ABA cleans up accreditation rules surrounding distance education for law schools — from highereddive.com by Lilah Burke

Dive Brief (emphasis DSC):

  • Recent amendments to American Bar Association accreditation standards addressed definitions of distance education, but Leo Martinez, immediate past chair of the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, says the resolution won’t change much for law schools without waivers allowing them to conduct extra distance education.
  • The changes, made at the ABA’s annual meeting in August, were meant to clarify language in accreditation standards.
  • The ABA, which serves as the accreditor for 199 law schools and programs, requires waivers for institutions that want to offer more than one-third of J.D. program credits online. But it remains interested in reviewing distance education.

From DSC:
For an industry in the 21st century whose main accreditation/governance body for law schools still won’t let more online learning occur without waivers…

…how can our nation expect future lawyers and law firms to be effective in an increasingly tech-enabled world?

Here’s the pace of change in the world today:

The exponential pace of change is like warp speed for the U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek) or the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars).

Yet here’s the pace that the American Bar Association (@ABAesq) has been taking — and continues to take — at least in the area of supporting online-based learning as well as in developing sandboxes/new methods of improving access to justice (#A2J):

.

It’s high time the ABA did their research re: online-based learning and majorly picked up their pace. Undergraduate online-based education started back in the late 1990’s for crying out loud! (And the number of students taking one or more of their courses completely online has been increasing ever since that time.)

Plus, many law school students are adults who have jobs as well as families. They often don’t have the time nor the money to travel to campuses in order to take part in something that they could have easily accomplished online.

It’s also appropriate to recognize here that the current learning ecosystems out there continue to move more towards hybrid/blended learning models as well as a hyflex model. 

The ABA is not serving law school students nor our citizenry well at all in this regard.

 

Where can I find the future? — from thefuturesschool.com

Excerpt:

Environmental scanning is the most critical practice for all foresight practitioners. But where to begin with sourcing interesting scan hits? The internet is an endless ocean of information, littered with misinformation and distractions. Even if you have a solid grip on how to conduct quality futures intelligence, good scan hits can be hard to come by– that is, until you know where to look.

Below is a list of our favorite sources along with our community’s. Use it to kick-start or support your scanning practice!

 

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should: What Genetic Engineers Can Learn From ‘Jurassic World’ — from singularityhub.com by Andrew Maynard

Excerpt:

Maybe this is the abiding message of Jurassic World: Dominion—that despite incredible advances in genetic design and engineering, things can and will go wrong if we don’t embrace the development and use of the technology in socially responsible ways.

The good news is that we still have time to close the gap between “could” and “should” in how scientists redesign and reengineer genetic code. But as Jurassic World: Dominion reminds moviegoers, the future is often closer than it might appear.

 

How Alternative Credentials Can Help You Find Employees — from shrm.org by Kathryn Tyler
Focus on skills, not degrees, to increase your talent pool.

Excerpts:

“Alternative credentials,” such as the ones Brown attained, are increasingly available in the form of micro-credentials, digital badges and industry-recognized certificates. They’re less expensive than a college degree and designed to help prepare workers for better jobs.

IBM is ahead of the game in many respects. Six years ago, the tech giant began revising its job descriptions to focus on skills and not just educational attainment. On average, 50 percent of the company’s posted positions in the U.S. don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

“We call these ‘new-collar jobs,’ and they’re aligned to careers that require the right set of skills and a commitment to lifelong learning,” says Tommy Wenzlau, talent leader for new-collar initiatives at IBM, which employs more than 250,000 workers globally. “New-collar roles are in some of technology’s fastest-growing fields, including data science, cloud computing, application development, cybersecurity and digital design.”

 

Will a “Google PhD” become as good as a university-granted PhD? — from rossdawson.com by Ross Dawson

Excerpt:

A fundamental issue now is the degree to which employers care about the piece of paper as against the knowledge and capability. That is rapidly shifting as companies realize they will often miss out on exceptionally talented people if they insist on formal qualifications.

Entrepreneurs of course only care whether they have the knowledge to do what they’re undertaking.

It is a shifting landscape. Traditional advanced degrees have their place and will not disappear.

But “Google PhDs” will in some cases be as good, if they result in an equivalent level of expertise.

 

The Future of Education | By Futurist Gerd Leonhard | A Video for EduCanada — from futuristgerd.com

Per Gerd:

Recently, I was invited by the Embassy of Canada in Switzerland to create this special presentation and promotional video discussing the Future of Education and to explore how Canada might be leading the way. Here are some of the key points I spoke about in the video. Watch the whole thing here: the Future of Education.

 

…because by 2030, I believe, the traditional way of learning — just in case — you know storing, downloading information will be replaced by learning just in time, on-demand, learning to learn, unlearning, relearning, and the importance of being the right person. Character skills, personality skills, traits, they may very well rival the value of having the right degree.

If you learn like a robot…you’ll never have a job to begin with.

Gerd Leonhard


Also relevant/see:

The Next 10 Years: Rethinking Work and Revolutionising Education (Gerd Leonhard’s keynote in Riga) — from futuristgerd.com


 

From DSC:
The following items made me reflect upon the place of COVID-19 in causing the current ills within higher education — but also thinking about the ills that were present long before Covid hit us.

Key point:
We should be careful not to conveniently use COVID-19 as the scapegoat for all that’s wrong within higher education.


On the faculty/staff side of the house


The Season of Our Professorial Discontent — from chronicle.com by Paul Musgrave
The pandemic irrevocably changed the student-teacher relationship — and not for the better.

Excerpts:

As pandemic slides into endemic, it’s worth asking: Did the pandemic break something fundamental about academe? Was the spring of 2022 the end of pandemic disruptions, or the start of a new normal?

This time, as I delivered the lines to an audience of 30 in a course with 200 students enrolled, I was wondering whether I wanted to give a lecture ever again.

From DSC:
Regarding the first quote…several things were broken within academe long before COID-19. Re: the second quote, what should that tell us if only 30 students showed up in a class with 200 students in it?

Faculty autonomy and faculty satisfaction are being whittled away.

From DSC:
From what I can tell, that’s been happening for years within the K-12 learning ecosystem. It seems like this trend is now occurring within the higher ed learning ecosystem. (I could go off on a tangent about why we didn’t help our fellow educators within K-12 — whose “product” directly impacts those working within higher ed — but I better not. This posting is already packed with reflections.)

Below are some relevant quotes from Kevin McClure’s 5/27/22 article out at The Chronicle of Higher Education (emphasis DSC). I agree with much of what Kevin is saying here.

Don’t Blame the Pandemic for Worker Discontent
It hasn’t just been a tough two years. It’s been a tough two decades.

Excerpt:

The pandemic alone didn’t cause the low morale and turnover you might be seeing among your faculty and staff members just as the lack of personal protective equipment didn’t solely give rise to the Amazon Labor Union. Yes, today’s workers are re-evaluating their workplaces, seeking reassignment within their institutions, and in some cases resigning from jobs altogether. But they are doing so for many of the same reasons they did 20 years ago — poor working conditions.

So burnout isn’t just about people struggling to cope with stress; it’s about people struggling in workplaces where stress never subsides.

In my own interviews on morale, higher-education workers have talked about leaders who aren’t listening, low compensation, and understaffing.

We see our workplaces differently, and our tolerance of poor working conditions has evaporated.

 


On the student side of the house


“It hasn’t just been a tough two years. It’s been a tough two decades.” The same — and likely more — could be said for the student side of the house, especially in regards to the price of education and how relevant/up-to-date the content has been. As the prices of obtaining a degree have skyrocketed over the last several decades, students and parents now HAVE to ask, “What’s the Return On Investment (ROI) here? Am I gaining the skills in college that will get me hired after college?”

Again, the point I’m trying to make here is that we should be careful not to conveniently use COVID-19 as the scapegoat for all that’s wrong within higher education.

Along these lines, the following two quotes seem relevant to me from Beth McMurtrie’s (6/2/22) Teaching e-newsletter (also from The Chronicle):

I asked Walton to tell me more about the setup at his university. He said classes were fully in person but instructors were encouraged to record lectures and be highly flexible with due dates. The result: Most days he had less than 50-percent attendance, and he received a lot of last-minute emails from students who said they woke up that morning with a headache or otherwise not feeling well. A few filed documented absence requests, but not many, suggesting that these were not serious illnesses, like Covid.

I’ve never had more incompletes for courses than in the last two years, so signaling to students that their distribution courses are flexible and accommodating has only let them de-emphasize them even more.

There’s likely a variety of causes/possibilities here — and I’m sure that Covid-related reasons are among them. But it makes me really wonder if students don’t think that the content is all that valuable or relevant to begin with these days. Is college even worth it anymore? Why am I here in the first place? Where is the motivation coming from? Is it extrinsic or intrinsic motivation?

Perhaps it’s time to change the curriculum/content as well as the price.


Daniel S. Christian: My concerns with just maintaining the status quo (from 2009).

A graphic I created back in 2009, with Yohan Na’s assistance.


 

How to ensure we benefit society with the most impactful technology being developed today — from deepmind.com by Lila Ibrahim

In 2000, I took a sabbatical from my job at Intel to visit the orphanage in Lebanon where my father was raised. For two months, I worked to install 20 PCs in the orphanage’s first computer lab, and to train the students and teachers to use them. The trip started out as a way to honour my dad. But being in a place with such limited technical infrastructure also gave me a new perspective on my own work. I realised that without real effort by the technology community, many of the products I was building at Intel would be inaccessible to millions of people. I became acutely aware of how that gap in access was exacerbating inequality; even as computers solved problems and accelerated progress in some parts of the world, others were being left further behind. 

After that first trip to Lebanon, I started reevaluating my career priorities. I had always wanted to be part of building groundbreaking technology. But when I returned to the US, my focus narrowed in on helping build technology that could make a positive and lasting impact on society. That led me to a variety of roles at the intersection of education and technology, including co-founding Team4Tech, a non-profit that works to improve access to technology for students in developing countries. 


Also relevant/see:

Microsoft AI news: Making AI easier, simpler, more responsible — from venturebeat.com by Sharon Goldman

But one common theme bubbles over consistently: For AI to become more useful for business applications, it needs to be easier, simpler, more explainable, more accessible and, most of all, responsible

 

 

‘Stackable credentials’ could be future of higher education in Colorado — from thedenverchannel.com by Nicole Brady; with thanks to Ray Schroeder for this resource out on LinkedIn

Stackable credentials could be future of higher education in Colorado

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

DENVER — Metropolitan State University of Denver is one of Colorado’s largest four-year institutions, but some students are spending just months there — not years — before joining the workforce.

They’re doing it by “stacking” credentials.

“Stackable credentials are really a convergence of individuals wanting to learn in smaller chunks and industries being willing to accept those chunks,” said Terry Bower, associate vice president of Innovative and Lifelong Learning at MSU Denver.

The career launchpad lays out exactly what steps are needed to work in those industries and how much money a person can earn with different credentials.

For students who decide they want to add more credentials or work toward a degree, they can return to MSU with no credits lost.

From DSC:
That part that says “The career launchpad lays out exactly what steps are needed to work in those industries and how much money a person can earn with different credentials” will likely be a part of a next-generation learning platform. Here are the skills in demand. Here are the folks offering you the ability to learn/develop those skills and here’s what you can expect to earn at different levels of this type of job. The platform will be able to offer this type of information and these types of opportunities throughout your lifetime.

Cloud-based learner profiles will be part of this new setup — along with recommendation engine-based results based upon one’s learning preferences (not learning styles — which don’t exist — but upon one’s learning preferences).

Learning from the living class room

 

The Great Resignation: The toll taken on the legal field and what comes next — from abajournal.com by Thomas MacDonald

Excerpt:

The pandemic has reshaped thinking around the value of work. The Thomson Reuters Stellar Performance: Skills and Progression Mid-Year Survey uncovered three specific priorities legal professionals are factoring into their career decisions.

  • Balance: Young professionals are more in tune with work-life balance and place a higher value on mental well-being, leisure and other activities outside of work than previous generations.
  • Family: A higher percentage of the professional workforce are mothers. Likewise, men are taking a more active role in child-rearing than previous generations, as younger professionals juggle more domestic responsibilities across the board.
  • The Long Game: Many Generation X and millennial employees have long since conceded that their retirement will likely come much later in life than their elder counterparts. The prospect of working for an extra decade—or more—has tempered the enthusiasm for grinding away during their formative years.

Also relevant/see the following articles:

8 Legal Experts on the Future of the Billable Hour — from artificiallawyer.com

Excerpt:

Are you still billing by the hour? The reality is that most lawyers are and plenty will still be using it in the year 2032. However, many legal experts agree: the billable hour is under pressure, forcing lawyers to investigate other billing methods as well.

Laura Rosseel, Senior Associate at Cambrian, explains clearly why the billable hour is a topic for discussion: ‘There are countless arguments against working with billable hours. Invoicing based on billable hours puts the risk of both unpredictability in the scope of work as well as potential inefficiency on the client, instead of the law firm that is providing the service.

‘It does not differentiate based on the value of the task at hand, the urgency, or the time of day (or night), with which the task is carried out. Additionally, it is a performance metric for lawyers that favours working more over working better, and the relentless pressure is causing junior and mid-level lawyers to leave their firms.’

Digital exhaustion: Redefining work-life balance — from enterprisersproject.com by Irvin Bishop Jr.
Is your team suffering from the digital exhaustion that so often comes with remote and hybrid work? Consider these strategies to ease the stress

As workers continue to create and collaborate in digital spaces, one of the best things we can do as leaders is to let go. Let go of preconceived schedules, of always knowing what someone is working on, of dictating when and how a project should be accomplished – in effect, let go of micromanagement. Instead, focus on hiring productive, competent workers and trust them to do their jobs. Don’t manage tasks – gauge results. Use benchmarks and deadlines to assess effectiveness and success.

What did we learn at the CLOC Conference? — from zachabramowitz.substack.com by Zach Abramowitz
QR Codes, Outside Counsel Startups Make Great Shirts and Standing Out in a Sea of CLM

Some of the tools/products/vendors Zach mentioned were:

 

China is about to regulate AI—and the world is watching — from wired.com by Jennifer Conrad
Sweeping rules will cover algorithms that set prices, control search results, recommend videos, and filter content.

Excerpt:

Some provisions aim to address complaints about online services. Under the rules, for instance, companies will be prohibited from using personal characteristics to offer users different prices for a product; they also will be required to notify users, and allow them to opt out, when algorithms are used to make recommendations.

Companies that violate the rules could face fines, be barred from enrolling new users, have their business licenses pulled, or see their websites or apps shut down.

Some elements of the new regulations may prove difficult or impossible to enforce. It can be technically challenging to police the behavior of an algorithm that is continually changing due to new input, for instance.

 

Why One University Is Moving Toward a Subscription Model — a podcast from edsurge.com by Jeffrey R. Young

Excerpts:

One big theme in education-innovation circles is that the professional world is changing faster than ever, and so schools and colleges must adjust how they teach to meet those needs.

One college in St. Louis, Maryville University, is embracing that argument in a big way by revamping its curriculum and even changing its business model to include options like a subscription model—with the goal of helping its students get good jobs after graduation.

“By the end of this decade or before, students should pay for higher ed the way they pay for Netflix or their cell phone bill,” Lombardi says.

From DSC:
I thought this was an interesting conversation and I agreed with much of what Mark Lombardi, President of Maryville University, had to say. 

I appreciated Jeff’s attempts at trying to get Mark to hear that “learning styles” aren’t supported by the research. I wish Mark would have used the word “preferences” instead…as I do think learners have preferences when it comes to them learning about new topics.

 

 

From DSC:
Hmmm…many colleges and universities keep a close eye on their peers and often respond with similar strategies that their peers are pursuing. But who is an organization’s peer? The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s posting below — “How a College Decides Who Its Peers Are” — stated that “there is clearly no shared definition of what constitutes a peer institution.” 

Plus, I found this item especially interesting:

Harvard University selected only three peer institutions: Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. But 22 institutions, including Bowdoin, named Harvard as a peer. Bowdoin, a small, liberal-arts college with about 1,800 undergraduate students and no graduate programs, chose 98 “peers,” including the entire Ivy League and many large universities, some of which enroll more than 10,000 students. Bowdoin itself was picked by 35 institutions as a peer. All of them were small, liberal-arts colleges or universities that primarily serve undergraduates.

I have often thought that colleges and universities should care far less about what their peers are doing. Rather, they should move forward with their own solid visions, bold actions, and well-thought-through strategies — as there can be a great deal of danger and risk in the status quo.

Too many alternatives have been appearing — and will likely continue to appear — on the lifelong learning landscapes. Most likely, these new organizations will offer in-demand credentials/skills as well as the capabilities of helping people constantly reinvent themselves — with far less expensive price tags associated with these types of offerings.


How a College Decides Who Its Peers Are — from chronicle.com by Susan Poser
Questions of institutional identity are at the core of the process.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The mismatch between whom an institution chose as peers, and the colleges that reciprocated, pervades the data set. It raises the question of how institutions designate peers, which is a mystery. In some cases it is likely to be decided by someone in the Office of Institutional Research or the provost’s office in response to the Ipeds survey, while in others perhaps some process leads to a consensus among administrators. Regardless, there is clearly no shared definition of what constitutes a peer institution.

Also relevant/see:


 

Per Johann Neem, the innovations that promise to save higher ed are a farce.

The University in Ruins — from chronicle.com by Johann N. Neem
The “innovations” that promise to save higher ed are a farce.

From DSC:
First of all,
I appreciated Johann Neem mentioning and/or discussing several books in one posting:

  • Ronald G. Musto’s The Attack on Higher Education (2021)
  • Arthur Levine’s and Scott J. Van Pelt’s The Great Upheaval (2021)
  • Bill Readings’ The University in Ruins (1996)
  • Ronald J. Daniels’ What Universities Owe Democracy (2021)

And as a disclosure here, I have not read those books. 

Below are excerpts with some of my comments:

It’s already happening. Today, we walk among the ruins of an institution that once had a larger purpose. It’s not clear what role universities should play in society, and to what or to whom they are accountable, other than their corporate interests.

To some, that’s not a problem, at least according to Arthur Levine and Scott J. Van Pelt in The Great Upheaval (2021). They see higher education undergoing the same transformation that reshaped the music, film, and newspaper industries. Rather than place-based education overseen by tenured professors, they anticipate “the rise of anytime, anyplace, consumer-driven content and source agnostic, unbundled, personalized education paid for by subscription.”

Between Musto’s existential fears of disruption and Levine and Van Pelt’s embrace of it lies a third path. It takes the form of a wager — outlined by Ronald J. Daniels in What Universities Owe Democracy (2021) — that universities can and should continue to matter because of their importance in civic democratic life.

The article covers how the learning ecosystems within higher education have morphed from their religious roots to being an apparatus of the nation-state to then becoming a relatively independent bureaucratic system to other things and to where we are today.

Along the journey discussing these things, one of the things that caught my eye was this statement:

Hopkins, in this sense, lived up to its founding president Daniel Coit Gilman’s 19th-century aspiration that universities be places that acquire, conserve, refine, and distribute knowledge.

From DSC:
While I completely agree with that aspiration, I think more institutions of higher education could follow what John Hopkins University did with their efforts concerning the Covid-19 situation, as Neem mentioned. Generally speaking, institutions of higher education are not distributing knowledge to the levels that Gilman envisioned years ago.

In fact, these days those working within K12 are doing a whole lot better at sharing information with society than those who work within higher education are. For example, when I search Twitter for K12 educators who share content on Twitter, they are out there all over the place — and many with tens of thousands of followers. They share information with parents, families, fellow educators, students, school boards, and others. Yet this is not the case for those working in higher education. Faculty members normally:

  • aren’t out on Twitter
  • don’t blog
  • don’t have a podcast
  • don’t write for society at large. Instead, their expertise is often locked up — existing behind paywalls in academic journals. In other words, they talk to each other.

Later on…

As Daniels intuits, without a larger purpose to hold them fast, there is nothing to prevent universities from being buffeted by winds until they have lost direction. That is what Readings foresaw: Globalization liberates universities from national fetters, but at the risk of ruin.

From DSC:
While globalization may have something to do with universities becoming unanchored from their original purposes, globalization isn’t at the top of my mind when I reflect upon what’s been happening with colleges and universities these last few decades.

To see but one area of massive change, let’s take a brief look at college sports. There are now multimillion-dollar stadium projects, enormous coaches’ salaries, and numerous situations where tax-paying citizens can’t even watch sporting events without tons of advertisements being thrown into their faces every few seconds. Personally speaking, on numerous occasions, I couldn’t even access the games at all — as I wasn’t paying for the subscriptions to the appropriate providers.

Also, as another example of becoming anchored — and going back to the 1980’s — I attended Northwestern University for my undergraduate degree in Economics. While I have several wonderful lifelong friends from that experience for whom I’m deeply grateful, even back then NU had already moved far away from its motto which is based on Philippians 4:8.

Instead, please allow me to tell you what that learning community taught me and strongly encouraged me to think about:

  • You are only successful if you have the corner office, drive the higher numbered BMW’s, and have many people reporting to you.
  • If you make a lot of money.
  • You are supposed to compete against others vs. being in relationships with others. As but one example here, our test scores were published — by our Social Security numbers — outside our professors’ offices for all to see how we measured up to our classmates.

In fact, I’m not even sure that I would use the word “community” at all when I reflect upon my years at Northwestern. Instead, a WIIFM approach was encouraged (i.e., What’s In It For Me? where you are supposed to look out for #1). It took me years to unlearn some of those “lessons” and “learnings.”

But I realize that that’s not the case with all learning communities.

As Neem alluded to, I love the idea that an institution of higher education can — and often does — impact students’ hearts as well as minds. That was the focus at Calvin College (now Calvin University). Our oldest daughter went there and she was profoundly and positively influenced by her experiences there. In that context, students were encouraged to be in relationships with one another. There was plenty of hugging, praying for one another, etc. going on in that setting. There truly was community there.

***

Neem doesn’t think much of Levine’s and Van Pelt’s perspectives. He claims there’s nothing new in their book. He seems to discard the arguments being made about the cost of higher ed and, like many others, clings to the intellectual roots/purpose of higher ed.

While I’m not against intellect or pursuing knowledge — in fact, I’m all for it — I just have a problem when the price of doing so continues to become out of reach for soooooo many people.

Personally, I’ve tried to lower the cost of obtaining a degree within higher education for many years…but I was/we were only successful in doing so for a few years (and that was during a pilot of online-based learning). Yohan Na and I created the graphic below in 2008 for example — as I was trying to raise awareness of the dangers of the status quo:
.

.

So from a cost/access perspective, Levine’s and Van Pelt’s perspectives here sound pretty good to me. It appears to be much more affordable and realistic for the masses. Otherwise, the image/reality of the ivory tower is maintained…allowing “intellectuals” to continue to live and operate within their own sphere/hive/tribe.

Also, we need an AI-backed system of presenting which skills are needed and then how to get them. The ways things are set up today, institutions of traditional higher education have not been able to deal with the current pace of change out there.

As a final comment here…
The changing directions/purposes of institutions of higher education present a good example of why I entitled this blog Learning Ecosystems — as the systems that we use to learn and grow in are constantly morphing:

  • People come and go
  • Tools and vendors come and go
  • Purposes, focuses, and/or mission statements change
  • Our sources of information (i.e., our streams of content) come and go
  • Etc.
 

Metaverse vs. employment law: The reality of the virtual workplace — from arstechnica.com by Kate Beoiley
It is unclear how employee protections apply in the universal digital realm.

Excerpt:

When it comes to employment laws, however, it is unclear what rules of engagement apply in a universal digital realm. What counts as harassment in the metaverse? Can an avatar be discriminated against, or worse? Will national legislation protect employees or does working in the metaverse require a new rule book altogether?

Lack of legal framework
But the metaverse takes hybrid working a step further and brings with it a host of thorny employment law issues. These range from practical challenges, such as how employees are paid, to more philosophical ones, like whether avatars have a legal identity. “The legal conundrums are about as diverse as the possibilities of the metaverse itself,” says Jonathan Newman, managing associate at law firm Simmons & Simmons.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian