Eduvation Blog

5 Ways to Prepare for 2028

This week, Ken Steele continues his conversation with Paula Burns, President & CEO of Lethbridge College, about 5 key ways higher education should be preparing for the decade ahead.(Last week, Paula described 3 notable innovations in competency-based learning, stackable modular credentials, and the use of VR technology.)


1. Be Flexible to Reskill Working Students

Students not only need Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) but, Paula argues, will increasingly need “Integrated Work Learning,” allowing working adults to return to college for short periods of upskilling and reskilling while continuing to work. Institutions need to respond with flexible learning and delivery models, to accommodate more and more part-time learners.

2. Be Nimble to Keep Up with Tech

Higher ed can’t afford to take months or years to develop programs for new technologies like Virtual Reality, when industry needs our graduates yesterday.

3. Go Beyond Technical Skills

There is worldwide recognition that the skills of the future will be people skills, communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills – so colleges have to ensure that they go beyond the technical aspects of our programs, to prepare our students for the evolving economy.

4. Be Open to Collaborations

Colleges and universities need to innovate as a system overall. Collaboration and potentially mergers and integration will be the way of the future, says Paula. “Institutions can’t all continue to do the same thing and think that we’re going to be sustainable.” Technologies should allow global collaboration on research and teaching alike. although “we talk lots about collaboration, but the system is still set up for competition.”

5. Stay Focused on Areas of Excellence

Institutions should try to integrate their traditional full-time academic programs, continuing education and research or applied research labs into a centre of excellence that can reinforce each other. Every college or university might focus on 3 or 4 key areas of strength, to differentiate and focus each institution’s resources on its real strengths.

Paula concludes by observing that the broader world is pushing higher ed to innovate. We can be leaders in our communities, partner to innovate, we just have to “step out of our own box and be part of a wider whole.”

Next week, Ken’s conversation with Paula concludes with some ideas for nurturing a culture of innovation on campus, thinking about lessons learned from the marathon running course and the playground sandbox. To be sure you don’t miss it, subscribe today!


Paula Burns served as Provost & VP Academic at NAIT for 5 years before joining Lethbridge College as President & CEO 5 years ago.  In addition to a decade of experience in senior administration, she holds a PhD in Education from Toronto’s OISE, and an executive MBA from Royal Roads University with a specialization in leadership.

Shot on location at Lethbridge College in May 2018, by campus videography staff – thank you again!  (Interested in hosting a 10K Site Visit at your campus?)


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