For a long, successful career, LinkedIn says nothing beats a liberal arts major — from qz.com by Dan Kopf and Amy Wang

Excerpt:

“There is a real concern that these labor-market-oriented degrees that focus on specific technical skills are not as durable,” says Guy Berger, a LinkedIn economist and one of the researchers who worked on the report. Berger believes that “cross-functional skills” like management and analytical know-how are more adaptable across a range of work environments. As technology changes the nature of work across nearly every industry, it’s important to have a wide range of such talents, rather than a narrow subset applied only to a particular sector that may not look the same in the near future (or, indeed, exist at all).

 

 

From DSC:
The vast majority of the lessons being offered within K-12 and the lectures (if we’re going to continue to offer them) within higher education should be recorded.

Why do I say this?

Well…first of all…let me speak as a parent of 3 kids, one of whom requires a team of specialists to help her learn. When she misses school because she’s out sick, it’s a major effort to get her caught up. As a parent, it would be soooooo great to log into a system and obtain an updated digital playlist of the lessons that she’s missed. She and I could click on the links to the recordings in order to see how the teacher wants our daughter to learn concepts A, B, and C. We could pause, rewind, fast forward, and replay the recording over and over again until our daughter gets it (and I as a parent get it too!).

I realize that I’m not saying anything especially new here, but we need to do a far better job of providing our overworked teachers with more time, funding, and/or other types of resources — such as instructional designers, videographers and/or One-Button Studios, other multimedia specialists, etc. — to develop these recordings. Perhaps each teacher — or team — could be paid to record and contribute their lessons to a pool of content that could be used over and over again. Also, the use of RSS feeds and content aggregators such as Feedly could come in handy here as well. Parents/learners could subscribe to streams of content.

Such a system would be a huge help to the teachers as well. They could refer students to these digital playlists as appropriate — having updated the missing students’ playlists based on what the teacher has covered that day (and who was out sick, at another school-sponsored event, etc.). They wouldn’t have to re-explain something as many times if they had recordings to reference.

—–

Also, within the realm of higher education, having recordings/transcripts of lectures and presentations would be especially helpful to learners who take more time to process what’s being said. And while that might include ESL learners here in the U.S., such recordings could benefit the majority of learners. From my days in college, I can remember trying to write down much of what the professor was saying, but not having a chance to really process much of the information until later, when I looked over my notes. Finally, learners who wanted to review some concepts before a mid-term or final would greatly appreciate these recordings.

Again, I realize this isn’t anything new. But it makes me scratch my head and wonder why we haven’t made more progress in this area, especially at the K-12 level…? It’s 2017. We can do better.

 



Some relevant tools here include:



 

 

 

Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

From DSC:
Three brief reflections here:

  • What we think about is important. I know I need the LORD’s help here for sure; but I’m trying to watch what I’m thinking about.  The college where I am an adjunct faculty member, Calvin College, seeks to impact the hearts and minds of our students. The mind involves what we think about. As such, the Apostle Paul gives us some solid advice here. 
  • There is power in ideas — for good, or for ill. 
  • Philippians 4:8 is my alma mater’s motto (i.e., Northwestern University) —  though I’m sorry to say that Northwestern has drifted far from its original roots and its original worldviews. The current emphasis at NU is to think about oneself — look out for #1 has become their new motto throughout the last few decades. That type of motto asks:
    • How much money will you be able to make? What will your salary be?
    • How many people report will be reporting to you?
    • Where will your office be?
    • What kind of car will you be driving? What # in the series will it be?
    • In which area of the city or suburbs will you be able to live?

(By the way, I’m still trying to unlearn that type of perspective and move more towards a 1 Peter 4:10 perspective: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.)

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Readers of this Learning Ecosystems blog will recognize the following graphic:

 

 

I have long believed that each of us needs to draw from the relevant streams of content that are constantly flowing by us — and also that we should be contributing content to those streams as well. Such content can come from blogs, websites, Twitter, LinkedIn, podcasts, YouTube channels, Google Alerts, periodicals, and via other means.

I’m a big fan of blogging and using RSS feeds along with feed aggregators such as Feedly. I also find that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Alerts to be excellent means of tapping into — and contributing to — these streams of content. (See Jane Hart’s compilations to tap into other tools/means of learning as well.)

This perspective is echoed in the following article at the Harvard Business Review:

  • Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It — from hbr.org by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown
    Excerpt:
    Without diminishing the value of knowledge sharing, we would suggest that the most valuable form of learning today is actually creating new knowledge. Organizations are increasingly being confronted with new and unexpected situations that go beyond the textbooks and operating manuals and require leaders to improvise on the spot, coming up with new approaches that haven’t been tried before. In the process, they develop new knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work in specific situations. We believe the old, “scalable efficiency” approach to knowledge needs to be replaced with a new, more nimble kind of “scalable learning.” To foster the latter, managers should understand five essential distinctions…

 

We need to be constantly challenging our assumptions and beliefs about what is required to achieve impact because, as the world changes, what used to work in the past may no longer work. 

— Hagel and Brown

 

So whether you are working or studying within the world of higher education, or whether you are in the corporate world, or working in a governmental office, or whether you are a student in K-12, you need to be drawing from — and contributing your voice/knowledge to — streams of content.

In fact, in my mind, that’s what Training/L&D Departments should shift their focus to, as employees are already self-motivated to build their own learning ecosystems. And in the world of higher education, that’s why I work to help students in my courses build their own online-based footprints, while encouraging them to draw from — contribute to — these streams of content. As more people are becoming freelancers and consultants, it makes even more sense to do this.

 

 

But when we recognize that the environment around us is rapidly changing, skills have a shorter and shorter half-life. While skills are still necessary for success, the focus should shift to cultivating the underlying capabilities that can accelerate learning so that new skills can be more rapidly acquired. These capabilities include curiosity, critical thinking, willingness to take risk, imagination, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence. If we can develop those learning capabilities, we should be able to rapidly evolve our skill sets in ways that keep us ahead of the game.

— Hagel and Brown

 

 

 

From DSC:
According to the article below, bootcamps appear to be filling several (perceived and/or real) gaps. Quoting from the article:

Why are students enrolling in coding bootcamps? One reason may be the adaptability of these accelerated computer science programs, where students are taught web and mobile development skills that align with industry demands. Programs are offered in-person or online, providing students with flexible learning options. The payoff is decent too: At a typical coding bootcamp, Course Report estimates average tuition is $11,400 for about 14 weeks of instruction, from which the majority students complete on-time and find relevant jobs.

Cost.

Time.

Responsiveness to industry demands.

Greater flexibility.

These are some of the things for traditional institutions of higher education to grapple with, and I would argue the sooner, the better — before this trend finds its legs and gains even more traction/momentum.

For example, in your own mind/thinking…how long do you think it will take bootcamps to begin offering programs that help learners develop content for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) — as compared to programs coming out of institutions of traditional higher education?

Whatever your answers are in regards to the reasons for that time difference are likely the exact sort of things institutions need to be working on. For me, at least one of the answers has to do with our current accreditation systems. Other reasons come to my mind as well, but I don’t have time to go there right now.

 


Study: 1 Coding Bootcamp Graduate for Every 3.5 University Grads — from campustechnology.com by Sri Ravipati

Excerpt:

The five-year coding bootcamp industry estimated at $266 million is rapidly expanding, according to a new market study from Course Report.

The study counted 94 full-time coding bootcamps across the United States and Canada (with programs in 74 U.S. cities). Compared to 2012, there will be 10 times as many graduates this year — or roughly one coding bootcamp graduate for every 3.5 graduates from a traditional university or college. Course Report estimates that 22,814 developers will graduate from coding bootcamps this year — an increase from 15,048 graduates last year.

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of an Innovative Culture at Smaller Colleges — from evolllution.com with Shane Garrison | Vice President of Enrollment, Campbellsville University
Smaller institutions are under more pressure than ever to innovate or collapse—weathering the storm is simply no longer an option for most institutions. This requires leaders and staff across the institution to have a creative mindset, and be willing to experiment and evolve.

Excerpt:

There is the reality that if you don’t diversify, if you fail to be creative, if you fail to try new things, you’re on the verge of folding. In Kentucky, two faith-based colleges folded within a span of about three years, and I think that created an urgency to avoid that fate. We have to be willing to try, create and experiment to survive, and that means doing things that we’ve never done before.

Evo: How can an innovative and experiment-focused culture help smaller institutions overcome some of those obstacles?

SG: I think you have to be willing to experiment for short periods of time with strategies that do not fit inside the traditional bubble. For example, for us, our online presence has been fairly strong for about 12 years. However, we had to experiment with placing a good number of full four-year bachelor’s degree programs online, something our university had never done. We had associate programs, we had graduate programs but we had to add bachelor programs online. We did it for three or four years in the experimental phase and noticed these were actually strong and it was building a beautiful pathway between our associate two-year programs and the four-year programs and continuing into graduate programs.

We are experimenting now with an international recruiting partnership and giving it two to three years to see what happens. It has been very successful thus far. This model has created a culture where we can experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A leading Silicon Valley engineer explains why every tech worker needs a humanities education — from qz.com by Tracy Chou

Excerpts:

I was no longer operating in a world circumscribed by lesson plans, problem sets and programming assignments, and intended course outcomes. I also wasn’t coding to specs, because there were no specs. As my teammates and I were building the product, we were also simultaneously defining what it should be, whom it would serve, what behaviors we wanted to incentivize amongst our users, what kind of community it would become, and what kind of value we hoped to create in the world.

I still loved immersing myself in code and falling into a state of flow—those hours-long intensive coding sessions where I could put everything else aside and focus solely on the engineering tasks at hand. But I also came to realize that such disengagement from reality and societal context could only be temporary.

At Quora, and later at Pinterest, I also worked on the algorithms powering their respective homefeeds: the streams of content presented to users upon initial login, the default views we pushed to users. It seems simple enough to want to show users “good” content when they open up an app. But what makes for good content? Is the goal to help users to discover new ideas and expand their intellectual and creative horizons? To show them exactly the sort of content that they know they already like? Or, most easily measurable, to show them the content they’re most likely to click on and share, and that will make them spend the most time on the service?

 

Ruefully—and with some embarrassment at my younger self’s condescending attitude toward the humanities—I now wish that I had strived for a proper liberal arts education. That I’d learned how to think critically about the world we live in and how to engage with it. That I’d absorbed lessons about how to identify and interrogate privilege, power structures, structural inequality, and injustice. That I’d had opportunities to debate my peers and develop informed opinions on philosophy and morality. And even more than all of that, I wish I’d even realized that these were worthwhile thoughts to fill my mind with—that all of my engineering work would be contextualized by such subjects.

It worries me that so many of the builders of technology today are people like me; people haven’t spent anywhere near enough time thinking about these larger questions of what it is that we are building, and what the implications are for the world.

 

 


Also see:


 

Why We Need the Liberal Arts in Technology’s Age of Distraction — from time.com by Tim Bajarin

Excerpt:

In a recent Harvard Business Review piece titled “Liberal Arts in the Data Age,” author JM Olejarz writes about the importance of reconnecting a lateral, liberal arts mindset with the sort of rote engineering approach that can lead to myopic creativity. Today’s engineers have been so focused on creating new technologies that their short term goals risk obscuring unintended longterm outcomes. While a few companies, say Intel, are forward-thinking enough to include ethics professionals on staff, they remain exceptions. At this point all tech companies serious about ethical grounding need to be hiring folks with backgrounds in areas like anthropology, psychology and philosophy.

 

 

 

 

The Rose-Colored Glasses Come Off: a Survey of Business Officers — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman & Rick Seltzer

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The reality of higher education’s financial challenges is sinking in among college and university business officers.

Now the question is what they’re doing about it — and whether they’re willing to do enough.

Chief business officers increasingly agree that higher education is in the midst of a financial crisis, according to the 2017 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Business Officers. Some are also starting to lose faith in the idea that they can overcome revenue shortfalls using the often-cited strategy of increasing enrollment.

Many respondents were open or supportive of the idea of consolidating programs or academic operations with other institutions. Yet survey results reflected a greater skepticism about their likelihood of actually merging with other colleges or universities in the near future. Business officers were also generally leery of addressing their budget issues in ways that would require them to ask faculty members to change. So although business officers are increasingly recognizing the financial threats they face, experts wondered whether they are being realistic about the kind of strategies they will have to pursue to chart a course forward.

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

I’d like to make a modest proposal.

What if for 2018 all of us involved in postsecondary learning innovation – edtech and CTL and library folks – spent the entire calendar year learning about the business of higher education?

— Per Joshua Kim

 

 

 

 

A Starter Kit for Instructional Designers — from edsurge.com by Amy Ahearn

Excerpts:

2016 report funded by the Gates Foundation found that in the U.S. alone, there are 13,000 instructional designers. Yet, when I graduated from college in 2008, I didn’t know this field existed. Surely a lot has changed!

Instructional design is experiencing a renaissance. As online course platforms proliferate, institutions of all shapes and sizes realize that they’ll need to translate content into digital forms. Designing online learning experiences is essential to training employees, mobilizing customers, serving students, building marketing channels, and sustaining business models.

The field has deep roots in distance education, human computer interaction, and visual design. But I’ve come to believe that contemporary instructional design sits at the intersection of three core disciplines: learning science, human-centered design, and digital marketing. It requires a deep respect for the pedagogical practices that teachers have honed for decades, balanced with fluency in today’s digital tools.

Below are some of the lessons and resources that I wish I knew of when I first went on the job market—a combination of the academic texts you read in school along with practical tools that have been essential to practicing instructional design in the real world. This is not a complete or evergreen list, but hopefully it’s a helpful start.

 

So You Want to Be an Instructional Designer? — from edsurge.com by Marguerite McNeal

Excerpt:

Good listener. People person. Lifelong learner. Sound like you? No, we’re not trying to arrange a first date. These are some common traits of people with successful careers in a booming job market: instructional design.

Colleges, K-12 schools and companies increasingly turn to instructional designers to help them improve the quality of teaching in in-person, online or blended-learning environments.

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian