Embracing Digital Tools of the Millennial Trade. — from virtuallyinspired.org


Thus, millennials are well-acquainted with – if not highly dependent on – the digital tools they use in their personal and professional lives. Tools that empower them to connect and collaborate in a way that is immediate and efficient, interactive and self-directed. Which is why they expect technology-enhanced education to replicate this user experience in the virtual classroom. And when their expectations fall short or go unmet altogether, millennials are more likely to go in search of other alternatives.



From DSC:
There are several solid tools mentioned in this article, and I always appreciate the high-level of innovation arising from Susan Aldridge, Marci Powell, and the folks at virtuallyinspired.org.

After reading the article, the key considerations that come to my mind involve the topics of usability and advocating for the students’ perspective. That is, we need to approach things from the student’s/learner’s standpoint — from a usability and user experience standpoint. For example, a seamless/single sign-on for each of these tools would be a requirement for implementing them. Otherwise, learners would have to be constantly logging into a variety of systems and services. Not only is that process time consuming, but a learner would need to keep track of additional passwords — and who doesn’t have enough of those to keep track of these days (I realize there are tools for that, but even those tools require additional time to investigate, setup, and maintain).

So plug-ins for the various CMSs/LMSs are needed that allow for a nice plug-and-play situation here.



The number of Americans working for themselves could triple by 2020 — from work.qz.com by Amy Wang

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Americans are as eager to work as ever. Just no longer for somebody else.

According to FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting company that has conducted a study on self-employment for two years, the number of Americans working for themselves looks to triple—to 42 million people—by 2020.

The trend, gauged in a survey of more than 2,700 full-time US workers in traditional, independent, and small business roles about their career plans, is largely being driven by millennial workers. FreshBooks estimates that of the next 27 million independent workers, 42% will be millennials. The survey, conducted with Research Now, also finds that Americans who already work for themselves are suddenly very content to keep doing so, with 97% of independent workers (up 10% from 2016) reporting no desire to return to traditional work.



From DSC:
With the continued trend towards more freelancing and the growth of a more contingent workforce…have our students had enough practice in selling themselves and their businesses to be successful in this new, developing landscape?

We need to start offering more courses, advice, and opportunities for practicing these types of skills — and the sooner the better!  I’m serious. Our students will be far more successful with these types of skills under their belt. Conversely, they won’t be able to persuade others and sell themselves and their businesses without such skills.




Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient





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 next era of human|machine partnerships
From delltechnologies.com by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies


From DSC:
Though this outlook report paints a rosier picture than I think we will actually encounter, there are several interesting perspectives in this report. We need to be peering out into the future to see which trends and scenarios are most likely to occur…then plan accordingly. With that in mind, I’ve captured a few of the thoughts below.


At its inception, very few people anticipated the pace at which the internet would spread across the world, or the impact it would have in remaking business and culture. And yet, as journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote in 2009, “Without most of us quite noticing when it happened, the web went from being a strange new curiosity to a background condition of everyday life.”1


In Dell’s Digital Transformation Index study, with 4,000 senior decision makers across the world, 45% say they are concerned about becoming obsolete in just 3-5 years, nearly half don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years’ time, and 73% believe they need to be more ‘digital’ to succeed in the future.

With this in mind, we set out with 20 experts to explore how various social and technological drivers will influence the next decade and, specifically, how emerging technologies will recast our society and the way we conduct business by the year 2030. As a result, this outlook report concludes that, over the next decade, emerging technologies will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships that make the most of their respective complementary strengths. These partnerships will enhance daily activities around the coordination of resources and in-the-moment learning, which will reset expectations for work and require corporate structures to adapt to the expanding capabilities of human-machine teams.

For the purpose of this study, IFTF explored the impact that Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and Cloud Computing, will have on society by 2030. These technologies, enabled by significant advances in software, will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships.

On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training and retraining, and real-time decision-making will be bolstered by easy access to information flows. VR-enabled simulation will immerse people in alternative scenarios, increasing empathy for others and preparation for future situations. It will empower the internet of experience by blending physical and virtual worlds.


Already, the number of digital platforms that are being used to orchestrate either physical or human resources has surpassed 1,800.9 They are not only connecting people in need of a ride with drivers, or vacationers with a place to stay, but job searchers with work, and vulnerable populations with critical services. The popularity of the services they offer is introducing society to the capabilities of coordinating technologies and resetting expectations about the ownership of fixed assets.


Human-machine partnerships won’t spell the end of human jobs, but work will be vastly different.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that today’s learners will have 8 to 10 jobs by the time they are 38. Many of them will join the workforce of freelancers. Already 50 million strong, freelancers are projected to make up 50% of the workforce in the United States by 2020.12 Most freelancers will not be able to rely on traditional HR departments, onboarding processes, and many of the other affordances of institutional work.


By 2030, in-the-moment learning will become the modus operandi, and the ability to gain new knowledge will be valued higher than the knowledge people already have.



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV




From DSC:
I sat down for a cup of coffee the other day with an experienced, wise, elderly learning expert. He was virtually a walking encyclopedia of knowledge around matters related to training, teaching, and learning. It was such a gift to learn from his numerous years’ worth of experience and his hard earned knowledge!!!  I rarely use the phrase learning expert because it’s very difficult to be an expert when it comes to how people learn. But in this case, that phrase works just fine for me.

This elderly gentleman had years’ worth of experiences involving instructional design, coaching, teaching, and training behind him. He mentioned several things that I want to record and relay here, such as:

  • In terms of higher education, we need to move from a content orientation to a process orientationi.e., helping our students learn how to learn (i.e., providing some effective methods/best practices such as this article and this study discuss for example).
    I agree that this is a good call, I still think that we’ll need some level of content delivery though. As Daniel Willingham asserts in his book, Why don’t students like school?, students still need to have a base knowledge of a subject so that they can recall that information and integrate it into other situations. Per Willingham, we can’t expect learners to become experts and think like experts without that base level of knowledge in a subject. But if they never had that information in the first place, they couldn’t recall it or bring it up for application in another context. That said, I highly agree that students need to graduate from high school and college having a much better idea on how to learn. Such a skill will serve them very well over their lifetimes, especially in this new exponential pace of change that we’re now experiencing.


  • Speaking of contexts, this wise gentleman said that we need to move from being content driven to being concept driven and context driven.
    The trick here is how to implement this type of pedagogy within higher education. It’s hard to anticipate the myriad of potential contexts our students could find themselves in in the future. Perhaps we could provide 2-3 contexts as examples for them.


  • Students need to interact with the content. It won’t have any sort of lasting impact if it’s simply an information transmission model. This is why he practiced (what we today call) active learning based classrooms and project-based learning when he taught college students years ago. This is why he has attendees in his current training-related courses apply/practice what they’ve just been told. Along these lines, he also likes to use open-ended questions and allow for the process of discovery to occur.


  • The point of teaching is to make learning possible.


  • Learning is change. No change. No learning.
    An interesting, bold perspective that I appreciated hearing. What do you think of this assertion?


  • For each educational/training-related item, he asks 3 questions:
    • What does it mean?
    • Why is it important?
    • What am I going to do with it?


There was soooooo much knowledge in this wise man’s brain. I reflected on how much information and expertise we lose when instructional designers, teachers, professors, learning theorists (and many others) retire and leave their fields. I asked him if he was blogging to help pass this information along to the next generations, but he said no…there was too much on his plate (which I believe, as he was highly energetic, driven, and active). But I find that when one finally gets enough knowledge to even being close to being called an expert, then it’s time to retire. We often lose that knowledge and people end up reinventing the wheel all over again.

Again, it was such a pleasure to talk with an older gentleman with years of experience under his belt — one who had clearly put a great deal of time and effort into his learning about learning. In an age when America discards the elderly and worships youth, there is an important lesson here.

In an age when organizations are letting their older, more experienced employees go — only to hire much younger people at 1/2 the former wages — we should learn from some of the other nations and cultures who highly respect and lift up the more experienced employees — and the elderly — and who actively seek out their counsel and wisdom. Such people are often worth every penny of their wages.


What do you think? Am I off base on some of my responses/reflections? How do these things strike you?



Freelancers predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing, annual “Freelancing in America” study finds — from globenewswire.com, by Upwork and Freelancers Union
Freelance workforce growth is accelerating and has outpaced overall U.S. workforce growth by 3x since 2014
Work is changing rapidly, FIA finds, due to the impacts of automation, and freelancers are better equipped for the future due to more frequent reskilling


NEW YORK and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Upwork and Freelancers Union today released the results of “Freelancing in America: 2017” (FIA), the most comprehensive measure of the U.S. independent workforce. The fourth annual study estimates that 57.3 million Americans are freelancing (36 percent of the U.S. workforce) and contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the economy, an increase of almost 30% since last year. Full study results are available here.


Click this image to access a variety of sizes of this image


Most notable findings reveal:

  • Freelancers are better prepared for the future – As work changes, 54 percent of the U.S. workforce said they’re not very confident that work they do will exist in 20 years. Reskilling is therefore critical. 55 percent of freelancers participated in skill-related education in the last six months versus only 30 percent of non-freelancers.
  • The majority of the U.S. workforce will soon freelance – At its current growth rate, we will reach this milestone by 2027.
  • People are increasingly freelancing by choice – Asked whether they started freelancing more by choice or necessity, 63 percent of freelancers said by choice — up 10 points (from 53 percent) since 2014.
  • Stability is being redefined – Freelancers increasingly think that having a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than one employer (63 percent agree, up 10 points since 2016) and have an average of 4.5 clients per month.
  • While finances are a challenge for all, freelancers experience a unique concern — income predictability. The study found that, with the ebbs and flows of freelancing, full-time freelancers dip into savings more often (63 percent at least once per month versus 20 percent of full-time non-freelancers).



Also see the study at:



From DSC:
Seriously folks, what does this mean for our curriculum?





Global Human Capital Report 2017 — from the World Economic Forum

Excerpt from the Conclusion section (emphasis DSC):

Technological change and its impact on labour markets calls for a renewed focus on how the world’s human capital is invested in and leveraged for social well-being and economic prosperity for all. Many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labour markets and the exponential rate of technological and economic change is further increasing the gap between education and labour markets. Furthermore, the premise of current education systems is on developing cognitive skills, yet behavioural and non-cognitive skills that nurture an individual’s capacity to collaborate, innovate, self-direct and problem-solve are increasingly important. Current education systems are also time-compressed in a way that may not be suited to current or future labour markets. They force narrow career and expertise decisions in early youth. The divide between formal education and the labour market needs to be overcome, as learning, R&D, knowledge-sharing, retraining and innovation take place simultaneously throughout the work life cycle, regardless of the job, level or industry.


Insert from DSC…again I ask:

Is is time to back up a major step and practice design thinking on the entire continuum of lifelong learning?”


Education delivery and financing mechanisms have gone through little change over the last decades. In many countries, many youth and children may find their paths constrained depending on the type of education they are able to afford, while others may not have access to even basic literacy and learning. On the other hand, many developed world education systems have made enormous increases in spending—with little explicit return. Early childhood education and teacher quality remain neglected areas in many developed and developing countries, despite their proven impact on learning outcomes. Both areas also suffer from lack of objective, global data.

Generational shifts also necessitate an urgent focus by governments on human capital investments, one that transcends political cycles. Ageing economies will face a historical first, as more and more of their populations cross into the 65 and over age group and their workforces shrink further, necessitating a better integration of youth, female workers, migrants and older workers. Many emerging economies face change of a different kind as a very large cohort of the next generation—one that is more connected and globalized than ever before—enters the workforce with very different aspirations, expectations and worldviews than their predecessors.

The expansion of the digital economy is accelerating the presence of a new kind of productive entity, somewhere between human capital and physical capital—robots and intelligent algorithms. As a result, some experts expect a potential reduction in the use of human labour as part of economic value creation while others expect a restructuring of the work done by people across economies but stable or growing overall levels of employment.19 Yet others have cautioned of the risks to economic productivity of technological reticence at the cost of realizing the raw potential of new technological advancements unfettered.20 While in the immediate term the link between work and livelihoods remains a basic feature of our societies, the uncertainty around the shifts underway poses fundamental questions about the long-term future structure of economies, societies and work. However, for broad-based transition and successful adaptation towards any one of these or other long-term futures, strategic and deep investments in human capital will be even more—not less—important than before.





From DSC:
I appreciated hearing the perspectives from Bruce Dixon and Will Richardson this morning, as I listed to a webinar that they recently offered. A few key takeaways for me from that webinar — and with a document that they shared — were:

  • The world has fundamentally changed. (Bruce and Will also mentioned the new pace of change; i.e., that it’s much faster.)
  • We need to have more urgency about the need to reimagine school, not to try to improve the existing model.
  • “Because of the advent of the Web and the technologies we use to access it, learning is, in a phrase, leaving the (school) building.”
  • There is a newfound capacity to take full control of one’s own learning; self-determined learning should be at the center of students’ and teachers’ work; co-constructed curriculum
  • And today, at a moment when learners of all ages have never had more agency over their own learning, schools must unlearn centuries old mindsets and practices and relearn them in ways that truly will serve every child living in the modern, connected world.
  • Will and Bruce believe that every educator — and district for that matter — should articulate their own “principles of learning”
  • Beliefs about how kids learn (powerfully and deeply) need to be articulated and consistently communicated and lived out
  • Everything we do as educators, administrators, etc. tells a story. What stories are we telling? (For example, what does the signage around your school building say? Is it about compliance? Is is about a love of learning? Wonder? What does the 20′ jumbo tron say about priorities? Etc.)
  • Bruce and Will covered a “story audit” and how to do one


“Learning is, in a phrase, leaving the (school) building.”

Richardson & Dixon



Also see:




These educators have decades worth of experience. They are pulse-checking their environments. They want to see students thrive both now and into the future. For these reasons, at least for me, their perspectives are highly worth reflecting upon.




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