This week’s Business Week magazine has a cover story on the “The Future of Work” which has some fodder to add to the discussion. The thesis is:
The rapid growth of broader, richer channels of communication–including virtual worlds–is transforming what it means to be “at work.”
Here are a couple more outtakes:
“What’s more, the modern workplace no longer resembles the factory assembly line but rather the design studio, where the core values are collaboration and innovation, not mindless repetition.”
The percentage of 25- 29-year-olds with at least a bachelor’s degree has actually fallen during this decade. This raises the real possibility that this generation of young Americans may actually be less educated than the previous one, creating a growing gap between the kinds of people companies need and the workers who are actually available.
Free agency looks to be on the rise:
Complicating matters is the fact that the very idea of a company is shifting away from a single outfit with full-time employees and a recognizable hierarchy. It is something much more fluid, with a classic corporation at the center of an ever-shifting network of suppliers and outsourcers, some of whom only join the team for the duration of a single project.
And collabortive capability is becoming more and more important:
The hard part for multinationals is getting people to work well together, especially given that day-and-night collaboration across the globe is growing…Nokia is careful to select people who have a collaborative mindset…Accenture, which spent $700 million on education last year, says its 38,000 consultants and most of its service workers take course on collaborating with offshore colleagues.
That makes me think (again) of the quote by Tom Carroll about good teaching being a collective/collaborative effort. I wonder how many teachers are getting ready for the new school year by developing a deeply collaborative curriculum, one in which they model for their students not just connections with other teacher/learners but co-creation of knowledge, in whatever forms that takes. I wonder how many of them are being supported in that effort. We have the capability to create these types of environments; what we need is to provide more and more opportunities for teachers to connect and learn with other educators and professionals from around the globe.
a. woody delauder says
I have a new position as the Science resource teacher at an elementary school. I have the opportunity to teach grades 3-5 along with being a resource for K-2. Today was a very productive day. I spent my time creating the template for the students’ science class wiki… individual pages for each grade. This will serve as one of their “products” for parents to view and for students to use as a collaborative informational resource along the way.
Tomorrow I plan on setting up grade level feed aggregators with current science related feeds for student use.
My focus, however, is to introduce and communicate to the students the new literacy’s and how a global community can come together and learn from each other. I am looking forward to creating this type of environment in my classroom.
Pamela Carr says
The important thing that I need to stay focused on is that I can no longer blame my lack of collaboration on my district administrators (even though they really do not offer us many opportunities for it). I now have a vast supply of other educators thirsty to collaborate with me…I just need to reach out to them via the web. What I now have to focus on is how I can model this for my students so that they learn how to tap this resource in a responsible and effective way. Man, that is the part that scares me! But I’m getting there!!
John Pederson says
Just started my newest big “project” here in Wisconsin. One of my (very few) non-negotiables was that the teachers do the project as a group and produce a single project for their district. Small step. Probably not noticed by most. But important in my mind.
Interesting to watch as they tried to fight it today. 2nd grade teachers insisting they couldn’t work with high school teachers, etc. 🙂
Again TIME is the operative word. It takes time for teachers (and anyone) to become comfortable with a different way of doing things. It takes time to collaborate well enough to create worthy lessons.
I have been collaborating with an environmental group this summer to develop an in depth unit for my students but it is difficult to get the time to explain to other teachers how this can then be used in their classroom. I am going to attempt to have our math teachers use out data in their graphing units. Maybe that is a good place to start.
My students are also learning the importance of working with others but many are having difficulty with the idea of not having ONE correct answer. The process is sometimes lost on them.
Christy Tucker says
Does the decline in the number of students with bachelors degrees actually reflect less education, or just a different type of education? I wonder how many students have associate degrees or degrees from career colleges, or just hands on experience with technology that qualifies them for jobs. Is it possible that that stat reflects a change in whether the education is a traditional formal degree and not an overall reduction in education?
Dennis Harter says
The co-creating of knowledge just isn’t happening enough, nor is it the focus of most school curricula. We find ourselves beholden to content knowledge based curriculum where “co-creation” of new knowledge is not valued and regurgitation of existing knowledge is.
Until curricula focus on thinking skills needed for a future of work we know is coming, we are under-serving our kids.
Maryann M. says
I have fine-tuned my learning environment a bit each year since I began teaching in 2000. I feel like I have gotten to the point, through planning and the use of new technologies, where my “classroom” includes more than just my students and their teacher. I have seen parents energized by projects and participating at home in advancing their own and their child’s learning. Children are bringing in related newspaper articles, books, or info. from the Web. Parents email me related Web sites and share comments about how exciting their children’s learning is. We are able to include authors and others who are experts in their field through webinars and virtual field trips. Our classrooms are also more inclusive, and many students come and go for different learning purposes (such as the gifted program or English language learning classes). Through inclusion, children are learning to work with a variety peers who don’t all look alike, think alike, talk alike, or act alike. They can really pull together and get things done though. One year I had a parent who was the head of an MBA program at a local university. She commented that her son was coming home discussing a group project he was struggling with. His group was having major cooperation difficulties that they had to work out themselves. But, she was listening to what he was doing (had to do) to get the work completed. She said that many of the MBA students could not function as well as my second graders were learning to do. I hope these young children will build on their skills each year and will be able to fit in to whatever learning or work environment is in their future. As for not going to college– My daughter will be a freshman in college next year. She has told me about a few of her friends who were discouraged by parents from going to college because the parents think their children can be successful (in business) without a college education. They are working in family business and are hugely sucessful already, some taking over very profitable businesses and expanding them. These are teens! I truly believe that not every person has to go to college right out of high school. There are so many options that it is an exciting time to explore. I do hope, however, that many of these young people will eventually give higher ed. a try because you don’t always know what you don’t know. And, there certain is more to college than learning to have a successful business. These life-learners bring a great deal of knowledge to the classroom while they benefit from a different way of thinking.
I emailed you but you must be busy. If I were going to read some books on the future of schools which titles would you reccommend?
Relevant to the “Future of work” post ….. The Greenbsuh Education Service Center is working on a “3D virual classroom” project .. the simulation is a free donload here http://edusim.greenbush.us and is buiult using Croquet (an opensource peer to peer virtual environment)