(Looking Back and Looking Forward takes a look at the articles and posts I found interesting from the previous week, along with reflections about how the trends they point to might shape my thinking about education, technology, and culture.)

Forbes ran an article last week about the potential impacts related to college degrees becoming obsolete. Now, I don’t really see college degrees becoming obsolete in the near term, but the value of college degrees is certainly shifting, particularly related to certain professions. I think Gartner is definitely spot on in its list of top nine workplace predictions for the year

“To fill critical roles in 2023, organizations will need to become more comfortable assessing candidates solely on their ability to perform in the role, rather than their credentials and prior experience…” 

One good example of this trend is being played out in the market for cybersecurity talent. Like other IT-related professions, cybersecurity training is a focused, continually evolving area of expertise that doesn’t align well with traditional computer science and engineering degree programs. This leaves employers looking to training providers for upskilling existing employees.

To be clear, IT training (IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, networking, data analysis, etc.) is driven by professional certifications that are updated regularly based on technological advancements. To address these education opportunities, traditional colleges and universities will need to become more agile and quicker to address market opportunities.

The competition attempting to capture parts of the adult learning market has been heating up over the past few years. While traditional providers appear to still have an advantage, they urgently need to take note of the threat nontraditional competitors present in a market.

The challenges for traditional higher ed institutions may be exacerbated by the fact that many institutions are slow to integrate and use data in strategic decision-making.

Although universities produce a wealth of data in various departments across campus, such as “faculty research, prospective students, research funding, higher-education policy trends, and competitive intelligence about other universities,” said the study’s authors, coordinating all of it and making it available for use in decision-making has met significant barriers.

When it comes to potential threats to the status quo, however, education institutions and their faculty seem much more capable of reacting quickly. Take ChatBPT and generative AI, for example.

One of the most useful responses has come from educators who talk about the potential usefulness of generative AI with the help of generative AI (a bit of meta). Lisa Nielsen asked ChatGPT to write a lesson plan on how teachers can use ChatGPT with students. Meanwhile, Tony Hirst worked with ChatGPT to develop taxonomy for cheating and plagiarissm.

Elsewhere, Josh Bersin had this post about a shift in learning platforms for the corporate training market. He refers to these as “Capability Academy” systems.”Companies want a solution that is expert-led, engaging, includes assignments and coaching and connects employees to experts and peers.” Bersin suggests their own academy as an example of thai new type of system.

We offer dozens of 4-6 hour courses (each consumed in cohorts), we host thousands of supporting videos and articles, we have more than 30 Senior Faculty, and our social community is a “place” to learn. We offer custom journeys, a capability assessment (Global HR Capability Project), and a social network to learn and meet people. Our experience shows that the average Academy member meets 7 new people during each program.

In case you hadn’t detected a repeated theme in this post, generative AI is all the technology rage these days. Before jumping into that further, however, let me point to a different time and technology when Warren Buffet acquired World Book. For context, encyclopedias were still cool in the 80s and were a guaranteed money maker. Of course, in just a few short years they would be disrupted by interactive CD-ROM technology and the Internet, and the traditional model made entirely irrelevant by the Internet, digital publishing, and crowdsourcing.

It’s not surprising that Buffet couldn’t see what was coming. It’s really hard (if not impossible) for anyone to predict specific short-term disruptions and which specific technologies or players will achieve lock-in. You’d be doing just as well to go to Vegas.

That said, once new technologies achieve a certain level of visibility and traction, the only questions left to ask are “When?” “How much?” and “Who dominates?” To my way of thinking, generative AI falls into that category.

As Exhibit 1, and for a fun bit of meta, Buzzfeed published an article about CNET, a popular tech news site, which has been using AI to write articles. The meta? Buzzfeed actually used ChatGPT to write its article!e.

And, if you haven’t yet got the drift that generative AI is a disruption that’s already gaining traction across different businesses, check out this story about a man who used ChatGPT and Midjourney to write an illustrated children’s book in 72 hours, or some of these articles/posts.

Further Reading

Higher Education

College degrees could become obsolete, giving your job to someone else

How upskilling and training providers help close the cybersecurity skills gap

University Continuing Education: The Coming Challenge

Study Finds Universities Slow to Integrate and Use Data in Strategic Decision-Making

The decline of disruptiveness | connecting data to information to knowledge


Online Learning and Education Technology

NYC bans access to ChatGPT on school devices, networks

Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach

Anti-Cheating Service Turnitin Says It Can Detect Use of ChatGPT

The end of the high school essay

Australian schools ‘flying blind’ on use of ChatGPT and other learning technology

ChatGPT for Educators – Google Slides

Four New & Helpful Resources About Using ChatGPT For Education

Academic experts offer advice on ChatGPT

Ten Facts About ChatGPT

Lesson for teachers about how to use ChatGPT with students

Fragment — Cheating, Plagiarism, Study Buddies and Machine Assist

A New Generation Of Mastery-Based Learning Platforms Has Arrived

2U makes moves to push back loan due date and save on annual interest payments 

Technology and Culture

Warren Buffett’s Prized World Book Became His ‘Most Difficult Problem

CNET Used AI to Write 75 Articles

ChatGPT, Midjourney Helped a Man Write a Children’s Book in 72 Hours

GPT-4: The AI Revaluation

ChatGPT has investors drooling, but can it bring home the bacon?

Microsoft eyes $10 billion bet on ChatGPT owner

How ChatGPT in Microsoft Office could change the workplace

Microsoft is looking at OpenAI’s GPT for Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint

Microsoft’s VALL-E AI can mimic any voice from a short audio sample

Microsoft’s new AI can simulate anyone’s voice with 3 seconds of audio

Donald Clark Plan B: 7 reasons why Microsoft is winning the AI war

9 ways ChatGPT saves me hours of work every day, and why you’ll never outcompete those who use AI effectively

Stephen’s Web ~ 9 ways ChatGPT saves me hours of work every day, and why you’ll never outcompete those whop use AI effectively

Soon, There Will Be a ChatGPT Startup for Everything

AI Will Transform The Products That We Build – Here’s How Product Managers Can Prepare

ChatGPT Is Coming To A Customer Service Chatbot Near You

AI and the Big Five

Why IT should embrace low-code/no-code