Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Truth About Admissions - Random vs. False Selection

Seth Godin, again....

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.