Innovations 2021 Wednesday Keynote Ken Steele

General Session Keynote
Wednesday, March 3, 9:00 - 9:45 AM MST

Ken Steele
Higher Education Strategist and President and Chief Futurist, Eduvation

Keynote Address

Reset: An Opportunity to Rise Above

Without question, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a catastrophic toll on the economy, on frontline workers, on the health and lives of millions, and on the education and optimism of a whole generation of students. But this global crisis has also imposed a reset on many unquestioned assumptions, revealed character in the face of hardship, and encouraged a newfound sense of compassion and patience with ourselves and each other. Colleges have adopted more flexible academic policies and procedures; redoubled efforts at successful student coaching, bridging, and onboarding programs; and extended service hours and channels to accommodate students in widely different circumstances and time zones. Across the academy, instructors and faculty have explored new pedagogies, technologies, and resources—and found a greater appreciation for the expertise of curriculum designers and learning engineers, as well as the challenges of their learners, embarking on a steep learning curve together. This year of shared anxiety, disruption, and loss may well have inspired a generation of college leaders, staff, and faculty to regard each other and our students with greater compassion and empathy than ever before; to rise above petty concerns; and to recognize each other as more complete, and incomplete, humans.


Ken Steele is Canada’s best-known higher ed futurist, speaker, facilitator, and consultant in branding, marketing, and student recruitment. His wide-ranging perspective brings context to college and university strategic planning, positioning, and enrolment management efforts, and has been shaped by award-winning careers as a Shakespeare scholar and instructor, technology consultant, brand strategist, entrepreneur, and de facto journalist. Steele delivers conference keynotes, retreats, presentations, and workshops to a broad range of audiences hundreds of times a year, from boards and senior administrators to faculty and support staff, student groups, concerned parents, government policy analysts, and Canada’s most powerful corporate CEOs. His lifelong love of science fiction, Shakespeare, and technology has fuelled his fascination with innovation, creativity, and future trends, and served him well in engaging virtual audiences.

More than 30,000 higher ed professionals around the world have come to know Steele as a definitive source of breaking news, bright ideas, strategic foresight, and thoughtful insight. He co-founded Canada’s first PSE market research agency, redesigned some of the largest PSE consumer studies in the world, created the nation’s leading PSE news digest, co-authored Canada’s first book on strategic enrolment management, and has written dozens of articles and white papers and hundreds of research reports and environmental scans.

Today, Steele monitors worldwide developments shaping the future of higher education in real time, writes a free daily newsletter (the Eduvation Insider), produces a video webcast (Ten with Ken), and convenes national roundtables of higher ed marketers. He sits on eCampus Ontario’s Virtual Learning Advisory Committee, and has consulted with hundreds of colleges and universities—from New England to New Zealand—helping them interpret market research, understand their competitive context, distill their institutional “Brand Chemistry,” and nurture a culture of innovation across campus.

Steele lives in London, Ontario, with his high school sweetheart, and proudly watches from a distance as his grown children blaze their own trails into that undiscovered country . . . the future.

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