To educate adult learners successfully, short-term credentials must build toward degrees, Paul Freedman and Paul LeBlanc argue.
The future of education is stackable — and that future needs to start now.
Our country faces a long path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. One component that will be essential to an equitable recovery is a rapid acceleration of upskilling for a population of adults that was deeply disrupted by the pandemic. That is accelerating the demand for short-form programs.
At the same time, there is a segment of the education community that rightly argues that the data show that short-form certificates shortchange America’s learners, particularly compared to the virtues and benefits of college degrees.
There should not be a choice, however, between short-form credentials and degrees. Credentials should build toward degrees, which is why the future of education should be stackable: it’s the answer that allows learners to land meaningful jobs now while moving toward a degree.
The Demand for Shorter Programs
Adults are voting with their feet.
The research shows that people want short-form programs that are laser-focused on skills and will help them in the workplace as quickly as possible.