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Higher Ed Geek podcast: Designing the future of work and education

In this May 2024 episode recorded live in Austin at SXSW EDU, Don Fraser, Jr., chats about the unique work of Education Design Lab and our approach to building a smarter ecosystem that better serves the needs of learners, employers, and institutions.


Feeling attacked and exhausted? For those working in higher ed, it’s easy to understand why.

We’re reading the same headlines, too.

But listening to this podcast has us feeling more hopeful, because Don Fraser, the Lab’s Senior Vice President of Design + Innovation (pictured right), sees opportunity where others see disruption and struggle.

A soundbite: 

“I think the duress the field is experiencing is BECAUSE of the opportunity we have … it’s not because of what we historically haven’t been able to do, it’s really about what we feel like we can and should be doing moving forward. It’s just a different framing.”

Want an example? 

“We know employers are really interested in people who are interested in learning. The world in which we live and work now? We have to continue to learn. Higher education should be thinking about that. That learner … those alum? Those are folks who could be lifelong consumers at my institution. It’s a reframe … and an opportunity. If you like a brand, human nature is to stick with it. So if you do well by somebody, [they are] going to keep coming back to get the next thing, get the next thing, get that next bit of learning. It’s a MASSIVE opportunity. And if two- and four-year schools can lean into that reality, then they’re going to be meeting the needs that employers are so desperately in search of.

Many thanks to Higher Ed Geek podcast host Dustin Ramsdell (pictured left), who recorded this interview during SXSW EDU in March. Listening to Don’s interview put the spring back in our step — and the joyous season of commencement is helping, too. Where do you see the opportunities?

Listen to the podcast