Tag Archives: trends in education

PIDP 3240 Podcast – What is the Future of Education?

Have a listen to the  following podcast, which is based on an article I recently read. The article link is below, as is the text of the podcast.


I came across an interesting article the first week of our PIDP 3240 course. I subscribe to a number of newsletters on education and technology, including Academica’s daily top ten. Every weekday morning at about 6 am – shortly before I leave for the bus, I get an email that has today’s top ten news stories in the world of Canadian higher education.

Every day, there is at least one article that talks about technology, and this article from January, by Alexander Holt in the online news magazine Vox, really stood out to me as something that I would likely want to draw on at some point. The article is titled “How Amazon could Destroy College as we know it”, and is a fictional account of a speech given by Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, in the year 2030.

However, it touches on certain aspects of technology and education that are already happening and how they might unfold over the next 15 years. In my course journals, I wrote about how I felt the integration of higher education and technology into workplace learning struck a chord with me.

Firstly, I don’t teach in a college setting, or really have any aspirations to do so, but work very closely with teachers, deans, instructional designers, and others involved in that space.

My next big shocking secret is that I have no University Degree, unlike my three brothers who are all PhDs and live very much in the university world.

I chose a path in the trades as a cook, and have leveraged that expertise plus my knack for picking things up quickly and strong core competencies in the English language and all of the other tenets of an academic education like critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze complex information and think outside the box into a decent white collar job over the last 8 years.

For these reasons, I am drawn heavily to the idea of competency based education, and believe it’s what you can do that matters most. Most recently, I have been doing a lot of work on blended learning and open education, particularly in ways it can help apprentices in the trades complete their certifications, but also how I can use similar approaches to help support the tourism industry’s training needs, which is the main function of my job.

Let’s get back to the article. In the story, it talks about how Amazon started to first support their employees’ training in traditional bricks and mortar classrooms, and then started use technology to develop internal certifications, and how that expanded into a discovery that many of their university educated employees didn’t have the skills Amazon needed as their employer.

Now these things have already happened in real life and not just at Amazon. Last year, several major international firms based in the UK, including Ernst and Young, Deloitte and  Penguin Random House all abandoned their requirements of a university degree as a minimum standard for new hires, citing no real evidence that having a degree meant better on the job performance. We’re not talking about new, nimble start-ups here, these are serious major corporations in the business world.

Next the article starts talking about badging – something that I am very interested in and is just starting to take hold in some fields. Badging is the issuing of mini digital credentials, usually linked to a certain competency area, that is recognized by employers as well as in some academic circles. Think of it as a representation of some training or proof of competence that is small, portable, and can easily be validated or accessed, but has a credible source behind it.

Here’s how it works. Take a short course, or get assessed in an area, and you get a digital badge in your portfolio, and move on. Get a few badges that show you are competent in a whole work area, such as supply chain logistics. When you apply for a new job, you show your digital portfolio and badges, etc. Do you get the picture?

Where the article gets into new territory is the next evolution of this. Holt poses that as companies like Amazon build these internal certification systems and see the value, they will realize that other companies might be willing to purchase these same services from them, particularly if they have a digital delivery system. Hence the birth of the fictional Amazon University in the article.

Overall, I found this article a fascinating read, and that it tied into so many of the concepts and ideas that I came across in our text and research for journal entries. In my last journal, I posed the following question, that Brian suggested I share with my classmates:

Will we ever get to a place where the workplace and the classroom are fully integrated?

Is the google degree, or the Amazon University of the future really that far off? Have a read of the article I have talked about today, and let me know your thoughts.


Journal Entry – PIDP 3240 – Week 4


Change is not only coming to higher education; it has arrived. In Teaching Naked, Bowen (2012) discusses the impacts that are coming to university campuses and links them to similar revolutions in the distribution of journalism and music. Two recent articles I read pose differing opinions of how universities are reacting to this change. Some universities seem posed to lose their perceived value of prestige (Kinsley, 2016) by offering more and more open online courses, often for free and some even for credit. Other post-secondary institutions, particularly those that have lost status compared to their higher-priced competitors, are reacting by actually raising tuition (Askner & Bothner, 2016), using the notion that a higher price indicates higher quality, not unlike how Champagne can fetch prices higher than sparkling wines of similar quality from other regions. Similarly, there is a battle for control of access to academic research, to the extent that Russian neuroscientist has created a controversial site that allows free access to over 47 million academic papers that normally would be only available behind expensive paywalls (Resnick, 2016)


What does this mean for the post secondary system? Does the fear of the unknown actually create more rapid change within colleges and universities (Wheeler, 2016), which are build on a foundation of innovation and expanding thought? Bowen (2012) suggests that colleges should challenge assumptions like time-based teaching and even look at how space is configured and accessed to react to not only a change in technology, but in learning itself. I am actually quite excited to see what the post-secondary world looks like in another 20 years, and whether or not some of the new innovations like badging, gamification, and adaptive learning (Wheeler, 2016) have taken hold fully.


I see so much potential in the emerging trends of education, particularly in how this translate to life-long learning and professional development. Will we get to a place where the workplace and the classroom are fully integrated? Will we still feel in 20 years’ time that the knowledge students get in their first year classes will be largely irrelevant by the time they graduate (Dougherty, 2016). Perhaps the whole notion of graduation and degrees will have changed, and employers will be looking for more competency based evaluations and endorsements like those that populate our LinkedIn profiles will carry true weight. Is the google degree that far off?


I believe that we will get to a place where it is no longer questioned that content is freely accessible and that the value in paying for an education is in the understanding of how to interpret that knowledge. Open content is being delivered by open courseware, and now even syllabuses are being shared in the open realm (Karagnis, 2016). The curators of open content will have a responsibility of not only maintaining the resources, but also for being the new gatekeepers that allow us to find the most relative information out of the cloud.

I started a massive online open course (MOOC) last year (ironically, it was a MOOC on how open education is changing the post-secondary space) through Stanford Online, and quickly realized that although the content was relevant and engaging, participating in discussion threads with thousands of others from around the globe meant being constantly bombarded by attacks on my inbox with the latest response to a thread, many of which even started to include spam and clear advertising links! Sifting through the noise became too much of a distraction, so I abandoned it a few weeks in.

I have a colleague who likens what is happening with higher education to handing someone a library card and telling them everything they need to know can be found in the New York Public Library and to go and help themselves. Without systems in place that will allow us to filter, and people available to discuss the meaning of what we find, even if they are at the end of a phone or on an ooVoo chat, we will be lost.

I, for one, am happy to pay a bit for that filter and a smaller community of learners around me, no matter how far apart physically we may live.


Askner, N., Bothner, M. (2016) Status-Aspirational Pricing: The “Chivas Regal” Strategy in U.S. Higher Education, 2006–2012. Administrative Science Quarterly. Retrieved from http://asq.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/29/0001839216629671.full#sec-14

Bowen, J.A. (2012) Teaching Naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Dougherty, I. (February 16, 2016) Money won’t fix what’s wrong with post-secondary education. iPolitics. Retrieved from http://ipolitics.ca/2016/02/16/money-wont-fix-whats-wrong-with-post-secondary-education/

Karagnis, J. (February 18, 2016) How a “Syllabus Commons” Could Change Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/How-a-Syllabus-Commons-/235330

Kinsley, M. (February 5, 2016) How the Internet will disrupt higher education’s most valuable asset: Prestige. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-web-will-disrupt-higher-educations-most-valuable-asset-prestige/2016/02/05/6bddc1ee-c91e-11e5-a7b2-5a2f824b02c9_story.html

Resnick, B. (February 17, 2016) Why one woman stole 47 million academic papers — and made them all free to read. Vox Science and Health. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2016/2/17/11024334/sci-hub-free-academic-papers

Wheeler, D. (January 13, 2016) Technology and the Imminent Disruption of Higher Education: Is Fear the Path to the Dark Side? Academica Forum. Retrieved from http://forum.academica.ca/forum/technology-and-the-imminent-disruption-of-higher-education-is-fear-the-path-to-the-dark-side