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There is a lot of unrecognized talent walking around America, Dr. Peter Smith,  told viewers during his June 14 live interview on Facebook. "From a policy perspective, that's a huge national problem that is hurting our country," added University of Maryland University College (UMUC) Orkand Endowed Chair and professor of innovative practices in higher education.

See Smith's interview, moderated by UMUC Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Alan Drimmer, on UMUC's Facebook page.

In part, the interview touched on Smith's new book,“Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age: The Emerging Revolution in College, Career, and Education." Drimmer asked whether Smith was surprised by feedback from university presidents he spoke with during book development who consistently emphasized great student advising and personalization—not content—as the keys to successful adult higher education programs.

Smith said his takeaway from those discussions was that, while academic content is necessary and important, it is not by itself "sufficient." For a university to hold onto adult learners and "get them to the goals they have set for themselves," he said, "the user experience has to be friendly and supportive," for them to benefit from the quality of learning.

In a wide-ranging interview, Smith talked about his student days at Princeton where he learned the hard way about the virtue of being prepared, his early career in politics, the mentors who inspired his deep exploration and lifelong career journey in educating adult learners, and the silent learning revolution underway that calls for a better way to deliver opportunity and democracy in higher education. Watch Smith's interview here.

“The plain fact is that millions of Americans have historically faced huge barriers to getting the education and the jobs that they want.” – Excerpted from “Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age: The Emerging Revolution in College, Career, and Education,” by Dr. Peter Smith

About Peter Smith

Much of his academic career has focused on helping adult learners realize their potential. For the last two years, Smith has held the posts as UMUC Orkand Endowed Chair and Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education. He has served on the Provost’s Academic Innovation Advisory Council.

Over the course of his career, Smith worked on education issues with the United Nations, was a high-ranking executive with Kaplan University and dean of The George Washington University Graduate School of Education—and was the founding president of both California State University Monterey Bay and The Community College of Vermont.

Formerly, Smith was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Lt. Governor of Vermont.

 Upcoming Thursday Thoughts line-up

  • Trends in systems engineering with Barry G. Douglass, program chair, Systems Engineering Information and Technology Systems, The Graduate School
  • The growing importance of data analytics in all kinds of businesses, with Elena Gortcheva, program chair, Graduate Data Analytics
Previously on Thursday Thoughts

 May 31—Professor Robert Ouellette, UMUC Environmental Management Program Chair, talked about the “environmental injustice” that makes the threat posed by climate change more pronounced for the nation’s most vulnerable populations, and the paradigm shift he believes is required to manage water resources in the face of climate change both here at home and across the globe. Watch it here.

May 17—the series premiere featured Jeff Tjiputra, UMUC chair of Cloud Computing Architecture, who discussed the advantages and disadvantages of businesses increasingly migrating their data to the cloud, and the importance of understanding cloud computing and the services associated with it. Watch the interview, “The Cloud: What Is It and How Does It Work?” here.

Thursday Thoughts airs every other Thursday at 1 p.m. ET on UMUC’s Facebook page.