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When Christine Ortiz announced nearly two years ago that she was taking leave from her job as a dean at MIT to build a new kind of research university, the idea went viral, even though she offered few details. The effort didn’t even have a name yet.
Now Ortiz has emerged from a “stealth” period to give an update on her project. Though she is filling in a few more blanks, the pitch remains more of a sweeping vision than a detailed proposal. And the university is still years away from being fully operational. It does, at least, have a name: Station1.
The basic concept is to create a new non-profit research university that will offer no lectures (focusing instead on student projects as a primary mode of instruction), host no traditional academic departments (instead embracing a fusion of various sciences and the humanities), and charge much less than a traditional research university (to attract a more-diverse student body).
Bernadine is a 45-year-old, African American mother of three who is among the millions of Americans already in the workforce and actively seeking to build their human capital to remain competitive in today’s labor market. Bernadine’s human capital is enhanced in complex ways that bridge the ecosystems of college, workplace, and community-based learning. Her journey is ongoing, will take decades, and may never end. Moreover, in order to promote individual opportunity, social mobility, and national competitiveness in the global innovation economy, the United States needs people like Bernadine to succeed on their learning journeys. Bernadine is a post-traditional learner. The amount of hard work, tenacity, and courage it will take for her to succeed is worthy of a manifesto—a Post-traditional Learners Manifesto.
This week has been a good one for those who like to talk about the limits of technology. Over in the U.K., a prankster managed to fool Trip Advisor into naming his shed the No. 1 ranked restaurant in London. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a city struggling to manage several wind-fueled wildfires, the L.A.P.D. has asked drivers to refrain from using navigation apps because they’re steering drivers onto open routes that may, in fact, be on fire.
In the world of higher education, technology has always had the potential to upend the academic enterprise. In the late 1990s, as I began working in higher education, The New York Times mused about the transformative potential of online education: “Just by doing what he does every day, a teacher potentially could grow rich instructing a class consisting of a million students… ‘Faculty are dreaming of returns that are probably multiples of their lifetime net worth,’ said Kim Clark, dean of the Harvard Business School.”
As digital tools continue to infiltrate college campuses, students and educators alike should rejoice. McGraw-Hill Education’s 2017 Digital Study Trends Survey found that 60 percent of students indicated digital learning tools have at least slightly improved their grades and have been very or extremely helpful in their academic life.
Overall, the students said that laptops — over things such as print materials and smartphones — are the devices they are most likely to use in class, for homework and for exam prep. A whopping 86 percent labeled laptops as an important tool for studying while only 33 percent said the same about smartphones and tablets.
Could education be the vital ingredient that helps bring civility back to the national discourse and shows us how to bridge our differences? That's what a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences suggested. And technology will play a role — albeit not a starring one — in that outcome.
"The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America" is the fourth in four publications from the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education, an Academy project begun in 2015. At the behest of the Carnegie Corporation of New York (and with its funding), the commission convened leaders from higher ed, philanthropy, business and government to assess the state of undergraduate education and make practical recommendations to improve colleges and universities and better position graduates for what they'll face in this century. Over the course of two years, commission members met with students and faculty members, education and industry experts, state and federal policymakers and foundations.
Just outside the walls of the ivory tower, a transformation is underway in the world of corporate learning, and those of us at colleges and universities should pay attention.
Corporate learning and development, often referred to as L&D, is radically different than just a few years ago. Meanwhile, the education dialogue has shifted to a focus on employment-related themes such as competencies and skills.
“Businesses today have to be more agile and have to be able to pivot—access to content needs to be very rapid,” says Lori Bradley, executive vice president for global talent management at PVH Corp, a publicly- traded fashion and apparel company with 35,000 employees. “Priorities and jobs are changing more quickly, so we need an agile learning environment that anticipates what learning needs will be, and where we can quickly access them.”
The typical employee has one percent of their time available for learning, according to research by Bersin by Deloitte.
A group of seventh- and eighth-grade girls sat around a lunch table discussing a new game-like app they use in school. Danna Rodriguez somewhat sullenly said she didn’t want to care about Strides, which tracks points students can earn for attendance, grade-point average and engagement with the app itself, among other things. But she can’t help herself. She does care.
The pull of the points and the opportunity to “level up” has hooked her, as it has many of her peers at Edison Computech 7-8 and throughout the Fresno Unified School District.
When Danna is close to reaching a new level, she asks around to find out what else she can do to earn points. She checks the app every day, preoccupied with the idea that her unbroken streak of log-ins could get interrupted.
This story also appeared in Wired
“I check it so the green line doesn’t get the red dot,” Danna said, laughing. “It’s scary!”
At the University of Wisconsin, Harold Tobin, a professor of geoscience, designed his course about natural disasters well before hurricanes struck last fall, wildfires swept the west coast and the biggest earthquake in a century hit Mexico. Nonetheless, his course was filled to capacity within two days of being offered, and gained even more attention as the disasters unfolded.
Tobin manages to help students think about the physics and earth sciences involved in natural disasters, as well as how they might be able to develop solutions around government policy, development and human choice in specific contexts or regions.
State officials in New Jersey recently announced an ambitious goal to arm 65 percent of the state’s workforce with at least one postsecondary credential by 2025. That’s about 15 percent more than the state’s current higher-education attainment. And to get there, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is partnering with a new nonprofit that’s taking on its own arduous task: Create an index of every available higher-ed credential.
“If you look at the labor market data and where we think jobs will be created, it’s clear to us that most jobs require some education after high school,” says Aaron Fichtner, commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “But not every job created requires 4-year degree, and we want to prepare people for the opportunities that exist in the future.”
Artificial intelligence is hitting universities, but it doesn’t mean professors are being replaced by computers. “So when we talk about AI, we imagine robots, we imagine science fiction, we imagine Skynet overthrowing the world. These are the things that we imagine, but the reality is that it’s not nearly that sexy,” said Kyle Bowen, the educational technology services director at Penn State, during EdSurge Live’s town hall on AI. “The reality is that some of the really interesting applications of this are people and computers working together to think about or to explore different problems or ideas,” Bowen added. Much like Microsoft’s Anthony Salcito, Bowen and other higher education influencers touted AI’s ability to make data analytics and student success initiatives even easier by drawing out the most actionable data.