Faculty Development Experience

Last week, I began exploring the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals. I have been looking at it from a faculty development perspective.  The report is based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, and noted ten trends.  I discussed the first three trends last week.

The fourth trend was “The Employee Experience: Culture, Engagement and Beyond.”  The underlying theme for this trend was “How we design the employee experience for engagement, productivity, and growth.”  This theme lies at the heart of most mission statements for centers for teaching and learning (CTLs).  For instance, the mission at the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence where I previously worked (and which has since been disbanded by the university) was:

“…the Center for Teaching Excellence at VCU continues to promote, enhance, and assess teaching effectiveness and student learning through faculty development.”

At Northeastern University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning through Research where I last worked, the mission statement read:

“Our mission is to inspire, equip, and connect educators to create and integrate transformative learning experiences using evidence-based practice.”

I see engagement, productivity and growth in both of those statements.

The Deloitte report noted that in a digital world with increasing transparency, employees expect a productive, engaging, enjoyable work experience.  The report goes on to note gaps that exist in helping employees balance work and life, align personal goals with corporate goals, provide programs that span generations, and use design thinking as part of the employee experience.

One can easily substitute the word “faculty” for the word “employee.”

The report noted that organizations typically have addressed issues such as engagement, culture, rewards, and learning development as separate and siloed approaches.  Yet, employees (faculty) tend to look at what happens to them as an integrated experience.  CTLs in the past have been one place where faculty could turn for engagement…and CTLs are uniquely positioned within universities to cross boundaries and provide more holistic services.  The report noted that models such as the one shown here begin to address the issues of meaningful work, alignment of purposes, growth and development, rewards and wellness, fairness, inclusion, and authenticity among leadership.

CTLs tend to focus on the column on growth opportunity, but CTLs are positioned to also impact the other columns as well.  The report quoted a retail executive as noting:

“We used to prioritize our stakeholders as shareholders first, customers second, and employees third.  We now realize we had it backwards.  If we put employees first, they in turn take care of customers, and they in turn take care of our shareholders.”

Now take that statement and substitute students for customers and faculty for employees.  Strategically, it makes sense to holistically care for faculty, who in turn take care of students, who in turn care for the community (local and global).

At your CTL, how does the faculty experience impact the future of your institution?

{Graphics: Deloitte Press}

Attracting FacDev Talent

I have been exploring the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals, but I have been looking at it from a faculty development perspective.  The report is based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, and noted ten trends.  I discussed the second of these – careers and learning – yesterday.

The third trend involves talent acquisition…which at first glance does not have much to do with centers for teaching and learning and faculty development…or does it?  The report noted that in…

“…today’s transparent digital world, a company’s employment brand must be both highly visible and highly attractive because candidates now find the employer, not the reverse.” (Emphasis mine)

In ten years in faculty development, I have been involved in many search committees for members of CTLs.  I am sure many of you have as well.  The time honored process of crafting and posting a job description, forming a committee, screening a large number of applications…many of which do not fit the requirements, phone and maybe web interviews, campus visits, and the hope that through all of this, a candidate that actually is a good fit will be found.

The Deloitte report suggests this model may be changing … that tech solutions may disrupt this process.  AI systems like IBM’s Watson can now sort through cloud networks like LinkedIn and quickly identify good fits based on career experiences, endorsed skills, and analysis of social media dialogue.  Organizations are already employing simulations and gaming into the interview process to analyze potential performance on the job.  The report noted that “…a consensus is emerging that traditional interviewing – subjective and unstandardized – may be an unreliable method for predicting a potential employee’s success.”

Joel Osteen has been quoted as saying “See, when you drive home today, you’ve got a big windshield on the front of your car. And you’ve got a little bitty rearview mirror. And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future.”

Perhaps the way we have staffed CTLs in the past is our rear-view mirror, and the future staffing of CTLs might involve leveraging technology, focusing on the center’s brand to attract new talent to desire to come to the center, and thinking outside the box to find the right talent that can help faculty enhance student learning.  We tend to think that the past is crystal clear and that the future is fuzzy…just like the picture below.  True…but the future is also always not what we expect…so staffing for what we expect seems out of sync.

If you were starting a CTL from scratch now, what are the talents you would want with you as you look to this future?

{Graphics: Deloitte Press, Bill Frymire}

UPDATE:  After hitting publish yesterday, FastCompany published “The War For Talent is Over, And Everyone Lost.”  It took a slightly different tack than I did, but it illustrated that organizations seem better able at waging war on talent as opposed to attracting talent.  This article noted that talent is largely personality in the right place…which brings me back around to the idea of making CTLs attractive and the right talent will find you…as opposed to the other way around.

 

Half-Life of Skills

Earlier this week, I noted that I was beginning to dive into the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals.  Based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, the report noted ten trends.  I discussed the first of these – the organization of the future – in yesterday’s post.

The second trend in the Deloitte report was “Careers and Learning: Real Time, All the Time.”  The report began by noting – again, for businesses and HR professionals – that the concept of “career” is in flux.  The beautiful question asked is what does “career” mean in a world of 100-year lifespans, 60-year careers, and half-lives of skills that continue to fall to only about 5 years.  While this report is for businesses, one can easily see the overlap with faculty development.  A tenure-track position is a life-time commitment, yet the concomitant development of teaching and research skills can be problematic.  In the world of business, the report noted that organizations with dynamic career models outperform their peers by providing continuous learning opportunities and a deeply embedded culture of development.  Institutions of higher education, particularly those with centers for teaching and learning (CTLs), provide the continuous learning opportunities, but as one who has been in faculty development for a decade…and considering the numbers of faculty I did not see versus those I did, I question whether institutions of learning have cultures of development?

The report goes on to explore the explosion of high-quality, free or low-cost content available through such platforms as Youtube, edX, Coursera, Udacity and Khan Academy, as well as micro-masters offered at some universities.  The commoditization of content raises the question of for CTLs – develop content in-house or link to these resources outside the institution?  A parallel question is whether CTLs should even develop content…the report highlights General Electric’s Brilliant You – an online learning platform in which GE employees develop and share learning content with peers.

The report suggested that for businesses – and I would suggest for higher education as well – that “learning” is a highly strategic business area.  A decade ago, businesses were interested in building out some content in an online directory.  Now, they are moving towards agile learning opportunities, promoting true lifelong learning, and retraining for multifunctional teams.

“…Forward thinking L&D departments are facilitating this growth in interdisciplinary thinking by viewing the corporate university as a commons instead of a training center…”

This suggests new roles for the leaders of CTLs.  As catalysts for change, they have to become curators and facilitators more than trainers.  The culture of the faculty development within the university – ironically – has to shift from teaching to collaborative learning.

To illustrate new approaches, the report highlights the University of Southern California.  One example was the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and STEM Cell Research, which teamed science faculty with cinematography faculty to develop new approaches to problem solving using digital imaging and virtual reality.  Another example was the Iovine and Young Academy for the Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, which used interdisciplinary teams of faculty for breakthrough design thinking for audio headsets.  The lesson learned is that CTLs have to move beyond interdisciplinary and focus on convergence.  What are the problems that if solved would have high impact…and what groups could make this happen?  CTLs are in a unique position to leverage university assets to quickly form faculty learning communities that could address these problems.

As was done with the first theme, the report provided a series of old and new rules.  Once again building off their work to focus on faculty development:

Old Rules New Rules
No requirement for skill development for teaching or learning
Faculty decide what new skills are needed and have the resources to learn these skills
Tenure track is “up or out”
Tenure track is one of many options, careers can go in multiple directions
CTLs exist to train faculty
CTLs curate learning opportunities and create useful learning experiences
Faculty learn in workshops and sometimes online
Faculty learn all the time, in micro-learning, in physical and virtual workshops, and across disciplines
CTLs are considered the one-stop for training
CTLs are the learning commons, bringing together faculty and cross-functional learning communities
Offerings are based on compliance and technology
Offerings are always on, collaboratively developed and shared, and curated from multiple sources
Learning is provided by experts
Learning is provided by everyone
Credentials come from the university
Credentials are loosely bundled from multiple sources

.

Such an approach requires some fundamental rethinking of the core mission of CTLs…but these are disruptive times, and the time is ripe to begin this rethinking.

What rules would you add or change?

Faculty Development of the Future

Yesterday, I noted that I was beginning to dive into the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals.  Based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, the report noted ten trends, the first of which is the organization of the future.

The chapter in the Deloitte report on “The Organization of the Future: Arriving Now” was authored by Josh Bersin, Tiffany McDowell, Amir Rahnema, and Yves van Durme…a global team which in itself models what follows.  The report noted that organizational design was top of the trend list because high-performing companies today operate radically different than they did 10 years ago (which is when I first moved in to faculty development).  I would suggest that – as in business – the trend in faculty development is to move faster, adapt quicker, and facilitate rapid learning.  This may suggest a different organizational structure for centers for teaching and learning (CTLs).

Organizations …including CTLs… were designed in the past for efficiency and effectiveness, which led to a typically hierarchical structure.  Yet, as Harold Jarche has noted often, networks are the new companies…and in today’s environment, networks can be both on site and digital.  The Deloitte report suggested that high-performing organizations are shifting from hierarchies to team-based (and project-based) nodes.

networks of teams

In the past decade, we have seen CTLs grow nationally.  Two years ago, I looked at the trends across 42 public and state institutions.  There was no one pattern to center design.  Nationally, there were 8 megacenters that covered both teaching/learning and edtech, 28 centers that focused just on teaching and learning, and 15 centers that focused just on edtech/online.  Seven institutions had no centers of any kind.  Center staffing ranged from one part-time member to 90+. The average CTL had a staff of 5.7, the average edtech center had a staff of 25.9, and the average megacenter had a staff of 30.3.  Those that split the duties tended to staff the edtech side better, and there generally was duplication of services when centers were split.

Whether staffed with 6 people or 60, it would seem that the CTL of the future would involve teams that would form, deliver and disband…potentially using faculty in temporary CTL roles (such as Northeastern’s CATLR Faculty Scholars program).  The Deloitte report suggested an intriguing concept (at least intriguing when it comes to faculty development) of using organizational network analysis (ONA) software to study who is talking to who, allowing an organization to tap into existing networks.  The report also suggested that the leaders of these networked teams would need skills in negotiation, resilience, and systems thinking.  The past skills that allowed leaders to rise to the top might be the wrong skills for agile networked teams!  These new networked teams would not necessarily be co-located, and would use a variety of social collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, Facebook’s Workplace and/or Google Team Drives.

Building off this chapter’s “rewriting the rules” …the title of the report… the following emerges:

Old Rules New Rules
Organized for efficiency and effectiveness
Organized for learning, innovation, and faculty impact
CTL viewed as hierarchy, with chain of command decision process
CTL viewed as agile network, empowered by team leaders and fueled by
collaboration and knowledge-sharing
Structure based on academic functions
Structure based on work and projects
Advancement based on longevity
Advancement based on accomplishments through multiple assignments
People become leaders through promotion
People create followers to grow in influence
Culture ruled by fear of failure
Culture of safety, risk-taking, and learning through innovation
Rules-based
Playbook-based
Roles and job titles clearly defined
Teams and responsibilities clearly defined, but roles and job titles change frequently
Process-based
Project-based
Lead by direction
Lead by orchestration

.

Would higher education embrace such a model?  It is difficult to say.  In some respects, higher education continues to look forward by looking in the rear-view mirror.  Yet, there are calls for change…and CTLs have been innovators in the past.  Quickly evolving times call for new approaches.

I would be interested in your thoughts?  Is this realistic or a pipe-dream?

{Graphics: Deloitte Press}

 

 

Rewriting the Rules

I downloaded the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looks at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals.  This report suggested that with a more digital, global, diverse, automated and social workforce, HR rules need to be updated.

Drawing from Tom Friedman’s 2016 book Thank You For Being Late (which I just ordered), this report noted that organizations face gaps between the rate of change for technology, individuals, businesses and policy.  For instance, Twitter rapidly evolved in the past decade, and individuals rapidly adapted to Twitter.  But the adoption rate by businesses (and higher education) lagged that of individuals, and the creation of policy governing the use of Twitter lagged even more.

Based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, the report noted ten trends:

  • The organization of the future
  • Careers and learning
  • Talent acquisition
  • Employee experience
  • Performance management
  • Leadership disrupted
  • Digital HR
  • People analytics
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • The augmented workforce – Robotics, cognitive computing and AI

The ten trends noted apply well beyond just HR.  I see application not only to the leadership courses I teach for Creighton, but for higher education as well.  I continue to teach for Northeastern University, and I am consulting for the School of Social Work at VCU, helping them conceptualize the digital course components for their Masters and Bachelors courses.  In the days to come, I hope to devote a post to each trend, pulling the strings on how the trend might impact leadership and higher education.

{Graphics: Deloitte Press}

The Metaphor of Sloths

 

Thinking Outside Box

Back in 2014, one of my colleagues, Enoch Hale, posted the following blogging challenge:

“I want to pose an open challenge: Post an out-of-the-box question about teaching and learning each day for 30 days.

What followed was an amazing six weeks (we decided to do 30 work days) of out-of-the-box brainstorming.  Our collective questions were captured here.

Yet, while it was fun and intellectually stimulating, did it change me?  Maybe…it certainly flavored my teaching.

I thought of this thought-exercise as I was reading Joe Brewer’s Medium post “The Look and Feel of 21st Century Science.”

Brewer noted that humanity is going through unprecedented global change.  And while some processes adapt to change very quickly (our use of smartphones for instance), other things move more slowly.  He noted historical sloths such as academic disciplines at universities and libraries.

His point about libraries reminded me of Dave Weinberger’s earlier book, Everything is Miscellaneous.  Weinberger noted that in a digital age, there is no one way to classify information.  Rather than trying to put books in one place (like the Dewey Decimal System does), he suggested that information can live in multiple places.  This premise of information and knowledge living in multiple nodes and the concept of networked knowledge was expanded in his book Too Big To Know, which is the textbook for my ILD-831 classJoe BrewerBrewer noted that “…libraries are “going digital” and building up a network ecology framework for organizing the knowledge of societies.”

Brewer suggested that science is currently in crisis alongside the political and economic systems of the world.  He points out:

“So we must envision a look and feel for science in the future that is networked, agile and ever-evolving, relevant to the pressing issues of the day, and deeply, DEEPLY ecologically human.”

Brewer suggested that part of the problem lies in our adoption of systems thinking…the “illusion of separation between machines and living things.”  He pointed to the need to adopt instead ecological networks.

“…The look and feel of 21st Century science will be human through and through. There will be holism and integration; emotion and reason recombined in resonance with findings from the cognitive and behavioral sciences. And it will be ecological; embedded in human networks which are themselves embedded within physical and social geographies.”

Weinberger in Too Big To Know captured some of that library thinking when he concluded:

“…We thought that knowledge was scarce, when in fact it was just that our shelves were small.  Our new knowledge is not even a set of works.  It is an infrastructure of connection…”

Coming back to our 30-Day Challenge, Enoch had us questioning our teaching in ways that surfaced holism and integration…that surfaced integration of human and technology.  I have tried to bring aspects of that thinking into my current courses – Creighton University’s ILD-831 – Technology and Leadership – and Northeastern University’s EDU-6323 – Technology as a Medium for Learning.  In both classes, I struggle to move past the sloths of old…of hierarchical thinking in leadership…of classrooms based on scarcity of knowledge.  Yet, I am encouraged and even buoyed by ideas surfacing from my students in our blog aggregation for ILD-831 and our Twitter hashtag discussions in #edu6323.  The first stirrings of ecological networks appear to be developing!

I would be interested in your thoughts.  How do we move the sloths of academia and leadership in our digital age?

{Graphics: Bud Deihl, Brewer}

Course Captured in Image

We are half-way through my ILD-831 course at Creighton University on Technology and Leadership.  Over the past couple of weeks, my students have been exploring connections internal and external to their organizations, with Husband’s “wirearchy” as a lens for discussion.  We also have looked at some of the tools provided in Jane Hart’s most recent Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016.

So this morning, I am checking my blog feeds on Feedly and find this post by Jane Hart, linking to her article in Modern Workplace Learning Magazine entitled, “The Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit.”  In this article, she provided a diagram that shows the key tools a Modern Professional Learner might use in 12 different contexts – many of which appeared on her Top 200 Tools for Learning.

professional toolkit

MPL Toolkit

One could repurpose this diagram as “The Modern Leader’s Toolkit” and effectively capture the essence of my ILD 831 course.  In my course, we explore how the digital world impacts leaders and those they lead.

As one circles around the twelve different contexts – which fit well with leadership – one can easily see the integration of digital aspects of life with leadership.  Digital connections and personal productivity tools help help filter and organize the “bottomless knowledge” that Weinberger noted in Too Big To Know.  There are digital options for networking, building and engaging in online communities, and continuing both professional and personal growth through knowledge flow ware, online courses, and online knowledge repositories.  Workflow within an organization can be enhanced through collaboration apps and web conferencing.

Jane noted:

“…A Personal Learning Space lies at the heart of the Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit. It is a privately-controlled space where an individual can organise and manage his/her own learning, by recording and reflecting on experiences wherever and however they take place – in the classroom, online, in the office, in a conference or elsewhere – as well as evidence changes and improvements in her/her performance change. (It might  be termed an ePortfolio or even a Personal LMS)…”

This concept of a personalized learning space seemed to align with comments made this week by the President of Northeastern University:

“…In 10 years, according to Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, higher education will need to be much more nimble and personalized to meet students’ individual needs. But colleges and universities mustn’t only focus on the typical 18- to 22-year-old underclassman. Rather, they must embrace the notion of lifelong learning—that people of any age, and throughout their professional careers, will need new skills and competencies to evolve with the times…”

Aoun noted the disruption coming due to automation (a theme we have been exploring in ILD831), and noted that “…this reality represents a “wake-up call” for higher education, which must move rapidly to build what he called a robot-proof education that embraces lifelong learning and is nimble enough to equip people will the skills, experience, and knowledge needed to succeed in this changing landscape.”  I would suggest that this is true of most organizations, inside higher education and outside.  One cannot delegate responsibility to a training department – lifelong learning needs to be a personal responsibility.

Jane’s image captures the essence of ILD-831, but it also captures the essence of what a modern leader should be.

{Graphic: Jane Hart, Glanzman}

 

The Leaky Social Media Question

There is supposedly an old Chinese curse that states, “May You Live in Interesting Times.”  I would think that this last week – the first week of President Trump’s administration – qualifies as interesting times.

As someone who teaches about social media in both leadership and education classes, it was fascinating to watch unfolding events around social media in the federal government…which has lessons for those of us anywhere in leadership.

On Tuesday, the new administration attempted to control any communication with the public, ordering employees at multiple agencies to cease communicating with the public through news releases, official social media accounts and correspondence.  This raised a firestorm of reaction, with the Department of Agriculture amending its policy:

“Yesterday, we sent an email message about Agency informational products like news releases and social media contact,” another email to employees said. “This internal email was released prior to receiving official Departmental guidance and is hereby rescinded.”

Not all agencies quietly complied. A series of tweets that went viral appeared to come from one of the National Park Services, quickly generating the hashtag #badasslands:

Officially, the Park Service reported that the tweets came from a former employee who still had access to their account.  The Park pulled down the tweets…but by then, many copies were circulating (as I am doing here).  A number of “rogue” Twitter accounts surfaced to continue pushing back against the perceived attack on science by this administration.

So one of the lessons is, in a digital age with multiple channels of communication – and the ability of anyone to communicate – “controlling” the message, whether from a federal department, a business, or an educational institution, is problematic.

Eighteen years ago, Jon Husband coined the term “wirearchy” – “a dynamic flow of power and authority, based on information, trust, credibility, and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected technology and people”.

Unlike a hierarchy, a wirearchy assumes openness and transparency.  In a digitally connected world, information is going to flow…control is no longer possible.  A 2014 Gartner report suggested:

“…Digital business is not just about expanding the use of technology. Digital business leaders must think about technology in a fundamentally different way than in the past…”

Westerman, Bonnett, and McAfee, in their 2014 book Leading Digital, noted that in the past, standardizing limited empowerment.  Controlling impacted innovation.  The desire to orchestrate action suggested “leashing” rather than unleashing employees. The wirearchial world in which we lead today requires the opposite – empowerment, innovation, and the unleashing of employees (or students).

My students in ILD 831 next week will be grappling with the implications of leadership in a hyperlinked world.   I look forward to seeing their thoughts on our class Netvibes site.

{Graphic: Hugh McLeod}

 

What is Truth?

In the New Testament Bible, John 18:38, Pilate responds to Jesus’s statement that he should bear witness to the truth with this question, “What is truth?”  Two thousand years later, we seem to still be grappling with this question.

TruthThis past year, 2016, was a year in which “truth” became very nuanced.  Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as the 2016 international word of the year.  It defined post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”  We saw this play out in the United States presidential election.  Fact-checkers described numerous times when candidate Trump stretched the truth, and yet this seemed to not matter to his followers.  According to a Washington Post-ABC News post last November, Trump was seen as more honest than Clinton by an eight-point margin.

This is the backdrop to next week’s EDU 6323 lesson on web-based search.  Google Search is the most used search engine on the web, handling more than 3 billion searches every day.  Last year’s statistics ranked it with nearly two-third’s market share globally.  The main purpose of Google Search is to hunt for text in publicly accessible documents offered by web servers. It was originally developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1997. I remember using Alta Vista before that…but Google rapidly became the search leader. Google Search provides several features beyond searching for words. These include synonyms, weather forecasts, time zones, stock quotes, maps, earthquake data, movie showtimes, airports, home listings, and sports scores. There are special features for numbers, dates, and some specific forms, including ranges, prices, temperatures, money and measurement unit conversions, calculations, package tracking, patents, area codes, and language translation. In June 2011 Google introduced “Google Voice Search” to search for spoken, rather than typed, words – an alternate to Apple’s Siri.

Search EnginesMy lesson includes an exploration of advanced search on Google, as well as an exploration of web site ownership through WhoIs and the Wayback Machine. I am asking my students to pick a 2016 political action committee from this website … and then first search for this PAC using Google to provide the baseline information for analysis. They will then compare their Google returns to those generated by Bing, DuckDuckGo and the Chinese search engine Baidu, Do they get the same results?  What is different? Which do they prefer?  Then I will have them analyze the website for their SuperPac to see if they can find who registered and authored that website. Using the Wayback Machine, they will see if they can determine how long the has website been around.

My hope is that this exploration will generate some discussion around “truth”.  Dan Rockwell noted this past week that when he asked CEO’s at a dinner what kept them up at night, several shared ideas around truth (among others):

  • Biased media creating mis-perceptions.
  • Seeking input from others.
  • Being viewed as trustworthy.
  • Navigating transparency.
  • Getting it right when people ask for advice.

The Chronicle of Higher Education this past week published a special report called “The Post-Truth Issue.”  Two articles stood out to me. Safiya Noble, in “Google and the Misinformed Public,” noted that “…Google and Facebook have no transparent curation process by which the public can judge the credibility or legitimacy of the information they propagate.”  She goes on to say:

“Online search can oversimplify complex phenomena. The results, ranked by algorithms treated as trade secrets by Google, are divorced from context and lack guidance on their veracity or reliability. Search results feign impartiality and objectivity, even as they fail to provide essential information and knowledge we need: knowledge traditionally acquired through teachers, professors, books, history, and experience.”

Lucy Ferriss, in “Post-Truth and Chaos,” had an interesting closing:

“Truth, in other words, is a thing — a goal, a bedrock, a provable hypothesis, a conclusion from evidence, an insight to which, per Keats, the perception of beauty can bring us. Post-truth is a strategy. Its relationship to truth is strategic. Its goal is the exploitation of emotion. And while it cannot kill truth, it does in a way look past it, as a hubristic traveler might try to look past that North Star, and find beyond it utter darkness, nothingness, chaos.”

Determining validity on the web should be a part of digital literacy.  At lunch this past month with Enoch Hale, Director of VCU’s new Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, he made an interesting comment that his job really was more about “thinking” – thinking critically – than teaching or learning.  As we approach this next week, I want my EDU6323 students to think critically about what they find on the web, and about truth.

Truth?

{Graphics: Edgar, EvidenceUnseen}

Other Tools to Consider

In my ILD831 class for Creighton University this week, my 12 students will be looking at digital tools.  Using Jane Hart’s C4LPT Top 200 list as a starting point, they self-selected the following tools to explore and analyze from a leadership perspective (number indicates rank on the Top 200 list):
digital tools

As part of their analyses, they will be factoring in insights as they start to read David Weinberger’s Too Big To Know, as well as thoughts on an interview with Clay Shirky on the disruptive power of collaboration.  Their analyses will appear later this week in our Netvibes class page.

It is always interesting to consider the tools not selected by students as those selected.  Jane this year has divided her Top Tools into three sub-lists – Personal Learning, Workplace Learning, and Education – and noted the following:

  • “Individuals continue to reap the benefits of the opportunities offered to them on the Web to learn in all kinds of ways – both planned and unplanned, formal and informal, through content and people, online or on smart devices.
  • Education is also making use of a wide range of multi-purpose web-based tools – probably because they are free and easy to use – alongside dedicated educational tools.
  • Workplace learning, however, is still largely dominated by the use of traditional commercial tools for creating, delivering and managing e-learning. However, there is increasing use of new-style content development tools and greater use is being made of tools for social collaboration (and social learning) within work teams and groups.”

My class has business and non-profit executives, teachers and education administrators, military, corporate trainers, and healthcare managers.  What I will find interesting is not what tools they chose or how they might use them, but “why?” they might make a choice.  As an interdisciplinary group, I know we will learn from each other.

I found Jane Hart’s observations in each sub-group insightful.  Professionals reported to her that they were using digital tools to search and research the web, learn from others, aggregate and curate resources, store and sync their various files, and increase their productivity, using a variety of smart devices.  They reported a lot of experimentation on their own before they might bring a tool into the workplace or education.

In workplace learning, it was interesting and somewhat comforting that the number one tool was still Powerpoint.  As my students know from watching my class videos, I lean towards Prezi myself, but Powerpoint has advantages, not the least being accessibility.  Workplace tools included authoring tools, asset development tools (like infographics that I have played with), course management tools, and webinar tools. There is increasing use of time-line authoring tools, audience response tools, social tools, and web conferencing tools. I found it interesting that Jane noted the decreased use of FREE tools.

The opposite trend appeared in education, where free tools continue to be widely used along with commercial products.  Tools that increased interactivity were particularly popular.

Right Tool

After 10 years of reporting the top tools, one thing that remains in my thinking is that tools come and go, but the processes seem to become more focused and defined.  The specific tool is always less important than how and why it is being used.  I look forward to hearing what my students have to say this week!

{Graphics: kelcyc, Bob Crumb}