The future of work

“Online education will move from the add-on to the centerpiece,” Cowen told me. “Higher education will move towards a hybrid approach with top faculty teaching online, and motivational coaches working with students on a personal level.” Cowen sees the hybrid model making college education more affordable. He envisions new job opportunities in statistics, search, programming, and logic, “since you need people behind smart machines.” Cowen also envisions job growth in the motivational sector.

A link is here.


Why will top faculty do the teaching? Are the best researchers always the best lecturers? In my experience there is some correlation but it's far from perfect. Surely the online teaching will be done by "showmen".

Online lectures and demonstrations will be done by avatars or real life cartoon character with professional voice dubbing, and demonstrations will be done by simulation.

One of my neighbors is working on projects teaching medical students and physical therapists using video simulations and electronic and sensor loaded dummies.

Was this event or at least your portion of it recorded in any way Tyler? I'd love to watch it.

Hopefully it will also be taught once, that not giving people a chance to work, there will be less customers. Forgotten knowledge. Ford knew that.

The future of work: Learn Mandarin and be prepared to move to a low wage country.

I am sometimes asked to coach MBA students at a local HE institute in Johannesburg. It's part of a program to give support to younger students, especially in syndicate work, of which they have little experience. It's the non-academic part of the MBA that seems to trouble them most and that is where the coaching is beneficial.

My own experience of the MBA is that there is little integration of the academic fields of study and a coach would probably have been useful in helping to see a bigger picture.

Right on.

I think the model of the future, for MBA and other applied programs, is mentored internships within corporations, or having students who are currently employed work on projects which are within their corporation and which are mentored or supervised by outside academics. Unfortunately, some of the research faculty are often clueless about what businesses actually do in the real world, and are more likely viewing things very, very abstractly relative to the project at hand.

What you need to create productive students is tighter integration between schools and the workplace, and some of the academics that get tenure are so untethered to the business world that they are incapable of mentoring students doing projects in the workplace.

But, they would be good doing higher level math and engaging in long philosophical discussions and writing papers.

"The challenge will be--and already is--preparing ourselves for new jobs as technology advances and markets change. This requires workforce training and education on a massive scale. As individuals, we need to continuously develop relevant skills and expertise, build our networks and relationships, and assess our priorities as we look ahead to longer lives in a dynamic world. "

Is there any actual evidence that this is the case, other than that every business writer keeps saying it? It seems required to put something like this in any article discussing business and the economy, the latest Economist feature on the labor market being the latest case, with absolutely nothing to back it up. Didn't Tyler just finish writing a book arguing in effect that the world is becoming less dynamic?

You've not told us how lab work is to be fitted in. Or is your plan only for the frivolous subjects?

The U.S. army has been relying heavily on online education for sometime, and it came up in two conversations I had recently, once at a traditional face-to-face army course.

In both cases the complaint was that the online training could be gamed by pressing "next" rapidly, then just repeating the online exam until they get a passing grade. This strikes me as a flaw that could be countered with better design, but it was induced by the fact that the system has to accomodate people learning at different speeds. So there is probably more value than realized in face-to-face instruction in terms of accomodating different learning styles, and being able to check on students actually doing the work. But this can be lost if the class is too large, and there are some instructors who can be easily gamed too.

One thing that should be considered is to have students take the exam for the course up front. Then the exam results would be used to determine how much instruction, and of which type, students actually need to become proficient in the subject matter. A good exam might be able to determine whether the deficiency was technical knowledge in a few areas, in which case online instruction is probably fine, or if the problem was failure to grasp key concepts and being able to apply the knowledge, in which case more coaching would be required.

A huge difference between army training and civilian education is that army training certificates, or even the courses needed to progress to the next rank, are pretty useless for impressing civilian employers. There is therefore more focus on actually making people are trained at whatever the subject is, but there still is a credentialism effect as units are often required to have "x" number of soldiers in their command that are certified in "y".

“The challenge will be–and already is–preparing ourselves for new jobs as technology advances and markets change. This requires workforce training and education on a massive scale. As individuals, we need to continuously develop relevant skills and expertise, build our networks and relationships, and assess our priorities as we look ahead to longer lives in a dynamic world. ”

Whenever I see a quote like this- and they're everywhere these days- I get a mental picture of college presidents whistling nervously as they pass a graveyard. Just moments ago I heard a radio interview in which the president of a private college sort of let the mask slip. He said his institution was introducing work certificate courses "in order to open up new revenue streams" because they no longer had enough paying students to make ends meet.

Not one word about the practical value of the certs. Just "we need a new revenue stream."

It may be that the future of work will require new training. But until I start hearing specific examples of specific skills needed by actual employers, I will remain a bit skeptical.

How does this fit in with the country-club college lifestyle? Surely 18-year-olds will still want to congregate in the thousands without supervision, responsibility, or old people? I imagine the present model will be dominant for a long time. I sure as hell would not have gone to some online college just because it was cheaper- are you kidding me?

Conceding the standard argument that ivy et al schools are positional goods that are as much about prestige as education, nonetheless they do a pretty solid job of education, and much of that derives from the way that non-classroom time is spent in the company of almost universally very bright people with configurations of talents that are diverse.

a large portion of the value resides

in 'meeting an academic kindred spirit' as class time spills out into the dining hall, caffe or pizzeria

in recognizing that everyone else has an area or two (or three) about which they are impressively well informed (for their age - and sometimes even this asterisk of a criticism does not hold) -- and that fear of inadequacy (or to put a positive spin on it: a spirit of healthy competition) results in an finding something that moves you for its own intrinsic sake or beauty, and an appreciation of learning for its own sake

institutionally the rich private schools probably don't have much to fear in the short or medium term (obviously it's hard to make predictions out multiple decades). but it's thinking about the continuity of the spectrum between the rich private schools where the social experience reinforces the academic experience (even when taking into account the substraction of partying, a phenomenon it's hard to begrudge people at that age) -- down the spectrum towards this vision articulated by TC: where and how does it break?

You have 12 years to impliment it. I would much rather be buying toys than saving in the 529 plan.

I'm curious about these motivational coaches. As Frank notes, coaches who can connect the abstract portions of academia to the "real" work could be valuable...bu aren't they going to be your best teachers as well? When you hire a personal trainer at a fitness club, they are not simply there to cajole you; they have a significant knowledge base in the pertinent area and that expertise, along with the ability to motivate (which is not an overly common ability and also require cultivation). I guess I'm wondering why you would break the model out in this way when you need the skills sets to be co-joined to be highly effective anyway.

When I hear the professoriate talk about work, I somewhat chuckle.

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