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Does Higher Education Still Prepare People for Jobs?

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One cannot deny that education is a predominant step in enhancing their analytical abilities and igniting a competitive spirit.

When it comes to higher education there is always been a debate whether the study programs are actually serving the students in the right way that is, by preparing them adequately for jobs. With universities boasting that they are incorporating the right skills in the students and the employers lamenting about the gaps in student learning the question of the relevance of higher education still remains in the students’ minds.

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How higher education prepares you for jobs

Universities are the places where you get a chance to enhance your knowledge about the subjects and gain the skills that will help in applying that knowledge in real life. Hence, colleges are where inexperienced students get a chance to learn about effective communication, problem-solving, analytical thinking, teamwork and leadership, some of the important characteristics required in the industry. Let us see how colleges prepare them for the industry.

  1. Learning teamwork through group projects – Students are introduced to the concept of team building through various group projects in college. It not only allows them to work in groups but gives them an opportunity to build up their leadership skills.
  1. Effective oral communication through presentations – Communication is no doubt one of the major skills required in the workplace. Students can get exposed to public speaking during college time. However, many of them avoid giving presentations or participating in debates but those who do would not get afraid to give a presentation in the workplace later in their careers.
  1. Learning organizational skills by developing study systems – Another important workplace characteristic is the ability to manage tasks. University life exposes students with this ability as they learn to manage their study routine, meeting assignment deadlines, working on multiple projects and of course preparing for examinations. Students who are already aware of how to prioritize things, work with to-do lists, planners and hence develop a system that can enhance their productivity are likely to face fewer problems at the workplace.
  1. Eloquently written communication through assignments – Everyone is aware of the excessive amounts of assignments students have to prepare in their entire academic career. It not only helps in achieving better grades but makes them aware of the process of writing – drafting, editing, rewriting and proofreading. Hence if students work upon their writing skills in college they are actually preparing them for better job opportunities.
  1. Effective Time management by handling a variety of tasks – School students pretty much have a sorted study routine because of its regimented schedule while colleges give the freedom to students on how they want to utilize their time. As a result, they can learn how to prioritize multiple assignments and projects, how to break big tasks into smaller manageable ones and how to achieve targets within a deadline. And, this is what most employees are looking for in people they hire.

Acknowledging the Gap

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Having discussed how the higher education indirectly or directly prepares the students for jobs, the employers still find that the students are not 'job ready'. On the other hand, the university qualifications are becoming major criteria for hiring an employee and getting higher paid jobs. Hence, it has become crucial to address the gaps in higher education.

Academic grades cannot define intelligence – There is no strong correlation found between the educational level of an employee and their job performance. Instead, it has been found that the intelligence scores of a person indicate their job potential in a better way. Having said that, the academic scores of a person only indicate what they have studied in the degree. Therefore it is still a quest for the employees on what criteria they should hire people.

The students still lack in people’s skills – It can be observed that universities are not spending more time on enhancing the soft skills, or what the employees call as ‘people’s skills’, of the students. The people’s skills are actually a crucial factor that the employers look for in the applicants. This is mainly because of the increasing use of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence in the industries. The employees today want candidates who have skills other than machines such as empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience, and integrity.

On the whole, it is not only about the educational institutions or their paradigm that needs to be revised. The students pursuing higher education have to realize that it is their responsibility to keep looking for opportunities to enhance their skills in college. Similarly, employers need to think more open-mindedly while hiring an employee by not considering having a higher degree as the only metric for job performance and intellectual proficiency.

posted Jan 17, 2019 in General by Lita

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+1 vote

According to a Northeastern University/Gallup poll, most Americans are optimistic about artificial intelligence’s (AI) impact on their futures while, at the same time, expecting the net effect of AI to be an overall reduction in jobs. If we manage AI effectively, I believe it can be a net benefit to both society and the economy.

Is AI (Artificial Intelligence) a game-changer for higher Education?

The question is: How will higher education manage AI?

Unfortunately, higher education does not have a reputation for managing change effectively. Our experience is much more one of coming late to the party—and not of our own accord. We cannot and should not do this with AI.

First, much of the expertise to develop AI is coming from university laboratories, with AI hot spots in university centres such as Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and the Research Triangle of North Carolina. If we can develop AI for businesses at home and abroad, why can’t we do the same for ourselves?

Second, many creative applications of AI have already been developed to solve problems within the university. Certainly, enrollment-management processes, as well as today’s learning management systems, look nothing like those of 20 years ago. These changes are clear applications of AI. At the end of the day, however, the application of AI within the university is quite limited.

Where are the higher-ed AI opportunities?

To find opportunities for AI growth within the university, we need to distinguish between activities that are uniquely human as opposed to those that can be computerized. Individuals excel at defining problems, distinguishing between “good” and “bad,” at idiosyncratic tasks such as detecting false positives, and in developing novel combinations not anticipated by previous experience. Computers excel at tasks that involve well-understood rules and procedures.

Furthermore, human decision making is enhanced when it occurs in groups. Social facilitation, cooperation, division of labour and the collecting of different perspectives, knowledge, and experience all combine to enhance decision making by groups.

Of course, neither individuals nor groups are without their problems. Individuals can be slow and inefficient in their decision making, to say nothing of the limits a single individual’s knowledge and experience. Likewise, groups can be guilty of premature closure, becoming too risky or too conservative because of preconceived expectations and groupthink. Much of the work of organizational psychology has focused on how to manage individual and group decision making so as to keep the good and minimize the bad.

Thus, if AI is seen not as a way to replace the individual but as a way to make individuals and groups more effective, both the impact of AI and its acceptance will be greatly improved. Today, augmented reality has greater potential for changing how we do things in higher education. Interesting examples of this concept can be found in the business world, where AI is used to facilitate human fraud detectors for banks and human translators and editors in publishing.

How can this distinction yield applications within higher education?

While MOOCs have not yielded the disruptions that many expected, they have had a significant impact on the way we deliver course materials. Lectures on most introductory topics are readily available on the web and the push for flipped classrooms is ubiquitous. These applications facilitate what individual instructors do.

Where AI can make its mark

The real impact on learning can come through learning management systems (LMSs). We have known for quite a while that we can use technology to manage classroom participation. There is much research, including my own, that shows that anonymous input systems, when added to regular or online classrooms, increase the participation of individuals who would normally shy away from raising their hands or volunteering comments.

Applications are being developed to use AI to track student questions asked in a class and direct them to answers and to other students with the same questions. The Minerva Project is so convinced of the power of such technology that class discussions occur only online—despite students living together in the same building.

Furthermore, the massive amount of data generated by LMSs has the potential to increase the effectiveness of learning. Researchers at a school where I previously worked used data on students’ online participation to identify within the first two weeks of a class which students were likely to perform poorly. They were then able to change these students’ participation patterns and thus their outcomes.

Getting faculty buy-in
The question, however, is whether such applications will be embraced by the faculty members who fear that change will result in their demise. And at their core, many faculty members believe that learning is a uniquely individual process. Until professors see AI as a means of enhancing their effectiveness, resistance will continue.

Disruptors are on the horizon. The entrance of Arizona State and Purdue into the online marketplace is significant. MBA programs are ripe for disruption; most business school deans expect the part-time MBA market to shift to online delivery in the next five years. These online platforms will accelerate the shift to AI-managed learning.

The future for AI within the university is bright. Applications will proliferate and finally disrupt the teaching paradigm. The danger is for institutions that come late to the party and not of their own accord.

in EdTech
+2 votes

Pedagogies become obsolete when they continue to focus on what’ they teach rather than how’. Indian education has suffered for decades on this score because the purpose of education has never envisaged fostering curiosity and creativity as being critical to education but in knowing facts and information. We teach our kids to memorize but never to understand.

Reinventing teaching can reform education

WHY DO WE TEACH?

Reforming education requires deciding what education is for. I believe that critiquing the way we teach is dependent entirely on knowing why we teach’. A time has come when this why’ itself needs to be questioned and reinvented. In other words, what we need is not doing why’ better but in finding an entirely different why’. This is because the old why is no longer relevant. Consequently, the very purpose of education needs to be rethought. Only then would education reform be revolutionized.

WHERE TO START?

To achieve this, we need to start with the teachers. The shift in mindset that they need to adjust to is that modern technology has provided students and indeed, everyone with exceptional information at the touch of a button. Rather than feel upset with this development, which is, unfortunately, the case at present with most teachers, they need to learn how they might recraft their pedagogy from information dissemination to learning and processing of information.

If we fail to do this, we would continue to harbour irrelevant teachers and consequently, an archaic education system.

This imperative shift in pedagogy needs to recognize that today’s market place requires its employees creative and critical thinking and in making complex decisions. Indeed, even classrooms have started changing. I am not speaking only of the introduction of smart boards but the way modern classrooms are currently designed. Mobile and adjustable tables and seats have replaced the earlier fixed seats where students sat in a row and the teacher was the sage on the stage. Today’s classrooms are geared towards teamwork and collaborative approach that is aimed at understanding problems before solving them. Students discuss with each other and the teacher acts as the facilitator.

This requires that education responds to dynamic needs because it is a service that is offered to society. It needs to constantly evolve if it is to provide what changing societies require. Yet, for decades, while India has dramatically changed, our education system has remained more or less static. Efforts have been made to tinker with what already exists rather than envisage how it is changed in its entirety. What we need, in other words, is a revolution in education and not just reform.

One of India’s grand challenges is education. As our population grows, the aspiration for a better life would extend from urban to rural India. Indeed, it may well be argued that to empower India, education is the key. Without education, populations would continue to be subjugated and impoverished. Rural India would continue to live under a feudal scourge where the horrific nexus of local politicians, gangsters and the bureaucracy continues as contemporary reality. Rapid urbanization would see the migration of unskilled labour into cities and huge infrastructural demand would see their employment perpetuating substandard construction. Business and industry would never be 21st century because their workforce would be the 19th century.

We are on the cusp of facing disaster unless we revolutionize our education system. This needs to be a national imperative.

in General
+1 vote

Augmented data analysis, blended digital tools and connected networks will reign among technology innovations in the coming year, according to IT analyst group Gartner’s top 10 tech trends of 2019

“The top ten digital technology trends are all about building the intelligent digital mesh,” says David W. Cearley, distinguished vice president and analyst for Gartner. “It’s the convergence of all of this and using it to support a continuous innovation process.”

School districts have already seen some of these tools enter the educational space, with innovations such as AI-enabled teaching assistant programs and advanced data collection and analysis to improve student assessments.

As K–12 schools continue their E-rate processes for 2019, districts should be considering what tools are worth investing in to provide their students with the best outcomes in the coming year. 

Artificial Intelligence Will Augment Data-Driven Initiatives

Analysts expect machine learning to play an important role in 2019, offering support for tasks that may require more time, energy and training than teachers and administrators have at their disposal.

  • Autonomous Machines: Gartner predicts AI-enabled machines will be more common in 2019 as the technology advances and becomes commercially available. While autonomous school buses may be far down the road, companies like RobotLAB are already designing interactive learning experiences that incorporate autonomous machines to teach programming.
  • Augmented Analytics: Teachers rely on data analysis to improve their relationship with students, especially as personalized learning programs become more widely adopted. Data collection and analysis has to lead to innovations in student assessment design, helping educators pinpoint where students are struggling and adjusting coursework to supplement those areas. Augmented analytics will help take some of the burdens off teachers who may not be trained in data analytics by using AI to take the brunt of the work instead.

New Tools Blend the Digital and Physical Worlds

Digital transformation in schools is already happening at a rapid rate, and there seems to be no sign of slowing down. Analysts predict the line between the real and digital worlds will continue to blur as current technologies advance and new tools are developed.

  • Digital Twins: This concept is not new. Members of the online community maintain multiple versions of themselves through social media sites, online profiles and other means. Systems such as power plants have digital copies, mirroring the real thing, to monitor daily functions. This technology could be used in conjunction with tools like digital backpacks — longitudinal, interoperable student records — to analyze how individual students learn and to create more effective personalized learning curricula.
  • Empowered Edge: Edge computing takes information processing and brings it closer to the source by using edge devices instead of sending information directly to and from a centralized cloud. The next iteration, empowered edge, will use AI to diversify the kinds of devices able to act as edge endpoints, such as displays or smartphones. This could prove crucial for K–12 schools that require more computing power as they integrate new tools like augmented and virtual reality headsets or connected classroom devices.
  • Immersive Technologies: Speaking of AR and VR, the use of immersive technology is expected to rise as hardware and software continue to improve. According to Gartner, by 2022, 70 percent of organizations will experiment with immersive technology. With 5G on the horizon promising lower latency and more robust connectivity, the quality of these tools will continue to grow, expanding their potential to supplement K–12 education.

Improvements in Mesh Mean a Focus on How Users Engage with Tech

Schools are swiftly replacing older equipment with their next-generation versions. Previously, chalkboards were a natural part of most classrooms; today, interactive whiteboards reign. As this transition continues, K–12 schools will need to be mindful of how they design their learning environments.

  • Smart Spaces: Educators are investigating connected classrooms and modern learning environments as the latest innovation in teaching, and Gartner analysts agree that smart spaces will be a major focus for 2019. Combined with other emerging techs such as AI and the empowered edge, the future of the connected classroom is guaranteed.
  • Digital Ethics and Privacy: The technology on Gartner’s list has the potential broaden how we incorporate technology into our lives, which means proper digital citizenship will be essential. For example, digital twins have great potential for improving learning, but such tools also require giving up valuable data and privacy to the digital universe. This means schools will need to improve curricula addressing responsible technology use and online presence. 

While educators have to wait to see what’s in store for 2019, the technology on Gartner’s list has obvious potential to change the way K–12 schools approach education.

GARTNER’S LIST OF TOP TECH TRENDS FOR 2019:

1. Autonomous Things
2. Augmented Analytics
3. AI-Driven Development
4. Digital Twins
5. Empowered Edge
6. Immersive Technologies
7. Blockchain
8. Smart Spaces
9. Digital Ethics and Privacy
10. Quantum Computing

in K12
+1 vote

Last year, eLearning Inside News predicted that eLearning would have a strong year.  In 2018, key drivers cited included growing student demand, changing faculty attitudes, and a surge in the global eLearning market. eLearning Inside is predicting that 2019 will be another strong year for eLearning in higher ed. While some of the factors driving the continued popularity of online learning at the postsecondary level remain constant, a few new factors appear likely to further drive eLearning in higher ed in 2019.

Five Drivers of eLearning in Higher Ed in 2019

Five Drivers of eLearning in Higher Ed in 2019

Non-Profit Universities Are Warming Up to For-Profit Partnerships

While resistance to for-profit education remains high among many faculty and administrators in the postsecondary sector, especially at public non-profit institutions, over the past year, a growing number of colleges and universities have teamed up with for-profit education companies. In the process, like it or not, the landscape of higher education is changing. Although some recent partnerships have proven highly fraught (e.g., the controversial launch of Purdue Global, which is Purdue University’s revamped version of the for-profit entity once known as Kaplan), other partnerships seem to be launching with little controversy at all (e.g., 2U’s recently announced partnership with Yale University).

Online Degrees Now Include More Ivy Options

From MIT to Harvard to the University of Pennsylvania, over the past year, more Ivy-league options have appeared in the online sector. For example, Harvard Extension School (HES) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced a collaboration that will offer learners a chance to pursue a Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) degree at HES after completing

MITx MicroMasters credential. The new program will focus on students currently pursuing MicroMasters credentials in management, sustainability, or development practice. Prior to the current collaboration with Harvard, however, students could already use their  MITx MicroMasters as a stepping stone to complete a graduate degree at MIT. In July 2018, the University of Pennsylvania announced plans to launch an online master’s degree in computer science in collaboration with Coursera.

The Global eLearning Market Continues to Expand

While the eLearning market in the United States certainly continues to do very well, the global market is also taking off. As recently reported on eLearning Inside, Cape Town, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, and Sao Paulo currently rank among the world’s top-20 tech hubs, but the Indian market is especially promising at this time. A recent study by Google and KPMG, for example, predicts that India’s online education market will grow to USD 1.96 billion and include around 9.6 million users by 2021. The study, “Online Education in India: 2021,” further predicts that while reskilling is currently the largest edtech market in India, by 2021, both the K-12 and test prep markets will dominate. Africa is another market where eLearning continues to take off, though, in some parts of Africa, Internet access remains an obstacle.

Students Are Demanding Cost-Effective Alternatives

A 2017 report by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve found that 53 percent of U.S. students who completed at least a bachelor’s degree acquired some debt in the process. In 2016-2017, the mean level of reported debt was $32,731, and as expected, those with graduate degrees were especially likely to report carrying debt. It is no surprise then that online degrees are increasingly being seen as an attractive alternative to full-time on-campus study. One notable program is the MITx MicroMasters. In this two-part program, students first complete a series of five to six courses for just over $10o0. By contrast, a full year in the same program on the MIT campus costs $74,000. Students who complete their coursework and pass the required exam or exams at the end of the MITx program have the option of completing their master’s on the MIT campus in just one semester–an option that dramatically reduces the cost of doing a graduate degree at MIT. But MIT is not alone in offering students affordable alternatives. Georgia Tech, the University of Pennsylvania, and a host of other universities are now rolling out high-quality online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels that enable students to complete their educations for a fraction of the cost of studying on campus.

The 60-Year Curriculum Is Here to Stay

In today’s disrupted economy, life-long learning is no longer just for ambitious up killers. To survive in today’s economy, everyone will need to reskill on an ongoing basis. The idea of the “60-year curriculum” captures this shift. As Dean Hunt Lambert of the Harvard Extension School recently observed, moving forward, “You’re going to have to continue your education, not just skills development, but real knowledge learning over as long as sixty years.” The most viable way to do this, of course, is by shifting one’s learning from the traditional classroom to online programs. Indeed, Harvard University’s recent decision to partner with MITx reflects just such changing attitudes toward continuing education and online education.

 

in EdTech
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