Airbnb’s design for employees to live and work anywhere — from news.airbnb.com; with thanks to Tom Barrett for this resource

Excerpt:

Airbnb is in the business of human connection above all else, and we believe that the most meaningful connections happen in person. Zoom is great for maintaining relationships, but it’s not the best way to deepen them. Additionally, some creative work and collaboration is best done when you’re in the same room. I’d like working at Airbnb to feel like you’re working at one of the most creative places on Earth, and this will only happen with some in-person collaboration time.

The right solution should combine the best of the digital world and the best of the physical world. It should have the efficiency of Zoom, while providing the meaningful human connection that only happens when people come together. We have a solution that we think combines the best of both worlds.

We’ve designed a way for you to live and work anywhere—while collaborating in a highly coordinated way, and experiencing the in-person connection that makes Airbnb special. Our design has five key features…

Now, a thought exercise on that item from Tom Barrett:

While you are there, extend the thought experiment and imagine the new policy for a school, college or university.

  1. You can work from home or the office
  2. You can move anywhere in the country you work in, and your compensation won’t change
  3. You have the flexibility to travel and work around the world
  4. We’ll meet up regularly for team gatherings, off-sites, and social events
  5. We’ll continue to work in a highly coordinated way

From DSC:
As a reflection on this thought experiment, this graphic comes to my mind again. Teachers, professors, trainers, staff, and students can be anywhere in the world:

Learning from the living class room

 

 

One-time jailhouse lawyer creates legal jobs program for the formerly incarcerated — from abajournal.com by Matt Reynolds

Excerpts:

Devon Simmons, co-founder and project director of a new program helping those with past convictions find work as paralegals and other jobs in the legal profession, says there’s a wealth of untapped legal talent among formerly incarcerated people.

Simmons emerged from prison 15 years later. By that time, he was a product of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Prison-to-College Pipeline program and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“Once I came home, I would constantly see people unemployed who I had sat in the law library with,” Simmons says. “These individuals have legal expertise, but they’re not given the opportunity to utilize it. What if I could create a platform in which I could make that happen?”

 

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

From DSC:
A family member struggles with spelling — big time. This causes her major amounts of anxiety in school.

Another family member had some learning disabilities and reflects back on school with some bad memories.

Another family member struggles with social graces and learns at a much different pace than her peers — the move to her education being (predominantly) done via homeschooling has helped significantly.

A friend of mine has Dyslexia. He recently said that school was hell for him.

Another person I know doesn’t understand his daughter’s learning disabilities — at all. He’s asking a fish to climb the tree and yells at his daughter when she doesn’t produce like the other kids do. Her school is for college-bound learners, and there’s always pressure to maintain the school’s “blue-ribbon” status (i.e., sorry if you don’t fit in…but please board the train anyway, as it’s about to depart).

These people and stories about their educations got me to reflect on all the people who went through the school systems in the United States (over the last few decades) that didn’t work well for them. In fact, not only did the systems not work well for them, they were the sources of a great deal of pain, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and embarrassment.  Instead of being a place of wonder or joy, school was a painful, constant struggle to get through.

For those who can keep up or even excel at the pace that the trains travel at, school isn’t that much of a problem. There are likely different levels of engagement involved here, but school is manageable and it doesn’t cause nearly the stress for someone who struggles with it.

For those with learning disabilities, I’d like to apologize to you on behalf of all the people who legislated or created rigid, one-size-fits-all school systems that didn’t understand and/or meet your needs. (Why we allow legislators — who aren’t the ones on the front lines — to control so much of what happens in our school systems is beyond me.) I’d like to apologize on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, and staff who just accept the systems as they are.

Please help us reinvent our school systems. Help us develop the future of education. Help us develop a more personalized, customized approach. For those who are working to provide that, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To everyone working within Pre-K through 12th grade, help us offer: More voice. More choice. More control. The status quo has to go. School should not be a constant source of pain and anxiety.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 

 

Seeing the possibilities, I finally took a chance. I studied English, political science and finite math, and each class I passed deepened my confidence and self-love.

This growing self-love was key to my academic development. Growing up, I didn’t experience much real love, outside of my mother and a few family members. I most often encountered the kind of false love expressed through violence and monetary possessions. College changed the way I thought about myself and others. I worked hand-in-hand with men from all backgrounds to complete assignments, and even taught other students. Before I knew it, I was getting A’s on my essays and solving quadratic equations in math class.

When people question why it’s important to educate prisoners, I remind them that to see change, we must support change. We must give individuals the opportunity to see themselves as more than the harm they’ve caused, more than what was once broken within them.

Christopher Blackwell

Also relevant/see:

Calvin University's Prison Initiative

 

University Behind Bars

 

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:


 

Paralegal Pathways Initiative — from change-center.law.columbia.edu

Excerpt:

Housed at Columbia Law School, the Paralegal Pathways Initiative (PPI) aims to amplify the talents of formerly incarcerated individuals by providing skills-based legal training and connecting them with professional mentorship in preparation for careers in the legal field.

 

Colleges Are Hiring. But Do People Want to Work There? — from chronicle.com by Kevin R. McClure
Higher ed used to be insulated from the whims of the labor market. No more.

Excerpts:

This perhaps comes as a surprise to some college hiring officials. For a long time, colleges have operated under the assumption that they can easily replace people. And until recently, that was true. Colleges were viewed as places where employees can enact their values, where jobs were spared the ravages of recessions, and where deep relationships can be forged with students and colleagues. When someone left a job, institutions would post the opening and often receive more than enough applicants, especially for faculty positions. Why try hard to retain someone if you can always count on a deep pool of applicants?

That rosy vision of higher education was already starting to sour prior to the pandemic. And after the last two years, it isn’t safe to assume we can field the same numbers of applicants.

That’s largely because employee morale at colleges is tanking. Some in the industry have told me it’s the lowest they’ve ever seen. There are several likely reasons for it, including low pay and frustration that administrations aren’t taking health concerns of frontline workers during the pandemic seriously enough. But perhaps the biggest cause for the drop in morale is understaffing. Higher-education workers are exhausted from years of employment rolls that aren’t just lean — they’re malnourished. 

Has the Campus Workplace Changed Forever? — from chronicle.com by Megan Zahneis
College leaders are trying different strategies to adapt to a new reality.

Excerpt:

Despite hopeful signs that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, there is a growing understanding that remote and hybrid work, at least in some form, is here to stay. With the benefit of hindsight and enough time to consider things more thoughtfully, institutional leaders and academic administrators are increasingly engaging with essential questions about remote work: What is the best way to manage teams at a distance? What does it take to recruit, retain, and engage faculty and staff members? What can higher education learn from other industries that have long embraced telecommuting?

Also relevant/see:

Our Nation’s Teachers Are Hustling to Survive — from edsurge.com by Emily Tate
Nearly 1 in 5 American public school teachers work a second job outside of the classroom. Why is this their reality?

Rothrock’s story is not exceptional—at least in her line of work, in this country. If she were any other highly educated American professional, that might be different. But Rothrock is a teacher. That a teacher must work a second, part-time job on weeknights and weekends, year-round, more than 20 years into her career, in spite of a master’s degree and a modest lifestyle, is so universally accepted among her peers and colleagues in education that it barely warrants notice.

It’s (Past) Time to Redesign the Teaching Profession — from by Katie Kimbrell

Excerpts:

According to a recent Forbes article, national research found that 54% of teachers surveyed in 2021 are considering leaving the teaching profession within the next two years. More urgently, Edweek reported that 48% of teachers have considered quitting in the last 30 days.

To be clear, these numbers are cataclysmic.

Our local numbers are probably not dissimilar from elsewhere in the country: According to a regional study by LeanLab Education, teacher burnout was among the top three challenges mentioned consistently by the near 250 educators surveyed.  In a recent online survey by Kansas PAC, Freedom to Learn, 78% of teachers (of 780 responses) would not recommend their profession to students, while 80% of teachers would not recommend their profession to friends and family.

When it comes to the teaching profession, what we’ve designed simply isn’t working anymore (when and if it ever did is another debate).

 

 

What Does “Learner-Centered” Higher Ed Really Look Like? Insights from Leaders at SXSW EDU — from wgulabs.org by Nicole Barbaro

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

What does the future of higher ed look like? Leaders from across the education sector dove deep into this question at the annual SXSW EDU conference that was held in Austin, Texas [last] month. During his keynote session, US Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, echoed the need for transformation by stating, “We’re closer to a reset in education than ever before. Let’s not build back something that wasn’t working for everyone.” 

So, how should higher ed build back?

As a “learner-centered” ecosystem. Leaders across education agree that we must put students at the center of our design. But what does it look like in practice to be learner-centered? 

A learner-centered future breaks down institutional silos and works in networks to innovate and support students. And with the ubiquity of online learning in today’s higher ed ecosystem, there’s no reason not to collaborate. “There is no possible future in which online education is not an integral part of higher ed.” affirmed Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance, Bridget Burns during a panel discussion at SXSW EDU.

 

It’s (Past) Time to Redesign the Teaching Profession — from gettingsmart.com by Katie Kimbrell

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

I don’t care if you don’t have kids, if your kids are grown, or if you think for some reason you’re shielded from this threat: This crisis should concern everyone. Just like when any core institution is threatened to subsist, reinvention is not just an opportunity to do better, but an imperative to survive—both for an institution, but more importantly, for our collective humanity.

Please note that this piece is not making an argument for the concept of agency teaching (ie. please don’t send me your theses on why my idea is bad), but rather to demonstrate a point about the need to rethink the teaching profession and to treat educators as humans and critical stakeholders in the way we redesign it.

Asking a critical mass of past, present, and future educators these questions is where the empathy work begins—and therein the only way we will be on the right track in designing a system that works for all the humans inside of it.

Also relevant/see:

Who is Going to Teach the Kids? — from by Cameron Paterson

Key Points:

  • There have been profound changes in the work and workload of teachers.
  • During remote learning, both teachers and students discovered a new sense of autonomy.
  • Reprioritizing the focus of work for teachers is critical to the success of schools.
 

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.
 

A Skills-First Blueprint to Better Job Outcomes — from linkedin.com by Karin Kimbrough
As Chief Economist at LinkedIn, I lead a team of economists and data scientists that unearth the most interesting insights from over 800M global members. Every month I’ll share a snapshot of key trends to help shed light on where the world of work is headed. This month, we’re looking at new findings around the shift to a skills-first talent ecosystem. 

An excerpt from that last link/posting which is entitled “A Skills-First Blueprint for Better Job Outcomes”:

A few key findings:

  • Skills are Changing
  • The Pandemic Pulled the Future Forward
  • Skills-First Hiring Can Work for Both Job Seekers and Hiring Managers
  • Identifying Similar Skills Helps Workers Pivot to New Roles
  • Amidst the Great Reshuffle, Investing in Skills is a Key to Retention
 

Beyond the Ban — from edtrust.org; with thanks to Goldie Blumenstyk, a senior writer at The Chronicle, for this resource

Excerpt:

Each toolkit analyzes state policy to answer eight equity questions:

  • Does the state offer state financial aid to currently and formerly incarcerated students?
  • Does the state provide sentence reduction credit for incarcerated students enrolled in higher education courses?
  • Does the state provide incentives and resources to colleges that enroll and support currently and formerly incarcerated students?
  • Does the state have a streamlined process for currently incarcerated students to access documents to retrieve their state identification?
  • Does the state allow formerly incarcerated students to access federal support for basic needs like food, housing, and health care?
  • Does the state ban higher education institutions from asking about criminal history on admissions applications?
  • Does the state ban employers from asking about criminal history on job applications?
  • Do currently and formerly incarcerated individuals have the right to vote in the state?

 

 

Now we just need a “Likewise TV” for learning-related resources! [Christian]

Likewise TV Brings Curation to Streaming — from lifewire.com by Cesar Aroldo-Cadenas
And it’s available on iOS, Android, and some smart TVs

All your streaming services in one place. One search. One watchlist. Socially powered recommendations.

Entertainment startup Likewise has launched a new recommendations hub that pulls from all the different streaming platforms to give you personalized picks.

Likewise TV is a streaming hub powered by machine learning, people from the Likewise community, and other streaming services. The service aims to do away with mindlessly scrolling through a menu, looking for something to watch, or jumping from one app to another by providing a single location for recommendations.

Note that Likewise TV is purely an aggregator.


Also see:

Likewise TV -- All your streaming services in one place. One search. One watchlist. Socially powered recommendations.

 


From DSC:
Now we need this type of AI-based recommendation engine, aggregator, and service for learning-related resources!

I realize that we have a long ways to go here — as a friend/former colleague of mine just reminded me that these recommendation engines often miss the mark. I’m just hoping that a recommendation engine like this could ingest our cloud-based learner profiles and our current goals and then present some promising learning-related possibilities for us. Especially if the following graphic is or will be the case in the future:


Learning from the living class room


Also relevant/see:

From DSC:
Some interesting/noteworthy features:

  • “The 32- inch display has Wi-Fi capabilities to supports multiple streaming services, can stream smartphone content, and comes with a removable SlimFit Cam.”
  • The M8 has Wi-Fi connectivity for its native streaming apps so you won’t have to connect to a computer to watch something on Netflix. And its Far Field Voice mic can be used w/ the Always On feature to control devices like Amazon Alexa with your voice, even if the monitor is off.
  • “You can also connect devices to the monitor via the SmartThings Hub, which can be tracked with the official SmartThings app.”

I wonder how what we call the TV (or television) will continue to morph in the future.


Addendum on 3/31/22 from DSC:
Perhaps people will co-create their learning playlists…as is now possible with Spotify’s “Blend” feature:

Today’s Blend update allows you to share your personal Spotify playlists with your entire group chat—up to 10 users. You can manually invite these friends and family members to join you from in the app, then Spotify will create a playlist for you all to listen to using a mixture of everyone’s music preferences. Spotify will also create a special share card that everyone in the group can use to save and share the created playlist in the future.


 
 

A skier going off a cliff

Will Your College Survive the Demographic Cliff? — from chronicle.com by Jon Boeckenstedt
National trends are interesting — but enrolling students is a local challenge.

Excerpts:

We are at a critical moment: Declining enrollment even in one sector (say, community colleges) is troublesome because of downstream effects. Declining revenue and wavering state support, coupled with fewer high-school graduates, fewer families that don’t need financial help, and an increasingly negative attitude from the public toward higher education, may take us to a long-rumored tipping point.

If it’s true that all politics is local, then in some sense so is (almost) all college enrollment.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian