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Summary of Remarks from Jean Floten, Chancellor, WGU Washington

Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa Spring Luncheon, April 23, 2012

Jean Floten

Some of us, and I am one, believe that revolution in higher education is occurring right now and the future is so bright you need to wear shades. This is an amazing moment in time. We are witnessing a fault line that is separating the past from a new order that is being created. It is a time of incredible fertility, innovation and creativity, but also of uncomfortable chaos as we seek to remold how we unleash human potential and form human capital.

I believe we are witnessing the people who are now shaping that future, but we have to dig to watch them at work and see what they are building. Many of these innovations are harnessing the power of technological tools to assist the educational system and processes. They are fueled by the new tools that have been developed for gathering information, sharing, collaborating, and connecting. These tools, like the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia, are changing the way students think, learn, and interact and their brain patterns are changing. They are also changing the way we see the world.

Marshall McLuhan, one of the gurus from my college days, said we live in a global village. That is so true today and most students understand, almost intuitively, that we are interconnected and what impacts one, impacts us all, be it environmentally, health-wise, politically or economically. Their worlds are ones of networks, connections and collaborations. The Internet is the modern Gutenberg. I believe we are just beginning to understand this, but it is there.

Western Governors University has received national recognition for its innovative approach to education. Focused on helping students achieve their aspirations in ways that are accessible to them, WGU was one of the early pioneers in use of the Internet to reach students, especially working adults.

WGUs educational model is competency-based and highly personalized. Students learn at their own pace with case studies, simulations, and course content that are directly relevant and immediately applicable to the field for which the student is preparing.

Students are guided by faculty mentors who assist them at every step along the way.

WGUs tuition is very affordable to the student. As a private, not-for-profit university, founded by 19 Western governors 15 years ago, it is totally self- supporting and scalable without use of tax dollars, making it a valuable resource to states to expand educational access.


 

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