He turned making a rukus into an artform and a living, now he wants you to do the same…
In the above Business Network News interview David Foot reviews his predictions from his book Boom Bust & Echo 2000 published back in 1999. Particular salient are his predictions about enrollments in education.
Foot asserts that:
Demographics explain about two-thirds of everything. They tell us a great deal about which products will be in demand in five years, and they accurately predict school enrollments many years in advance.
Foots predictions about a significant drop in higher education enrollments by 2012 are disturbingly accurate. The disturbing part is that we were warned but we just didn’t head the warning.
Foot further states that:
…if decision-makers really understood demographics, Canada would be a better place to live because it would run more smoothly and more efficiently.
Well if we are to heed Mr. Foot’s advice on education we need to look to demographics to help us understand who our future students will be and where they will come from. According to Foot, Canada has the most expensive Education system in the world (and unfortunately not the best) because we have repeatedly ignored the hard facts of demographics and have not moved education dollars from primary, to secondary to post secondary education to match the demographic trends. He says that if we had a flexible and responsive education system and good planning based on demographics:
…we would have taken the money out of the high schools in the 1980s and transferred it to the universities and elementary schools. In the mid-1990s, when the university enrollment was slipping and high school enrollment was rising we could have transferred some of it back from the post secondary system to the increasingly crowded elementary and high schools.
Foot challenges us to not repeat the mistakes of the past and manage the education system more effectively. His book was published in 1999, so he was only able to offer predictions (based on demographic information) on what the future of post secondary enrollment would look like. According to demographics at the turn of the century the echo generation (boomers children) will be on the verge of entering colleges and universities and the because the children of the busters (children of Gen-X) will be a much smaller cohort so elementary and high schools will need much less resources than post secondary institutions. We are now 12 years past the turn of the century so it would seem logical based solely on demographic information that post secondary enrollments will once again drop and they have.
When you factor in the booming economy of Alberta, and the reality that a high paying job may be more attractive then the cost of post secondary education we shouldn’t be surprised to see enrollments drop. Foot also pointed a huge opportunity for higher education in distance/online, adult and alternative education.
So what does this mean for Concordia University? If we want to shore up our declining enrollments we not only need to focus on online, adult and international education, but we also have be very purposeful on promoting our unique learning proposition and use analytics to assess the effectiveness of our marketing and recruitment strategies. We are a high quality Learner centered Liberal Arts University that prepares leaders for a better world. We equip our graduates with the skills, abilities and insights to be able to deal with problems that we don’t even know exist.
We have a choice…we can be reactive or proactive. We can either promote the fact that we offer a remarkable education or we can be like every other institution and offer a course for this or a course for that. In the article on “How to be Remarkable” Seth Godin stated: “If it’s in a manual, if it’s the accepted wisdom, if you can find it in a Dummies book, then guess what? It’s boring, not remarkable.” I also added that we could add or even interchange the word remarkable with innovative.
Dummies books and Idiot’s Guides are wonderful examples of being reactive. These books are written to convey information on very generic or standardized systems or processes. They help people to react to technology around them. I would argue that there is nothing proactive or innovative in the Dummies or Idiots Guides approach to dealing with technology or learning in general.
Before someone equates the notion of being proactive or innovative with being on the bleeding edge I want to emphatically state that this doesn’t have to be the case. One can still be proactive and innovative with technology and not be on the bleeding edge. Being proactive or innovative can be as simple as recognizing that social networking tools like instant messaging, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, podcasting etc. are also tools that education can use to communicate with learners and share information. Being proactive or innovative can be as simple as recognizing that online learning is not just hype and there are a plethora of web-based tools (Content Management System, RSS readers, gmail, Google Docs, Youtube, online forms of all kinds etc.) available that make communication, collaboration and learning much more effective.
I have been teaching my 14 & 16 year old sons the difference between being proactive and reactive. More specifically I have been try to help them understand the importance and advantages of being proactive and I believe they are starting to understand. My boys are also starting to understand that you really have to be innovative to be proactive. It takes hard work, planning, and a commitment to really being and doing the best to be proactive and innovative–it’s not easy but it is worth the effort. To help my boys understand the significance of this issue I ask them the following questions:
Do you want to be proactive or reactive? Do you want to be perceived as being innovative or idiots?
Perhaps these are the questions that we all need to consider.
Like people, Universities don’t plan to fail; they can just fail to plan. Good leadership and good planning can insure that Concordia not only remains the high quality institution that it is but that it will continue to grow and prosper.
Ann Kirschner Dean of William E. Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York argues that College leaders need to move beyond talking about transformation to actually transforming Higher Education before it’s too late. After reading this article several times I have come to the conclusion any form of summary will not do it justice and suggest that this is an article everyone should read. Therefore, I am sharing the following quotes from the piece to provide a provocative motivation to read the full article:
…when observed from the 20,000-foot level, the basic building blocks of higher education—its priorities, governance, instructional design, and cost structure—have hardly budged.
Although e-learning has been around for nearly 20 years, technology in and out of the classroom is at the discretion of the professor, with rare institutional support or enthusiasm. Online learning has about as much credibility on some campuses as global warming at a Tea Party rally. About the only thing within academe that has moved rapidly is tuition.
…makes it crucially important to consider new approaches—like streamlining pathways to degrees, redesigning models of instruction, competency-based programs, better advising, shutting down or consolidating underperforming programs, and more comprehensive and efficient support services focused solely on getting students to graduation.
Widespread adoption of online courses is, however, just the most obvious next step. We should be agreeing on what standards of data collection make sense for advising our students and tracking their progress, and then moving rapidly at all levels of the university to adopt new technologies that demonstrate improved outcomes (e.g., mobile apps, tablet-based e-textbooks, and game-based learning).
Here again, an openness to change is an essential prerequisite to change. The next step is a consistent and broad-minded strategy that embraces technology and learning at all levels, beginning with faculty who teach with digital gusto, and who are themselves qualified to direct technology-rich projects that will characterize an exciting new generation of scholars and teachers.
Change only happens on the ground. Despite all the reasons to be gloomy, however, there is room for optimism. The American university, the place where new ideas are born and lives are transformed, will eventually focus that lens of innovation upon itself. It’s just a matter of time.
The above quotes have been taken out of context and on their own may seem much more provocative than necessary. This was my intent–to provoke the reader to read the full article…