Author: Andrew

US Higher Education’s Billion-Dollar Liability

I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. I’m a literal-minded engineer who loves education when it focuses on learning. When I read about the OIG’s $713M judgement against Western Governors University, based largely on a lack of “regular and substantive interaction” between instructors and students, I saw the negative side of higher education in stark relief: the hypocrisy, the lack of systematic caring for student success, the organizational focus on everything but learning. A side I’ve seen many times as a student, instructor, and vendor. My first thought, though, concerned my own undergraduate experience...

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A Simple Metric to Align Higher Education with the Workplace

It is now widely accepted that the job of college is to get you a job. While schools are talking an employability game they have done little to change their underlying processes and programs. This is not a criticism. The conservative nature of universities is one of their greatest assets. But what if a leading indicator of higher education’s alignment with the 21st Century workplace was hiding in plain sight and could be easily used to benchmark current state and measure progress?  Fifteen years ago purposeful alignment between higher education and the workforce was an uncomfortable concept, at least...

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The Kids Can’t Write? They Write All Day…

Cross-post from… Infographics are often quite silly. They try to boil down complex issues into simplistic graphics, with stick figures and stylized pie charts. The good ones, though, unveil some central truth and help us see things more clearly – at least to get us asking deeper questions. Good infographics focus our attention. In the quick graphic below I set out to dramatize the giant gulf between writing instruction and the actual writing that goes on in the knowledge economy. Few writing or English instructors understand that tens of thousands of “no-collar” workers spend their days writing. Today’s workplace is more writing-focused than at any time over the last 40 years. Writing is how software gets built. You know software – the industry that Marc Andreessen called out as “eating the world” back in 2011. Knowledge workers write more in a day than college students do in an entire term. Which creates a huge opportunity: tying agile software development to traditional K12 and Higher Education English curricula. It’s why 11trees is working hard on the Treeline Curriculum and professional development series: to bring the world of software development to high schools and colleges – to help bridge a gap that is hardly a gap once you start thinking about it. Agile software development is the best thing to happen to writing instruction since…spellcheck? The pen? Word processing? Dot matrix printers? So we took...

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An Open Letter to the Suits + Code Academy New Biz Idea

  What percent of your software development projects come in under budget and on time? Sounds like the setup to a joke, right? When leadership hears estimates for software projects they automatically double them in their minds. Then they listen to methodologies and promises, praise the optimism, and then change requirements five (fifty?) times during the project. Then 31.1% of projects are cancelled before completion and 52.7% of the remaining work costs 189% of its originally projected cost (The 2014 CHAOS Report from The Standish Group). If it guaranteed delivery, many of us would accept a cost 189% of the original projection...

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A Response to AAC&U’s ‘On Solid Ground’​ Report on UG Performance

First published: Congrats to all the schools, faculty, & rubric-writers…plus AAC&U’s leadership and tireless, long-sighted work in completing “On Solid Ground,” a report on the massive assessment work completed through the VALUE project (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). Inside Higher Ed just published a summary of the report here. I haven’t thought about the VALUE project in a long time…but a few aspects to this positive treatment by IHE stand out: Levels, along with language, are always the most debatable aspects of a rubric. From memory, VALUE intended a ‘4’ (called ‘Capstone’) to be equivalent to the...

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Welcome to the personal blog of Andrew J. McCann - a history of interests and thinking focused on education, product design, and leadership. All views here my own!