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August 11, 2021

Future of Higher Education

Vote to See WGU at SXSW EDU

Vote for our panelpicker ideas for SXSW EDU 2022

Hello, friends of WGU. We need YOUR help!

Community voting is open for SXSW EDU 2022 and your votes help decide if we can present our work and ideas at this year’s conference taking place March 7–10, 2022. SXSW EDU is an annual event that brings together diverse people and perspectives to elevate teaching, learning, and educators across the entire scope of the education industry.

SXSW is known for being highly engaging because they create the event with input from the audience. You have the opportunity to start the conference session selection process. If you want to hear about putting learners first, please vote for our proposals. Every “Vote Up” helps us make it to the SXSW stage in Austin, TX.

Public voting is open now through Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. We invite you to create a PanelPicker account and vote. Thank you!


Future-Proof Higher Ed: Serving New Demographics

Higher education is facing significant uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic as learners are increasingly questioning its value, leading to national enrollment declines. Forward-thinking institutions must reimagine their approach to fit the needs and goals of an increasingly diverse set of learners. This session will discuss how several institutions have come together to reorient their practices, put learners first, and meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.



Making College Pay:  A Talk about Student Choice 

 Is college really worth it? In short, yes. Is the traditional path espoused by society the best choice for all people, their financial wellbeing, and our economy? Not entirely. Guided by the student’s perspective, we’ll have a conversation about the business models, risks, and future of higher education; increasing students’ ROI with the right knowledge to make the right choice for their personal education; and we’ll challenge higher ed and policy to follow along the path students choose.  



Can VR Help Develop Clinical Decision-Making?

Even before COVID and the shuttering of most student clinical experiences, WGU saw the need to expand clinical learning using VR. This session will describe the process for designing and testing a virtual reality assessment that could teach and evaluate clinical decision-making of students. WGU created an immersive, case-based, clinical VR experience featuring branching decision-making scenarios that served as a student assessment tool for knowledge and core competencies. Learn what they discovered. 



Mobility for All: Indiana Achievement Wallet

By building an ecosystem of employers, educational providers, and service providers, the Indiana Achievement Wallet pilot encourages and supports frictionless, lifelong learning pathways for learner-workers in Indiana and beyond. This ecosystem will increase social and economic mobility for underrepresented populations across the state and will change the way education institutions and employers meaningfully value prior learning to create equitable pathways from experience to training to career.



*This proposal was submitted for both SXSW EDU and the main SXSW conference. Please vote for both!


The Pathway to Opportunity is Paved with Skills

The OSN is a collaboration of over 500 employers, higher ed institutions, and others who believe in a future in which all individuals have the skills and talent necessary to thrive, and in which their talents are easily signaled to the labor market. The OSN is launching pilots, building opensource toolkits, structuring partnerships, and reimagining the future of education and work so that every individual can access opportunity based on what they can do, not where they got their degree.



*This proposal was submitted for both SXSW EDU and the main SXSW conference. Please vote for both!


Fail Safe Experiential Learning with Immersive VR

Ever wish you had a do-over? Teachers must explore new ways to work with children with special needs, master specific instructional routines, and lead difficult conversations in complex classrooms in the quest to create inclusive environments that support learning and belonging. Live, avatar-based simulations provide a fail-safe environment for experimenting, learning, and growing skills. See how WGU trains teachers in an authentic, replicable, scalable, and diverse simulated classroom.



Adapting to the Hybrid University

This panel discussion will focus on tangible tips for higher ed leaders to adapt their institution to the new normal of the "hybrid university", with an emphasis on digital community engagement, flexible student support, and dynamic academic modalities. This shift is creating opportunities to be more equitable in their practices and support the success of working adult learners.


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