A Response: Technology & Higher Ed

An ongoing discussion over coffee (of course)

Our last newsletter focused on an interview that Phil Long gave to Campus Technology. The interview provided an interesting discussion focused on how innovation is affecting higher education and the way that we educate our students, and future workforce. This article has prompted an ongoing conversation here in the G+Y offices and given rise to a continuing dialogue that we think is worth sharing.

Our resident academic, Dr. Don Poland noted that what may be worth considering beyond Phil Long’s point of view is the redefinition of work, and not just the workforce. We continue to transition from an industrial to a post-industrial society and in doing so the factors that Long mentions such as age, diversity, and education, are pushing the evolution of not just the people who are performing work, but the work itself, and also how we work. The homogeneity of the workplace, work force and even the work itself is becoming diversified, paving the way for careers made up of multiple roles within consulting or contract-based work as well as the evolution of co-working spaces and other remote workplaces.

To quote Don, “In short work, the way we work, and the way we live are being reconfigured in space and time as a result of technological changes that have allowed work to be less spatially and temporally tethered to location (place) and the changes in how we live (both as a cause and effect).”

So what does this mean for higher ed?

In a lot of ways, it has yet to be determined, but there are a few things that are important to recognize. First, it is clear that higher education is on the cusp of meaningful but perhaps under-conceptualized change. Second, the sustainability of our current system is under threat, partially due to the rising cost of higher education that will require large-scale reorganization. Technology has been a key driver in the demands for systemic change within education; online programming, distance learning and the rise of vocational training programs are all examples of these drivers.

As we have navigated the constantly changing terrain of our educational landscape, technology has served as a key, unlocking access to information for students, teachers and institutional leadership. In addition to the amount of insight and information we have gained, this new accessibility has enabled students to learn in a wider variety of ways. One example of this is the reemergence of specific trade-based educational programs in response to demand for manual labor jobs that now involve the use of machines and programs requiring new skill sets – and don’t always require a masters or even a bachelors degree to perform. Ultimately this may mean that technology could have a greater impact on the less educated rather than more educated populations.

This newsletter is the tip of the iceberg of the ongoing discussion at the G+Y offices and we know there are many more points of view that to be considered. What are your thoughts? We’d love to continue the conversation with you, and we can always use another cup of coffee!