Dixie Darr

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

In creativity, Learning on April 13, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Learning through the Recession.

Innovation technique: Keep learning.

Going back to school has often been cited as a remedy to unemployment, but the April 12 issue of Parade, touts it as a way to Recession Proof Your Career. “Keep your skills current. Take classes or join trade organizations in an effort to show that your skills are up-to-date. Inquire if there is some additional training your boss would like you to take. If you don’t have cash to pay for additional training, consider unpaid internships or do volunteer work for a nonprofit to gain valuable skills and potential job contacts for future employment possibilities.”

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Innovation technique: Look for ideas outside your field that can be tweaked and adapted.

Maybe you have noticed restaurants offering smaller, lower cost meals to lure back customers reluctant to spend entertainment dollars. Is that an idea that can be adapted to higher education? Turns out it is. Southern New Hampshire University is offering no-frills education at an off-campus location for $10,000 a year, $15,000 less than tuition at the main campus.

CBS News reports that “there’s none of the trappings of college life that the students at the full-fare campus enjoy – a playing field, a fitness center, the dorms, or the dining hall. Here there’s no ivy or quad, no football, no frats.” For the bargain fee of $35 a year, these students can use all those amenities at the main campus. So far, no one has taken them up on it. They consider those things to be distractions. When it comes to education, one size definitely does not fit all.

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In Learning Tools on April 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Academic Inflation

“There was a time when good academic qualification so guaranteed a job, but not any more. One reason in academic inflation. In the next 30 years, more people worldwide will be gaining academic qualifications than since the beginning of history. But as more people get them, their currency value is falling sharply.” So sayeth the brilliant Ken Robinson in his book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.

Three converging trends contribute to academic inflation:

§ Jobs that used to require a bachelor’s degree now require a master’s or even a doctorate—not because the nature of the job has changed, but because employers have a bigger population of college graduates to choose from.

§ Steeply rising costs of college programs put graduates so deeply in debt that entry-level jobs can no longer pay the bills.

§ Colleges don’t teach the skills business needs: communication, teamwork, and creative thinking.

What’s the answer? I think we will begin to see more and more people bypassing the traditional college degree and seeking practical, up-to-date knowledge and skills on their own, using the Internet. As degrees become less relevant, we will see people being evaluated based on what they know and what they can do. That’s been happening for years in cutting-edge fields. Look at job postings now for social marketers and they rarely require a degree because there simply are not such degrees available.

Robinson points out that earning a degree may be just as necessary now (or more so), but it is no longer a guarantee of anything. It’s just a starting point. It isn’t job training so much as training in how to learn. As John Naisbitt pointed out thirty years ago, “Things are changing too fast for people to specialize their education. . . .Tasks are going to change, careers are going to change. If you know how to learn, you can continue to grow. If you don’t you’re going to be handicapped.”

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In creativity, Learning on April 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm
Colleges Whistle Same Tired Tune

Colorado’s college students, faculty and administrators are up in arms today because the state legislature, trying to cope with a budget shortfall, has proposed cutting $300 million in funding to higher education. The colleges, as usual, have responded by talking about huge tuition hikes of up to 32% over last year’s rates.
Here’s what I don’t understand. These colleges and universities supposedly house some of the best, most creative minds in the country. Why can’t they come up with a better idea to fund higher education? They have entire colleges of business plus centers for entrepreneurship and innovation. They have more intellectual property than you can shake a stick at, and yet they dish up the same old recipe of money from the state combined with tuition from the students. That’s the way it’s always been done, by God, and that’s the method they want to stick with.
My only hope is that, faced with an impossible situation, maybe they will finally figure out a new and (dare I say) better way to do things. Just a thought.