For good reasons, much of the world’s attention this past week has been focused on the Ukrainian crisis. For those looking to understand possible scenarios outcomes for the crisis, I recommend reading Bryan Alexander’s post on the topic.
Momentum seems to be increasing for integrating skills as part of the higher education curriculum. Related initiatives range from rich transcripts that include skill development to upskilling programs designed to help employers meet emerging needs for talent.
This emphasis on skills (which, IMHO, will become the rule across higher ed as opposed to the exception), provides additional fodderer for the ongoing discussions about the value of university degrees. Jeff Selingo gives a rundown of degrees and their evolving significance in his latest newsletter. Of course, there’s more afoot in these discussions other than simple ROI. In fact, one article last week attributed the idea that university degrees don’t matter to a fantasy concocted by Silicon Valley.
In other news, Phil Hill reminds us that the pandemic has pushed many higher ed institutions toward greater resilience, and, from across the ocean, we are hearing that, the U.S. isn’t the only country facing the dilemma of student debt.
There was some strong buzz buzz last week related to the rise of pandemic pods over the past two years. The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) has released a report that examines the innovation provided by pandemic pods and what public education might adopt from the movement. Specific recommendations from the report include:
State and local policymakers can strengthen supports for families and educators who opt out of the traditional system by:
- Offering targeted resources to low-income families.
- Allowing out-of-system families to tap resources inside schools.
- Addressing regulatory gray areas.
Funders can help seed innovation and infrastructure supports that help families and educators thrive inside and outside the system. They should consider:
Investing in new, creative models for learning both inside and outside school systems.
Seeding infrastructure supports that address barriers facing families and educators operating outside the system.
Scaling research investments so that the field can learn from success and failures.
On the educational technology front, it’s worth noting that ACE has released its final report on the Education Blockchain Initiative. The focus of this initiative, spanning 71 active blockchain projects, was on giving students control of their learning records and connecting “education and the workforce by helping learners translate what they have already learned and know how to do into economic benefit.”
While the ACE initiative shows the possible value of blockchain and other decentralization technologies, commonly referred to as Web3, Michael Feldstein questions the real (systemic) impact Web3 could have on education. More specifically, Michael puts forth two hypotheses.
Blockchain, the technology upon which Web3 is premised, doesn’t add a whole lot to the ability to decentralize education in ways that were not possible before.
In any event, the real challenge with decentralization isn’t the technology. It’s the humans. Blockchain doesn’t really help there in any way that I can see.
Also, for those keeping score at home, please note that we have a study showing that, in a remote environment, an artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring system can outperform expert human instructors. With any luck, this will help us all move on from the now-outdated discussions about the efficacy of online learning to speculation about whether and when AI will replace human instructors.
And speaking of hype, Emergen has a report out suggesting that the educational robotics market will exceed $ billion by 2028.
Out in the real (non-education) world, robots and other technical automation tools are already … well… real. Real enough, for example, that RightHand Robotics, which offers piece-picking technology to fulfill orders, has raised $66 million to ramp up its product development and expand globally. This makes lots of sense when you consider that piece picking, in and of itself is a $30 billion market.
And before you complete that tally in your head about the number of potentially displaced warehouse workers, you might want to add cashiers to your list as well. That is if Amazon’s new cashierless technology (being modeled via its new Whole Foods store) is a true indication of the future.
So, remember the new upskilling trend in higher education?
Finally, it’s worth remembering the old adage, “wherever you go, there you are,” especially when it comes to virtual worlds. It seems, not surprisingly, that humans who behave badly in the physical world will likely behave badly in the metaverse as well. Is HR ready for this? It seems unlikely.