On Change and Relevance for Higher Education — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Phil Long
A Q&A with Phil Long


Mary Grush: You’ve been connected to scores of technology leaders and have watched trends in higher education for more than 30 years. What is the central, or most important concern you are hearing from institutional leadership now?

Phil Long: Higher ed institutions are facing some serious challenges to stay relevant in a world that is diversifying and changing rapidly. They want to make sure that the experiences they have designed for students will carry the next generation forward to be productive citizens and workers. But institutions’ abilities to keep up in our changing environment have begun to lag to a sufficient degree, such that alternatives to the traditional university are being considered, both by the institutions themselves and by their constituents and colleagues throughout the education sector.

Grush: What are a few of the more specific areas in which institutions may find it difficult to navigate?

Long: Just from a very high level view, I’d include on that list: big data and the increasing sophistication of algorithms, with the associated benefits and risks; artificial intelligence with all its implications for good… and for peril; and perhaps most importantly, new applications and practices that support how we recognize learning.



“The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the issues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.” — Phil Long




2018 Workplace Learning Report — from learning.linkedin.com


The path to opportunity is changing
The short shelf life of skills and a tightening labor market are giving rise to a multitude of skill gaps. Businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, trying to hold onto their best talent and struggling to fill key positions. Individuals are conscious of staying relevant in the age of automation.

Enter the talent development function.
These organizational leaders create learning opportunities to enable employee growth and achievement. They have the ability to guide their organizations to success in tomorrow’s labor market, but they can’t do it alone.

Our research answers the talent developer’s most pressing questions:
* How are savvy talent development leaders adapting to the pace of change in today’s dynamic world of work?
* Why do employees demand learning and development resources, but don’t make the time to learn?
* How do executives think about learning and development?
* Are managers the missing link to successful learning programs?


From DSC:
Even though this piece is a bit of a sales pitch for Lynda.com — a great service I might add — it’s still worth checking out. I say this because it brings up a very real trend that I’m trying to bring more awareness to — i.e., the pace of change has changed. Our society is not ready for this new, exponential pace of change. Technologies are impacting jobs and how we do our jobs, and will likely do so for the next several decades. Skills gaps are real and likely growing larger. Corporations need to do their part in helping higher education revise/develop curriculum and they need to offer funds to create new types of learning labs/environments. They need to offer more internships and opportunities to learn new skills.




Why Professors Doubt Education Research — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young


You found that professors really care about their teaching, and yet they are skeptical of education research. It sounds like a lot of people ended up teaching the way that they had been taught, or the way that they felt good as a student in classes they had had.

That’s right. People sometimes ignore the research precisely because they care about teaching. Different faculty arrive at the point where they’re teaching college students from wildly different experiences of their own. Some have wanted since they were small children to be professors at a university, and some fell into it later in a career.

For faculty who think that research is a good way to learn how to teach, they will devour the literature on learning sciences. They’ll reach out to experts across a number of disciplines and within their own discipline to try and learn what the best way to teach is

For faculty who believe that teaching is an art, that it is just something that you develop with experience and time, that you can’t learn from a book, you need to learn by doing more or learn from your students, no amount of exposure to learning science research is going to disrupt their sense that this is something they learn by doing, or that they need to follow their gut on.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to change someone’s mind to either adopt or consider more of this evidence-based research?

People can always change their perspective. If you’re trying to communicate the value of a technology or an approach, or even of learning science or education research as a field, you have to start with the person you’re speaking to. They may come to that conversation with a sense of, “I know that people get PhDs in education. People get PhDs in curriculum design, and I’ve never even taken a class where we’ve talked about curriculum design. I would like to know what they know.”

Then there are people who will say, “I’ve been teaching since I was a graduate student. My students are very happy with the teaching. I feel pretty good about my teaching. I understand that you have a PhD in curriculum design, but I don’t really need that.”

You need to approach those two different faculty members differently, understanding that there are some people who are interested in hearing about evidence-based practices, and just pointing them towards the resources is great.

Excerpt from the question:
What about your own teaching? I’m curious. Are you someone that tries different techniques that are based on research?

There is so much literature, and there are so many right ways, and there are so many recommendations that incorporating all of them into your practice at the same time is literally impossible. Many of them are contradictory. You have to choose a suite that you’re adhering to, because you can’t do the others if you’re doing these. Trying to embody best practices while teaching is really complex. It’s a skillset that you develop. You develop with time, and instruction, and you can master, but you’re always going to have to continue to perfect it.



Also see:

Personalized Faculty Development: Engaging Networks, Empowering Individuals — from er.educause.edu by Jill Leafstedt


During the meeting, I chose to spend my time focused solely on sessions in the Faculty Development and Engagement track. My goal: return to my home campus energized and ready to tackle the age-old problem of how to move faculty from being content experts into dynamic educators.

Luckily for me, I was not the only one looking for this inspiration. The faculty development sessions were packed with people trying to answer questions such as, “Why don’t faculty want help?” or “Why don’t faculty attend my workshops?” On the whole, the sessions reaffirmed my belief that faculty development does not happen in a workshop, nor does it happen through training. Improving teaching is a long, messy, reflective process that must be approached from multiple angles with many entry points.

Sound challenging? It is, but there is reason to be hopeful; our colleagues are working hard to find and share answers. Two themes came through loud and clear from the sessions I attended. First, meet faculty where they are. Don’t expect them to come to you ready to learn; go to them and start where they are. Second, build networks for ongoing learning.


From DSC:
Both of the above articles present a HUGE issue in terms of improving the level of teaching and learning. Both articles seem to be saying that anyone interested in really improving the teaching and learning that’s going on needs to meet with each individual faculty member in order to meet them where they are at. When you have hundreds of faculty members plus an over-flowing job plate that’s asking you to wear numerous hats, that’s a very tall order indeed.





Deeper Thinking about Active Learning — from facultyfocus.com by Maryellen Weimer

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

I keep worrying that we’re missing the boat with active learning. Here’s why. First, active learning isn’t about activity for the sake of activity. I fear we’ve gotten too fixated on the activity and aren’t as focused as we should be on the learning. We’re still obsessed with collecting teaching techniques—all those strategies, gimmicks, approaches, and things we can do to get students engaged. But what kind of engagement does the activity promote? Does it pique student interest, make them think, result in learning, and cultivate a desire to know more? Or is it more about keeping basically bored students busy?

Teaching techniques are an essential part of any active learning endeavor. But they aren’t the center or the most important part of student learning experiences. Techniques provide the framework, the structure, the context. What really matters is what we put in the structure—what students are thinking about and sharing when they’re pairing.

Larry recommends selecting things that confront students with their ignorance—so they see clearly what they don’t know, can’t understand, don’t see the reason for, or can’t make work. When you’ve got an artifact in front of you, there’s motivation to deal with it. 


Think for a moment of what happens when you give most any of those millennial students a new electronic device. Usually, without the instructions and no attention to technique, they start playing with it to see how it works. Do they mess up and make mistakes? Do they give up or worry about looking stupid? Does active learning in our courses look anything like this?



From DSC:
This article reminds me of a great conversation that I had with an elderly gentleman a few months ago. He’s still involved with instructional design, after several decades of related work experiences. He said to me that learners need to truly ***engage*** with the content to make it meaningful to them.

And then I read a quote from Robert Greenleaf’s book, On Becoming a Servant Leader (p. 304), that said:

Nothing is meaningful to me until it is related to my own experience.






Mapping the Trends on Our Doorstep: The Pace of Change Has Changed — from an article that I did out at — and with — evoLLLution.com [where LLL stands for lifelong learning]; my thanks to Mr. Amrit Ahluwalia, Managing Editor out at evolllution.com and to his staff as well!
The higher education industry has changed significantly over the past decade, and given the pace and significance of change hitting other industries as a result of technological advances, it’s fair to say the postsecondary space is ripe for further transformation.


From DSC:
From the perspective of those of us working within higher education, we see massive changes occurring in the corporate world, and we see innovations and changes also occurring in the world of K-12. Higher education should also be adapting, changing, questioning, and reflecting upon how we can best prepare our students for a rapidly changing workplace.

Below is another interesting item that I believe gives credence to the idea that we are now on an exponential pace of change. Companies are coming and going on the S&P Index…at an ever faster pace.

The 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1964 narrowed to 24 years by 2016 and is forecast to shrink to just 12 years by 2027 (Chart 1).


Here is the video:

This is the transcript with the original graphs in it.

This is a nice PDF file from evoLLLution.com with the transcript, with some different graphics and some other





The 4th Next Generation Learning Spaces event is right around the corner! Make plans to attend this conference -- you won't regret it!

The 4th Next Generation Learning Spaces event is right around the corner!

Take a look at the latest agenda.

Here is just a fraction of what you can expect:

  • Explore what’s next in learning spaces + design thinking that breaks the barriers of tradition and inspire innovation
  • Retool your learning environments with virtual & augmented reality
  • Connect your learning space design with strategic planning initiatives
  • Discover next generation learning solutions during our networking breaks
  • Overcome institutional and financial roadblocks to building active learning spaces
  • Redesign spaces with limited budgets


From DSC:
I am honored to be serving on the Advisory Council for this conference with a great group of people. Missing — at least from my perspective — from the image below is Kristen Tadrous, Senior Program Director with the Corporate Learning Network. Kristen has done a great job these last few years planning and running this conference.


The Advisory Board for the 2018 Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference

The above graphic reflects a change for me. I am still an Adjunct Faculty Member
at Calvin College, but I am no longer a Senior Instructional Designer there.


This national conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA on February 26-28, 2018. It is designed to help institutions of higher education develop highly-innovative cultures — something that’s needed in many institutions of traditional higher education right now.

I have attended the first 3 conferences and I moderated a panel at last year’s conference out in San Diego. I just want to say that this is a great conference and I encourage you to bring a group of people to it from your organization! I say a group of people because a group of 5 of us (from a variety of departments) went one year and the result of attending the NGLS Conference was a brand new Sandbox Classroom — an active-learning based, highly-collaborative learning space where faculty members can experiment with new pedagogies as well as with new technologies. The conference helped us discuss things as a diverse group, think out loud, come up with some innovative ideas, and then build the momentum to move forward with some of those key ideas.

If you haven’t already attended this conference, I highly recommend that you check it out.





From DSC:
DC: Will Amazon get into delivering education/degrees? Is is working on a next generation learning platform that could highly disrupt the world of higher education? Hmmm…time will tell.

But Amazon has a way of getting into entirely new industries. From its roots as an online bookseller, it has branched off into numerous other arenas. It has the infrastructure, talent, and the deep pockets to bring about the next generation learning platform that I’ve been tracking for years. It is only one of a handful of companies that could pull this type of endeavor off.

And now, we see articles like these:

Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman
Candace Thille, a pioneer in the science of learning, takes a leave from Stanford to help the ambitious retailer better train its workers, with implications that could extend far beyond the company.


A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else.

Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Thille’s title, as confirmed by an Amazon spokeswoman: director of learning science and engineering. In that capacity, the spokeswoman said, Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

No further details were forthcoming, and Thille herself said she was “taking time away” from Stanford to work on a project she was “not really at liberty to discuss.”


Amazon is quietly becoming its own university — from qz.com by Amy Wang


Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire—which recently dabbled in home security, opened artificial intelligence-powered grocery stores, and started planning a second headquarters (and manufactured a vicious national competition out of it)—has not been idle in 2018.

The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be “director of learning science and engineering.” A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon”; Thille herself said she is “not really at liberty to discuss” her new project.

What could Amazon want with a higher education expert? The company already has footholds in the learning market, running several educational resource platforms. But Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training—all of which are perfect, perhaps even necessary, for the education of employees.


From DSC:
It could just be that Amazon is simply building its own corporate university and will stay focused on developing its own employees and its own corporate learning platform/offerings — and/or perhaps license their new platform to other corporations.

But from my perspective, Amazon continues to work on pieces of a powerful puzzle, one that could eventually involve providing learning experiences to lifelong learners:

  • Personal assistants
  • Voice recognition / Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • The development of “skills” at an incredible pace
  • Personalized recommendation engines
  • Cloud computing and more

If Alexa were to get integrated into a AI-based platform for personalized learning — one that features up-to-date recommendation engines that can identify and personalize/point out the relevant critical needs in the workplace for learners — better look out higher ed! Better look out if such a platform could interactively deliver (and assess) the bulk of the content that essentially does the heavy initial lifting of someone learning about a particular topic.

Amazon will be able to deliver a cloud-based platform, with cloud-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies, at a greatly reduced cost. Think about it. No physical footprints to build and maintain, no lawns to mow, no heating bills to pay, no coaches making $X million a year, etc.  AI-driven recommendations for digital playlists. Links to the most in demand jobs — accompanied by job descriptions, required skills & qualifications, and courses/modules to take in order to master those jobs.

Such a solution would still need professors, instructional designers, multimedia specialists, copyright experts, etc., but they’ll be able to deliver up-to-date content at greatly reduced costs. That’s my bet. And that’s why I now call this potential development The New Amazon.com of Higher Education.

[Microsoft — with their purchase of Linked In (who had previously
purchased Lynda.com) — is
another such potential contender.]




From DSC:
I have been trying to blog more about learning how to learn — and to provide some more resources on metacognition and the like.

Along these lines — and with permission from the author — the following excerpt is from Quentin Schultze’s solid book, Communicate like a True Leader (pages 35 & 36).  I asked Quin if I could share this excerpt because I think it’s a great strategy to share with students. Whether they know it or not, learning how to learn is THEE key skill these days.

Quin would also emphasize some other items such as listening, attending to reality, communicating effectively with others, and more…but my focus here is on learning strategies.  So I share it in the hope that it will help some of you students out there just as it helped Quin.



During the beginning of my sophomore year, I started reviewing each day’s class notes after classes were over. I soon realized how little I recalled even of that day’s lectures and discussions. It dawned on me that normal note-taking merely gave me the impression that I was learning. I implemented a strategy that revolutionized my learning, launched me successfully into graduate school, helped me become a solid teacher, equipped me to be a productive researcher-writer, and made it possible for me to be an engaging speaker.

I not only reviewed my notes daily. I rewrote them from scratch within a couple of hours of each class meeting. I used my actual course notes as prompts to recall more of the lecture and to help me organize my own reactions to the material. My notes expanded. My retention swelled.

My revised notes became a kind of journal of my dialogue with the instructor and the readings. I integrated into my revised course notes my daily reading notes, reworking them into language that was meaningful to me and preparing to ask the instructor at the next class anything that I was uncertain about. From then on I earned nearly straight A’s with far less cramming for exams.

Moreover, I had begun journaling about my learning — one of the most important communication skills. I became a real learner by discovering how to pay attention to others and myself.

In a broad sense, I learned how to listen.




McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030 — from axios.com by Steve LeVine

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In a new study that is optimistic about automation yet stark in its appraisal of the challenge ahead, McKinsey says massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people—including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany—will be made jobless by 2030, the study says.

The bottom line: The economy of most countries will eventually replace the lost jobs, the study says, but many of the unemployed will need considerable help to shift to new work, and salaries could continue to flatline. “It’s a Marshall Plan size of task,” Michael Chui, lead author of the McKinsey report, tells Axios.

In the eight-month study, the McKinsey Global Institute, the firm’s think tank, found that almost half of those thrown out of work—375 million people, comprising 14% of the global work force—will have to find entirely new occupations, since their old one will either no longer exist or need far fewer workers. Chinese will have the highest such absolute numbers—100 million people changing occupations, or 12% of the country’s 2030 work force.

I asked Chui what surprised him the most of the findings. “The degree of transition that needs to happen over time is a real eye opener,” he said.


The transition compares to the U.S. shift from a largely agricultural to an industrial-services economy in the early 1900s forward. But this time, it’s not young people leaving farms, but mid-career workers who need new skills.



From DSC:
Higher education — and likely (strictly) vocational training outside of higher ed — is simply not ready for this! MAJOR reinvention will be necessary, and as soon as 2018 according to Forrester Research. 

One of the key values that institutions of traditional higher education can bring to the table is to help people through this gut wrenching transition — identifying which jobs are going to last for the next 5-10+ years and which ones won’t, and then be about the work of preparing the necessary programs quickly enough to meet the demands of the new economy.

Students/entrepreneurs out there, they say you should look around to see where the needs are and then develop products and/or services to meet those needs. Well, here you go!




As a member of the International Education Committee, at edX we are extremely aware of the changing nature of work and jobs. It is predicted that 50 percent of current jobs will disappear by 2030.

Anant Agarwal, CEO and Founder of edX, and Professor of
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT





Automation threatens 800 million jobs, but technology could still save us, says report — from theverge.com by James Vincent
New analysis says governments need to act now to help a labor force in flux


A new report predicts that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation. The study, compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute, says that advances in AI and robotics will have a drastic effect on everyday working lives, comparable to the shift away from agricultural societies during the Industrial Revolution. In the US alone, between 39 and 73 million jobs stand to be automated — making up around a third of the total workforce.


If a computer can do one-third of your job, what happens next? Do you get trained to take on new tasks, or does your boss fire you, or some of your colleagues? What if you just get a pay cut instead? Do you have the money to retrain, or will you be forced to take the hit in living standards?



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