Is Education In Sync?

ReflectionThanks to my background in quality, I try to stay current with some of the business blogs in addition to education blogs. One that I like is Guy Kawasaki’s blog, so when he suggested businesses look at Penelope Trunk’s advice, that is worth checking out.

Penelope was advising businesses on the best ways to hire in this flat world. Guy summarized as follows:

  • Tell people where they’ll go next. No one works at one company forever, so if you can show how a candidate can get ready for a career leap, you’ll make your company attractive.
    • {It seems that we in education are still locked in the industrial-age model of preparing students for a single career…when all the evidence suggests our students will have multiple careers through their working life. Are we developing a nimble, agile workforce or are we just focused on our three-credit course?}
  • Use your public relations team to prop up the manager. By this Penelope means that you should advertise that the job reports to a cool/great/influential manager. (Hopefully, this is true.)
  • Get some respect for speciality recruiters. Good employees develop loyalty to recruiters. These recruiters place the same candidate in ever better jobs. Ergo, make nice with recruiters.
    • {Are program directors LinkedIn with the top recruiters for their fields and guiding students to network with these people?}
  • Advertise in niche communities. Here’s an example: Want to catch women as they return to the workplace after child raising? Duh, advertise in mommy blogs via Blogher.
    • {Both Guy and Penelope suggest that businesses should be using the social networking tools that students use. Should not faculty also? Should not faculty model blogging, help students craft their voice, and network with those in their discipline that can help their students?}
  • Leverage social media. There’s no doubt in my mind, for example, that you can recruit using Twitter. You can do a lot with 140 characters if you know what you’re doing. If you want a quick introduction to the best of Twitter, click here. Just being on social media sites says something about your company.
    • {Just being on social media says something about your course as well.}

There have been several notable edtech bloggers this past month lamenting about the slow pace of faculty adoption of Web 2.0 tools. One lesson from these business blogs (good or bad) is that many businesses lag in their adoption as well. However, education can not stand on its laurels. Tom Peters pointed out something interesting his book Re-Imagine! (2003)

Peters looked at the companies listed in Forbes 100 in 1917. Seventy years later, 61 gone; and of the 39 left, only 18 still ranked among the top 100. Of those 18, 16 underperformed the stock market by 20%. After seventy years, only 2 companies outperformed the market– and one of those was Kodak – now on its way out. GE was the sole winner.

Likewise, he examined the Standard and Poor’s 500 list for 1957. Forty years later, only 74 of the 500 listed were still alive; and of the 74, only 12 (or 2.4%) outperformed the market.

Networked World

The reason Penelope’s and Guy’s advise resonates with me is that they are looking forward, not basing their business (or education) by looking at what worked in the past. As Peters demonstrated, superior performance in the past is not a hallmark towards future performance. The flat world requires new skills. Sharp entrepreneurs are using those skills and seeking a workforce that is likewise trained (and likewise agile). We as faculty must prepare our students for this wired world…and that means adoption of these skills ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Is Education In Sync?

  1. I think the growth will be in the use of smaller, more focused, niche social networks that cater to a particular interest, hobby or vocation. These smaller sites will allow like-minded individuals and groups to connect, exchange ideas and receive genuine and useful support.

    These kinds of sites will also be attractive to advertisers as they get targeted demographics to spend their online advertising budgets on.

    Thanks to sites such as ning, anyone can start a niche social network about anything. There’s also a search engine to help find niche social networks that lists thousands of networks for a whole range of subjects,

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