Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

4 key tech strategies for the survival of the small liberal arts college — from campustechnology.com by Kellie B. Campbell
In a recent study on the use of technology to reduce academic costs in liberal arts colleges, four distinct themes emerged: the strategic role of IT; the importance of data; the potential of alternative education delivery modes; and opportunities for institutional partnerships. Here’s how IT leaders at these small colleges understand the future of their institutions.

Excerpt:

In this study, the flexibility of the semi-constructed interview format resulted in a fascinating level of honesty and bluntness from participants. In particular, participants’ language changed when they were asked to take off their professional hat and consider a new point of view — it was a chance to be vulnerable and honest. What was probably most interesting was that almost everyone signaled that the status quo is not sustainable. Something in the higher education model has to change for institutions to stay open, yet many lack a strategy for effecting change. Even if they do have a strategy in place on the business side, many are hesitant to dive into analysis and change on the academic side of the institution.

Institutions simply cannot continue to nibble at the edges of change. Significant change is needed in order to sustain the financial model of higher education. The ideas for doing so are out there, though the work must be guided by the institutional mission and consider new models for delivering education. CIOs and their departments can play an important role in that work — providing infrastructure, data, access, services and ideas — but institutional leadership at large needs to understand IT’s strategic role and position the organization to make that impact.

When participants were able to think about the “what if” question — what if the institution were forced to drastically cut academic costs — several had detailed, “out there” ideas that might not be traditionally welcomed into higher education cultures. Yet a number of participants were not being asked by their institutions to think about such ideas. The question is, if everyone agrees that the status quo is not sustainable, why aren’t they thinking about it?

 

 

How MIT’s Mini Cheetah Can Help Accelerate Robotics Research — from spectrum.ieee.org by Evan Ackerman
Sangbae Kim talks to us about the new Mini Cheetah quadruped and his future plans for the robot

 

 

From DSC:
Sorry, but while the video/robot is incredible, a feeling in the pit of my stomach makes me reflect upon what’s likely happening along these lines in the militaries throughout the globe…I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but rather a realist.

 

 

56% of employees lack digital skills needed for future jobs — from techrepublic.com by Macy Bayern
Only 29% of employees globally said their digital skills are sufficient, according to a Vodafone report.

Excerpt:

The majority of respondents (85%) said digital skills are necessities for their jobs, but only 29% of employees felt their skills are currently strong enough, according to the report. Specifically in the US, only 32% of respondents said their companies give them the opportunities or tools to continue gaining digital skills.

 

 

Excerpt:

CONCLUSION
This paper has outlined the plethora of new credential types, uses, and modes of delivery. It also has highlighted advancements in assessment. In terms of assessment content, the progression of mastery-based assessments is a distinct departure from the traditional knowledge-based assessment approaches. New assessments are likely to enter the market, as companies see the tremendous growth of competency-based assessments that will be critical and necessary in the future ecosystem described.

Assessments are no longer just a source of grades for gradebooks. They have forged two meaningful bypass routes to seat time in higher education. In the first, competency-based education assessments gate the pace of student progress through the curriculum. In the second, certification by an exam delivers not a grade, but a degree-like credential in a relevant occupation, indicating skill and expertise. For some occupations, this exam-as-credential has already been market validated by employers’ willingness to require it, hire by it, and pay a salary premium for it.

All of these innovations are driving towards a common end. The future learning-to employment ecosystem will be heavily reliant on credentials and assessments. We see:

  • A future in which credentials will no longer be limited to degrees, but will come in varying shapes and sizes, offered by many organizations, training providers, and employers;
  • A future in which credentials will, however, be able to articulate a set of underlying “know” knowledge and “do” performance skill competencies;
  • A future in which a credential’s scope will be described by the set of competencies it covers, and measured via assessment;
  • A future in which a credential’s quality will be indicated by evidence of mastery within each competency before it is awarded;
  • A future in which quality metrics, such as consumer reviews or employer use of credentials will come into play, bringing the best and most usable credentials and assessments to the forefront.

And, finally, the future ecosystem will depend heavily on online and technology-enabled strategies and solutions. The working learner will turn away from those stringent solutions that require seat time and offer little flexibility. They will drive the market hard for innovations that will lead to consumer-facing marketplaces that allow them a “one-stop shop” approach for working, learning, and living.

The massive market of the working learner/the learning worker is here to stay. The future is that learner. Credentials and assessment will find their own strong footing to help successfully meet both the learners’ needs and the employers’ needs. We applaud this SHIFT. For, it will be an ecosystem that services many more learners than today’s education to employment system serves.

 

 

Most coherent report I have read on the erosion of degrees and the rise of assessing-for-work and amassing certifications as the competencies for the modern workplace. Jamai Blivin, of www.innovate-educate.org, and Merrilea Mayo, of Mayo Enterprises, have put in one report the history, current trends and the illogic for many people of paying for a retail bachelor’s degree when abundant certifications are beginning to prove themselves. Workforce and community colleges, this is a must-read. Kudos! 

Per Gordon Freedman on LinkedIn

 

 

LinkedIn 2019 Talent Trends: Soft Skills, Transparency and Trust — from linkedin.com by Josh Bersin

Excerpts:

This week LinkedIn released its 2019 Global Talent Trends research, a study that summarizes job and hiring data across millions of people, and the results are quite interesting. (5,165 talent and managers responded, a big sample.)

In an era when automation, AI, and technology has become more pervasive, important (and frightening) than ever, the big issue companies face is about people: how we find and develop soft skills, how we create fairness and transparency, and how we make the workplace more flexible, humane, and honest.

The most interesting part of this research is a simple fact: in today’s world of software engineering and ever-more technology, it’s soft skills that employers want. 91% of companies cited this as an issue and 80% of companies are struggling to find better soft skills in the market.

What is a “soft skill?” The term goes back twenty years when we had “hard skills” (engineering and science) so we threw everything else into the category of “soft.” In reality soft skills are all the human skills we have in teamwork, leadership, collaboration, communication, creativity, and person to person service. It’s easy to “teach” hard skills, but soft skills must be “learned.”

 

 

Also see:

Employers Want ‘Uniquely Human Skills’ — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

According to 502 hiring managers and 150 HR decision-makers, the top skills they’re hunting for among new hires are:

  • The ability to listen (74 percent);
  • Attention to detail and attentiveness (70 percent);
  • Effective communication (69 percent);
  • Critical thinking (67 percent);
  • Strong interpersonal abilities (65 percent); and
  • Being able to keep learning (65 percent).
 

When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready?


 

UIX: When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready? — from rapidgrowthmedia.com by Matthew Russell

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

“Here in the United States, if we were to personify things a bit, it’s almost like society is anxiously calling out to an older sibling (i.e., emerging technologies), ‘Heh! Wait up!!!'” Christian says. “This trend has numerous ramifications.”

Out of those ramifications, Christian names three main points that society will have to address to fully understand, make use of, and make practical, future technologies.

  1. The need for the legal/legislative side of the world to close the gap between what’s possible and what’s legal
  2. The need for lifelong learning and to reinvent oneself
  3. The need to make pulse-checking/futurism an essential tool in the toolbox of every member of the workforce today and in the future

 

When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready?

Photos by Adam Bird

 

From DSC:
The key thing that I was trying to relay in my contribution towards Matthew’s helpful article was that we are now on an exponential trajectory of technological change. This trend has ramifications for numerous societies around the globe, and it involves the legal realm as well. Hopefully, all of us in the workforce are coming to realize our need to be constantly pulse-checking the relevant landscapes around us. To help make that happen, each of us needs to be tapping into the appropriate “streams of content” that are relevant to our careers so that our knowledgebases are as up-to-date as possible. We’re all into lifelong learning now, right?

Along these lines, increasingly there is a need for futurism to hit the mainstream. That is, when the world is moving at 120+mph, the skills and methods that futurists follow must be better taught and understood, or many people will be broadsided by the changes brought about by emerging technologies. We need to better pulse-check the relevant landscapes, anticipate the oncoming changes, develop potential scenarios, and then design the strategies to respond to those potential scenarios.

 

 

Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work — from weforum.org

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacts skills, tasks and jobs, there is growing concern that both job displacement and talent shortages will impact business dynamism and societal cohesion. A proactive and strategic effort is needed on the part of all relevant stakeholders to manage reskilling and upskilling to mitigate against both job losses and talent shortages.

Through the Preparing for the Future of Work project, the World Economic Forum provides a platform for designing and implementing intra-industry collaboration on the future of work, working closely with the public sector, unions and educators. The output of the project’s first phase of work, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All, highlighted an innovative method to identify viable and desirable job transition pathways for disrupted workers. This second report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work extends our previous research to assess the business case for reskilling and establish its magnitude for different stakeholders. It also outlines a roadmap for selected industries to address specific challenges and opportunities related to the transformation of their workforce.

 

See the PDF file / report here.

 

 

 

 

Futures thinking enters the mainstream — from thefuturesschool.com

Excerpts:

Organizations and society are beginning to acknowledge the incredible benefits of foresight. Even if these leaders and their organizations aren’t well-versed in all of the tools and lingo of futures thinking, more people are demanding that “we do things differently.” The momentum is building, and we believe 2019 could be another pivotal year for foresight!

Brands are Looking to Futurists to Foresee Trends and Anticipate Disruption”– Companies are realizing that traditional short-term strategic planning process will not uphold in the 21st century landscape. Instead, they are turning to futurists or Strategic Foresight methods to ensure their brands don’t become “obsolete.”

 

From DSC:
This reminds me of a slide that I created back in January 2017 where I mentioned that surveying the relevant landscapes is increasingly becoming a skill that our students should have:

 

 

I have it that all of us need to be pulse-checking the environments around us in order to spot emerging trends and potential future scenarios. We need to develop plans to address those potential scenarios ahead of time…so we can reduce the chances of getting broadsided.

 

 

Training the workforce of the future: Education in America will need to adapt to prepare students for the next generation of jobs – including ‘data trash engineer’ and ‘head of machine personality design’– from dailymail.co.uk by Valerie Bauman

Excerpts:

  • Careers that used to safely dodge the high-tech bullet will soon require at least a basic grasp of things like web design, computer programming and robotics – presenting a new challenge for colleges and universities
  • A projected 85 percent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 2030 haven’t been invented yet
  • The coming high-tech changes are expected to touch a wider variety of career paths than ever before
  • Many experts say American universities aren’t ready for the change because the high-tech skills most workers will need are currently focused just on people specializing in science, technology, engineering and math

.

 

 

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