Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Truth About Admissions - Random vs. False Selection

Seth Godin, again....

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/01/the-truth-about-admissions.html


Key quote 'What would happen if we spent more time on carefully assembling the pool of 'good enough' and then randomly picking the 5%? And of course, putting in the time to make sure that the assortment of people works well together...'

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nobody Grows Up Thinking, 'I Want to be an Adjunct.'

Alyson wrote this piece about life as an adjunct working in a community college in Washington State,  and she's spot on what students crave, Teacher Presence, and the struggles of faculty in trying to provide exactly that, whether online, in a classroom, on the phone, in a meeting or even just walking across campus.    And her observation that most faculty are good, and want to be better, in the face of high expectations, low compensation, and trying to get by, is also right on the money.

Lately, I've had a series of 'down to earth' talks with faculty and administrators, struggling with career direction and frustration, as anger seeps out, along with scarce resources, changing directions, and declining enrollments, all the while trying to manage expectations.  To the long time adjunct who didn't get the job he thought he wanted, there was some interview coaching and job-search counseling.   For those who unsuccessfully applied for a full-time position for their program, there was the speech about priorities, market conditions, timing, all the while recognizing that full-time permanent positions are as rare as hen's teeth.  

Yet, this business is a people business, a talent business, and organizations, even poorly-funded public education ones, need to attract and retain the talented people to provide the Teacher Presence, and if they are to do what both the public and the education community say it is that they do, there has to be an investment in the people who do that.   Like Alyson, I worry about it as well.  It's tough out there.  Yet, the good ones stick around and still do what they do in the classroom for the students, and still get the psychic juice they need from that.  Good for them, and it's my job to support, encourage and nurture that.   Hope I'm up to the task.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Honeypots and Brand Inversion

David Wiley rants about the supposed differences between MOOCs and 'traditional' online classes in this piece sub-titled, 'Small Deltas, Honeypots and Brand Inversion.'   David bemoans the commercialization of higher education and the compromising of a quality experience by a narrow-minded reliance on industrialized production of content and activities, either in the branded MOOC environment or via the LMS, where those activities and content are produced in a DIY lemonade stand 'home-professional' system.

If I learned anything from the Connected Courses experience, and if I picked up anything from getting closer to the Developmental Education instructors, what counts is the connection among learners.  The connections (plugging into a lively interactive network of people, firing on all the synapses) are what provides meaning and value to participants, labeled sometimes as students, teachers, what have you.

That connection can be strengthened by working with the Web technology and tools, but it's the connection that's important, not the tools.    And, as this new year opens, as we pass an arbitrary point in the planet's orbit around the sun, some ten days past the Winter Solstice, and about 5 days before the next full moon, maybe it's good to commit (for those interested in making resolutions!), to working to improve those connections among learners.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Open Letter to "Mapping the Future..."

Cathy Davidson's post to the students in the Mapping the Futures of Higher Ed post contains a great description of what she labels, The Big Why?, why we are doing all of this....

Key quotes, 'First, we believe higher education is crucial to a productive, happy, independent, socially responsible adult life. '

'The interactive, adaptive methods we will be using in this class are based on research directed toward promoting student success: student study groups, peer-leadership, interest-driven learning, systematic un-learning, peer-mentoring, public contribution to knowledge, and constant feedback on learning progress.  NB: These methods work for everyone, from doctoral students to economically disadvantaged middle-school students.  The best research on the efficacy of study groups for educational success was undertaken at Harvard and replicated in Chicago urban public middle and high schools.'

'Higher education needs to be revitalized and transformed for the contemporary world of cultural diversity, technological complexity, and constant change.'

More here at the Futures Initiative....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12 Principles of Peer-Led, Connected, Interactive Education

Cathy Davidson writes about an upcoming course entitled, 'Mapping the Futures of Higher Education,' in this post from HASTAC, and cross posted here at CUNY's Academic Commons Futures Initiatives pages.

Here are those main principles of Connected Learning:

  • Learning is teaching.  
  • Learning is research and research is learning.  
  • Learning is institutional and socially-engaged learning changes institutions. 
  • Learning together is key—in class, in study groups, online.  
  • Learning is a formative test–not a high stakes summative one
  • Learning makes a public contribution to knowledge.  
  • Learning in public requires digital and data literacies, being aware of how, why, and by whom one’s knowledge is being used.  
  • Learning is a social activity and social responsibility.
  • Learning is interest-driven–and even fun.  
  • Learning opportunities are everywhere;
  • Learning is vocational–in a good way.  
  • Learning is about access, equity, and equality. 
  • Learning is sustainable.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crash-only Thinking

Came across something called Ribbonfarm, where there was a great piece on Crash-only Thinking, about transitions and changes.

Key phrase, 'Crash-only means there is no such thing as gracefully starting and stopping non-trivial parts of your life or business.  You have to crash what you’re doing and recover in a more promising direction. The fact that it is a crash means that, unlike normal decisions, there is a sharply increased probability of not coming out the other end.


Crashes are traumatic, high-entropy, messy ways to achieve transitions, which is why transitions in life and business are so hard. We want clean, smooth turns that smoothly and isentropically shed momentum in one direction and accumulate it in another direction.....It doesn't happen.'

Strong identities, brands, compelling narratives and self-talk that run counter to what's really happening contribute to the crash-only state, necessitating a clean start, a reboot and refresh.  

Is that what's happening here in education, at our institutions, in the state-supported systems?