An Accelerating Future


Over the past couple of weeks, I have been exploring the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals.  The report is based on analysis of a survey of more than 10,400 business and HR leaders globally, and noted ten trends.  Over a series of posts, I have been looking at this report from a faculty development perspective, but folding in thoughts generated from reading Tom Friedman’s new book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.

The last two trends involved Diversity/Inclusion and the Future of Work, which again tie in nicely to the accelerating technological changes of the past decade noted in Friedman’s book.  Taking them in reverse order, the report noted that the future of work is being driven by the acceleration of connectivity and cognitive technology.  Friedman noted that between 2000 and 2007, we had a phase shift where “…connectivity was fast, free, easy for you and ubiquitous and handling complexity became fast, free, easy for you and invisible.”

Think about that statement.  When the world went flat, all corners of the world were connected and connected with high bandwidth.  At the same time…and due in large part to those connections and the continued advances of Moore’s Law, machine learning made the potential for handling complexity effortless.  With the huge data available on the cloud, Google can now translate English into any language (and vice versa)…not by programming grammar…but by letting the program compare examples of translated text and look for statistical patterns.  Friedman pointed out that when Google got rid of linguists and brought in statisticians, accuracy of language translation went up.  Now the same thing is happening with speech recognition, and we are approaching the old Star Trek standard of a universal translator.

This use of the cloud has allowed for some amazing transformations in what is “normal.”  Friedman quoted Tom Goodwin in a TechCrunch article as stating:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.  Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content.  Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has not inventory.  And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.  Something interesting is happening.”

Now, conceptualize how that “something interesting” will play out in higher education.

The Deloitte report noted that automation, cognitive computing, and crowdsourcing are paradigm-shifting forces that will reshape the workforce.  With AI impacting almost every field, every field will have to identify those “essential human skills” that will differentiate their business and make them competitive.  This obviously will also impact what higher education is doing to prepare the workforce of the future…which in turn impacts what faculty need to do.  The report suggested that the essentially human parts of work – empathy, communication, persuasion, personal service, problem solving, and strategic decision making – are becoming more important, which raises the importance of a diverse workforce.  The report noted that when one considers organizations as networks, it becomes clear that diversity and inclusion can enhance organizational performance.  And diversity is not just gender or ethnic considerations, but diversity of thought as well.

Now consider faculty development in this accelerating future.

The gold standard regarding faculty used to be tenure-track processes.  But in an accelerating future, tenure is simply a waypoint towards an undefined future.  The half-life of the skills and expertise one brings in to tenure will erode rapidly.  More importantly, thanks to cognitive computing, some aspects of “teaching, research and service” could easily be automated.  This is not bad.  Friedman points out that the future will involve teaming of humans with machines.  Rather than a TA, we might have Siri or Alexa or some other cognitive device to help us … and learn with us.

That suggests that faculty – and faculty developers – should be asking:

  • What parts of teaching, research, and service can be automated, and what parts do faculty provide added value?
  • How do faculty reskill … and help students reskill as technology evolves?
  • What learning needs to take place in a classroom and with students physically present and what could be done online?  Synchronous, asynchronous, small group, simulations…
  • What new learning can be (or should be) crowdsourced?  What does this mean for curriculum design?
  • With all this change, time becomes a precious commodity.  How do we redesign faculty (and student) work to be open, collaborative, digital…and yet leave time for exploration and discovery?
  • Will new roles emerge beyond tenure-track, term, and adjunct faculty?  How will faculty development evolve to meet these new roles?  With the world moving to more personalized experiences, will we now have personalized faculty development?

No easy answers…but complacency could be our biggest barrier.  We have to assume that the faculty development model of the past will not fit an accelerating future.

{Graphics: Deloitte Press}

Only Been One Decade

Freidman bookI loved the second chapter of Tom Friedman’s new book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.  The chapter title is

“What the Hell Happened in 2007?”

Good question.  It has only been a decade since 2007, and given that I joined the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence in late 2006, it sort of marked my start in faculty development.

Friedman noted how in a short period right around 2007, the following occurred:

  • The iPhone was introduced
  • Facebook opened up to non-college users
  • Google bought YouTube and launched Android
  • Amazon released Kindle
  • Michael Dell returned to Dell to run the company (again)
  • Intel added non-silicon materials to chips, which helped Moore’s Law to continue
  • The beginning of an exponential rise in green energy – solar, wind, and biofuels
  • The cost of DNA sequencing began dropping to rates anyone could use

Friedman noted that he first began writing a book about how technology was driving the world…and the world’s economy… back in 2004, which became The World is Flat.  He updated the book in 2006 and issued version 3.0 in 2007, at which point he stopped thinking about it.  I noted in previous posts that this book was very impactful to me personally.  In fact, my presentation during my interview for a job at the VCU CTE was on how Friedman’s 10 flatteners were changing our view of what it meant to teach.  A version I loaded into Slideshare a year later has now been viewed over 18,000 times, which is just one more example of how the world of teaching has changed!

Yet, in 2010, Friedman picked up his first edition and scanned the index, noticing that Facebook was not in it.  Twitter was not in it.  Big data was not in it.  Skype, LinkedIn, 4G…none showed up in his book about how the internet had changed the world.  That was when he realized the extent to which these changes were indeed accelerating.

As I think back on this last decade and my evolution within the VCU CTE … and later on to Northeastern’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning through Research (CATLR), I realize how fortunate I have been to have had the opportunity to play at precisely that inflection point in history when our concept about teaching and learning in a digital world changed.  I also got to play in a wonderful team led by Jeffrey Nugent, with Bud Deihl playing alongside.  2007 marked my first year as a learning specialist at the CTE, and during that year, Koehler and Mishra published their first paper on TPACK – Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge, which shaped much of my work with faculty.  We began paying attention to work Stephen Downes and George Siemens were doing around the concept of connectivism, as well as the first MOOCs.  I sent my first tweet …even misspelling it as “twit” … in January 2008.

I also started this blog in January 2008.  Three hundred-seventy-five posts later…here we are…

It has only been one decade!

Friedman ends the second chapter noting that the rate of technological change has increased for the first time above the rate at which humans adapt.  He suggests that we have to now enhance our ability to adapt…which will lead to the next series of chapters.

This need to enhance our adaptability as we deal with the constant acceleration of technology, globalization, and climate change was again on my mind as I continued exploring the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which looked at the challenges ahead for businesses and HR professionals. Over the past seven posts, 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 fifth trend yesterday.

The sixth and seventh trends involved Digital HR and People Analytics, which are not only closely related…but tie in nicely to the accelerating technological changes of the past decade.

The report noted that HR now is dealing with a digital workforce, a digital workplace, and so must be digital as well.  The tone has shifted from “doing digital” to “being digital.”  Companies are shifting from rigid place-bound organizations to networks of networks.  Processes are expected to be more transparent, and new tools are needed.  “Standard” HR practices are becoming anything but standard as organizations fluidly shift in order to optimize productivity, engagement, teamwork, and career growth.  Analytics are now being mined to help drive performance.

The concept of being digital aligns with faculty development as well.  In a conversation this past week with a colleague, she noted that online teaching is no longer seen as an add-on…that being digital is part of teaching today.  We lag behind corporate America when it comes to using analytics…but that is changing as well.  One only need look at the sales pitches by companies for the various LMSs to see how analytics are now in the lexicon of education.

If change is indeed accelerating, one wonders what the next decade will bring.  I plan to shift the textbook for my Creighton Leadership and Technology course from Dave Weinberger’s Too Big to Know to Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable, but I can see that by Spring 2018 when I next teach this course, Friedman’s book may also be part of the course.

Maybe that is inevitable…

{Graphics: Deloitte Press}

 

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}

 

 

Our Annual Online Teaching Institute

We just wrapped up our annual institute…a part of our year-long Online Course Development Initiative.  Again this year, we have 20 faculty who joined our eLearning Team this week at the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence to focus on teaching and what teaching means in an online environment.

O C D I Banner

During our final lunch, we all discussed what this week meant.  Many suggested that they came to the week expecting to learn about online courses, but left reconceptualizing teaching in general.  It was an intense forty-hour week, yet they left with more energy than they had the first day!  For that, I thank my team mates who once again made a huge difference.

I made good use of Prezi this week – here are five sessions I led:

Growth and Evolution of eLearning

[Un]Packing the LMS

How People Learn

Building Community

Choosing Digital Tools

All in all, a great week.  Now, the five of us in our eLearning team each have four faculty whom we will work with over the next year to develop and teach online classes!

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CTE White Paper on Online Teaching and Learning

The delivery of courses online is nearly as old as the web itself, but as with any innovation, some faculty members have been early adopters while others have watched the development with both interest and skepticism. As publishing and managing content on the web has become easier, and as the delivery of online courses has become increasingly more popular, more faculty members have begun exploring ways to offer their courses online.

There is a common perspective that moving a course online is primarily about designing and sequencing course content. While content is important, we also believe that recent changes on the web – toward a more social and interconnected space – have necessitated the rethinking of what it means to make the transition to online teaching and learning. The unprecedented access to information coupled with the ability by anyone to publish online are disrupting how one teaches and learns, raising questions in the minds of faculty as to whether their own practices should change.

Jeff Nugent, Bud Deihl, and I at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Teaching Excellence where I work have authored a white paper, Building from Content to Community: [Re]Thinking the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning, that is intended to serve as a resource for faculty who are teaching online or are considering making a transition. We hope this paper serves as the starting point for conversation, and invite you to share your ideas by leaving a comment at our CTE blog or here.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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