low right now, like students are not feeling they're actually connected to a university experience. And there's also enough data that if they don't belong, they're not going to be promoters of the programs, right, they're not going to give back as an alumni they're not going to promote the programs is connectivity, the big portion of belonging are the other pieces that we should think about when we drive or we want to create more belonging for our students.

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 41:42
I think your ability to connect students to a family of experiences that are meaningful for them, it was part and parcel of belonging and belonging, if not probably the superpower to make belonging happen. People feel like they're home, people feel like they're with their people, when they have a sense of connectedness to the purpose, the direction and the kind of resources. I know when I when I've, you know, started interviewing a national university, I think immediately they started talking about their commitment to access success, success, the military to kind of like, within no time, I felt like well, I'm I'm home. These are my people, right? That's a sense of belonging and connectedness you want your students to actually feel that's not going to happen if all you're worried about is transactional, class less check offs, right? You're actually feel your gut, you have to be more thoughtful and more planful. About that.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 42:29
Yeah, and I'm looking at some of the comments whether they're coming into our chat, which is, you know, one of the comments from Peter is, Mark, can you this? Can we design mastery criteria so that they cover multiple dimensions of learning, social, emotional, cognitive, cross cutting intellect, intellectual, cultural significance? So?

Unknown Speaker 42:47
I sure hope so.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 42:50
I mean, everything? Well, if you design it, well, students are going to bring those experiences into the learning environment, right, they will have a voice to actually speak up.

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 42:57
I think that's part of the beauty of mastery based learning is it keeps you away from thinking about points, right? You're really thinking about holistic learning in a broader way. So you can really think about how you can design it right away. It also makes you think, by the way, if we're really thinking about how do you design for deeper learning, and and really think about, you know, we talked about national, we talk about s Jedi, right? Ms Jedi is our social justice, equity, diversity, inclusion work. And so many people coming to us as Jedi after the fact and do a commit audit to find out how you're doing no, this should be built into your design, how do you ensure that that that design is built in so you're actually creating an inclusive, you're advancing inclusion and a way for people really feel like they're connected from the very beginning to that, and that's where, again, that goes back to the I love the idea of using design thinking and that parents doubted achieving the dream and I did a couple of podcasts and wrote an article around this idea of our superpowers are going to come together. And we can kind of combine data science design thinking right together, together with this idea of how we can move our organizations forward. Because if you can combine these things that your leadership combined data science and design thinking, because data is not going to be enough, you actually need design thinking to be able to drive this thing forward. And when you do those things together, you can start actually changing where you want to go. Like it's just it just changed the dynamic of the whole thing.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 44:19
Absolutely. There's another interesting question, which is, how do we it's a very specific question like how do we engage students outside of a class in an online environment?

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 44:30
And I don't think it's hard. I think there's, there's a whole family of resources you can connect a student to, there's peering resources, there's also external communities like I was I was, if I'm an online teacher, I'm going to be thinking about one or the other. Other online communities related to my discipline the student could be engaging with and I'm going to try to get them connected to those different communities. Not to mention, I'm going to try to create peer communities within my class. I'm going to try to create peer communities across my classes. So one of my favorite things is a faculty Create almost legacy programs where students who, who complete a chorus actually create a project that actually helps the next class, right, and the idea of creating resources and support for those kind of courses to pull it together. So part of this is again, I think there are more tools to connect our students than ever before. And part of our job is to figure out how you can pull us together in a way where, where you can actually help your students and I love I wrote a book back in the early 2000s, called Practical Magic on the frontlines of teaching excellence. It's a study of 2000 award winning faculty members, we did deep focus groups about with about 250 of them. And one of the things that was most powerful was the best of faculty members don't, don't make it about them, they make it about their students creating resources to help other students and their students connecting with other students. It's amazing how just they're catalysts. Right? They're so beyond themselves and more about creating as learning community. And I love that's always stuck with me, because it wasn't even about them using technology. We're talking about what their technology we just wasn't, it's like, no, it's not even about me using technology. It's the students using the technology to create resources for other students that have always stuck with me, that great faculty members are actually catalyzing their students to connect with each other. And that connectedness is what makes them feel like they're a part of something.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 46:15
That's right. I mean, the student agency is such an important part. Because if they're told to do what to do, it's the it takes away the fun. They're going to doing things. Amazing. I do

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 46:23
think and I'm just going to be blunt about this. We have more tools, technologies, resources, data at our disposal than any educators in human history, shame on us, if we can't be creative about creating a deeply vibrant, engaging environments for our learners. I mean, this is this should be the golden age of learning, right? And if we do it in the right way, and when we should only start, we should hold ourselves to that standard, I totally get the challenges we have. Because I understand there's cludes, the software and there's this, there's that, but we do have more tools now than we've ever had.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 46:53
So there's a question in chat, what's the best single book to learn more practical magic or other?

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 47:00
Well, it depends on what you're trying to learn. Right. So we've actually been doing a bunch of this internally, kind of like driving this set of conversations, there's a great piece that was put out by a whole series of blog posts put out by global online academy and the one blog, one blog post they put out around, kind of changing your mindset on grains was like one of the most powerful ones. And we actually had the entire leadership group read the book range, we've also read the book, the extended the extended mind. And the extended mind by a by anthropologists really makes you think about the fact that learning is so much more than just about what's happening up here. It's about your entire connected community, that extended mind book is powerful. So begin there, and that just going to make you think about how you can curate those things together. And you can always read in the world, in the world of education, there's no doubt there's some really neat pieces out there and that people have pulled together. But I think you know, trying to read broader and trying to go. And what's great is like the range book talks about this analogy based thinking, like I don't have this from this sector is going to help you think about this from this sector. And by the way, the third D in that design thinking and data science piece is domain expertise. And that means you value the domain expertise and education. But part of that domain expertise is you honor and understand it, but you're open to kind of learning from other sectors, right? If you're gonna do it, but at that, I think that mashup of data science design thinking and domain expertise is what's gonna give us the ability to really get the new possible going.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 48:29
There's another question or on faculty. So how to convince faculty to adopt design thinking and technology in place of old school teaching methods?

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 48:40
Yeah. So it was one part of that, that they use the phrase all faculty, that's my challenge. I, here's I think it has to do with educators, faculty included, because not just faculty, it's also students services, people that are very focused sometimes on the way they've always done it. Part of our challenges, we as human beings are homeostatic creatures, we get a pattern for doing things in a way that makes the most sense. To break that homeostatic pattern, we literally have to, it is hard, because we have to change our pattern in a way where we kind of like change our beliefs or structures or so I think the only way you're gonna get there is by you have to catalyze the conversations to get people thinking about what's possible, connecting them to each other, so they can learn from each other, I do not think you're gonna be able to preach your way out of this, you might be able to connect your way out of this because you can't preach you're with us, which means we have to it's not about selling people on this. It is about creating a vibrant, connected community, it's willing to learn together about how we advance and grow. So what are things we want to do, for example, in national universities, we want our faculty to faculty and staff and our leadership to have the best learning data about what's happening, the best financial and operational data about what's happening to strategy data, and then drive towards the right kind of operational plan. what's your what's your logic map for how you're going to grow over time and why do you think that and let's pound that together as a As a kind of a vibrant community spread that, to me, that is the essence of academic freedom. That's how we're going to do it. I think we have to, we have to do it better together, I'm really worried about the, you know, we have to get him to get buy in for this new model buy ins to buy in from jump sounds like you're selling them something. I think we have to what we want to do is we want to get people thinking about these things. And we as professional educators are always going to be thinking about how do we advance our domain. And if we want to advance our domain, this is part of being Do you want to be a better doctor, if you want to be a better scientist, whatever it's going to be want to advance your domain. This is our domain and we want to advance it.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 50:39
So in other words, like including faculty in that transformation, so they are

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 50:44
it's gotta be it's gonna get faculty it I think if you're going to do this, right, you begin with a series of, of conversations, and then you connect them to other people who've done similar work, that it's a combination of design exercises around specific things. But make no mistake, this is a crawl, walk run strategy, right. That's what Hans Rosling talks about in his book faithfulness, is you have to create to get to possible you have to create a pathway to possible and that pathway cannot be just spray and pray. It probably means substantive work over time. And you understand I mean, I don't know if you ever remember this when you were a kid, and they explained compound interest to you. They said, Hey, if you put $100 a month in a bank account at 12 years old, by the time you're in your 60s, you're a multimillionaire, but and they explain compound interest. But how it works up, same thing is with these kinds of ideas, if you're the kind of organization that overtime, tries to get a little better, a little better, a little better, a little better, a little better, that compound interest gets you to the point where you can get breakaway acceleration, but it takes some time, you got to be willing to kind of, you know, put in the effort to be able to get there and connect people along that way.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 51:48
What's the role of OERs open educational resources in, you know, increasing mastery and learning across the world?

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 51:57
Well, I think we are at their best can absolutely be transformative and learning the lower costs. They also create communities of practice on Makerspace among faculty in different areas. I'm a huge fan of OCR, I think a lot of people probably know, I'm on the board of eskimi, which is, which is the founders of OER Commons. And if you want to go to OER, We launched that over a decade ago, and it's now the largest digital public Library on the planet for curricular resources. So I'm pretty committed you definitely are. What I don't think though is I don't think it demonize publishers like there's a lot of good publishers who've done good work and people who you've leveraged publishers for distribution, but I do think is we have to create more accessible, highly functional distribution strategies to get content in the hands of students and figuring out how you can weave that in. We are a national, absolutely innovating with OER, and want to do as much as we can with the OER in our communities of practice. And just have to remember, we want to find the best content humanly possible to get in front of our students to help them and you've heard me talk about this as content, content, context and community right, is getting students connected to the best content possible, the best context possible, the best community possible. And I think that's the magic for our faculty.

Shaunak Roy - CEO, Yellowdig 53:06
Yes. And just to add to that, I mean, that's what we see in Yellowdig, like we 95% of the discussions that are happening from the students, they're bringing in content from all over the web, because they have the community and they're building context together. So it's a very,

Mark Milliron - President & CEO, National University 53:18
there's no one best way. There's all kinds of great ways to do it. So Chuck, I want to if it's okay, can I close with something real quick? Sure. Okay, so I just want to make sure for everybody here, we kind of collectively kind of come back to the conversation about the journey that we've been on. And I'm gonna go ahead and share real quick screen for a second. That comes up there. And so during the pandemic, I come from a family of nine kids. I have an African American brother, Native American brother, Korean sister and a dissident. We have 25 foster kids are rotating through my house during the time I was growing up. A mom was a special needs nurse and my dad was out of his mind. big rowdy household, I was the first in my family to go on a hiring journey. And there's a long kind of like background of that first generation stuff. Fast forward. Now I've got four kids, which my mom calls a starter family. And during the pandemic, our kids were at ranges from 12 to 22. And we were starting to see the spread, right my daughter was in grad school and other kid was out already out of the house. But during the pandemic, kind of everybody came back together and we ended up back in the mountains of western North Carolina. My daughter was at UT Austin. And I love UT Austin and Longhorn got my PhD from there, but during the pandemic, her courses and her Clair College just did not do online learning really well. And so we, we she and I talked about it, we decided to have her take a gap year. And so she took a gap year and during that year, we decided to make sure she had some kind of an educational experience. And one of the things we decided to do was write a book together. And so the book we wrote was about something in her lived experience. We use something called the sugar chair with her while she was growing up. She just got done with a child development course and another course around early childhood development. So we decided that we would write this children's book. And the idea of a children's book, the sugar chair is a concept that basically is instead of instead of timeout, you know, it's a white rocking chair that has a plaque on the back that has a map mantras, three steps, which is slow down, look around, figure out how to sweeten things out. And you get the rhythm of that the rhythm you have the kid is having a problem, you put them into server chair. And the idea is, they have to slow down, you have to look around, and then you see it through other people's eyes, what's happening, and then figure out a plan to sweeten things up. And they get out of the chair when they've told you their plan to sweeten things up. And it's different than timeout because it's self regulation. It's empathy, it's reflection, and plan fullness, mindfulness, and all the things we talked about without ever using those terms. And that really, the neat thing about this story is it follows this little puppy and this little girl as they grew up, and it's for three stories, one for littles one for middles, one for olders. And it follows them as they grow and basically shows the pattern of when you're little you have to go and search hair. As you get older, you start realizing this is really useful. And then as you really get older, for the love of God, you want to find a search, you want to bite someplace on a deck, you can sit down and calm the world down and think about things and plan right in terms of how to sweeten things up in the world. And this was a neat process, especially to write a book with your daughter, we said that we sent this out all over the country got feedback for it went to the entire publishing process, had a great interview with getting smart. And Tom Vander Ark, if you want to see Alexandria and all her glory, and then interview, go check out the getting smart interview. It's fantastic. It was just a neat process. And a really special for me with my daughter, it was just the serendipity of the pandemic was at least having that time to be able to do this project. But I'm just gonna come back to this. This is not about the book, this is about us. We in the world of education, I think needs some sort of share of time, I think it's going to be pretty important that we slow down. We look around and see from so many other people's lives, what's happening. And I would argue there are still millions of people in this country that have real needs around education that aren't being met, that we can actually help solve. And we need to come together and think about what's our what is our plan for swinging things up? What are what is our plan for making things better for these folks, it is worth every bit of our effort to think about what that plan is going to be and figure out what's possible with our students and what's possible with our education community. So it's worth every bit of your effort to be able to do this work. And I thank you for being willing to roll up your sleeves and be a part of it. And Shawn, thank you and Brianna, thank you for inviting me to come into the mix you guys are doing. I love the work of Yellowdig you guys are all about trying to connect people together. It's just fantastic to be a part of it. Thanks, everybody.

Brianna Bannach 57:47
Hi, thank you so much, Mark. I know I speak for everyone when we say this was a great session and we really enjoyed learning from you today. I love to wrap up the session real quick with a quick raffle. We have one winner today in this session for a Yellowdig swag box and it is Todd Harmening. Thank you all and thank you Mark

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