Showing posts with label college. Show all posts
Showing posts with label college. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Can't Be Standardized in Higher Education?

Higher education is going through radical changes and struggling universities are moving online to increase their reach and balance their budgets. A number of studies have shown that standardization doesn't lessen educational quality and provides consistency in course instruction. Despite standardization there are two things that still need qualified faculty to complete effectively.

Grading papers and engaging in conversation require a guiding hand to fully function as intended. Both of these course activities are based in qualitative measurements that are very difficult for automated algorithms to calculate. It takes considerable experience and human insight to understand the student's current vantage point and propose new information to push their knowledge.

Each paper comes with a blend of course information, learned experience, thought processes and communication abilities. Professors must try and follow the train of thought and make judgments on the students understanding. For example, the understanding could be high and the writing skills low. The professor can make proper recommendations.

The same thing occurs in grading participation in discussion questions. The individual exists within an online conversation and it is beneficial to determine course understanding by assessing the student as an individual in a group discussion. This requires following complex group ideas and how those ideas build off of each other and create meaning for the student.

Professors ability to effectively grade and further knowledge among students is difficult to assess automatically. Someday this may not be the case yet as of now the qualitative assessments are too difficult for mechanical understanding. Professors skill in assessment and development of their courses is a learned skill that is enhanced over repeated focus and practice. Seasoned online professors are worth their weight in gold bring a human touch to the virtual learning world.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Higher Education on the Cusp of Change

Education is changing faster than many officials and traditional systems can understand. A study by Dr. Starr describes how education in the U.K., U.S., Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand is changing rapidly based on a number of pressures. She conducted semi-structured focus groups with a 199 participants in her target markets to understand how technology is changing everything. 

Pressures in budgeting and financing are apparent. As traditional education becomes more expensive state and national budgets are increasingly strained. This is creating pressure to change and streamline the educational process. New policies and procedures are designed to reign in those costs and educational excesses. 

Universities are also finding themselves challenged by new technology and learning methods. In multiple ways it is making some traditional universities obsolete and they have opted to try and adapt new technology quickly. Despite their best efforts technology is adapting faster than they can find ways of implementing it. 

The nature of work of professors is also going through a tough transition. Professors won’t have the large support of union power going forward, will need to be available 24/7, and will likely have their working conditions changed. This doesn’t mean it will be positive or negative but the way things were done in the past are not likely to be done in the future. 

Higher education is moving through a developmental period in which the seeds were sewn 15 or so years ago. Technology, globalization, budgets and the demographics of students have placed pressures in new places and cracking higher education as we know it. The rapid change of higher education is likely to speed in the near future as new successes and failures in educational models become apparent. 

Starr, K. (2014). Implications of radically transformational challenges confronting education business leadership. Business Education & Accreditation, 6 (2).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Teaching Business Graduates to Apply Theory

Students enter graduate school with an abundance of hopes and enthusiasm to transform themselves into the next guru CEO that transforms companies to great profit. Sometimes that enthusiasm dissipates when they realize the equally abundant amount of work that is necessary to learn the skills needed to achieve that success. The ability of students to understand higher levels of theoretical material and apply that material to solve important problems for “real world” performance is beneficial for life success.  Graduates who know how to understand theory and apply it are worth more than those who cannot.

It is through this application that theoretical models are adjusted to working models that adequately function within the business world. When theories are adjusted and refined they provide a level of feedback that helps to ensure the theory continues to adjust to a more practical end. The development and attempted application of theory is part of the process of business development.

Some students, unfortunately too many students, read information and rephrase it without trying to understand the information at a deeper level. Graduate students should be more like working scholars that read, understand, and apply best practice theories to solve everyday workplace problems. Their ability to move beyond simple citation and regurgitation is important for future growth and success. 

Graduate students should receive their Master Degree Diploma’s with a level of knowledge and skills that transfer to the modern workplace. Unfortunately, many business school students’ graduates lack sufficient writing, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking skills to effectively navigate their work environment (Everson, 2014).  Making them seek relevant information and communicate about it is important for their development.

The use of theory to solve practical problems can have strong business implications that can better bridge the gaps between the business community universities. For example, business and communication students at a large university in the U.S. competed to solve authentic business problems proposed by a Fortune 500 Company (Brozovic & Matz, 2009). The company was impressed with some of the recommendations and implemented them into their operations while students were able to learn how to apply theoretical knowledge. 

Such collaborations between the business and the academic world are unfortunately rare. Higher education has a responsibility to adequately prepare students for successful employment while business should ensure that business colleges are teaching appropriate curriculum that suits their needs long-term needs. Building connections between the two worlds can only be helpful for the development of both.

Students may resent having to look in the library for materials, read those materials thoroughly, and then formulate an opinion on how to apply the concepts but this is vitally important for successful business management. Business is about solving consumer and market problems and those future executives that can apply knowledge to difficult problems are not only likely to be more effective but also increase their value through continuous learning. 

Brzovic, K. & Matz, I. (2009). Students advise fortune 500 company: designing a problem-based learning community. Business Communication Quarterly, 72 (1). 

Everson, K. (2014). Shrinking the business school skill gap. Chief Learning Officer, 13 (9).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Failure to Innovate in Higher Education- A Problem of Low Hanging Fruit

Education is a classical American institution that helps develop intellectual capital to encourage successful national growth. Sometimes institutions can work against their core purpose by failing to grow or develop beyond current limitations. Innovation in higher education is an important predictor of the success of both the higher education institution and the preparedness of a nation. Failure to reach beyond low hanging fruit in higher education causes stagnation and decline in the form of cost overruns and poor outcomes. 

Despite having strong support through state spending, family savings, and student loans the system has increasingly become unsustainable and hasn’t kept up with the life-long learning needs of working families. Throwing more resources into a clunky system that hasn’t changed only prolongs the eventual financial and educational reckoning that will occur if costs start to outstrip revenue. 

Online education has disrupted the assumptions of traditional education and provides a credible modality many government and higher education officials scoffed at just a decade ago. We can call this the process of innovation and implementation (Parker, 2012) whereby new technology creates chaos in the system and then becomes part of the mainstream until the next development occurs and the process starts all over. All developing industries rely on this innovation-implementation model for growth. 

Online education is a trend that reaches across for-profit and not-for-profit higher educational institutions. Students demand for flexibility in their studies should not be ignored. In 2010 enrollment in online courses increased 29% with 6.7 million (1/3 of all students) enrolled in online courses (Jaggars, et. al. 2013). A total of 97% of two-year colleges offer online courses while 66% of post-secondary universities also offer online courses. 

The far majority of schools in engage in online education and it is no longer a disruptive technology. It has grown because the market has demanded it grow. Online education may not offer the front page grabbing sports teams or large buildings that dotted the landscape in the 20th Century but does offer solutions for the 21st Century. This assumes that higher education is more about learning than maintaining tradition without consideration of long-term national costs. 

Experimentation in higher education is absolutely necessary to develop the institution to a higher level of existence. The quality of education is in a continuous process of change where new models influence traditional models by making them more efficient. In turn, innovative development is slowed and improved for mainstream consumption by traditional education stakeholders. There should be a balance of innovation and integration to ensure maximum relevancy of higher education institutions. Innovation and change avoids the need to reach for low hanging fruit that raises the cost and burden on society as a result of not considering long-term interests or risks.

Jaggars, S., Edgecombe, N. & Stacy, G. (2013). What we know about online course outcomes. Research Overview. Community College Research Center, Columbia University.  ED542143

Parker, S. (2012). Theories of entrepreneurship, innovation and the business cycle. Journal of Economic Surveys, 26 (3).

Friday, August 1, 2014

Developing the Whole Student in Higher Education

Education and training is seen within particular context. Educators often view specific objectives as the total learning process but fail to accept the whole person within that process. A paper by Carter & Donohue (2012) focuses on the total development of the person across the spectrum of scholarship, strategy and service.  The implications are more important for leadership development that must consider the person within his or her environment. 

Scholarship affords the opportunity to understand the foundational knowledge and theory related to particular societal issues. It is the academic process of gaining information through reading, studying, reflecting and understanding. 

Academic knowledge is only part of the solution. One could understand the theory but have no idea of how to apply it within the environment. The application of academic knowledge is based on strategic considerations that come from experience. 

To know how to apply a theory to the environment requires considerable experience that comes from working within and understanding that environment. Strategy is a critical thinking process that weighs and balances the outcomes through understanding how a process works.

Service is a process of having a focal point for actions. Students that have a purpose and focus are often more motivated than students who don’t. Offering a chance to work toward some goal in service can help them integrate the pieces of academic knowledge and strategy. 

Learning doesn’t only come from a textbook and entails the whole person within the environment in which he or she exists. Formal knowledge is important in raising the standard of total understanding so that the strategy can be applied to an activity for greater integration. Without considering the total person within the educational or training environment there is only partial development. 

Vincent, C. & Donohue, M. (2012). Whole person learning: embedding ethical enterprise leadership in business education. American Journal of Business Education, 5 (6).