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Building Their Future: Higher Education's Best Work

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The goal of education "is to prepare young people for their future, not our past."

That quote, attributed to author Daniel Pink, is one that should be a rallying cry for every educator looking to build a new future for higher education.

At Becker College, we have dedicated ourselves to delivering a transformative experience to students, preparing them for a future that cannot be predicted. I thought about that mission last week as I toured Execution Labs, a year-old, venture-backed accelerator for independent game designers in Montreal. I was there as part of a trade mission led by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, designed to seek opportunities for collaboration between the video game sectors in Massachusetts and Canada.

The visit was thrilling for me as the president of Becker College, home of both a globally recognized interactive games academic program and the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), an industry group devoted to growth in the game industry and innovation economy. MassDiGI Executive Director Timothy Loew and Managing Director Monty Sharma were with me on the trip. None of us had to look very far to find opportunities for collaboration. It was everywhere. And it had no borders.

The six start-ups housed at Execution Labs shared some facilities and the energized atmosphere of an innovation hub, but it seems clear that location is not going to be a significant factor in their eventual success. The work they do can be done anywhere there is a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.

More importantly, the opportunities for collaboration--and there were plenty--were also unlimited by geography. Our students and theirs will be able to work together anytime and anywhere through nothing fancier than a Wi-Fi connection and the power of ideas. They will be able to develop games together, build organizations together, invent and innovate without regard to distance or place.

We may not be able to predict the future, but we can help our students prepare. And we can make some pretty sound conclusions about things to come.

Their future will be one without borders as we know them. We must prepare students to think beyond geography, to be conversant in different cultures so as to navigate a global marketplace.

Their future will be one of opportunity. We must prepare students who will hold an average of 15 or more jobs in their careers to engineer their own personal brands, to compete for opportunities that cannot be imagined yet today.

Their future will be powered by innovation and collaboration. We must prepare students to be entrepreneurial in their approach to life and work, so they can make the most of every chance they get to create a better life for themselves and for their communities. And we must prepare students for a future that is yet untold, but which has already begun.

We saw something of that future in Montreal, and the timing of the visit could not have been better. Becker and MassDiGI are about to establish an accelerator of our own: the New Ventures Center, designed to bridge the gap between talented students and the marketplace, and to launch them into careers that will shape the future. Firmly placed at the junction of entrepreneurship and innovation, the center will help us to educate a generation that will be world ready.

In a time of disruptive innovation, it has never been more exciting to help students embrace the changes to come. I can't wait to see the future they create.