IACEE Pulse: September 2023

IACEE Pulse: A Newsfeed for Members, September 2023


Letter from the President | Upcoming Events

News from Academia | Industry Panorama

AnchorLetter from the President

My dear IACEE Colleagues:

It is my pleasure to formally announce the 19th World Conference on Continuing Engineering Education or IACEE 2024 to be held in Comillas, Cantabria, Spain on May 21-24, 2024. The conference is hosted by the Innovation Hub Europe, a joint endeavor by the Tecnologico de Monterrey’s Institute for the Future of Education (ITESM IFE) and the University of Cantabria to promote rapid skills development and lifelong learning in the region and beyond. The General Conference Co-Chairs are Dr. Patricia Caratozzolo, former Vice President of IACEE and a researcher at the ITESM IFE, and Dr. Genaro Zavala, a professor at the same institution. We have formed a conference planning committee and soon will publish the call for papers and seek nominations for the IACEE awards. Please let me know at soma.chakrabarti@iacee.org if you would like to review papers/presentations for the conference and participate in any of the committees. We would love to have you involved and look forward to seeing you at the conference. Please read on for more information about the event.

This Pulse also has two important articles that we hope you will take time read. One is about the constantly changing and evolving landscape of higher education since the pandemic (see News from Academia); the other is about how Artificial Intelligence is disrupting higher education and specifically continuing higher education that includes engineering disciplines (see Industry Panorama). I urge you to read these timely and informative articles and engage in conversations that will help continuing engineering education stay relevant. Engineering disciplines now need a complete overhaul of undergraduate and graduate curriculum to stay at pace with the changing landscape of technology. Professional engineers need to learn skills fast and be knowledgeable quickly to be able to do work. We hope that these two articles will shed some light on this topic and help us understand the immediacy.

Thank you for being with IACEE. Stay tuned for more information about the conference soon.

Soma Chakrabarti, PhD
President, IACEE



Concise Overview of the Changing Learning Innovation and Lifelong Learning Landscape since the Pandemic
Hilary Culbertson & Shawn Miller, Duke University

Online learning became ubiquitous with COVID-19, but emergency remote instruction should not be equated with strategically designed digital learning experiences, which offer high-quality education and are increasingly in demand with students.

  • Online instruction became common during the pandemic, but they were often limited in their strategic impact. Widespread use of online courses, professional development, and lifetime learning opportunities during the pandemic greatly increased familiarity with digital offerings. However, the emergency remote learning experiences of the pandemic are not the best that the online modality can offer. 
  • Learner-centric offerings increase access for new and returning learners. Online learning, when intentionally designed and delivered, offers a highly engaging, learner-centric educational experience that increases accessibility and accommodates multiple learning formats and student preferences.
  • Instead of leveraging new capabilities, many schools are returning to pre-pandemic modality parameters. Perhaps due to misconceptions about the pedagogical potential of online learning, at institutions where the residential learning experience is a matter of identity, we see a return to pre-pandemic restrictions on online learning for degree-seeking students. 
  • Meanwhile, universities are undertaking accelerated digital transformation.1 After the pandemic, nearly 70% of institutions report they’re engaged in some form digital transformation effort to improve or update their technology infrastructures.

The looming demographic cliff2 is impacting the way that top-tier higher ed institutions are designing and marketing their educational offerings.

  • Experts predict a significant shortfall of 18-year-old incoming college students compared to previous decades. According to UPCEA, Some have estimated that there will be a shortfall of between 400,000 and 1,000,000 students annually. In fact, the National Student Clearinghouse has shown that the number of students attending college has declined by nearly three million over the past decade.
  • Continuing and online education can help reach new and returning students with new educational offerings. In response to this demographic shift, universities are looking for working adults and post-college, leading to 63% of colleges engaging in market research to increase the number of online programs they offer.4
  • New credentials and offerings can help meet the changing demands of the workforce5. The continual need to upskill and reskill – for our alums and beyond – is creating new markets and opportunities for offering micro and stackable credentials.6  

Learner-centric design of both programs and courses can increase access for historically underserved student populations, while also generating revenue through offerings tailored to student demand and labor market demand.

  • There is a desire to sustain pedagogies of care and learner-centric design. The pandemic accelerated efforts around student-wellbeing, pedagogies of care and ultimately diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts. This leads to offering more programming in a variety of formats and modes to engage more learners. 
  • More students want online learning options post-pandemic7. Broad experiences with online and remote learning have shifted demand for online learning options for both undergraduates and adult learners. Programs are strategically developed in data-driven ways. Prior to the pandemic, new program development was often driven by faculty proposals. Today, we use market research and industry demands to identify areas for program development based on student demand and workforce needs. 
  • The rise of AI impacts both in-person and online teaching and learning. While the impacts of AI on the workforce are still uncertain8, we are already seeing AI change the way we approach both instructional design and teaching and learning. We are tracking both new learner demands and new trends in content and course development.


3 https://upcea.edu/supply-and-demand-and-the-demographic-cliff/
7 https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/04/27/survey-reveals-positive-outlook-online-instruction-post-pandemic
8 https://www.brookings.edu/articles/unleashing-possibilities-ignoring-risks-why-we-need-tools-to-manage-ais-impact-on-jobs/


AI as the Leading Disruptor in Continuing Education Programs
Anita Chawla, Managing Director of Partner Success and Strategy, North America at Engageli

The power of AI has gone public with the rapid evolution of ChatGPT being used for education. It’s always been a challenge to meet the needs of all learners in a single continuing education class - the best prepared, the least prepared, and all the learners that fall in between at different levels of the spectrum based on their professional experiences. Instructors provide extra credit opportunities, more reference sites. It’s a challenge to ensure learners are mastering the materials.

AI can help provide adaptive personalized learning models to meet learners where they are. AI can be taught to have a universe of specific information related to those topics. When learners are having difficulties, they can tap the AI to explain information in a way that is most relevant to them based on their current understanding. AI is also being used to chunk difficult concepts and distill them into smaller bytes of instruction to provide a scaffolded learning approach.
AI is also empowering engaging asynchronous learning experiences since the need for a human instructor is being replaced by intelligent AI. With the ability to track digital engagement and instruction consumption, instructors can continually innovate on content and delivery to innovate on the asynchronous experience. 

It is important for educators to get comfortable with AI and strategize on how to make learning equitable. By serving the on-demand learning model, learners will be able to have meaningful learning experiences and journeys to mastery. With the advancement of AI, there are calls for critical initiatives to address AI ethics and privacy concerns, which are important considerations for continuing education programs. 

Every continuing education provider and every corporate headquarters are discussing how they can leverage AI for sustainable educational models, while providing a quality experience to the learner. Industry, not academia, Is leading the Way on AI. Industry has large amounts of data and resources to pioneer the AI paths for the future. Once again, we are witnessing AI as one of the most important components of our lifetime that is quickly converging industry and academia needs.

Newsfeed contact: Camille Howard, IACEE, USA