Rethinking Higher Education

Innovations in Teaching & Learning

90-120 min keynote presentation, or full-day teaching and learning retreat / PD workshop

Colleges and universities face demands for change from all sides: students want more flexible, career-relevant and experiential programs; provincial governments want expanded access and enhanced student success, while also demanding ever-greater efficiencies and measurable outcomes, even while students arrive less prepared and requiring more supports than ever; the federal government is encouraging more applied research, commercialization and economic impact; employers want more “job-ready” graduates; and faculty want to maintain personal and professional quality of life. In the 20th century, PSE institutions scaled up traditional teaching by applying industrial-age models, resulting in ever-larger lecture classes, multiple-choice exams, simplified grading systems, contingent faculty, managerialism and labour unionization. Scaling up the traditional system further is not an option: the time has come to rethink some of our longstanding assumptions about residency requirements, course credits, the agrarian calendar, intellectual Darwinism, disciplinary silos, the humanities, lecture classes, libraries, textbooks, social interaction, and student evaluation. For some kinds of learners, and some programs, the time and technology have come to open our minds to consider flexible hybrid delivery, gamification and simulations, interdisciplinary courses, active and experiential learning, intelligent textbooks and adaptive learning platforms, competency-based credentials and expanded transcripts incorporating co-curriculars, work experience, and badges.

Christian Lacroix

“Informative, thought-provoking, and relevant are three words that describe Ken Steele’s recent presentation at UPEI. His talk brought approximately 100 members of our university community together to consider the latest trends affecting the role of teachers and models of undergraduate teaching and learning. The presentation was followed by a workshop on the same topic…  a great way to open the discussion on a variety of issues as we embark on an academic planning exercise at UPEI.”


Christian Lacroix, Interim VP Academic, UPEI

Ken Steele is Canada’s leading higher education monitor and futurist, trusted by more than 20,000 daily subscribers and bringing his unique perspective and insight to a broad range of audiences, from faculty and instructors, boards and senior administration, to information technology staff, concerned parents, and Canada’s most powerful corporate CEOs.

In this dynamic, visual and media-rich keynote, Ken synthesizes a vast array of up-to-the-moment research data, trends, news and forecasts to provide his most radical “big picture” view of some potential future directions of higher education programs, pedagogy, and credentials. If Canadian colleges and universities want to be truly student-centred economic drivers, Ken raises some fundamental and startling questions that need to be considered, and shares examples of institutions that have already begun to move in these directions. The content of the presentation is being continually updated, and will be customized for your region, institution, audience and objectives for the day. (Ken will schedule a one-hour call with your leadership, and will review your most recent institutional strategic or academic plan, to help focus the presentation for your needs.)

For a sense of Ken’s approach, though, here’s a podcast he did last year:

Ideal Audiences

  • Faculty/Instructional Staff
  • Teaching & Learning Centres
  • Teaching & Learning Committees
  • Executive Teams
  • Academic Retreats
  • Deans & Directors
  • Road Retreats
  • Campus PD
  • Conference Keynotes
  • Launch for Academic Plan renewal

Optional Extras

  • You could schedule this as a full-day retreat, a half-day workshop, or a keynote presentation followed by Q&A.
  • You might consider 2 or 3 presentations, possibly for a variety of audiences, drawn from Ken’s hot topics.

Related Resources:

These articles and white papers reflect some of Ken’s ideas, and could potentially be used as pre-reading for workshop participants:

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