Remember we shared with you what makes our online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) program so great for adult learners? One of the people at Becker we have much to thank for in that area is Colleen Bielitz. Under her leadership, the Center for Accelerated & Professional Studies is changing the dynamics of how courses are taught.
If you’re reading this as a potential adult student yourself (or know someone who could be), keep going. You’ll find this excerpt from a Becker Bridges article pretty interesting (we hope!).
With her first-hand knowledge of how the world of education is changing, a deep understanding of the challenges facing adult learners in our technology-driven society, and her iPad always at hand, Colleen Bielitz is influencing the dynamics of how courses are taught at Becker College.
Colleen Bielitz, M.S., dean of Becker College’s Center for Accelerated & Professional Studies, is a firm believer in the power of technology as a tool to improve education. “The world of education is changing, and technology is the key to navigating the future,” she says.
Before coming to Becker, Bielitz worked with traditional students at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and adult students as the director of Graduate and Professional Studies at Cabrini College, and as a consultant with a firm offering a variety of services to colleges and universities looking to improve enrollment and retention. She then left higher education for a few years to take on the role of executive director of a K-12 virtual charter school in Pennsylvania, “which opened my eyes to how children are advancing at an astonishing rate in regards to using technology,” she says.
The key to keeping pace in higher education, says Bielitz, is to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. “The book Teacherpreneurs talks about eight teachers who are using their knowledge and skills to lead transformative changes in teaching policy and practice. That desire to inspire is what we had at the charter school.Teachers were constantly using new technology and techniques to motivate students and actively involve them in learning.”
Colleges and universities will soon be enrolling Generation Z—“the Knowledge Generation,” says Bielitz, “leading to a tsunami of new, technologically advanced learners.” However, many students on college campuses today have not grown up with a smart phone. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that, of the 17.6 million people enrolled in colleges and universities in 2011, more than a third were over 25 and a quarter were over 30, with numbers expected to increase by more than 20 percent by 2019.
This represents a challenge, says Bielitz; adult students are theoretically stuck in the middle: not raised with technology at the forefront of their learning, but expected to adapt to jobs requiring high tech as a means to conduct business. Bielitz is addressing this concern by offering classes that incorporate technology and provide real-world content to help adults cultivate new skills. This creates a win-win situation for adult learners, who can then use what they learn to move ahead in their careers.
Programs offered by the Center for Accelerated & Professional Studies are utilizing technology that spans generations and bridges the gap between learners of all ages. “As educators we need to move older students out of their comfort zones to become skilled at using digital tools,” she says. “If we are preparing them to adapt to changes in the workplace, then technology is a big part of that adaptation. If companies like General Electric consider an iPad to be a serious business tool, then our students need to know how to use one. Programs must be designed to meet the needs of different learners with various learning styles and requirements. Technology enables us to do that.”