There were 3500 people at this year’s ASUGSV conference, most of whom were either looking to raise money, invest money, show off the money they’d raised, or feed off the companies who had raised money. This is really a conference to meet and hear from EdTech businesses.
Is education really about the students? Or perhaps Liza Minelli and Joel Grey nailed it in Cabaret, money makes the world go around.
It’s a shame that raising money for your business isn’t a sustainable business model; there’s going to come a day when all those companies that have found funders are going to have to prove their projections.
With all that, I have to acknowledge that there were dozens of really interesting presentations, and it was really hard to pick and to balance going to presentations with individual meetings.
Here are some highlights.
The Chronical of Education: the trends roiling higher education
- Information Literacy: many higher ed students have trouble identifying partisan or paid-for content and assessing credibility
- Cyber Security: not just the rising of threats (colleges are very vulnerable), but preparing enough students for burgeoning job demand in this field
- Poverty: Nearly half of all students in higher ed come from families within twice the poverty line; one out of 5 have gone hungry in the past month; how can they better support these students?
- Social issues which include activist athletes (reactions to racism, should athletes be paid, and should athletes be treated as students), providing a reasonable safety net, sanctuary canvasses, defending diversity, reckoning with a not-rosy history (participating in slavery, discrimination against gay students), providing due process for offenses that do not penalize the accuser or accused until the facts are in, and harassment vigilance
- Survivability of small colleges with small endowments, shrinking application pools, and rising expenses
- Employment and pass through after college, especially now that there are ranked lists of colleges and their return on investment and talk of having colleges share the risk with their students
- Retraining and continuous training, as we all come to grips that whatever job we are doing now will probably be obsolete in 20 years
- Student loan issues and default rates
Playing It Smart: Games and Neuroscience Making an Impact in Education and Talent.
You can’t measure impact in education the same way you do in pharma; you can’t isolate the factors, the cost is too high, and by the time you are done, the product is obsolete. A more agile measure of efficacy is teacher reaction; and teachers are increasingly embracing games.
Formal, traditional learning has put a lot of people at a disadvantage; gaming can get them excited and leverage what are often seen as disadvantages in traditional learning as strengths.
VR can provide a powerful experience for learning, as learners participate in a context that combines auditory, visual, and kinesthetic stimuli. We need to find applications that are financially viable in that they are necessary and expensive today.
Coding is a key skill for this century, it will be necessary no matter what your job. We need to move beyond the belief that coding is something you learn in a few weeks. Setting kids up for a lifetime of success entails giving them a base so that they can become creators even if the specific skills will be obsolete in 20 years.
Millennials and the Demographic Tsunami
Some things to think about:
- Millenials are going to have faster opportunities to move up, stemming partly from women being 7 ½ years older when they are having their first child than they were 40 years ago so that there is a shortage of Gen Xers, Boomers retiring. The challenge is now to get them the experience they need to lead
- Millennials, both as consumers and in the workforce, care about diversity, and they judge companies through that lens
- Millenials demand instantaneous feedback, stemming from accumulating likes on FB or from playing video games for example. A once or twice a year performance review is not going to cut it
- Most millennials would prefer not to job hop, as long as they see annual raises and opportunities for career growth.
- There is a disconnect between the way learning occurs in schools and universities (programmed content) and the way it usually occurs at work (on the job coaching, just in time learning) and companies need to do a better job of helping new workers adjust.
- You can’t design an effective solution for Millenials as consumers or workers without involving them in the design process