Author: Andrew

Can Corporations be Brave? Independence Blue Cross, Pearson, and Spotify

We know that corporations are people – at least in a legal sense. Some argue in a more emotional and human sense. We know that corporations can be evil. Witness the recent West Virginia chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. But can corporations be brave? Most of us work for one. Should we just be haters? Or can we celebrate when someone (a corporation-person, as defined by the First Amendment) steps up and does something original, compelling, and that goes against their short-term interests? Being “good” is a state of existence. Bravery is...

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Contingent Faculty & Departments: Who Will Be First Out the Door?

If you’re following the alleged slow collapse of American higher education, then it’s worth anticipating the steps institutions will take to try and hang on for a few more years. Three recent announcements, from Bowling Green, Minnesota State University, and the University of the District of Columbia, point the way. Bowling Green State University just cut 30 faculty positions to save $1.4m per year. That’s an average of $47,000 per year per person (the positions to be cut are nontenure track). The Toledo Blade implies the positions are full-time, since the faculty association raised concerns about increased dependence on...

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What Happens When Kids Take Over School: Unschooling the Viking Way

What would happen if kids took over their school, booted out the teachers, designed their own curriculum, and started playing with fire? Not in a Malcolm McDowell, If… sort of way, but in a happy-independent-kids doing their privileged-American-leadership-thing sort of way. Would NCLB, Common Core, university outcomes, accrediting bodies, and the workforce suffer? Or would we enjoy tremendous growth from the creation of an inspired generation of creative, team-oriented millenials? This provocative thought experiment isn’t occurring in Washington DC (!) or in leading Colleges of Education or Business. It isn’t happening at the Innosight Institute or Lumina or Gates. It’s on...

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An Ed Tech Design Manifesto

We don’t always know what we want, or what we’ll really use. Visionaries can see what we want and create it – Steve Jobs and Apple obviously the leading choice for poster child in this category. But there is a subtle difference between creating products that people should want vs. what they do want. A lot of early Apple products were on the wrong side of this divide: the Lisa, the Newton. Mostly because the technology wasn’t good enough to fulfill the vision. And Apple didn’t have the discipline (then) to understand the difference and how it would impact...

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Why Do We Hire Universities?

Two great reads today: Ev William’s, as reported by Wired: “Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company,” he said. “Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.” Clayton Christensen & Michael B. Horn, refining their take on “what job are you hired to do” when it comes to higher education: “The challenge today is that most colleges are seeking—often unknowingly—to do several jobs. Indeed, in their march upmarket to build prestige, many seek to be all things to all people. This has left them quite vulnerable to disruption.” Christensen and Horn can’t suggest what schools can do; they only describe the problem succinctly and powerfully. Put both ideas together and you have the next ten to twenty years in higher ed in a nutshell: why do we hire universities and how might technology disrupt the existing solutions provided by universities by eliminating steps and dramatically increasing convenience. Online learning has obviously done this for adult learners. Why troop to an evening class once or twice a week, for years, to get your degree when you could sneak a few minutes at work or study at home, on your own time? And that’s big business…but the 18-24 year-old, more traditional student is still doing it the old way....

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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!