Equality Begins with Education: Salesforce as a Platform for Change
By: Nathalie Mainland, SVP and GM, Education Cloud, Salesforce.org
We are all born into a reality that we blindly accept until something awakens us and a new world opens up. For most of us, that awakening comes from learning, and education can be a powerful platform for change. However, the reality is that there are disparities in educational opportunities and equity. Education equity ensures that all learners have equal access to a high-quality education, with the understanding that equal access for all requires doing more for those who need additional support to get there. At the end of the day, no one should go without education, and we have a moral and economic imperative to act.
The good news is that the world has a global to-do list, also known as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched at the United Nations in 2015. These unite efforts towards the most pressing global issues. These global goals seek to lay the groundwork for corporations, organizations, and individuals alike to address a growing number of problems and build a better world. Interestingly, while access to education and education systems are critical to meeting three specific SDG’s (4, 8 and 10), all of the goals inherently rely on education. At Salesforce.org, we are continually working to align ourselves to these goals, and want our efforts to have a significant impact on access to learning and education, and the inspirational work of education institutions around the world.
Schools and colleges of all sizes are working tirelessly to empower today’s learners to become the changemakers of tomorrow. Leaders like you are focused on creating a continuous journey of lifelong engagement for each and every learner. However, the technology used by most institutions – often siloed, complex, and outdated – makes it difficult to drive student success across the entire lifecycle. As a result, learners often engage with a series of disconnected and counterintuitive experiences on campus. Thankfully, technology can help.
We have a vision to help education institutions deliver an accessible, equitable, connected, and lifelong learning experience. This started several years ago with one specific goal: to turn the world’s #1 constituent relationship management (CRM) solution into the world’s #1 CRM for higher education, focused on providing a single view of students for all institutions. Following on from that, in 2016 we launched the Education Data Architecture (EDA), a community-driven data architecture and set of best practices designed to configure Salesforce out of the box. Launching EDA was also the first building block in the journey to Education Cloud. Education Cloud (announced in 2018) is a cloud-based set of solutions that enable schools and colleges to drive student success across the entire learner journey from K-20 and beyond. Since its launch, Education Cloud has served as a representation of our dedication to innovation in both the K-12 and higher education communities.
However, it does not stop at CRM, EDA, or Education Cloud. In our mission to support institutions in delivering an equitable, connected, and lifelong learning experiences, as well as truly working towards meeting the SDGs, we are always looking for new ways to have a positive impact on education. With the global education industry growing – slated to reach $10 trillion in spend by 2030 – we want to help the industry to navigate the increasing magnitude and pace of change. Hence, an amazing opportunity for us to connect CRM and Education Cloud, with our innovations in Trailhead. Trailhead is an online learning platform from Salesforce where anyone can learn in-demand skills from business to technology including a guided learning path through the key features of Salesforce.
Related to Trailhead, Salesforce created myTrailhead, which is a learning experience platform allowing users to leverage the power of Trailhead to create a culture of continuous learning (and earn fun badges and credentials!) at institutions and organizations across all industries. For education, this means empowering faculty, staff, and students with an on-demand, gamified platform customized with an institution’s own content and logo. The content could include (but not limited to) trails on onboarding new faculty and staff, or career and development skills for students. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) recently partnered with Salesforce to utilize Trailhead to create pathways for learners to earn college credit by completing admin and developer badges, all while gaining critical skills needed in today’s workforce and well into the future.
Regardless of the use case, a future where we bring together the power of Education Cloud and Trailhead to create an even better learning and engagement experience is within our reach. Additionally, with more exciting technologies from Salesforce such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain, learners will have an experience where they are empowered to own their plan, their path, and their record, truly putting them at the center of the whole experience. Learners deserve greater accessibility, choice, and credential management, and schools and colleges should have the tools to provide a seamless learning and engagement experience.
We believe every student is on the path to success, but only when we are too. So let’s open up that new world where successful students who later become engaged and empowered citizens, should always be the expectation and not the exception.
About the Author
Nathalie Mainland is SVP and GM of Education Cloud at Salesforce.org. She has over 15 years of experience working in technology and education with organizations including Blackboard, Autodesk, and Pearson. Follow her on Twitter: @nmainland
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