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Scale it sideways!

One of the key points we make in Invisible Learning is that new technologies and new possibilities for social configurations are expanding the ecology of options we have for learning. “Schooling” is no longer limited to just schools. Rather, we can now learn in formal environments, online, informally, and serendipitously. Moreover, we can leverage technologies to remix these modes together — so, for example, it is now possible to have a meaningful and recognized learning experience at coffee shops, city parks, bowling alleys, etc.

Just as wise investors diversify their investment portfolio, so should we build diverse portfolios of our schools. This means that we should not invest too heavily in any one strategy. If we do not know with any precision what the future will be, we cannot have one-size-fits-all schools. We need to expand our ecologies of options.

Many times we find something that works. Perhaps a new pedagogical technique …or, maybe a new type of school. One of the first things we often ask ourselves when evaluating an innovation is: How do we scale it up?

FORGET SCALING UP.

WE NEED TO SCALE SIDEWAYS IN EDUCATION.

Scaling up is how we industrialize ideas, and employ them within a top-down managed system. This works in an educational monoculture, but not in a diverse ecology. Rather than industrializing our best ideas, why not share them horizontally? That is, let’s invite people and schools to adopt them if they work for them?

Scaling sideways invites co-creation. It is dialogical.

The question we need to ask is, how can we facilitate broader horizontalized communications and sharing of best practices, etc., between schools in a diverse ecology of options? Perhaps this means that top educational leaders, governments and other interest groups need to focus less on managing; and focus more on attending to the chaos and uncertainty of a more dynamic educational ecology.

And, let’s make sure to invite the kids into the horizontalized co-creation. We are all white belts when it comes to understanding and acting on our futures. We do not have any role models to draw from. We have never been to the future before.

We must engage kids in this conversation now. Knowmad Society is their’s, but it is up to us to build it together.


Note: Adapted from my plenary talk at the Onderwijs en ondernemen “op expeditie” conference in The Hague, Netherlands on October 6, 2011.

Mid-November roundup: Future of work edition

As we are hard at work on getting everything in the Invisible Learning book finalized, it’s been quiet at the Education Futures website — but, believe us, you will be hearing a lot more soon. Here are a couple quick updates from elsewhere that focus on the changing nature of work and the importance of creative human capital:

  1. The Deloitte Center for the Edge released it’s 2010 shift index, authored by John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Duleesha Kulasooriya, and Dan Ebert. They synthesized the work of Richard Florida and others, and noted transformations in the talented work force — they are moving to more creative cities, and they are also migrating to companies that value their presence. Moreover, the “creative class is capturing an increasingly larger share of the economic pie” (p. 126).
  2. In regard to the recent Gartner report, Watchlist: Continuing Changes in the Nature of Work, 2010-2020, Abhijit Kadle summarizes that “Gartner points out that the world of work will probably witness ten major changes in the next ten years. Interesting in that it will change how learning happens in the workplace as well. The eLearning industry will need to account for the coming change and have a strategy in place to deal with the changes.” For a summary of the ten points, see Abhijit’s blog post.
  3. Finally, the Knowmads in the Netherlands are accepting applications to join their next tribe. They’re looking for motivated people that want to make a difference. Are you one of them?

Arthur Harkins on Leapfrogging

Earlier this month, I interviewed Arthur Harkins on our approach to innovating in human capital development (Leapfrog!). Specifically, I asked:

  1. What is Leapfrog?
  2. What are some examples of leapfrogging?
  3. What are the Leapfrog Institutes?
  4. What are the global implications for Leapfrog?

Watch his responses in this video:

A little background:

Leapfroggingmeans to jump over obstacles to achieve goals. It means to get ahead of the competition or the present state of the art through innovative, time-and-cost-saving means. Leapfrog denotes leadership created by looking and acting over the horizon. Leapfrog creates the future in the present based on what is found over the horizon. Leapfrog first acts to create proximal futures, and then solidly grounds the most promising futures within the present. This process marks an extension of Vygotsky’s and Dewey’s work, while ever looking toward the future.

One example of Leapfrogging is Finland’s jump to wireless phones, saving that country the cost of deploying an expensive copper wire system. Another example is present in some of the Kent, Washington public schools, which now permit students to use wireless Web devices to help them access information to better pass tests. Leapfrogging has become a major strategy of developing countries wishing to avoid catch-up efforts that otherwise portend a high likelihood of continued followership. A similar approach to gaining the lead rather than assuming a persistent runner-up role.

Leapfrog institutions relentlessly disrupt themselves to compete successfully in the global knowledge and innovation economy. They work ahead of the competition in teaching, research, innovation, and service. They avoid playing catch-up.

Additional resources:

University-Industry Collaboration

In Japan, promotion of university-industry collaboration has been a key topic at many levels since the early 90’s, and especially since 2004 when all the former national universities became semi-privatized.

With this drastic reform in Japanese higher education in 2004, Japanese former national universities need to be transformed into a new mode of knowledge creation. With the increased autonomy in each university, now it is much easier for individual universities to seek cooperation with industry. Indeed, it is said that this reform was first proposed to make this collaboration easy (Prior to the privatization, professors at national university were civil servants and thus were not allowed to work elsewhere).

In the industrialized countries, technical innovation has become the main force for competitiveness. This results in a much stronger participation of industry in research and development (R & D). In industrialized countries, the participation of universities in R & D projects for industry has become key activity. Though in Japan, this trend is also apparent with 67% of research being financed by big companies, traditionally most of these universities have been the private ones.

Now under new regulations, newly privatized former national universities have a freedom to participate in this university-industry cooperation. Not only does university-industry cooperation will lead to a creation of knowledge-based society, this strategy could result in a win-win situation for both stakeholders, university and industry.

First, Japanese national universities can now target research and education to actual needs of the society which will strengthens the position of the university in the society and bring financial benefits. Also, they can mitigate their newly added financial constraint from not receiving subsidy from the Ministry of Education. Through university-industry collaboration, universities can use companies’ resources and expertise which may be up-to-date than those found in their universities.

And last but not least, universities can finally develop skills and resources for transferring research results to end users. Traditionally, knowledge generated in universities tended to just sit in an ivory tower without being utilized in a real world. Through university-industry collaboration, universities can learn the strategy to convey their newly generated knowledge to the society.

There are many benefits for industry as well.  First and foremost, they can obtain top-notch information on recent developments in science and technology.  Having direct access to research results will enable industry to develop more competitive products and services.

Sounds wonderful, right?  Yep, this university-industry collaboration seems as though it could be a panacea for everyone and everything.  It is actually a pretty good deal.

But! (and there is always “but”)  there are a few things that we might want to be careful and keep in our mind when promoting this strategy. 

I will talk about those points tomorrow… 

Six scenarios for the Technological Singularity

Two articles related to the Singularity Summit have appeared on preparing for the Technological Singularity:

First, Jamais Cascio writes on a Metaverse Roadmap Overview:

In this work, along with my colleagues John Smart and Jerry Paffendorf, I sketch out four scenarios of how a combination of forces driving the development of immersive, richly connected information technologies may play out over the next decade. But what has struck me more recently about the Roadmap scenarios is that the four worlds could also represent four pathways to a Singularity. Not just in terms of the technologies, but — more importantly — in terms of the social and cultural choices we make while building those technologies.

The scenarios explored are:

  1. Virtual Worlds: the combination of simulation and intimate (highly personalized) technologie
  2. Mirror Worlds: the intersection of simulation and externally-focused technologies
  3. Augmented Reality: the collision of augmentation and external technologies
  4. Lifelogging: brings together augmentation and intimate technologies to record the experiences and histories of objects and users (what Cascio refers to as “participatory panopticon“)

Read more at Open the Future

Second, Bryan Gardiner writes on the Wired blog that Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, multi-millionaire Facebook backer, and the president of Clarium Capital Management, a global macro hedge fund, is devising a Singularity-aware investment strategy based on two, polarized scenarios in a near-future world where machines will become smarter than humans:

  1. Negative scenario: where machines won’t need us and humans become expendable
  2. Positive scenario: where humans would still have a positive outlook

Regardless of the two scenarios, Gardiner points out that the volatile booms and busts over recent years are indicative of the market’s attempts to align itself with near-Singularity transformations:

In essence, he argues that each of these booms represent different bets on the singularity, or at least on various things that are proxies for it, like globalization. What’s more, we’ve been seeing them now for over 30 years.

The markets are catching on to accelerating change. Why not bet on the Singularity in our schools as well?

The Codex of Terrible Higher Ed Marketing

Dan, the guy behind Higher Ed Chat, is starting-up a Codex of Terrible Higher Ed Marketing.

He writes:

There will be a few categories:

1. “They Paid Someone to Design This?!”
A list of the most poorly designed college websites.

2. “This Video is Supposed to Inspire… Whom?”
A list of the cheesiest and most tasteless college promotional videos. (Currently, Appalachian State holds the title for this one.)

3. “College PR Blunders”
Dumbest moments in college PR. (Such as UNC’s 2,700 congratulatory emails on students’ un-admission.)

Please, nominate your favorites!
You can use the Comments link below, or simply email me.

Here’s one choice example…

[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/?v=pVENWl8uBeg”][/gv]

And, one from my own university’s fund raising effort… http://giving.umn.edu/fall06/

Let’s help Dan out!

Sloan-C: Mainstreaming of online education

The Sloan Consortium, an online education group, finds that 2.35 million people took an online course in 2004. Furthermore:

  • The overall percent of schools identifying online education as a critical long-term strategy grew from 49% in 2003 to 56% in 2005.
  • The largest increases were seen in Associates degree institutions where 72% now agree that it is part of their institution’s long-term strategy, up from 58% in 2003.
  • The smallest schools, private nonprofit institutions and Baccalaureate colleges remain the least likely to agree that online education is part of their long-term strategy.

Read the full report: [pdf]