Category Archives: General Thoughts

Zero Pedagogy: Curation and Creation Over Education in MOOC Era | #moocmooc)

Regular readers know my research brings me to the fun, innovative edges of higher education — where technology, innovation, human talent, money, policy and competition merge. The MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is one of those edges where I have and continue to explore. Part of my work has brought me to the MOOC MOOC (a MOOC on MOOCs) this week. The experiment is being led by the folks at Hybrid Pedagogy and is inhabited many thoughtful, fun and inquisitive folks trying to bring meaning and value out of the new learning platforms and models collectively known as MOOCs. Many pushing deep into MOOC pedagogy believe MOOCs are innovative because in many MOOCs participants, not ‘teachers’,  bring content and value to other participants in ways (theoretically) a single instructor or traditional lecture never could. Today (day #3) the topic is Participant Pedagogy. Thanks Dominik Lukes for this interesting blog post on learning, participants and pedagogy:

Despite its etymology, pedagogy [leading of boys], cannot be given. It must be sought. The learner is her own pedagogue. There may be more or less clearly given explanations, more or less productive sequences of learning, more or less accessible learning materials. But none have made, will make or can make a difference to the resistant learner.

If pedagogy could really make a difference to mass learning, it would have already done so. Advances in mass literacy, numeracy and other skill increases seem to always happen prior to putative advances in pedagogy but following the expansion of access. (my bold)

A self-directed, self-motivated learner, will take any resources (no matter how pedagogically naive or badly instructionally designed – Khan Academy, iTunesU lectures, iPad ebooks, labs, conventional classes or TED videos) and use them to learn. As the learner becomes more aware of their own learning (gaining metacognitive skills), they will look for resources that suit their learning better. And, in many cases, will create such resources. That’s why we need to encourage a culture of the remix. Or in starker terms: Curation and creation over education.

There is no doubt from my experience teaching entrepreneurship, working with students and alumni that want to launch firms, and being a student for decades, learner motivation is the center factor in success. Moreover, as I work with colleagues at GMU in creating MOOCs, we will have to focus on creation and curation of materials and tools that support the self-directed searching for support in achieving their goals.

via Zero pedagogy: A hyperbolic case for curation and creation over education in the age of the MOOC (#moocmooc).

Rise Revisited | Martin Prosperity Institute | @Richard_Florida

Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class has been reissued for its 10th anniversary. I have been lucky enough to get to know Richard (@Richard_Florida) and work with him a bit over the past 7 years on variety of projects. He is a truly brilliant social scientist and great thinker. Richard is currently at the University of Toronto as the Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute. From Insight:

The Rise of the Creative Class introduced Creative Class theory. Florida’s occupational typology examines the labor force through a four-part system: the Creative Class, Service Class, Working Class and Farming, Fishing and Forestry class. Rather than measuring education, an occupational measure is more closely related to productivity than education is. Creative Class workers “produce new forms or designs that are readily transferable and widely useful – such as designing a consumer product that can be manufactured and sold; or composing music that can be performed again and again” (The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, pg. 38). Briefly, Creative Class workers are paid for their thinking and problem solving skills, while Service Class workers are paid to perform routine work directly for, or on behalf of, clients. Working Class workers are paid to maneuver heavy machinery and perform skilled trades, while Farming Fishing and Forestry workers are paid to extract natural resources from the ground or seas.

In the United States, while 72.2% of adults with a bachelor’s degree or above are members of the Creative Class, only 59.3% of the entire Creative Class holds a college degree. This is because higher education is not a prerequisite for one to be creative, and many Creative Class workers do not hold higher academic credentials. While having a bachelor’s degree or above means you are more likely to be in the Creative Class compared to the other three classes, when looking at the entire Creative Class as a whole, only just over half of the labor force holds the credential. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are examples of creative workers, who while not holding an advanced degree, still possessed skills that are essential to economic growth and innovation within a city.

via Insight: Rise Revisited — Knowing and Doing | Martin Prosperity Institute.

Does “Creative Destruction” Destroy More Than Create? | Chris Zook | Harvard Business Review

Really interesting piece on the high rate of churn in our economy and how great companies survive long term. Most don’t however.

We have been studying companies that seem to be able to endure and adapt for longer periods of time, and have come to the conclusion that the extinction of once-great innovators is less often caused by technological or market evolution, and more often by self-inflicted wounds and slow cycles of decision and adaptation.

Unlike dinosaurs, which had no conscious way to adapt to rapid changes around them, companies and CEOs have a choice. They can focus and simplify their organizations. Or, as happens all too often, they can pursue complex strategies that beget complex organizations and complex processes until they grind to a halt like a Rube Goldberg machine.

It is this complexity, my colleague James Allen and I report in our new book Repeatability, that is the “silent killer of profitable growth,” and the greatest inhibitor of adaptability.

Repeatability was based on a three-year Bain & Company study of enduring profit and relative competitive ability to adapt in a world of increasing velocity and uncertainty.

via When “Creative Destruction” Destroys More than It Creates – Chris Zook – Harvard Business Review.

Startup Weekend Leaders Join our Lean MOOC Experiment | AshokaU | GMU | #socent

Over the past 6 weeks I have been fortunate to work on developing and teaching a  MOOC (massive open online course) titled Entrepreneurship and Globalization: Making the Most of 21st Century Opportunity. This effort did not take years of planning or a $60 million dollar partnership or the removal of a university president.

Led by GMU’s Phil Auerswald, Erin Krampetz of Ashoka U, Michael Youngblood (Innovations Journal) and me, we have quickly stood up this course as a joint effort of Ashoka U and GMU’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Tonight our experiment rolls on and Mark Nager and Franck Nouyrigat of Startup Weekend join us via our live audio feed. Our session this week is on Lean Startup ideas and methods. You can listen to the class live here.

In standing up class this class we have adapted the syllabus from the class of the same title being taught by Prof Auerswald to graduate students in GMU’s School of Public Policy this summer.

We are using low cost and free resources such as Bookneto, Google +, BlogTalkRadio, and Twitter. Our hashtag, btw, is #AshokUOnline. We are going to award certificates and are talking to various third parties around badges related to skills and tools covered in the course and the assignments.

We have made some mistakes along the way and will make a few more, but in the true spirit of lean methods and customer development we have continually engaged our customers.

Moreover, we have tried to embrace the spirit of MOOCS, watching and learning as participants take the lead (for example a number of students have met in NYC and other locations to discuss readings and projects for the class).

Feel free to join us live tonight and get in on the conversation on twitter during and after the live stream with Mark and Franck of Startup Weekend. Listen here.

Will Grim Job Prospects Scar Today’s Grads? Wonders

Chuck Raasch at USA Today reports on the grim job outlook for many of today’s college graduates. Is it really this bad?

And one by one, generational attitudes are being formed about work, security and even family, particularly among people younger than 25 who have entered the job market since 2008.

The national unemployment rate rose to 8.2% in May as Silsby was graduating as one of 2.6 million who got bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees in the school year now ending. The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute called their labor market “grim” and said that over the previous year, unemployment among college graduates younger than 25 had averaged 9.4%, with an additional 19.1% in jobs for which they were overqualified.

Beneath this cascade of sobering statistics, a new pragmatism might be forming.”A lot of us are silly optimistic, sometimes,” says Amanda Frattarola, 22, who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2011 and found a job as a health and wellness coordinator in Arlington, Texas. Her job search lasted eight months. She says it does not pay what she or her mother expected, and it is far from the New York City address she dreamed of having. But she likes the work, is supporting herself and has held firmly to “that mentality that everything will work out for me. Some of the hardest days of my life have been in this past year. I also feel like I have learned so much about myself.”

Will we see more of these young grads choosing self-employment out of necessity? Will many of them be able to actually grow high growth firms or will they become freelancers, guns for hire, and permanent temps? Basically professional day laborers.

The difficult job market confirms the need for people to learn various entrepreneurial skills. From competitive analysis and business model creation to basic sales and marketing, knowing how to handle entrepreneurial uncertainty and create value is a crucial skill. More from Raasch in the USA Today:

A Harvard University Institute of Politics survey in March and April found that more than three out of four college students expect to have a somewhat or very difficult time finding a job. And 45% expect student loans to affect their financial circumstances “a lot” after they graduate.

Their pessimism is based on the experience of the 20-somethings just ahead of them. A Rutgers University study this spring of 444 graduates who received bachelor’s degrees from 2006 to 2011 found that 51% were working full time. The rest were in graduate school, unemployed, working part time or no longer in the job market.

One in four were living with parents. Those who got jobs beginning in 2008, the height of the Great Recession, earned a starting salary, on average, 10% less than those graduates who entered the job market in 2006 and 2007, according to the Rutgers survey. All this has happened as the total amount of student loan debt in the USA surpassed $900 billion.

via Grim job prospects could scar today’s college graduates –

The Democratization of Innovation | Yes That is What is Occurring

Earlier this month I was fortunate to participate in a panel on the Democratization of Innovation. Participants included, Mark Walsh CEO of Genius Rocket, Mike Lincoln of Cooley LP, Ashish Jaiman of Microsoft, and Edmund Pendleton from MTECH at the University of Maryland. Jonathan Aberman of Amplifier Ventures and co-chair of Startup VA was the moderator of our panel.

We convened at the Artisphere in Arlington, VA and really had a fascinating discussion surrounding the JOBS Act, 3D printing, low cost software development and other factors supporting the democratization of innovation.

Marcia Moran of Modern DC Business covered the event in a post titled Tectonic Economic Shifts Coming and she discusses specific issues such as crowds ourcing, but also structural shifts and what they mean going forward for entrepreneurs and young, recent college grads. From Moran:

There’s no denying that administrative headaches blossom when hundreds of uninformed, unsophisticated investors take interest in your company. The entrepreneur also loses the voice of experience and talent that comes with funding from seasoned angels or venture capitalists. Perhaps the personal touch from a mentor that comes with institutional funding will be the entrepreneurs’ greatest loss. Successful businesses gain support from a larger community, particularly when chemistry and complementary business philosophies come into play.

I wonder what will happen when the ties to these networks weaken? Yet, when you think about it, only a select few get funded. Maybe it’s time for change after all. The Millennials use technology to build and maximize the power of social networks, and perhaps we’ll need to develop a new mentoring paradigm to match. Continue reading

Will iPad Revolutionize Textbooks? Infographic

Just received this infographic in an email. I’ll share it because there are some good numbers in there. Lets think broader than textbooks though. All kinds of learning. The iPad will likely play a role in the impending disruption of higher education and all kinds of opportunities will be create via the iPad for entrepreneurs in and around the campus. #hackedu #uncollege

Infographic:  Can Apple iPad and iBooks revolutionize the textbook industry?
Courtesy of:
INFOGRAPHIC: Can Apple revolutionize the textbook industry? | WorldWideLearn.

Sht Entrepreneurs Say – YouTube

@Bindlebags just posted this on the StartUp Mason Facebook page.

Sht Entrepreneurs Say – YouTube.

Higher Ed Canary in the Coal Mine? Stanford Prof Bails to Teach 500,000 Online

With all the news of MITx Certificates and according to a tweet I saw, 67,000 people registered for Steven G Blank’s online Lean Launchpad class, its pretty clear that on campus degree programs are going to lose education market share.

From Thiel and DIY Edu to online badges, things are changing. Incredible news out of Palo Alto that a leading artificial intelligence academic is leaving campus. From Nick DeSantis at Wired Campus:

The Stanford University professor who taught an online artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his position to aim for an even bigger audience.

Sebastian Thrun, a research professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he has departed the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital – Life – Design conference in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.

During his talk, Mr. Thrun explored the origins of his popular online course at Stanford, which initially featured videos produced with nothing more than “a camera, a pen and a napkin.” Despite the low production quality, many of the 200 Stanford students taking the course in the classroom flocked to the videos because they could absorb the lectures at their own pace. Eventually, the 200 students taking the course in person dwindled to a group of 30. Meanwhile, the course’s popularity exploded online, drawing students from around the world. The experience taught the professor that he could craft a course with the interactive tools of the Web that recreated the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring, he said.

The article is worth reading and my favorite part is at the end,

“I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill,” he said. “And you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.”

I wish more in academics wanted to see Wonderland (or were even aware that it existed). I am continuing to experiment with various new methods of delivery and reaching out to those beyond the confines of my courses (StartUp Mason is one such initiative).

All that said, Thrun is not the first to leave a university for an online startup (some of my University of Chicago Professors did it during the first internet bubble — though I can’t remember the name of their firm — it failed).

via Professor Departs Stanford U., Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

MLA Considers Radical Changes to Dissertation | Inside Higher Ed | Disrupt Higher Ed

I am currently in the process of publishing my first two papers and preparing my dissertation — I have been against this academic publication model since entering my PhD program (why I chose a PhD program is another discussion).

Faculty and administrators  always ask why I blog, tweet, participate in online chats, and video record my interviews and ethnographic observations. Its all because I believe other media output and methods of distribution (beyond academic publications and books) are the present and future of knowledge and content. Higher ed is woefully behind in the production and distribution of content (knowledge) when compared to other sectors of society.

Looks like the uber powerful Modern Language Association is coming around to my point of view. From Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Education:

So much has changed, he said, but dissertation norms haven’t, to the detriment of English and other language programs. “Are we writing books for the 19th century or preparing people to work in the 21st?” he asked.

Leaders of the MLA — in several sessions and discussions here — indicated that they are afraid that too many dissertations are indeed governed by out-of-date conventions, leading to the production of “proto-books” that may do little to promote scholarship and may not even be advancing the careers of graduate students. During the process, the graduate students accumulate debt and frustrations. Russell A. Berman, a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, used his presidential address at the MLA to call for departments to find ways to cut “time to degree” for doctorates in half.

And at a standing-room-only session, leaders of a task force studying possible changes in dissertation requirements discussed some of the ideas under consideration. There was a strong sense that the traditional model of producing a several-hundred-page literary analysis dominates English and other language doctoral programs — even though many people feel that the genre is overused and frequently ineffective. People also talked about the value of digital projects, of a series of essays, or public scholarship. Others talked about ways to change the student-committee dynamic in ways that might expedite dissertation completion.

“We are at a defining moment in higher education,” said Kathleen Woodward, director of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. “We absolutely have to think outside the box that the dissertation is a book or a book-in-progress.”

I will continue to hop through the hoops of the PhD (its too late for me), but will come out armed with multiple output, assets, and skill sets beyond the minimum outdated methods and content required of a 19th century business model. (#bmgen)

via MLA considers radical changes in the dissertation | Inside Higher Ed.