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Part of Western Governors University

March 5, 2021

Future of Higher Education


Logo graphic of WGU at South by Southwest

On March 9–11, leaders and educators from WGU will participate in several sessions at SXSW EDU Online. They will discuss ways to make higher education more accessible and equitable for all learners.  Keep reading for details and registration links for each session.


Offline & Left Behind: The Lost Generation

Scott Pulsipher, WGU President

Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and Founder/Chairman of ExcelinEd

The nation’s internet infrastructure remains inadequate, leaving 21 million people—and an estimated one out of five school children—disconnected. Internet access is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity, especially in the era of COVID-19. Join the speakers as they discuss what has become the pivotal educational issue of our time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 11 a.m. CT

Register for this session.


The “Kids” Aren’t Alright: Reinventing Higher Ed

Marni Baker Stein, WGU Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Michelle Weise, Senior Advisor at Imaginable Futures

Goldie Blumenstyk, Senior Writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Julie Peller, Executive Director of Higher Learning Advocates

For the majority of higher ed learners, their experience doesn’t match the “Hollywood” version of college. Most students work while in school, half are financially dependent, and a quarter are parents. During this session, the panelists will discuss how to move toward a new era in higher education, one that meets learners where they are.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. CT

Register for this session.


From COVID-19 to Social Justice: Meeting the Moment

Mark Milliron, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean of the WGU Teachers College

Suzanne Walsh, President of Bennett College

William Serrata, President of El Paso Community College

This past year, educators across the K–20 spectrum have led their institutions with purpose, passion, and flexibility. In this panel discussion, the speakers will talk about lessons learned and which strategies should continue, inviting the audience to contribute to the discussion.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. CT

Register for this session.


How Skills & LER Are Shattering the Glass Ceiling

Darin Hobbs, WGU Director of Academic Records & Credentials

Kacey Thorne, WGU Director of Skills Architecture

Alex Kaplan, IBM Global Leader of Blockchain and AI for Industry Credentials

Ricardo Torres, National Student Clearinghouse CEO

The shift to skills-based learning and hiring is happening sooner than we think. In this session, the speakers will discuss why focusing on workforce-relevant skills and the Learning and Employment Record (LER) can provide immediate returns to individuals and employers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. CT

Register for this session.


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