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The Revolution in Education by Joe DiDonato

The Revolution in Education by
Article Posted: 02/16/2014
Article Views: 499
Articles Written: 6
Word Count: 1234
Article Votes: 0
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The Revolution in Education

Career,Website Design,Education
There seems to be a growing gap between what businesses are looking for in new employees, and what colleges and universities are turning out in the job market. With more than 11 million Americans looking for work, 45% of human resource managers say they can't find qualified candidates for their open positions. In the high-tech arena, there are an estimated 1 million jobs that are going unfilled for that very reason. When presidents of many colleges are asked about the problem, they reply that it isn't their role to prepare students for jobs in the business sector. This article examines that 'disconnect' and searches for innovative solutions. Most of us have heard some of the troubling statistics around colleges, starting with the $1.1 trillion in student debt that seems to be steadily rising, unabated. Morning radio shows are constantly running advertisements about companies willing to help graduates "get control" or 'relief' of their student debt. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that's going to easily rectify itself, as the cost of a higher education keeps rising in both the public and private institutions: • Public University Tuition is up 163%; and • Private University Tuition is up 100%, averaging $121,000 for a 4 year degree. Unfortunately, household income hasn't kept pace, and is only up 8% since 1985. And further compounding the college problem is that 30% of the students don't graduate; students can't get courses to finish their degrees in 4 years; and graduates can't get jobs - 53% are unemployed after graduation according to Gallop and Milken Institute polls. Adding to that unemployment statistic is that their student debt they've racked up is still coming due at the bank. And sadly, only 15% of college students are in Engineering and Science, where many of the high-tech jobs reside. That number compares to 50% in China, 67% in Singapore, and 47% in France. Leland Melvin, assistant head of NASA's education programs and on the President's STEM council, said that there were nearly one million jobs that can't be filled because people lack the requisite skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Equally perplexing, other recent college graduate research gives even more insight into the problems. These are the responses to poll questions asked of graduates: • Was technology at your college up to par? (NO - 75%) • Would you go back to the same college, knowing what you know now? (NO - 50%) • Was it worth the cost? (NO - 66%) • Were you ready for the workforce? (NO - 31%) • Would you choose the same major? (NO - 50%) • Did you get a job immediately or up to 4 months after graduating? (NO - 53%) According to Tom Kalinske, in a keynote speech to learning executives in Anaheim in August of 2013, "When I asked why so many recent graduates can't find a job, and should the universities be preparing the students better, the president of an elite college recently said, 'it wasn't their role to provide an education immediately usable by the private sector - that was up to the businesses themselves.' I get the point that universities need to teach students how to think and problem solve - and that's really important. But maybe students need more than courses in liberal arts to be relevant today?" In another very interesting study on the goals of a "Quality Education," both parents and college students think the most important reasons to go to college is so they can get a good job and earn more money when they graduate. With this kind of a philosophical disconnect, it seems that the problem will continue for quite some time. However, there are some interesting programs beginning to unfold to fill the gap between colleges and the business world. The programs are more like professional apprenticeships that are designed to take students from novices to expert technologists in as little as 8 weeks of intense study - boot camp style. One example of such a technical boot camp is These boot camps focus on the IT and software engineering areas like web development using state of the art technology like Drupal, PHP, MySQL, and other software technologies in high demand. According to the founder of one of these boot camp venues in Boston, these models for training in skills like web development are difficult for colleges to teach. The reason? There is a constant churn of these technologies every 12 to 18 months, as new releases of the web development software become available, or new technologies arise to displace older ways of doing things. As a result, these skills tend to 'depreciate' very quickly. In these new models there are other differences. The classroom model is 'flipped,' meaning that the video tutorials are taken out of the classroom and studied on the student's own time. Instead of listening to classroom lectures all day, the students are exposed to project-based learning, where they use the software technology to design and build websites under the coaching and mentoring of senior experts To graduate, the student typically needs to build four or five websites focused on very different functionality - from non-profit foundations, to publishing, to internet store fronts and other diverse business models. And most importantly, they are evaluated by their cohorts. But those four or five websites are not just busy work. By actually designing and building out a website around a real business entity, they are learning how to do those tasks efficiently and effectively. So instead of memorizing commands and tasks that they might someday need to use, the learning is injected as they need it to build out the sites. The students are also taught how to find the information quickly, using search engine tools and other technologies that shift the learning from "memorization and recall" to "knowing how to find answers to problems" that might arise in any project they take on in the future. In the opinion of some learning thought-leaders, this project-based learning approach is where 'knowledge' becomes 'wisdom.' There is also another very good reason for doing these widely varying projects. Employers want to see what a potential employee can do, and having this portfolio is the way that these students can demonstrate their knowledge. At the end of these boot camps there are typically "Career Day" events, where employers are invited in to meet the students and evaluate their capabilities. That opportunity may also exist throughout the boot camp program as well. And this is where some addition incentives are being brought into play. Not only are people with these skills hard to find, the search for these knowledgeable individuals is very expensive, with some recruiters charging as much as 30% of the person's first year salary. By combining the two models - training and job placement - these boot camp endeavors offer the possibility of full tuition reimbursement for the students, and lower acquisition cost for the employers. So not only does this model create a smooth transition into the business world, it does it with less financial impact when compared to college and job placement costs. Most of these programs range in cost from $3,900 to over $12,000, but even at that higher price point, when compared to college tuitions that are approaching the same level as a home mortgage, it's a welcome change for employers and graduates.

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