How might we better prepare all learners for the needs of tomorrow by reimagining higher education?

OpenIDEO has announced the Top Ideas in its Future of Higher Education Challenge — and the results suggest the answer to that question lies in connecting college and career through use of educational technology.

A tool that uses data to connect learners to careers. Apps that support students through the educational journey and beyond. Online options that support education for career advancement. The Top Ideas aim to help learners of all kinds evolve with the needs of tomorrow — not just as they pursue higher education but also as they put that education to work in their careers and communities.

And technology, the Top Ideas remind us, is important not only in meeting the changing needs of students and the workforce but also in making those solutions broadly available.

Strada Education Network℠, formerly USA Funds®, is a sponsor of the Future of Higher Education Challenge. I was proud to serve as an evaluator in this months-long search for innovative postsecondary education ideas, joined by my colleagues Craig Anderson and Tammy Lakes of Student Connections and Mike Marriner of Roadtrip Nation, both Strada Education companies.

In the Future of Higher Education Challenge, OpenIDEO called on the global community for ideas to better prepare students for active civic engagement, real-world employment and career success in an ever-transforming economy. The submissions named Top Ideas last week are:

Sidekick Education tool that collects data about how students work side-by-side with industry experts to solve real-world problems, and uses that data to connect students to their ideal careers.

MyBoard: Meet Your Own Personal Board app and desktop tool that places students with teams of “life board members” who meet regularly with those students during and following their education.

MAPP — My Action Plan with Purpose, which combines an interactive “vision MAPP” of careers and lifestyles with mentoring to guide learners to academic, personal and professional success.

Anyone’s Learning Experience (ALEX) online marketplace that helps professionals advance their careers by taking individual, in-person courses from across colleges, universities and training programs.

PelotonU addresses the needs of nontraditional students by combining online, competency-based education with in-person support to help working adults succeed.

Those involved in the Top Ideas now will have the opportunity to discuss and refine their innovations with sector experts. We’ll learn more from those who submitted the Top Ideas at events such as the upcoming Strada Education-sponsored ASU GSV Summit.

And at Strada Education, we look forward to continuing to advance ideas like those selected as the leaders through the Future of Higher Education Challenge. They’re ideas that, like Strada Education’s own guiding principle of Completion With a Purpose®, enhance student success in college — or other postsecondary programs — and connect graduates to rewarding careers and fulfilling lives.