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You Don’t Have To Change!

  • Mohammad Ilyas, Guest Blogger 

  • No, you don’t have to change!  But don’t expect the world to stop Changing! In fact, by all indicators, the pace of change in the world around us is becoming faster and faster. Here are few eye-opening projections from a YouTube video “shift happens.” This six-minute video beautifully describes the dynamics of the changes that our world is going through. It provides glimpses of powerful technology trends, global competitive environment, and the challenges that next generations are expected to face. There is no way that old approaches (and mindset) will provide effective solutions to these challenges. Here are a few relevant highlights from this video: 

  • People from today’s generation are expected to have 10 to 14 different jobs by age 38

  • Twenty five percent of the employees have been with their companies for less than a year

  • Fifty percent of the employees have been with their companies for less than five years

  • Top 10 jobs for 2010 did not exist in 2004

  • Six billion Google searches are performed each month

  • Number of text messages sent daily exceeds the world population

  • One out of eight couples married in US last year met online 

These are very startling statistics. Clearly today’s generation is very different than that of a few decades ago or even a few years ago. The approach for educating these learners and preparing them for future jobs, higher education leaders around the world need to adjust their approach with an open mind. 

Agility of mind and adaptability in our approach are the key elements in dealing with the challenges that we face. Agility is an important skill that strategic leaders use in dealing with changing situations and patterns in an organization. Agility is a skillset that allows them to adjust their reflexes, and hence approach to dealing with situations that they come across. Rigidity of opinions and fixed mindset are ineffective in dealing with new problems. Agility of mind is similar to the approach that medical professionals take in dealing with viruses that mutate frequently. Every mutation of a virus responds to a different vaccine.

Here is a case in point 

About three decades ago, State Universities in Florida gained access to a slice of broadcast frequency spectrum for teaching students at remote locations. Engineering Colleges were the first to start offering graduate courses and the process was named as Florida Engineering Education Delivery System (FEEDS). Florida Atlantic University became an enthusiastic participant in the process. FAU’s FEEDS participation grew rapidly and had a major share of course offerings within Florida.

For some remote locations, the course lectures were video-taped and shipped. With the advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs), some Universities adapted to take advantages of the opportunities created by the technologies and some did not. In addition, some adjusted their approach to cater to the younger generation of students and some did not. FAU did not change its infrastructure for distance education fast enough.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science continued with its approach longer than some of the other Universities and lost its market share. The University, the College, and some of the faculty members did not have the agility and strong motivation for adjusting their approach to distance learning. Whatever adjustments were made in the infrastructure of distance learning, were not that attractive to the “digital” generation of students that have grown with a multitude of communication gadgets.

It is clear that unless, we change our mindset and see the world through the lens and filter of our younger generation (our students), we will not be providing the kind of service that we can and we should provide. It is encouraging to know that the new leadership of FAU has made elearning a priority and is making necessary changes to claim its position in the arena of distance education. 

What do you think?
Do you have a story to share?

John Pisapia 2011


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