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Employability, entrepreneurship and the future of Higher Education

As part of the lead up to the opening of Flinders Connect next month, I’ve been thinking a lot more about the concept of ‘students as customers’, and the role that Universities (and our student services team one part of that greater whole) are expected to play in this relationship. In a recent staff forum I heard our Vice Chancellor muse that students may be customers, but they are not customers simply buying a commodity – they are more like adventurers signing up for a trek through the Himalayas, with an expectation that they will need to put in significant effort as part of the deal to get to their goal.

There must also, however, be the expectation from these customers that at the end of that trek there is some sort of payoff – most likely in the form of gainful employment – and yet we see plenty of stories like this one highlighting graduate employability being at its lowest level in Australia in over twenty years. We see the terms ‘job ready’ and ’employability’ skills’ bandied about, and yet we also see the counterpoint that Universities should absolutely not attempt to ‘educate to suit employers‘. So what then do we do to ensure that our students are getting the value they expect from their education?

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Legitimising the grapevine

I stumbled across our work Yammer network the other day. I had no idea that it was there – I just logged into the corporate Office 365 portal doodad and saw a link to it, and being the curious little kitten I am I clicked on it. What I found was a fledgling collection of others from around the University, with no seeming rhyme or reason to indicate from whence they had come. Probably just other rubberneckers like me, poking their nose in to see what it was all about. A few ‘Hello World’ posts, a couple of attempts at sharing links – and not much else.

Just to test the waters, I made my first post an admission that I’ve used Yammer quite a bit in years gone past, and that I should write a blog post that clarified what I saw as the conditions for success. I even got a few ‘likes’ on it, and so I figured I’d better follow through with this post.

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How I lost my faith in the LMS (or ‘my journey towards LMS nihilism’)

It was a couple of weeks back now when I threw out a tweet asking what my next blog post should be, and as I should have predicted, it came back with the one that is probably the hardest for me to write.

Then, while all sorts of thoughts were rattling around in my head, Phil Hill’s post took quite a bit of wind out of my sails by articulating very neatly a lot of the stuff that I was mulling over. What Phil’s post also did however was to make me realise that my faith in edtech on the whole wasn’t the issue – it was far more my faith in the LMS.

What I did think was still worth doing in spite of Phil’s post was creating a bit more of a personal view of my own journey towards LMS nihilism, which is what I’m going to share here. First though, you’ll need to permit me to wander a little.

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