#SUNYCIT: Keynote – Jeff Selingo

#SUNYCIT: Keynote - Jeff Selingo

Jeff Selingo is a best-selling author who focuses on higher education and education. He was the keynote speaker for SUNY Conference on Instruction and Technology. He is the author of There is Life After College. In his presentation, he focused on four points:

  • What we learn?
  • Who learns?
  • Where we learn?
  • How we measure, value, and communicate what we learn?

John Kane, Fact2 Chair opened the keynote presentation and focused on the higher education landscape, e.g., higher education still matters in the difference it makes. He also addressed the current attacks on sciences, news, and education.

Jeff Selingo’s presentation began at the 9:13 mark in the video.

1. What we learn ?

Selingo pointed out that careers are radically changing. Fifty percent (50%) of careers will be affected by artificial intelligence and automation.

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He noted that we need to rethink the concept of technology and the concept of higher education. Are we providing the skills that employers want? Selingo shared a list of skill sets in demand:

  • curiosity
  • creativity
  • digital awareness
  • contextual thinking
  • humility

He also shared a skills list found in the Burning Glass Technologies (BGT) report, The Human Factor: The Hard Time Employers Have Finding Soft Skills. BGT reviewed 20 million job ads and distilled their findings into 25 skills found in 3/4 of ads: Here are the top five:

  • Communication/Writing
  • Organization Skills
  • Customer Service/Problem Solving
  • Planning/Detailed-Oriented
  • Microsoft Excel

He argued that colleges no longer emphasize these skills.

“In many ways the modern world looks a lot like a pre-school classroom where curiosity, sharing, and negotiating are front and center” #aftercollege

This does not reflect a typical classroom. Instead, students are focused on how to get a grade. We need to do a better job letting students know what employers want.

Rather than focus on how to get into college, students need to learn how to go to college. They need to learn how to learn. They need to learn how to develop high social skills and navigate college.

2. Who Learns?

As Selingo began this section, he showed a set of maps comparing states with low-income students for 2000 and 2013. The number states with families with an income between $20k-$40k grew from 4 states having over 50% to 20 states. There is an increased financial need.

He then discussed three groups of students:

  • Sprinters – finish degree on time
  • Wanderers – take their time finishing degree
  • Stragglers – press pause and then restart.

Three factors helped to determine these groups: the amount of debt they carried, if they completed internships, and if they earned credentials.

There is a significant number of people in their 20s without a degree. We need a new on-ramp for people in their 20s. We should not only be focusing on new high school graduates.

3. Where we learn?

Learning is now a lifelong learning event. You no longer learn everything in college. You need to continuously retool your skillset.

Selingo showed a slide of 10 alternative ways to learn. These alternative ways include Coursera, Lynda.com, EdX, iTunesU, General Assembly, and others. They offer education in small chunks. They have unbundled education, yet, higher education is expecting a commitment of 2+ years.

He talked about a micro master’s degree. Here are two articles:

We need to look at unbundling our programs to create stackable credits. How do we create such an ecosystem?

Stanford has developed the Open Loop University. Students buy into 6 years of college over their lifetime.

4. How we measure, value, and communicate what we learn?

No employer asks to see your diploma. They are more interested in what you can do for them. Employers are frustrated students do not have the skills listed in section 1.

Some companies are now working with schools to ensure that skills they need are being taught. Other companies like JetBlue Airways and StarBucks are vetting schools for a tuition benefit. Their logic is that workers do not have time to vet schools so the companies do it for them. Companies like these are spending $22 billion on tuition benefits.

Selingo noted that higher education has gone through a number of different eras.

  • 1968-1990 – Growth Era
  • 1991-2010 – Tech Era
  • 2011- Present – Collaboration Era

In the Collaboration Era, schools are forming partnerships to try to solve problems. These partnerships are transcending state boundaries. As he added, we need to innovate rather than hunker down.

Final thoughts

I thought this was a very interesting presentation. We are in a time when we must innovate. We have to think differently to solve our current problems. Partnerships with companies and other institutions may be at the center of our new solutions.

I would love to talk further about this particular presentation. Please drop by the TEI Synergy Center and visit.

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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