news and events

PBS NewsHour: How Arizona is building the workforce to manufacture semiconductors in the U.S.

PBS NewsHour spotlights Maricopa Community Colleges in this June 2024 “Rethinking College” series. Maricopa designed micro-pathways — including the Semiconductor Technician Quick Start — with the Lab in 2022.

news and events

Denver Post: Colorado doesn’t have enough mental health workers to meet demand. Here’s what’s being done to fix that.

This May 2024 story in the Denver Post highlights the behavioral health micro-pathways the Lab developed with the Colorado Community College System.

news and events

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

news and events

WATCH: Lab education designer joins Brookings panel discussion on LERs

Learn more about the use of digital learning and employment records (LERs) around the world in this May 7, 2024, webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution.

Skills visibility is a game-changer for learner economic mobility.

And in this emerging skills-based economy, standardized technologies, like Learning and Employment Records (LERs), provide a way for learner-earners to document their achievements and communicate their qualifications, using skills like currency.

What are LERs? They are digital records of an individual’s formal and informal learning and employment that better represent learners with diverse experiences in the job market.

The Lab works closely with a number of nonprofits, employers, standards organizations, and higher ed institutions to push the community forward and organize insights, such as this October 2023 report on scaling LERs with AI.

During this May 7, 2024, webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution, the Lab’s Colin Reynolds talked about the current state of LER projects, including the challenges and successes uncovered when adopting a fundamentally new approach to recognizing learning outcomes.

Connecting learning to earning

The use of digital learning and employment records around the world

Date: Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Time: 9 to 10 a.m. EDT

Webinar description from Brookings: Many organizations and governments have been exploring the use of digital learning & employment records (LERs) to support youth transitioning into employment. For over a decade, efforts to promote the use of digital credentials of various sorts have been touted to offer a promising avenue to meet the evolving demands of joining the workforce. However, many of these initiatives have only met with checkered success to date.

While these types of records can potentially enable young people to articulate their diverse skill sets and can support employers in identifying suitable candidates, presenting a holistic view of a young person’s skills, competencies, and accomplishments, replacing traditional resumes, this is easier said than done. Indeed, there is a need for concerted efforts from governments, educational institutions, and the private sector to promote the adoption of learning & employment records and to integrate them seamlessly into existing skilling and hiring practices. While many of the highest profile efforts of these sorts to date have been in the United States, there is a wealth of experience from other parts of the world that is less well known that suggests that different pathways and approaches are possible.

On May 7, join a related conversation with key groups exploring the use of LERs in Europe and the Americas and learn what is succeeding, and what is not, at a practical, working level.

Viewers can join the conversation and ask questions of the speakers by emailing or on X (formerly Twitter) using the hashtag #Learning2Earning.


  • Juan D. Barón, Senior Economist, Education Global Practice, World Bank Group
  • William O’Keeffe, Policy Officer-DG Grow, European Commission
  • Colin Reynolds, Senior Education Designer, Education Design Lab


  • Michael Trucano, Visiting Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education
  • Tom Kaye, Senior Advisor, Global Programmes, Generation Unlimited


WATCH the recording:

news and events

WorkingNation: A convening of rural higher education institutions aims to provide economic mobility for rural learners

Dr. Leslie Daugherty, the Lab’s senior director for design programs, explains the Rural College Design and Data Academy in this WorkingNation report (April 2024).

news and events

Montana Free Press: The rural workforce is changing. Colleges are scrambling to keep up.

Education Design Lab’s state-wide micro-credential work is spotlighted in this Montana Free Press story (March 2024).

news and events

WATCH: How Education Design Lab is changing the status quo

Don Fraser, the Lab's Senior Vice President of Design + Innovation
The video crew with Luke Dowden (center left) and Don Fraser (center right).
The video crew at the Alamo Colleges District office in San Antonio, Texas.

In late summer of 2023, Don Fraser, the Lab’s Senior Vice President for Design + Innovation, traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to meet up with one of our longtime partners: Luke Dowden, the Chief Online Learning Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor of Alamo Colleges District.

The reason? A video shoot produced by Stand Together, a philanthropic group that spotlights changemakers transforming the future of work.

Now we’re thrilled to share their the 5-minute video, which spotlights how the Lab is designing education toward the future work.

You’ll see footage of Don walking around the Alamo Colleges District office building and “b-roll” with Luke around the 1:45 mark. The video is full of quoteable nuggets, but this might be our favorite:

“If we bring the people who are closest to the problem into the conversation, we have a real shot at making this world a better place for everyone.”

We’re so grateful to the Stand Together team, the video crew, and Luke Dowden, who are all pictured in the gallery above.

news and events

Higher Ed Dive: Some employers are wary of Gen Z workers. What can colleges do?

Dr. Naomi Boyer, Senior Vice president of Digital Transformation at Education Design Lab, is quoted in this February 2024 article by Higher Ed Dive.

news and events

Inside Higher Ed: The economic returns of a rural education

Dr. Leslie Daugherty, Head of Design Programs at the Education Design Lab, is quoted in this February 2024 story by Inside Higher Ed.

news and events

Getting Smart: A community micro-credentials effort connects students to local employers

A ninth-grade student explains a new algebraic concept to his classmate.

David McCool, president and CEO of Muzzy Lane, writes about the Lab’s Propel Polk! initiative in this February 2024 guest post on Getting Smart.