Reposted from the Wall Street Journal:
Interest in specialized, one-year masters programs in business analytics, the discipline of using data to explore and solve business problems, has increased lately, prompting at least five business schools to roll out stand-alone programs in the past two years. The growing interest in analytics comes amid a broader shift in students’ ambitions. No longer content with jobs at big financial and consulting firms, the most plum jobs for B-school grads are now in technology or in roles that combine business skills with data acumen, say school administrators.
Amy Hillman, dean at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, said interest in a year-old master’s program in business analytics has spread “like wildfire.” More than 300 people applied for 87 spots in this year’s class, according to the school. Ayushi Agrawal, a current Carey student, said she left her job as a senior business analyst at a Bangalore, India, branch of a Chicago-based analytics firm to enroll in the program. As data become central to more business decisions, “I want to be at the forefront” of the emerging field, the 24-year-old student said.
Michael Rappa, founding director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University, said analytics is best studied in an interdisciplinary context, rather than only through a university’s business school. “Analytics programs in a business school will always be in the shadow of the M.B.A. program,” said Dr. Rappa, architect of the Institute’s popular Master of Science in Analytics program, launched in 2007. “That’s how the school is ranked.”
The education industry, primary, secondary and post-secondary, is increasingly looking toward information technology as a way to revamp and restructure how these institutions operate. The big question is how much technology can realistically expect to help.
That question was front and center as Gartner analysts did their industry tour Sunday at the Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. Transformation was the key buzzword, but education is the industry that may need the biggest overhaul. In the U.S., there’s an aging population, a student debt load that’s going to explode on the economy, and skill shortages. Students aren’t likely to fall into traditional buckets.
Jan-Martin Lowendahl, an analyst at Gartner, noted in a presentation that “more people will need to reskill more often.” Students will be older and nonformal learning will dominate. Meanwhile, education will go international. Toss in those business model issues with creaky IT systems and processes and you can easily see why most tech vendors are chasing education institutions with their versions of quick fixes.
Read more at Gartner.
Reposted from the New York Times:
Today’s education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology. Neither strategy has lived up to its hype, and with good reason. It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.
Marketplace mantras dominate policy discussions. High-stakes reading and math tests are treated as the single metric of success, the counterpart to the business bottom line. Teachers whose students do poorly on those tests get pink slips, while those whose students excel receive merit pay, much as businesses pay bonuses to their star performers and fire the laggards. Just as companies shut stores that aren’t meeting their sales quotas, opening new ones in more promising territory, failing schools are closed and so-called turnaround model schools, with new teachers and administrators, take their place.
This approach might sound plausible in a think tank, but in practice it has been a flop. Firing teachers, rather than giving them the coaching they need, undermines morale. In some cases it may well discourage undergraduates from pursuing careers in teaching, and with a looming teacher shortage as baby boomers retire, that’s a recipe for disaster. Merit pay invites rivalries among teachers, when what’s needed is collaboration. Closing schools treats everyone there as guilty of causing low test scores, ignoring the difficult lives of the children in these schools — “no excuses,” say the reformers, as if poverty were an excuse.
Reposted from the Greensboro, NC News & Record:
“I would like to posit a scenario where “job performance and value” are based on the following objectives and conditions:
- You are meeting with 35 clients in a room designed to hold 20.
- The air conditioning and/or heat may or may not be working, and your roof leaks in three places, one of which is the table where your customers are gathered.
- Of the 35, five do not speak English, and no interpreters are provided.
- Fifteen are there because they are forced by their “bosses” to be there but hate your product.
- Eight do not have the funds to purchase your product.
- Seven have no prior experience with your product and have no idea what it is or how to use it.
- Two are removed for fighting over a chair.
- Only two-thirds of your clients appear well-rested and well-fed.
- Make your presentation in 40 minutes.
- Have up-to-date, professionally created information concerning your product.
- Keep complete paperwork and assessments of product understanding for each client and remediate where there is lack of understanding.
- Use at least three different methods of conveying your information: visual, auditory and hands-on.
Does this business model seem viable? Of course not…”
Reposted from the Ideas Lab:
“Today, business leaders support schools through efforts that are generous, well-intended, effective at alleviating the symptoms of a weak educational system, but fundamentally inadequate for helping to strengthen the system. Consequently, it’s time for America’s business leaders to reinvent how they partner with educators to support our students and improve our schools. That is the central message emerging from a year-long study by the faculty of Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and The Boston Consulting Group.
Business engagement—while broad—is not deep. Only 12 percent of superintendents characterized their business communities as deeply involved in their school districts. When asked how business engages, superintendents reported a lot of “checkbook philanthropy”: businesses donate goods, give money, and sponsor scholarships, but they rarely support more substantive efforts to develop teaching talent, improve curricula, or upgrade district management practices.
Business leaders can do better and fortunately, some are. Across the country, we see progressive business leaders partnering with educators in creative ways that promise to have greater, lasting impact on the nation’s education system and its students. The models fall into three categories…”
Robinson discusses how college and careers have changed over time, and how the assumptions of the past may not hold true for young people today. He brings the discussion full circle back to creativity, and why it is essential to the future of public education.
Reposted from MindShift:
“Business leaders and economic thinkers are worried that today’s students aren’t leaving school with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the workplace. Representatives from tech companies and hiring experts are looking for applicants who show individuality, confidence in their abilities, ability to identify and communicate their strengths, and who are capable of thinking on their feet.
At the recent Next New World conference hosted by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, panelists addressed the question of how the American education system can better prepare students to meet the evolving challenges of the 21st century economy. Every panelist agreed that right now, the U.S. does not have a system that produces students that meet those needs.
“The problem is not to get incrementally better with our current education system,” said Tony Wagner, expert in residence at Harvard’s Innovation Lab. “The problem is to reimagine it.” Wagner is not the first to call for a make-over of the education system, and he certainly isn’t the first to advocate for content that connects with students in authentic ways or that teaches real world skills. His voice joins with the countless educators clamoring for the freedom to pursue those same goals.”