From Michael Schrage in the Harvard Business Review:
When I look at who is getting hired, purported knowledge almost always matters less than demonstrable skills. The distinctions aren’t subtle; they’re immense. How do they manifest themselves? These hires don’t have resumes highlighting educational pedigrees and accomplishments; their resumes emphasize their skill sets. Instead of listing aspirations and achievements, these resumes present portfolios around performance. They link to blogs, published articles, PowerPoint presentations, podcasts and webinars the candidates produced. The traditional two-page resume has been turned into a “personal productivity portal” that empowers prospective employers to quite literally interact with their candidate’s work.
Unsurprisingly, this simultaneously complements and reinforces the employer-side due diligence that’s emerged during this recession: firms have both the luxury and necessity to find the best possible candidates for open positions. Yes, they’re looking for appropriate levels of educational accomplishment but, really, what they most want are people who have the skills they need. More importantly, they want to actually see those skills â€” be they written, computed, designed and/or presented. Professional services firms I know now don’t hesitate to ask a serious candidate to demonstrate their sincerity and skills by asking them to show how they might “adapt” a presentation for one of the company’s own clients. Verbal fluency and presence impresses headhunters and interviewers. But the ability to virtually demonstrate one’s professional skills increasingly matters more.
This is part of the vast structural shift in the human capital marketplace worldwide. Firms have the ability and incentive to be far more selective in their hires. But project managers and professionals also have the bandwidth and desire to showcase their skills. The resume is rapidly mutating away from a documentary string of alphanumeric text into a multimedia platform that projects precisely the brand image and substance a job candidate seeks to convey. Did they teach you that in college or grad school? Of course not. Will you learn that by hanging around LinkedIn or Facebook? Probably not.
Is this how human capital markets will become more efficient and effective tomorrow? Absolutely. You’ve got to have skill to show off your knowledge. [Emphasis mine.]
I want to know, how are RTTT, Common Core and all of the curriculum that’s going to drive it going to help my kids build “the bandwidth and the desire to showcase their skills” instead of motivating them (and their teachers) to simply get them to pass the knowledge test? How are schools going to prepare my children for showing off their knowledge if they don’t embrace sharing technologies? If my kids need more than a resume, if they need a transparent, global portfolio, how are we helping them create it?
Or is this all just a bunch of hooey?
Gary Stager says
This may indeed be hooey, but let’s assume it’s not.
The job candidate is now spending even more time hoop-jumping while it is easier for the employer to be deluged by an exponentially greater pile of applications. Access to high-tech “production” tools also advantages wealthier and Whiter applicants.
My experience suggests that the Web has made human relations LESS humane! Employers feel no responsibility whatsoever to even generate an auto-email confirming receipt of an application and too rarely communicates with applicants during the hiring process. Employers don’t have a chance to meet a fantastic wild-card when they don’t meet anyone.
At the same time, people get jobs the old-fashioned way through friends, their family or inside connections.
Let’s spend our time teaching kids to play the flute instead of more speculative career preparation!
Justin Ashworth says
“At the same time, people get jobs the old-fashioned way through friends, their family or inside connections.”
Tania Sheko says
I like the wildcard analogy. I think the wildcard seldom gets chosen because wildcards don’t fit into the criteria set.
This question is on all of our minds as we begin this new school year. How do we address the skills needed to enable our students to pass required assessments and prepare them for the 21st Century? As willing learners, many of our teachers are taking on the challenge by learning new skills and integrating them into our classroom. On Thursday our high school campus will collaborate on project based learning. Our enemy is time. We continue to take our students back, attempting to cram basic knowledge into their “turned off” brains, rather than moving forward with new tools and opportunities to “awaken their brain” and begin a new thinking process. Why do we do this? Fear. Fear of test failure. Fear of looking like failures ourselves. I spent two long weeks this summer in a graduate class, cramming information into my brain so that I could pass a test each day. The only thing that got me through this process was the fact that it would all be over in two weeks. Imagine how our students feel each day, of each week, of each month, of each year for twelve years, if all we ask of them is to memorize facts. Facts that will be forgotten in a few days. As a special education teacher, I have always believed that if I could just get my students to think for themselves, they could survive this world. By the tenth grade, many of our students are “turned off” to learning. Learning has no meaning. Children are born inquisitive. Listen to all of the â€œwhyâ€ questions of a young child. If we can revive their thinking, we can create 21st century learners. As for the state assessments, anyone who has taught for many years realizes, this too will pass.
Steven Barber says
The current trend toward testing, testing, testing is politically driven, and has NOTHING to do with what is BEST for all children or young adults. The test results are not relevant as a stand-alone assessment of the necessary tools required of the 21st century citizen, the tests are simply political fodder for someone to get elected by complaining about the “lack of progress” by public schools! Public Schools are the foundation of our democracy, and indeed, what is more democratic than preparing students to be insightful, & creatively able to harness a plethora of technological skills & thus motivating them to be truly inquisitive for a lifetime & not simply a rote “high stakes” test?
Joe Crownhart says
I agree with the thought of the public school being the foundation of our democracy and that the focus should be with developing the inquisitive mind. I would add that its also important to develop the critical mind as well.
michael schrage says
it ain’t hooey….even if may feel less ‘humane’…
and, i’m sorry to say, the testing mania won’t vanish either…doing well on tests simply gets you to the interview – it won’t assure or even help with getting ‘the job’…
…all that ‘portfolio’ stuff where the candidate (literally) shows their work will be the differentiator..
unless, of course, they’re related to someone important
Andrew Sams says
So then, we need to teach our students how to establish well-crafted, digitally-based and shareable portfolios, that reflect authentic and rich skill-building experiences in some career-related domain… while prepping for standardized tests.
What’s that look like? Perhaps:
Here’s a video of me studying my trig notes… I almost have a formula memorized right there…
Here’s me two weeks later, I don’t recall the formula, since I already took my test, but I’m cramming for my government exam…
Internships?? Personal Learning Network?? That was never on the tests..
Here’s another video of me me paying my AP testing fees online, though.
Although the question you pose, as to “WhatÂ´s that look like?” is one that noone can answer fully, yet… I found your hypothetical situations of little value, and kind of insulting… but, putting that aside…
Â¿are studying, memorizing important skills in the workplace? undoubtedly you could make an argument for them, but there are probably a whole slew of skills that are far more important…
so what could it look like [from my own perspective as design student]
This is me sketching out some details of a concept I worked on during last semesterÂ´s project.
This is me using google docs, in conjunction with google search and google notebook as part of my investigation process…
This is me creating a 3-D model of the concept…
This is me solving a math problem, on video, or in a flash presentation,
There are a lot of situations in which that might be usefull,
I guess the point iÂ´m trying to make, albeit unsuccesfully is that documenting the way we do our homework, or class projects is essential, and something that we are only recently recognizing as an important part of the learning process…
Athletes do it, they review video of their mistakes in order to improve their performance, i imagine that this same technique can be applied in a large number of educational situations, in the science lab just to name one… but yes, it might not be applicable in all situations…
Andrew Sams says
I think we’re approaching this from the same side of the argument. My post was using absurdity to demonstrate absurdity.
All the reflective, meta-cognitive practices you mention are absolutely invaluable to our learning practices. The ability to create, collaborate, communicate, publish, question; all of huge value.
The supreme problem of the times is that we have a public education system that uses only words to value such things, while using standardized testing to audit the efficacy of the system itself, which in no way factors in the range of skills for which we’re both advocating.
Not Hooey. One of the barriers I am facing as a school administrator trying to increase the amount of technology and information being used in the classroom are great teachers who have been doing thier thing for years and the state saying “well done” with recognized and exemplary ratings (the two highest school acountability ratings in Texas). My campus was rated exemplary and if our kids could make a living taking standardized test then we could consider ourselves successful. I was at a workshop yesterday that David Warlick wrote about in his blog “2 Cents Worth” today. We discussed the use of technology in learning. His premise is that we should quit worrying about the technology and focus on the learning and information and how to use that information to answer real life problems. This type of learning would prepare our students to meet the demands of the workplace but would it prepare them for the demands of passing a standardized test. They don’t have access to the internet during the test to go and search for the answer to the questions. Steven above is right. Our state standardized tests are like an albatross around the neck of the type of learning that our students truly need.
I think you can teach students today so that they are prepared for future workplaces and still have them perform well on standardized tests. Here in BC the government tests are so easy, and there is so much info about them that most students do well on them without even trying. I give my students a copy of the standardized test on the second and third class of the year to show them how easy they are…then we get on with fun and challenging learning without having to worry about sill tests. Since the prescribed content is covered by the students during the school year all is well.
Viplav Baxi says
Where I am in India, corporations are turning their placement processes around. Instead of waiting till the last term to go out hunting, they are building bridges much earlier. Part of it is the sell-aspect (getting to te campus with your brand first) and part of it, I am hoping, will actually translate into feedback at institutional and student levels – we may end up seeing joint projects between experts in the company and teachers and students on campus, driving and reinforcing both the relationship and the relevance of their studies. I am hoping it will go beyond the obvious to include deeper collaboration and avenues for research.
Nobody has ever perhaps successfully accepted credentials at face value. At the very least, there is verification through interviews or cross questioning about depth of knowledge etc. Scale is an important factor too that interferes in the quality of selections.
The implication of social media may just be more tools to demonstrate progress visibly (ePortfolio?) to discerning employers. The fact that even these may not be enough is obvious, also because social media can obscure your real level of competency (not verifiable all the time or in all cases) and/or put at a disadvantage people who can use these tools but for some reason, do not.
What is needed and people will pay for is evaluation that they can trust. Can a networked system generate that reliably? Don’t know – so it may be “hooey” in that respect.