The New Academic Arms Race | Competition over amenities is over. The next battleground is technology. — from chronicle.com by Jeffrey J. Selingo

Now, after the pandemic, with the value of the bachelor’s degree foremost in the minds of students and families, a new academic arms race is emerging. This one is centered around academic innovation. The winners will be those institutions that in the decade ahead better apply technology in teaching and learning and develop different approaches to credentialing.

Sure, technology is often seen as plumbing on campuses — as long as it works, we don’t worry about it. And rarely do prospective students on a tour ever ask about academic innovations like extended reality or microcredentials. Campus tours prefer to show off the bells and whistles of residential life within dorms and dining halls.

That’s too bad.

The problem is not a lack of learners, but rather a lack of alignment in what colleges offer to a generation of learners surrounded by Amazon, Netflix, and Instagram, where they can stream entertainment and music anytime, anywhere.

From DSC:
When I worked for Calvin (then College, now University) from 2007-2017, that’s exactly how technologies and the entire IT Department were viewed — as infrastructure providers. We were not viewed as being able to enhance the core business/offerings of the institution. We weren’t relevant in that area. In fact, the IT Department was shoved down in the basement of the library. Our Teaching & Learning Digital Studio was sidelined in a part of the library where few students went to. The Digitial Studio’s marketing efforts didn’t help much, as faculty members didn’t offer assignments that called for multimedia-based deliverables. It was a very tough and steep hill to climb.

Also the Presidents and Provosts over the last couple of decades (not currently though) didn’t think much of online-based learning, and the top administrators dissed the Internet’s ability to provide 24/7 worldwide conversations and learning. They missed the biggest thing to come along in education in 500 years (since the invention of the printing press). Our Teaching & Learning Group provided leadership by starting a Calvin Online pilot. We had 13-14 courses built and inquiries from Christian-based high schools were coming in for dual enrollment scenarios, but when it came time for the College to make a decision, it never happened. The topic/vote never made it to the floor of the Faculty Senate. The faculty and administration missed an enormous opportunity.

When Calvin College became Calvin University in 2019, they were forced to offer online-based classes. Had they supported our T&L Group’s efforts back in the early to mid-2010’s, they would have dove-tailed very nicely into offering more courses to working adults. They would have built up the internal expertise to offer these courses/programs. But the culture of the college put a stop to online-based learning at that time. They now regret that decision I’m sure (as they’ve had to outsource many things and they now offer numerous online-based courses and even entire programs — at a high cost most likely).

My how times have changed.


For another item re: higher education at the 30,000-foot level, see:


Lifelong Learning Models for a Changing Higher Ed Marketplace — from changinghighered.com by Dr. Drumm McNaughton and Amrit Ahluwalia
Exploring the transformation of higher education into lifelong learning hubs for workforce development, with innovative models and continuing education’s role.

Higher education is undergoing transformational change to redefine its role as a facilitator of lifelong learning and workforce development. In this 200th episode of Changing Higher Ed, host Dr. Drumm McNaughton and guest Amrit Ahluwalia, incoming Executive Director for Continuing Studies at Western University, explore innovative models positioning universities as sustainable hubs for socioeconomic mobility.

The Consumer-Driven Educational Landscape
Over 60% of today’s jobs will be redefined by 2025, driving demand for continuous upskilling and reskilling to meet evolving workforce needs. However, higher education’s traditional model of imparting specific knowledge through multi-year degrees is hugely misaligned with this reality.

Soaring education costs have fueled a consumer mindset shift, with learners demanding a clear return on investment directly aligned with their career goals. The expectation is to see immediate skills application and professional impact from their educational investments, not just long-term outcomes years after completion.


 

The $340 Billion Corporate Learning Industry Is Poised For Disruption — from joshbersin.com by Josh Bersin

What if, for example, the corporate learning system knew who you were and you could simply ask it a question and it would generate an answer, a series of resources, and a dynamic set of learning objects for you to consume? In some cases you’ll take the answer and run. In other cases you’ll pour through the content. And in other cases you’ll browse through the course and take the time to learn what you need.

And suppose all this happened in a totally personalized way. So you didn’t see a “standard course” but a special course based on your level of existing knowledge?

This is what AI is going to bring us. And yes, it’s already happening today.

 

Conditions that trigger behaviour change — from peoplealchemy.com by Paul Matthews; via Learning Now TV

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Learning Transfer’s ultimate outcome is behaviour change, so we must understand the conditions that trigger a behaviour to start.

According to Fogg, three specific elements must converge at the same moment for a specific behaviour to occur. Given that learning transfer is only successful when the learner starts behaving in the desired new ways, Fogg’s work is critical to understanding how to generate these new behaviours. The Fogg Behavioural Model [*1] states that B=MAP. That is, a specific behaviour will occur if at the same moment there is sufficient motivation, sufficient ability and sufficient prompt. If the behaviour does not occur, at least one of these three elements is missing or below the threshold required.

The prompt is, in effect, a call to action to do a specific behaviour. The prompt must be ‘loud’ enough for the target person to perceive it and be consciously aware of it. Once aware of a prompt, the target immediately, and largely unconsciously, assesses their ability to carry out the requested behaviour: how difficult would this be, how long will it take, who can help me, and so on. They base this on their perception of the difficulty of the requested behaviour, and their ability, as they see it, to achieve that behaviour.

 

LinkedIn Learning: Workplace Learning Report 2024 — learning.linkedin.com

L&D powers the AI future

The AI era is here, and leaders across learning and talent development have a new mandate: help people and organizations rise to opportunity with speed and impact. 

As AI reshapes how people learn, work, and chart their careers, L&D sits at the center of organizational agility, delivering business innovation and critical skills. This report combines survey results, LinkedIn behavioral data, and wisdom from L&D pros around the globe to help you rewrite your playbook for the future of work. 

 

Amid explosive demand, America is running out of power — from washingtonpost.com by Evan Halper
AI and the boom in clean-tech manufacturing are pushing America’s power grid to the brink. Utilities can’t keep up.

Vast swaths of the United States are at risk of running short of power as electricity-hungry data centers and clean-technology factories proliferate around the country, leaving utilities and regulators grasping for credible plans to expand the nation’s creaking power grid.

A major factor behind the skyrocketing demand is the rapid innovation in artificial intelligence, which is driving the construction of large warehouses of computing infrastructure that require exponentially more power than traditional data centers. AI is also part of a huge scale-up of cloud computing. Tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft are scouring the nation for sites for new data centers, and many lesser-known firms are also on the hunt.


The Obscene Energy Demands of A.I. — from newyorker.com by Elizabeth Kolbert
How can the world reach net zero if it keeps inventing new ways to consume energy?

“There’s a fundamental mismatch between this technology and environmental sustainability,” de Vries said. Recently, the world’s most prominent A.I. cheerleader, Sam Altman, the C.E.O. of OpenAI, voiced similar concerns, albeit with a different spin. “I think we still don’t appreciate the energy needs of this technology,” Altman said at a public appearance in Davos. He didn’t see how these needs could be met, he went on, “without a breakthrough.” He added, “We need fusion or we need, like, radically cheaper solar plus storage, or something, at massive scale—like, a scale that no one is really planning for.”


A generative AI reset: Rewiring to turn potential into value in 2024 — from mckinsey.com by Eric Lamarre, Alex Singla, Alexander Sukharevsky, and Rodney Zemmel; via Philippa Hardman
The generative AI payoff may only come when companies do deeper organizational surgery on their business.

  • Figure out where gen AI copilots can give you a real competitive advantage
  • Upskill the talent you have but be clear about the gen-AI-specific skills you need
  • Form a centralized team to establish standards that enable responsible scaling
  • Set up the technology architecture to scale
  • Ensure data quality and focus on unstructured data to fuel your models
  • Build trust and reusability to drive adoption and scale

AI Prompt Engineering Is Dead Long live AI prompt engineering — from spectrum.ieee.org

Since ChatGPT dropped in the fall of 2022, everyone and their donkey has tried their hand at prompt engineering—finding a clever way to phrase your query to a large language model (LLM) or AI art or video generator to get the best results or sidestep protections. The Internet is replete with prompt-engineering guides, cheat sheets, and advice threads to help you get the most out of an LLM.

However, new research suggests that prompt engineering is best done by the model itself, and not by a human engineer. This has cast doubt on prompt engineering’s future—and increased suspicions that a fair portion of prompt-engineering jobs may be a passing fad, at least as the field is currently imagined.


What the birth of the spreadsheet teaches us about generative AI — from timharford.com by Tim Harford; via Sam DeBrule

There is one very clear parallel between the digital spreadsheet and generative AI: both are computer apps that collapse time. A task that might have taken hours or days can suddenly be completed in seconds. So accept for a moment the premise that the digital spreadsheet has something to teach us about generative AI. What lessons should we absorb?

It’s that pace of change that gives me pause. Ethan Mollick, author of the forthcoming book Co-Intelligence, tells me “if progress on generative AI stops now, the spreadsheet is not a bad analogy”. We’d get some dramatic shifts in the workplace, a technology that broadly empowers workers and creates good new jobs, and everything would be fine. But is it going to stop any time soon? Mollick doubts that, and so do I.


 

 

Nursing Career Guide for People With Disabilities — from nursingeducation.org by Abby McCoy, RN, BSN; with thanks to Sarah Breckon for this resource

As Sarah mentioned to me, this article includes a comparison of some of the benefits and challenges of a nursing career, tips on choosing an accessible nursing school, and examines different nursing career paths, their demands, and accommodations available. It also includes practical advice on job interviews, disclosing disabilities to employers, and understanding legal protections.

The need for caring and skilled nurses is higher than ever. For people with disabilities, getting into nursing might seem like a tough road with a lot of unknowns. Luckily, it isn’t just doable, people with different abilities can find the career extremely fulfilling. Plenty of opportunities and resources exist for those who want to make a mark in healthcare, no matter the challenges they might face.

 

From DSC:
I have had two instances recently where the phone-based systems (i.e., the Voice Response Units) haven’t worked…at all. They either wouldn’t let me do something as simple as updating my credit card number on file or checking on the status of a prescription. Human beings had to get involved to help me get the issues resolved. (Sounds a bit like the recent issues with the FAFSA forms, as I think about it.)

This is old hat, I know. This is common knowledge. But with AI, I’m increasingly concerned that the temptations are there for the MBAs/executives out there to lay off employees and boost their short-term profits (so that Wall Street will reward them and so that they can get their year-end bonuses).

The reminder/lesson for businesses and organizations of all types (including colleges and universities):

  • Unless you want to piss off and lose your customers, always allow your customers to stop using a VRU and go directly to a person that they can talk to.
  • Then empower those employees on the front lines as much as possible so that they can get the issues resolved for your customers.
  • Don’t think you are putting your MBA to good use by laying off your employees after you implement some new VRU system or AI-backed system. Don’t be too quick to think that you’re going to save all kinds of money by going with AI. This might be the case down the line, but I wouldn’t be too quick to get there yet. And even when you do get there, please allow us to talk to human beings.
 

How to Use AI Effectively Throughout Your Job Search — from higheredjobs.com by Alison Herget

Some recruiters and hiring managers have reported that job seekers’ use of AI has caused floods of applications to come in with formulaic versions of resumes and cover letters all seemingly produced by chatbots, she said.

So, if you’re looking for your next role, here are some tips for engaging in an AI-powered job search that will get you noticed by employers in the right way.

 

Career-Connected Learning: Preparing Students for a Dynamic Future — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark and Victoria Andrews

Key Points

  • Connecting young people with career awareness needs to start at an early age to provide them with the necessary landscape view of opportunity and skills.
  • Whether young people engage client-focused opportunities, internships, or endure academically challenging coursework, career-connected learning is an environment to cultivate a sense of self-awareness, determination, and direction, essential for their success in both education and life.

Also from Getting Smart, see:

CHILD: A Microschool Unlocking the Potential for Unique Learners — by Maureen O’Shaughnessy

Key Points

  • The success of adaptive learning is not solely based on the program, but rather on the people behind it.
  • Clarity on “who you serve” is critical to success.
 

Affordability and Microcredentials — from the-job.beehiiv.com by Paul Fain
Cutting costs for short-term credentials with course sharing and, perhaps, federal money.

‘Bespoke, e-Commerce-Enabled Storefronts’
Demand for nondegree credentials has risen. But it can be expensive and tricky for colleges to create their own workforce-relevant courses and certifications. Homegrown microcredentials also may be more likely to fall flat with students and employers, particularly in competition with professional certificates from big brands like Salesforce or AWS.

Acadeum, an online course-sharing company, is betting that a networked marketplace will be a better option for its 460 college and university partners, which include a growing number of community colleges. Beginning last month, those colleges can tap into 380+ online certificates, certifications, and skills-training courses.

“Skills Marketplace lowers the barrier of entry for institutions to self-select only the certifications that align their program offerings to meet student and workforce demand,” says David Daniels, Acadeum’s president and CEO.

 

AI fast-tracks research to find battery material that halves lithium use — from inavateonthenet.net

Using AI, the team was able to plow through 32.6 million possible battery materials in 80 hours, a task the team estimates would have taken them 20 years to do.


Other interesting items from inavateonthenet.net:

Medical ‘hologram’ market to reach 6.8 bn by 2029

Providing audio for open spaces

 

Announcing the 2024 GSV 150: The Top Growth Companies in Digital Learning & Workforce Skills — from prnewswire.com with information provided by ASU+GSV Summit

“The world is adapting to seismic shifts from generative AI,” says Luben Pampoulov, Partner at GSV Ventures. “AI co-pilots, AI tutors, AI content generators—AI is ubiquitous, and differentiation is increasingly critical. This is an impressive group of EdTech companies that are leveraging AI and driving positive outcomes for learners and society.”

Workforce Learning comprises 34% of the list, K-12 29%, Higher Education 24%, Adult Consumer Learning 10%, and Early Childhood 3%. Additionally, 21% of the companies stretch across two or more “Pre-K to Gray” categories. A broader move towards profitability is also evident: the collective gross and EBITDA margin score of the 2024 cohort increased 5% compared to 2023.

See the list at https://www.asugsvsummit.com/gsv-150

Selected from 2,000+ companies around the world based on revenue scale, revenue growth, user reach, geographic diversification, and margin profile, this impressive group is reaching an estimated 3 billion people and generating an estimated $23 billion in revenue.

 

Skills-Based Hiring: The Long Road from Pronouncements to Practice— from burningglassinstitute.org

While headlines trumpet the demise of the college degree, our joint report with Harvard Business School Project on Managing the Future of Work reveals a different reality. Many companies have announced dropping degree requirements, but sustained hiring changes remain elusive for most. This report identifies where the reality of Skills-Based Hiring is lagging well-meaning ambitions, and shows which companies are getting it right.

 

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Per Donald Taylor this morning:

The results of this year’s L&D Global Sentiment Survey are now live online!

They are unlike anything else I’ve seen in the 11-history of the Survey.

Over 3,000 people from nearly 100 countries shared their views, and you can see my summary of them on LinkedIn:


 

 

6 work and workplace trends to watch in 2024 — from weforum.org by Kate Whiting; via Melanie Booth on LinkedIn

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

The world of work is changing fast.

By 2027, businesses predict that almost half (44%) of workers’ core skills will be disrupted.

Technology is moving faster than companies can design and scale up their training programmes, found the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.

The Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024 found that “lack of economic opportunity” ranked as one of the top 10 biggest risks among risk experts over the next two years.

5. Skills will become even more important
With 23% of jobs expected to change in the next five years, according to the Future of Jobs Report, millions of people will need to move between declining and growing jobs.

 
© 2024 | Daniel Christian