How iLearn! How iWork! - Learning Bridge To Nowhere: Are You On It?Mike Hammer | Blended Workforce Solutions, SP3M Group
With extensive publicity, most of us know about the proposed Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere” using earmarked federal funds – YOUR tax dollars, or better known as “other people’s money”, at work. Fortunately, the exposure and public opinion finally defunded the project. What if your job training was leading you across a bridge to nowhere? How would you know it? If you knew, what would/could you do?
In the last decade, college tuitions have risen over 300%. Current and future students should ask themselves before financing that education; will the quality or value for that increase be returned at graduation? Sure, all the stats indicate that those with at least a Bachelor’s degree are least likely to be unemployed, but will you achieve the education that will match skills needed in the market? Will you have embedded the learning habits from burning the midnight oil studying for an exam to use that learned ability to adapt quickly to changes in markets and a changing generational-cultural mix of peers?
While reading, writing and math are essential ingredients for today’s workforce, so are skills like business teamwork, contributing to the profitability of your employer, interpersonal skills and releasing long-held biases. Learning has to be multi-dimensional and taken as a serious part of the rest of your life, because there is a lot you haven’t and won’t be taught or have a chance to learn in a formal, four-year institution of higher education. Why is that? Because curriculum changes have approval processes filled with opinions, funding and politics. In the mean time, information growth, capture and storage that affects what is to be taught is growing exponentially by the minute. Take YouTube for example. While mostly for entertainment right now, every minute of each 24 hour day, 48 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. That’s a lot of digital information, but you have the ability to filter, bookmark, tag, sort and store only the information relevant to your needs at that moment.
Valid forecasting indicates that by the end of 2012 there will be over 7 billion wireless connections; one for every human on this planet. With that level of connectivity and communications, how can we believe that an archaic method of selecting, approving and presenting required curriculum to secure a formal Bachelor’s degree will keep pace and have validity upon graduation?
Can these elite institutions learn anything from on-line universities, for profit degree offerings and corporate learning programs? Can endowment and funding be used to influence more rapid change in how we are educating our future workers and leaders? Of course, but is it too much to expect?
During the economic boom years of the 80’s and 90’s, many earned degrees in communications, economics, and other such labels that would not pass the “smell test” or the “what have you really learned” test. Later, these minimal efforts would prove to be a shortfall for those who really believed they got a rich learning experience that would help them move up the corporate ladder faster or get a loan to start a business.
By now any passionate professor or teacher in our colleges reading this may be fuming by my statements. To be sure, we have many good teachers and professors, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is the opportunities for our children and grandchildren are at stake here, not tenure or whose opinion of a well rounded education should be accepted. We also know that an increasing percentage high school freshmen arriving on campus each Fall are not yet prepared for college and will fail. These and other facts are building a “Learning Bridge to Nowhere” in a world becoming more competitive by the minute with other nations doing more and better at the foundation for success – education.
In America we have thrown billions and billions of dollars into our K-12 public education. Everything from “No Child Left Behind” to “Race to the Top”. All authentic research, assessment or measurement of these programs has the same conclusion – little or no improvement. In fact, recent investigations are now uncovering systematic test cheating in high schools across the nation by teachers and administrators in order to earn performance bonuses.
Solutions! Are there any? Yes, if we can get the bias and politics out of the way and return education funding to local communities, parents, school officials and local business working together and thinking innovatively for the benefit of the students’ future. Simple.
For the adult learner the answer is also simple. Take control of your own learning and career path. Plan on lifelong learning that will never end. Use that as the template when selecting schools, courses, corporate learning. Always ask what will the course contribute to my lifelong learning to make me a better citizen, worker, leader, parent, co-worker, etc. Education should be a bridge to your future, not a bridge to nowhere.
Skills, Proficiency, Promises, and Performance Mastery gets you there. That’s HOW iLearn and HOW iWork!
NEXT WEEK IN How iLearn! How iWork!: Working in a Blended Workforce.