Showing posts from January, 2016

From Degrees To CVs

I wrote earlier about how, by expecting too much of them, we have positioned college degrees to fail (See here). The college and its degrees became, effectively, a tool for the ever expansive state to control another aspect of lives of its citizens. The poverty of this formula becomes apparent at this point in time, when the state is no longer expanding and the promises of middle class life, that pursuit of happiness, looks more hollow than ever. Yet, despite the 'credential-equals-job' mindset that we have all grown up with - and the brutal realisation that it does not, not anymore - we are somewhat caught in this argument that we do not have an alternative credential that we can trust, and therefore, we have to keep sending people to Higher Ed, keep the spectacle going.

But there is an alternative credential that we can trust, that all employers look for - the CV! A CV, a portfolio of experiences and verifiable references, is the credential we build and carry through our wo…

Higher Education: Creating An Alternative Credential

As I write this, that Penguin, the famous publisher, has abolished degrees as a requirement for their recruitment, is on the news (see here). They join a handful of firms at the top of prestige and professional hierarchy, such as Deloitte, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and EY, in their search for a more diverse talent pool. 
One could, and possibly many would, dismiss this as mere publicity, rather than serious moves. And, indeed, this may represent a fraction of their total new intakes. For every Penguin taking themselves off-Degree, there may be an Accenture who would not want to look outside a few elite universities. But the point here is philosophical - degrees having dominated our educational thinking so vigorously that we forgot what this stood for - and not statistical. 
So, what do degrees stand for? Why did we come to accept that this ornate piece of paper, often deliberately evoking medieval imagery,  come to signify our knowledge, and even our abilities? And, how did come to dom…

The Duet Between Education and Technology

One way of seeing the relationship between Education and Technology, the most popular way, is to see it a race. The original observation - that the Civilisation is a race between Education and Catastrophe - made by H G Wells, was alluded to in the title of scholarly and insightful book, "The Race Between Education and Technology" (Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, 2007) - and it stuck. The essential idea is quite simple, that technology is advancing and education is the way for the society to keep up, and we need ever more education to get the benefits of advance technology.
This is a compelling metaphor. And, also a useful one, as this positions Education at the centre of technological development, clearly establishing a link. Important one too, as we are reaching an inflection point in technological development, where many of the jobs previously done by human workers can now be done by machines or algorithms. It is important to argue, now more than ever, that the benefits…

Higher Education: Are We Ready For Alternative Credentials?

While everyone agrees that Higher Education needs new thinking, there is one sacred cow: Degrees! All the private capital flooding into the field with the battle cry to change the world meekly surrender themselves to the alter of the Degrees. To follow the rhetoric, the search is for a better way, not a better credential. The degrees, an early modern invention, look safe and sound, despite the world being claimed to be turned upside down.
Or, is it?
The recent Udacity Nanodegree Plus, which is an employer-backed credential that comes with a job guarantee (which, in effect, is a guarantee of full refund of fees if the learner does not get a job after graduating), opens up an interesting possibility. After a somewhat faltering start, Udacity, among the various MOOC providers, is now finding its mojo through nanodegrees, which, despite the allusion, are not degrees. In a plain vanilla world, this would be called a Certificate. But this, and other similar credentials like Micro-degrees, …

Where Would The Citizens' Politics Lead Us?

As Bernie Sanders catches up with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump raves and rages, and Jeremy Corbyn holds on - even if rather precariously - at the British Labour Party, we can reasonably think that an era of anti-Politics has began. The slick politics of the mid-90s, when Centrism took hold, but all it meant was a breed of cynical politicians who stood for nothing but the craving of power (brilliantly represented in Frank Underwood in the US version of The House of Cards), seems all but gone. Ideology, of sensible and insensible variety, is back in the mix, all over again.
This is counter-intuitive. As we entered the Age of the Millennial, we were expecting a sweeping victory for those smooth-tongued Centrists, who wanted to hold the centre-stage, but not any ground in anything else. The millennial would be, we expected, products of a 'liquid' modernity,  for whom the pursuit of pleasure, rather than any fixed commitment, is all pervasive. But their surging support for all th…

Searching for Educators' EdTech

Conversations about Education Innovation is often about entitlements, who gets what. The conversations about EdTech plays along these lines too - either you are for EdTech or you are against it. Indeed, the technology vendors claim that this is all win-win, but from the point of view of poor adjunct, whose private time is invaded and paid time is cut, this picture is more difficult to see. And, since the very people who are to implement the technology seems to lose out from its success, the gap between rhetoric and reality of EdTech remains quite wide.
One could observe this tension in most technology debate. From taxi drivers chasing Uber cars out of airports and hotel owners lobbying for stricter regulations to keep AirBNB out, there is a battle going on in different sectors and professions. The usual narrative, one that plays out in mainstream media, is to shrug it off - isn't it inevitable that technology is going to eat the world - and carry on. There has always been winners…

Educating The Modern Professional: Developing The Culture of Contribution

Adam Grant, in his excellent 'Give and Take', shows how Givers, those who seek to create value for others first, win at the modern workplace. His key point, that Giving, seeking to create value first, is a better professional strategy than Taking, seeking value for oneself, or even Matching, giving after norms of reciprocity have been clearly established. 
He cites three reasons for the enhanced effectiveness of Giving. First, the essential difference between Giving and Taking may have been the focus on Long Term. Givers thought longer term, and they knew creating value always paid back over time. With accelarated pace of our lives, this long term has become shorter, thereby creating a more immediate payback for giving and making it a better professional approach. Second, the increased prevalence of collaborative work, and relative decline of independent working, has shone the spotlight on the Givers, making them more desired as colleagues. As a member of the team who focuses…

On To The Future

In a way, 1st January is the strangest day, when the present and the future come together. Our conversations, more than on any other day, centre on things to come. And, that makes this day somewhat special, a brief but momentous journey between the nostalgia of year-end and present-mindedness of the 2nd January. It is, for most of us, both a pause and a spark, to enjoy the present possibilities.
One way of seeing it is that we have one day every year for future and one day for the past, and the balance three hundred and sixty three (or four, as in 2016) for living in the present. That proportion sounds about right. Indulging too much on the future, just like being stuck in the past, can be somewhat harmful, obscuring the wonderful and immediate potential of every day. But, as there is value in our past in providing us with a perspective to live, there is value in the future, as it broadens our horizons.
A good way to live the present, as the self-help books will tell you, is to focus…

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