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Transcript - Episode 79: The Key To Becoming A Lifelong Learner, With Amrit Ahluwalia Editor In Chief At The EvoLLLution Episode 79

Sep 27, 2022

00:00:00 Amrit

We have a responsibility to make the college a lifelong learning engine. We have a responsibility to make higher education something that people don't just do once at the start of their career, and then never really return to, other than for football games and donations.


00:00:12 Amrit

Like that can't be the relationship that we have with people after they graduate. The relationship that we have with people after they graduate has to be one that continues to be based in learning access. It has to be continued to be based in value.


00:00:28 Christina

The workforce landscape is rapidly changing and educators and their institutions need to keep up. Preparing students before they enter the workforce to make our communities and businesses stronger is at the core of getting an education.


00:00:43 Christina

But we need to understand how to change and adjust so that we can begin to project where things are headed before we even get there. So, how do we begin to predict the future?


00:00:53 Salvatrice

Hi, I'm Salvatrice Cummo, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Pasadena City College, and host of this podcast.


00:01:02 Christina

And I'm Christina Barsi, producer and co-host of this podcast.


00:01:05 Salvatrice

And we are starting the conversation about the future of work. We'll explore topics like how education can partner with industry, how to be more equitable, and how to attain one of our highest goals; more internships and PCC students in the workforce.


00:01:19 Salvatrice

We at Pasadena City College, want to lead the charge in closing the gap between what our students are learning and what the demands of the workforce will be once they enter. This is a conversation that impacts all of us. You, the employers, the policymakers, the educational institutions, and the community as a whole.


00:01:39 Christina

We believe change happens when we work together, and it all starts with having a conversation. I'm Christina Barsi.


00:01:47 Salvatrice

And I'm Salvatrice Cummo, and this is the Future of Work.


00:01:50 Salvatrice

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Future of Work Podcast, I am your host, Salvatrice Cummo. Today, we will learn about The EvoLLLution, one of the best platforms for post-secondary professionals to share their insights through a non-traditional lens.


00:02:07 Salvatrice

We will also talk about what topics have been the most popular since the start of the pandemic, and how other higher education professionals can really contribute to the platform.


00:02:17 Salvatrice

With that said, we would like to welcome Amrit Ahluwalia the Editor-in-Chief at the EvoLLLution, a modern campus illumination. For over 11 years, Amrit has worked at The EvoLLLution, an online newspaper, exclusively published by, and for those who understand higher education.


00:02:37 Salvatrice

Amrit works personally with every contributor at the EvoLLLution to produce the content that has supported the site's rise to becoming the top resource for non-traditional higher education. He regularly speaks on topics related to the change in higher education environment at conferences across Canada and the United States, and advises colleges and university leaders to help frame strategic visions for their institutions. We welcome Armrit, how are you?


00:03:07 Amrit

Hey Salvatrice, I'm well, how are you?


00:03:09 Salvatrice

Good. Good to chat with you again.


00:03:11 Amrit

Yeah, absolutely. It was a lot of fun last time. I'm so glad we got the chance to connect again so soon.


00:03:17 Salvatrice

That's right, that's right. Now, the tables have turned. I'm interviewing you, right?


00:03:21 Amrit

Yeah, no kidding. Sorry, I won't ask you questions.


00:03:25 Salvatrice

Well, let's get started. I know very well who you are and what The EvoLLLution is, but I always love to ask this question to our practitioners out there and those within this arena, is really share with us kind of what led you to this work and what led you in journalism, and why education, why did you pick education as a point of interest?


00:03:44 Amrit

For sure. Well, I've always loved storytelling. Storytelling's always been something that's been interesting to me. And I think storytelling is the best way for us to start normalizing some of the things that may seem a little odd or might seem a little outside the norms. It's through stories that people can really start to connect and interact with ideas that are a little outside their scope.


00:04:03 Amrit

So, my own story is actually not mine. It's my mom's. I'm based in Canada. Both my parents are new immigrants. I'm the first generation of my family born in Canada. And my father came over in the early eighties, late seventies/early eighties to earn his doctorate. My mom and dad got married in the mid-eighties. My mom is from India in Bombay, so she came over as well.


00:04:23 Amrit

Now, she had her bachelor's in chemistry from the University of Bombay. She'd worked for five years as an air hostess with British Airways, loved math, loved science. You don't need me to tell you she's super smart, but super, super smart. So , she gets to Canada, goes to the employment office and says "This is my background. This is what I'm good at."


00:04:40 Amrit

Obviously, like well-trained in crisis management, well-trained in customer engagement, customer service, like all these soft skills. Plus, she's got a technical background. And they said, "Cool, so you could probably work at a diner because you are a stewardist."


00:04:52 Amrit

She was like, "Well, no, that's not a thing that's interesting to me." So, she went, she got her accounting licenses, she became a certified accountant. She eventually got a job at the Federal Government of Canada. She worked for 35 some years at various executive levels within the Canadian Federal Public Service.


00:05:10 Amrit

And the entire time continued to take courses to first, to pursue her own interest, to advance her career. I actually remember she earned a graduate-level credential in accounting when I was three. And she didn't do convocation. We went to Vermont.


00:05:25 Amrit

I distinctly remember that her entire life, she was a non-traditional student. As she started to approach retirement, she started doing professional photography certifications because that was something that interested her as maybe a post retirement job.


00:05:36 Amrit

So, my story isn't my story. My story is how do I make life easier for people like my mom. The hurdles that she had to overcome to just do the basics are something that I think those kinds of obstacles exist for so many people. Both in Canada and the United States, these are economies that are built on immigrant communities. These are economies that are built on social mobility.


00:05:55 Amrit

So, having the opportunity as I do to highlight the work of folks that work with non-traditional learners, to work with folks that develop programming and develop institutional divisions, design specifically for workforce development and socioeconomic mobility, is something that I take a lot of pride in and kind of comes back again to that idea of storytelling.


00:06:15 Amrit

The more stories from people like you that we can share, the more opportunity we have for folks that might see higher education through a very specific lens to see that work through a much broader lens that can serve so many more people than the people we tend to serve.


00:06:30 Salvatrice

Yeah, I really love that. Parallel stories, the first generation and I too, have an interest. I never realized that my interest in higher education was going to be so strong. I never saw myself in higher education until you just start to look at what's around you and then look, you just grow up. So, you grow up and you start to say like, "Gosh my career has taken me here."


00:06:57 Salvatrice

And I'm so incredibly grateful just like you are to be in this space because I too, first gen, parents valued education because they came to the States as farmers and your parents were extremely educated coming into this country, my parents were not. And so, they said, "Look we want a better life." Both parents want a better life for their families.


00:07:20 Salvatrice

So, to share that story and for the EvoLLLution to kind of be that source of that narrative and the storytelling and how do we innovate within higher ed, how do we cater to the non-traditional student is really, really important. And I'm super happy that the EvoLLLution has really kind of taken pride around that, and saying, "Look like this needs to be our focus."


00:07:37 Salvatrice

For those who don't understand what really the EvoLLLution is, tell us a little bit more about the EvoLLLution and how it kind of got started, because that'll be helpful to kind of frame this conversation a little more.


00:07:47 Amrit

Yeah, it's valuable context and it's something that I'm super, super proud of. So, first of all, for those of you listening, it doesn't come across in the audio. We spell EvoLLLution with three Ls, and the Ls stand for Lifelong Learning, which is an insider-


00:07:59 Salvatrice

Oh, I didn't know that.


00:08:00 Amrit

Yeah, that's why we have three Ls, is for Lifelong Learning. So, we had the concept in 2011, we launched in 2012. So, I was the founding editor of the publication. Basically, we were launched by a company that's now called Modern Campus. And at the time, it was because there was no one really talking about what's happening in the continuing workforce education space.


00:08:18 Amrit

If we think back to 2011, 2012, the economy was just coming out of the recession, we were in that sort of early recovery phase. So, all those students who'd come into higher education because they'd lost their jobs, because they were in a challenging economic period, all of a sudden, the job market was opening up, they were going back to work.


00:08:35 Amrit

But at the same time, the state appropriations that had been cut drastically over the course of the recession hadn't recovered yet. So, you had this period where sort of higher educations call it magic carpets started to descend a little bit because during that period where state appropriations were declining, enrollments were growing so that the tuition and the fees kind of made up that delta.


00:08:55 Amrit

So, 2011, folks are going back to work. And we had this concept that we wanted to give people a space outside of conferences to talk about the things that they found interesting in the continuing ed world. You know, those conversations that you have in the hallways and interesting ideas for programming, interesting ideas for support and student services. So, we wanted to make that a 24/7 conversation.


00:09:15 Amrit

I distinctly remember this; about five months after we launched, we thought it would be a good idea if we knew who our subscribers were. So, we'd been running for about five months, we were still a very fledging publication. We were fortunate in that a lot of people who really could have published their work anywhere decided to trust us.


00:09:34 Amrit

We're talking folks like Kathy Sandin, who at the time was the Dean of Extension at UCLA. Folks like Adi Beda from UC San Diego, Wayne Smutz, who at the time was the Dean of World Campus at Penn State. We had some phenomenal people share their perspectives.


00:09:48 Amrit

So, we looked at our subscriber base, we thought it would be folks from the continuing ed world, and as it turned out, we were serving largely provosts and CIOs and presidents. And we thought that was kind of weird.


00:09:58 Amrit

So, we started to look into it and realized, well, at a time when higher education institutions were struggling for operating expenses, were struggling to generate enrollments, were starting for the first time in the industry's history to recognize the concept of competition - we were publishing articles by continuing ed leaders talking about what it looked like to compete for enrollments, how student-centricity can be a differentiator, why programming needs to be relevant to student needs, why workforce outcomes are valuable to academic programming.


00:10:26 Amrit

And I think what crystallized for me at that moment and what's kind of driven our editorial philosophy since then, is that the higher education industry can operate like a business while still benefiting the learners it serves. We've always looked at that as a dichotomy, as a binary. Either you're a business or you're serving learners, but you can't be a business that serves learners.


00:10:45 Amrit

And if you look at most businesses, it is in their best interest to treat their consumers with respect. It's in their best interest to serve the needs of their consumers. And then there's benefit to that in terms of revenue and lifetime value of engaging that customer for long-term. And there's no reason why those principles shouldn't work in higher education as well.


00:11:02 Amrit

So, that idea really started to take root at that time when we were looking at our subscriber base, because we realized that those are the exact people who were starting to pay attention to the publication. It wasn't just other continuing ed leaders who wanted to know about continuing ed. It was senior executives who were trying to understand how they could change their mindset about what the institution could be.


00:11:22 Salvatrice

What a beautiful way to kind of pivot into something that you weren't really anticipating.


00:11:27 Amrit

It's so funny because you mentioned yourself, you didn't see your career leading to continuing ed or to higher ed. I certainly didn't as well. That was a surprising twist. It was a twist of fate. And I think if you talk to almost anyone in continuing education, they wouldn't say that "Well, when I was five-years-old and someone asked me what I wanted to do and I wanted to be a Dean of Continuing Education," like that's not a thing.


00:11:47 Amrit

Most of us found our way here by circumstance. But then when we landed and when we found our spot, it's impossible not to fall in love with this sector.


00:11:57 Salvatrice

Right. And it feels like home because we can relate.


00:12:00 Amrit

Yeah. It's very human. It is kind of interesting as you start to think about like how folks wind up in this space, how folks build a passion for this work. And that's really a lot of what we're doing right now. In fact, we're on our podcast, we're about to launch a series with institutional presidents who came out of continuing education.


00:12:17 Salvatrice



00:12:17 Amrit

And the idea there is basically looking at this exact concept of why is higher education starting to pivot to becoming more like a massive continuing ed department? And it comes back to this core idea that there's DNA within CE about how to treat learners, how to think about the institution, how to think about the department with a mix of student-centricity and a business lens and trying to find that middle ground.


00:12:43 Amrit

So, anyway, that was a very long way of saying we launched the EvoLLLution because we wanted to normalize some of this stuff that at the time, was really out of left field. It was really stuff that no one was comfortable talking about. It was stuff that you'd say, oh, students are customers. But you'd say it in a hushed voice and you'd really make sure you knew who was around you when you were saying it.


00:13:04 Amrit

And as a publication, we didn't want to have the debate. We wanted to come in and say, "Yes, students are customers, what does that mean?" That was our guiding philosophy for years. And it still is to this day, is that we believe that students are customers and everything we publish is written with that assumption already established.


00:13:22 Amrit

So, now, it's a question of, well, what do you do? When your students are customers, what does that mean in terms of how do you structure services? How do you do pricing? How do you do financial aid? How do you credential them? What kind of lifecycle do your programs need to run on? How do you do program review cycles? How do you interact with the creditors?


00:13:39 Amrit

All these things are through the lens of your student is a customer, and - as opposed to trying to debate whether or not our students are customers. And again, I don't think that's a controversial view anymore, but I think it's because publications like ours just decided that we were tired of the argument and kind of just moved past it.


00:13:59 Salvatrice

Right. It forces us to examine our approach differently. Even though when we say, for example - I'm going to use your example about customer versus student. Yes, the customer is the student and the student is the customer. But just in the language that we use, in the words that we choose, forces us to examine like a holistic approach.


00:14:17 Salvatrice

So, when we say maybe just the word "student," it's this very transactional, it's one-sided. Sometimes, that's how I feel. Like it just feels very kind of linear, super linear. But when we use the word "customer," as you did, and coming from the private sector myself, it forces us to examine the experience holistically. And so, that we're looking at things through a lens of everything you just mentioned.


00:14:40 Salvatrice

We use product cycle, program cycle, customer service - all those things, all the wraparound things that we talk about.


00:14:48 Amrit

It's important. It's a topic that's fresh on my mind. So, this is our 10-year anniversary.


00:14:51 Salvatrice



00:14:51 Amrit

Thank you. We published our first article in January of 2012. And so, a lot of my time over the past few months is just out of nostalgia, kind of going back through our archives a little bit and looking at some of the older articles that I feel have really helped to establish our vision. And there was a piece by Heather Chakiris, and she's now at Excelsior College in upstate New York.


00:15:13 Amrit

At the time that she wrote this, she was the Chief Student Experience Officer for UCLA Extension. And she was writing about the idea of how do you create a high-quality customer experience in a post-secondary environment. I'd encourage everyone to go and read the article themselves, and I'm just going to share one thought of hers with you.


00:15:29 Amrit

And she took on the idea of what does students as customers mean? Because oftentimes, when you bring that up, the first thing that someone would say back is the customer's always right - well that doesn't work here. And you'd go into this diatribe about, oh, they're customers outside the classroom but not inside the classroom or whatever.


00:15:43 Amrit

And she said, "Look, forget that. "Treating students as customers (and this is a quote) means we don't force them through arbitrary processes that are intentionally complex. And that concept has absolutely guided the way that I've thought about this topic for nearly a decade. Because that's it. That's it in a nutshell. It's just a question of respect.


00:16:03 Salvatrice

That's right. And speaking of content, help me understand; so the EvoLLLution publishes these articles. How are you vetting the content? You know, because anyone and anyone can say anything. But to stay true to the mission of EvoLLLution and true to its core mission, how are you vetting the content?


00:16:22 Amrit

It's an interesting question because we think of ourselves as a big opinions page. And to a certain extent, we are not a neutral party. I recognize that in the world of journalism, there's an expectation that a journalist is supposed to be neutral. And I think you could look at any publication to know that that's not at all the case.


00:16:39 Amrit

But we are a lens. So, we have a perspective, we have an opinion, which is we believe the higher education space fundamentally has to change to serve the demographic it serves. We believe there's an enrollment cliff on the horizon that's backed by research. We believe that treating students like customers is the best way for post-secondary institutions to meet the crux of their mission.


00:16:59 Amrit

So, we do look for contributors that speak to that broad philosophy through their particular lens. We tend to reach out to folks, we tend to find folks, and we've built a contributor community, which by the way, has about 2,500 now, higher education leaders from colleges and universities across North America, an incredibly diverse cross-section of post-secondary institutions represented in our contributor base.


00:17:23 Amrit

And the goal is how many diverse opinions can we find that share different points of view on the same topic? And the more layers that we can add to the diversity of our contributor base, all speaking to different parts of the same core, the more we can actually start to form a vision of what that core looks like.


00:17:41 Amrit

And in aggregate to a certain extent, I'd be interested actually to do a word cloud study on every piece ever published in the EvoLLLution because it would be fascinating to me, to see what kinds of terms it would actually be. It's an incredible source of data. There's some 4,600 articles that we've published over the past decade.


00:17:56 Amrit

So, vetting, we don't do peer review, we don't have a double-blind review process. Everything that gets published comes through myself and my associate editor.


00:18:05 Salvatrice

Excellent. Is there anything percolating out there? Is there anything percolating that you said, "Hey Salvatrice, we really ought to be paying attention to this? It just hasn't been ..."


00:18:13 Amrit

Yeah, I'd say like from a trends perspective, there's some fascinating stuff happening. And it's frustrating because if I think about like ... again, I'm feeling very nostalgic today. Like if I think about like some of the stuff our publication's done, like we were publishing about badging in 2012. We published about competency-based learning in 2014.


00:18:28 Amrit

Like we tended to be well ahead of the curve. And I think what's fascinating about where we are today is that we're seeing some of these ideas that were super, super peripheral becoming core concepts for what the future institution's going to look like.


00:18:42 Amrit

So, what I think is really interesting about where we are right now is how we're starting to define these ideas that have historically been experimental and how we're starting to bring those ideas into the core of the institution. So, the question becomes a balancing act between what's the thing that made that idea necessary in the first place, and what's the thing that's going to make it legitimate in the eyes of the academy.


00:19:06 Amrit

And that idea of legitimacy, that idea of defining what rigor looks like, what quality looks like, what a credential means, are some of these topics that I think are going to absolutely control the conversation in the higher education space for probably the next five to seven years.


00:19:22 Amrit

Because we recognize that credentialing needs to change, and we recognize that micro-credentials and that competency-based credentials and alternative approaches to assessing and awarding knowledge, we recognize that these are becoming increasingly important. We recognize that it's becoming increasingly common.


00:19:37 Amrit

The question is how do we strike that balancing act between the necessity of launching them in the first place, and the necessity of creating something that makes sense in the context of what the institution does. So, what I think is fascinating right now is this year, and you know my background's more the continuing ed world. That's where our publication is rooted.


00:19:54 Amrit

I've been to two conferences this year about micro-credentialing where there were a combined seven people at both conferences that are from the continuing ed world. And it was mostly registrars getting together to talk about how do we do micro-credentialing. And I did a session at both conferences, those basically saying on each of your campuses, I guarantee you there's a department that's been doing micro-credentialing for 30 years because that's the crux of what CE is all about.


00:20:18 Amrit

So, I think the future, the next 5 to 10 years is going to be shaped by a de-siloing of the post-secondary institution of an intentional internal collaboration between the administrative structures that have defined how the institution operates and the continuing ed world that's had to balance both development, delivery, and management of programming. Because in the main campus, those three functions tend to be separated. They tend to be siloed out because they're massive responsibilities.


00:20:44 Amrit

For the continuing ed world, we've really asked the same people to do all three of those things simultaneously. So, I think it's going to be fascinating to see how we navigate that transition of responsibility. How do we navigate the transition of enrollment management responsibilities from a staff team that's very consumer-oriented to one that may be more process-oriented. And how do we find a middle ground between a customer service mentality and maybe a more process-oriented mentality.


00:21:09 Amrit

I think what we're going to see is that the institutions themselves are going to start to seem to feel more like what continuing ed divisions feel like, because the students we're going to be serving will be increasingly older. They'll be more and more experienced as consumers, and they'll recognize that they operate in a marketplace, that they have flexibility and freedom of choice that they've never had before.


00:21:32 Amrit

We just went through the first ever recession in the last hundred or so years where enrollment in post-secondary education did not go up. And it's not that people weren't looking for education access, it's that they went to boot camps and they went to YouTube. They got credentialed in totally different ways than we've ever really experienced before.


00:21:46 Amrit

And we tried to run a playbook that we ran during the great recession and said "Oh-oh." So, I think, higher education in general - this is not a micro trend, this is going to be a macro trend. I think we're going to see the post-secondary space look and feel more like a continuing ed unit.


00:22:00 Salvatrice

Now, do you think that that was forced due to the pandemic? Or do you think that that was a natural - we were already kind of going in that way?


00:22:09 Amrit

Yeah, I think we were already going that way. See, this is the problem; the pandemic is one thing, the stay-at-home order is something else. It's a related thing, but people getting sick didn't lead to the transformation of higher ed. It was the stay-at-home order. Because that changed the way that we thought about our interaction with physical spaces. And I think like the trend of online learning had been progressing for decades.


00:22:32 Amrit

There's an organization that was doing an annual report on uptake and enrollments in distance programming. And every year for the 10 years they'd been tracking this, the percentage of learners that had been going online was ticking upwards steadily. Now, obviously, it went to a hundred percent in 2020. You can probably disregard that number.


00:22:51 Amrit

But up to that point, it was showing that about half of students were already hybrid students in that way. They were taking some distance and some on premise. So, on the one hand, we'd already been moving in this direction of students seeing their options as being national, global. But I think what the pandemic did was accelerate the trend of people looking to alternatives.


00:23:10 Amrit

Because for the most part, you had people out of work who really had no business being out of work. The stay-at-home orders led to the greatest spike in unemployment in the history of either of our nations. More people were unemployed in the month and a half after the stay-at-home orders were issued than were unemployed in the entirety of the great recession.


00:23:28 Amrit

So, when you think about that in context, like that is a massive foundational shift in the way that people spend their time. And again, these aren't people who could have seen that coming. This wasn't a thing that was slowly boiling over time; that was pandemic, stay-at-home order, you don't have a job anymore.


00:23:44 Amrit

So, what folks were looking for was very different. Folks were looking for very short-term offerings that were going to help them get to a job. And in that one year, we saw the percentage of adults considering education who preferred short-term alternative credentials go from 50% in 2019, to 68% in 2020. That is a massive, massive shift in the way that consumers are thinking.


00:24:05 Amrit

From half to two-thirds in one year, and that largely came because that group of people suddenly needed short-term options to get that new job, to get that job they could do at a distance or work remotely that wasn't really affected by the pandemic that they didn't need to be in a physical space to do.


00:24:20 Amrit

So, I think where before we'd talk about the short-term credentialing space and we'd say, well, the consumer doesn't really understand it - I don't think that's the case anymore. I think consumers have a much clearer vision of the kinds of education offerings that are out there than they might have had once before. And it's incumbent upon post-secondary institutions, especially public post-secondary institutions, to fulfill our missions by making those kinds of options available to people.


00:24:43 Amrit

If people are saying they want short-term outcomes-oriented learning offerings, then it's a responsibility of the public postsecondary institution as having a community responsibility to fulfill that need. And if that means like we're going to create something that's stackable so that when that individual has a need for further education, they can come back, great.


00:24:59 Amrit

And if it means we're going to offer it as one-off because that's what the community needs, that's great too. But we can't just seed an entire sector to the private sector and say, "Well, we don't do that so we're not going to do that." That's not how public organization of any type should work.


00:25:15 Salvatrice

And having said that, are you finding that there's an opportunity and/or (maybe they're one of the same) an issue kind of coming out of this - I'm going to call it stay-at-home order because you made it very clear. I like the way you separated that.


00:25:27 Salvatrice

So, coming out of this stay-at-home order where the world's kind of coming back - the world did come back, but it's going back a little bit slower. Anything pressing that you're saying, "Hey, Salvatrice, we need to address this" within higher education based on what your findings and contributors are.


00:25:40 Amrit

And this is a question we've been asking folks over the past year or so. I am very worried that this next generation is going to be very, very nervous about online programming.


00:25:52 Salvatrice

About online programming?


00:25:54 Amrit

Yeah. Now, this is flying in the face of everything I said five seconds ago. You have an entire generation from the age of 4 to the age of 23 now, who for a year of their life had to completely change the way they interacted with education offerings.


00:26:11 Amrit

And that transition was not to what we in the higher education space would consider high-quality online learning. There was no facilitated instructor to learner or learner to instructure participation or interaction. There was no facilitated learner-to-learner, peer-to-peer interaction. It was lectures on Zoom.


00:26:31 Amrit

And if the memes are to be believed on Reddit or whatnot, it was kids being disciplined in their own houses for drinking water because they were on Zoom during a class. That's not a positive online learning experience. And what I'm genuinely nervous about is you'll have an entire generation of digital natives who fundamentally don't think online learning works, because what they were exposed to was really bad quality remote education.


00:26:56 Amrit

So, that I'd say, is something that we need to take very seriously as a sector, is how do we reintroduce that generation to high-quality, well-defined, well-structured, consciously built online programming that does all those great things that we know online programming can do. Absolute worst-case scenario is that we have an entire generation of digital natives who are more comfortable with technology than any generation history.


00:27:21 Amrit

Move forward and say, "That's all good, but for the learning part, it has to be in classrooms." Like it would limit their capacity to expand, to upscale, to reskill. It would limit their access to education so massively that I think it would be a disservice to our industry. And beyond that, it would mean a return to the highly regional approaches to education, which are incredibly valuable in some circumstances, but also, create this insularity of what we consider quality.


00:27:49 Amrit

We're starting to move to a point now where you can look at access to education as being either regional or global, depending on what an individual looks for at a point in time. And the access to both is what makes it so interesting that you can get local context on a global learning opportunity or that you can get global access to learning that you otherwise wouldn't have.


00:28:08 Amrit

So, as we're creating this like balancing between global access to education for those who want it, and local access to high-quality learning opportunities, I think at the same time, colleges and universities are in a position where they can start seeing how learners are being engaged with at other institutions.


00:28:25 Amrit

Because our value proposition isn't just the offering of programming, it's not just access to learning opportunities - it's the experience that goes around it. It's our capacity to engage students, it's our capacity to build relationships with those learners.


00:28:38 Amrit

It's our capacity to maybe take programming or take knowledge that's accessible in one place and making it contextual to those who are in our neighborhoods. So, that's where I think is the power of online learning can really come from, is how do we create local context for global learning? And by the same token, how do we create local access for folks who need to be served?


00:28:57 Amrit

So, that's where I think there's so much power to what online learning can do, and it's really important that we find a way to bridge that gap for all those kids who might have had a really bad experience with online programming over the past few years.


00:29:09 Salvatrice

This is the Future of Work Podcast and you've given these beautiful golden nuggets of information, and I feel like they're little treasures and we can talk for hours, and I know that we'll continue this dialogue at some point.


00:29:24 Salvatrice

But I wanted to kind of propose this question to you, is if there's one thing you'd want our listener to understand about the future of work and where we need to be within higher education - we just continue to mold and evolve - what would that one thing be?


00:29:40 Amrit

For sure. It's a simple concept that I'm going to explain unnecessarily complicatedly. Computing power doubles every 18 months. The concept in Moore's law; as computer processing power doubles, the capacity for tasks that were once manual can be automated, and what human work looks like starts to change fundamentally.


00:29:59 Amrit

So, in this environment where access to learning has to be shorter term, the future of work I think is going to be defined by more consistent access to upskilling and reskilling. The structure, the definition of human-specific work is going to be constantly evolving.


00:30:15 Amrit

I think if there's one thing that folks take away after listening to this episode, it's that we have a responsibility to make the college a lifelong learning engine. We have a responsibility to make higher education something that people don't just do once at the start of their career, and then never really return to other than football games and donations. Like that can't be the relationship that we have with people after they graduate.


00:30:38 Amrit

The relationship that we have with people after they graduate has to be one that continues to be based in learning access. It has to be continued to be based in value. That's our value proposition. That's the impact that post-secondary institutions can have on their communities in an environment where there's fewer and fewer 18-year-olds every year.


00:30:53 Amrit

That's where I think we start to see a change in the way that people interact with learning. So, if there's one thought to take away, it's look at your own institution, look at your own environment, look at even if you're coming from industry, look at your own relationship with local post-secondary institutions and ask yourself, what's one thing that we could do to make this space better for adults. That's in a nutshell, it's how do we make upskilling and reskilling more part of what we do.


00:31:20 Salvatrice

You're absolutely right. It is simple, but yet very complex when we've got multiple gadgets kind of running this engine, and we really appreciate that.


00:31:28 Salvatrice

This has been such a lovely, enthusiastic, high-energy conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed our dialogue today, Amrit. As I said, I'm sure that we'll have more of them.


00:31:37 Salvatrice

For our listener, if they wanted to connect with you and learn more about the EvoLLLution or potentially even contribute to the EvoLLLution, what's the best way to do that?


00:31:45 Amrit

Yeah, absolutely. Visit That's again, EvoLLLution with three Ls dot com. We publish every business day, so you'll always see there's something new or different on there. Please do subscribe on the sidebar. If you go to our homepage, on the sidebar, there's a tab that says "get the newsletter."


00:32:01 Amrit

We send a newsletter out every Monday that just kind of recaps the stuff we published over the past week. And yeah, you can absolutely contribute to the EvoLLLution. Again, visit There's a contribute link. You can also feel free to shoot an email to info@evolllution . com. And yeah, we're more than happy to explore whatever topics are top of mind.


00:32:20 Amrit

So, please do get in touch. It's a contributor-run publication. We are just a conduit, so feel free to reach out at any time.


00:32:26 Salvatrice

Excellent. Thank you so much. Now, get back to work, Amrit.


00:32:30 Amrit

Hey, thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun.


00:32:35 Salvatrice

Alright, have a good one. Thank you so much. We'll chat soon.


00:32:38 Amrit

For sure. Bye now.


00:32:41 Salvatrice

Thank you for listening to the Future of Work Podcast. Make sure you're subscribed on your favorite listening platform so you can easily get new episodes every Tuesday. You can reach out to us by clicking on the website link below in the show notes to collaborate partner, or just chat about all things future of work. We'd love to connect with you.


00:33:01 Salvatrice

All of us here at the Future of Work and Pasadena City College, wish you safety and wellness.