“I’m sure everything will be back to normal by June.”

When the pandemic hit in March, Eduventures Summit 2020, originally scheduled for June, seemed a long way off. As the situation worsened, we moved the date to November. Now, in lieu of an in-person event, we are pleased to announce the first Eduventures Virtual Research Forum, an exclusive one-day reinvention of Summit online (Thursday, November 12).

Our goal is certainly to replicate the essence of past Eduventures Summits—unveiling new research and perspectives to help college and university leaders navigate one of the most confounding sets of circumstances in a century. But we will also take our new medium seriously. This is the same dilemma faced by colleges nationwide as they begin the fall semester mid-pandemic: how to be both the same and different.

Please read on to find out how our Virtual Research Forum, which is exclusive to our members, will bring the best of our in-person Summits and be more than just “another webinar.”

What Conferences (and Colleges) are For

Yes, just like at our regular Summits, the Virtual Research Forum will feature world class keynote Bryan Stevenson , celebrated civil rights lawyer, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and the man portrayed in the film Just Mercy. We will highlight the latest research and insights from Eduventures analysts. And, we are delighted to say that our regular Summit co-presenter, Strada Education, is also partnering on our Virtual Research Forum.

More details are below, but let’s stand back for a moment and reflect on what conferences are for.

In-person events are part habit, part magic, and part ulterior motive. A good webinar might convey the content just as well, and save time and money. A webinar falls short if walking Boston’s Freedom Trail or catching a Red Sox game is on the list, but conferences are not just get-away weekends in disguise. People squeeze into planes and slog through expense reports in the hope of encountering the powerful speaker just a few feet away, the life-changing conversation, and the electricity of collective endeavor.  The power of in-person events endures.

Similarly, fully online colleges have existed for almost three decades, but the traditional undergraduate experience remains defined by brick-and-mortar. Part habit, part magic, and part ulterior motive.  For the millions of students thrust online for the first time this spring, everything was suddenly awkward and clunky. The immersive whirl of campus was gone, replaced by discussion boards and Zoom meetings.

But developing new skills, creating new habits, seeing new possibilities, and conjuring new magic takes time.

Our goal is to bring you the best of Eduventures Summit, with a few twists that take advantage of the online modality:

  • Extra passes for all members
  • Expanded Q&A
  • Session excerpt recordings available on-demand after the event
  • Greater opportunity to interact with our analysts

We are learning, too. More details to come.

Forward or back?

Back to our agenda. This is a year like never before.

In the midst of discord, the instinct is to go back. The pandemic is throwing assumptions in the air, economic contraction is sowing uncertainty and threatens to impoverish millions, and demands for racial equity make for uncomfortable questions institutionally, professionally, and personally. Some see scope for radical change; many, fervently, perhaps secretly, would like things to return to normal.

Barely a week after what will surely be the most contentious presidential election in decades, Eduventures Virtual Research Forum will grasp both these desires—nostalgia for the past and longing for a different future—and help higher education leaders find brave, practical ways forward.

We will kick off with Bryan Stevenson who will challenge us, not for the first time, to square our identity as higher education professionals, committed to learning, opportunity, and excellence, with sustained access and achievement disparities by African Americans and other under-served populations. How do we move forward, not backward, on this fundamental issue? Bryan will discuss a new initiative to help colleges and universities meet the moment.

Then our analysts will take the virtual stage:

The Fall 2021 Traditional Undergraduate Recruiting Cycle

According to Eduventures Principal Analyst, Kim Reid, today’s tumultuous environment has upset the value proposition, rebalanced the power dynamic between students and institutions, and shuffled the deck of effective enrollment tactics. Some things will return to normal, others will not. Kim will leverage our latest prospective and admitted student data to help schools—and students—thrive in a post-COVID world.

Creative Campus-Online Combinations

Eduventures Chief Research Officer, Richard Garrett (yours truly), will search for seeds of powerful future models amid today’s crisis management. COVID or no COVID, higher education leaders need to shape technology to address deep access, cost, and quality problems. Early-stage examples will illustrate how campus-online combinations might make colleges more sustainable and more compelling.

Adult Learners: Boom or Bust?

In normal times, when the economy tanks, adult enrollment soars. This time, graduate momentum looks strong but adult undergraduate interest is deflated. Co-presented by Howard Lurie, Eduventures Principal Analyst, and Nicole Torpey-Saboe, Director of Research at Strada Education, this session will sift mid-pandemic data on shifting adult enthusiasm for different forms of postsecondary education.

Student Journey Mapping

Colleges and universities know both a great deal and not very much about their students. Demographic, preference, and behavioral data abounds but is fragmented across functions and databases, and often does little to illuminate or prevent all-too-common student disengagement or attrition. “Student Journey Mapping” aims to capture student realities in much more detail. This session, from Eduventures Principal Analyst, James Wiley, will scrutinize this ambitious but challenging approach.

Our Virtual Research Forum will end with a president panel—panelists to be announced—that will reflect on this most unusual fall semester as well as strategies for 2021.

Look out for further details in the coming weeks. Members will receive information on how to use their free passes, including extra passes for colleagues.

And, just as colleges are hoping to get back to familiar campus life next year, we are tentatively planning a return to the Eduventures Summit in Boston in June 2021.

I’m sure everything will be back to normal by June.

For further information about Eduventures Summit Virtual Research Forum, please contact summit@nrccua.org.

Never Miss Your Wake-Up Call


Learn more about our team of expert research analysts here.

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Richard Garrett

Eduventures Chief Research Officer at ACT | NRCCUA
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October 1, 2020 at 2PM ET/1PM CT 2pm EST
 
This year, a record incoming class will forge their path at Florida Atlantic University. Building on multiple years of success, the team at FAU continues to evolve their search strategies with data, research and agile execution. Join Maura Flaschner, Executive Director of Undergrad Admissions and Joel Vander Horst, Director of Admissions and Enrollment as they discuss how FAU was able to mature its enrollment practices and partner with ACT | NRCCUA to make the class by communicating student-centric pathways via the most relevant channels.
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Never Miss Your Wake-Up Call


Learn more about our team of expert research analysts here.