Sometimes You Have to Take a Step Back in Order to Move Forward, or Not

Posted on June 30, 2018

It wasn’t that long ago that the primary place to get vocational training was your local high school. Some well-degreed, well-meaning, clueless person decided that your path in life was better served with your hands. Rarely did they discuss it with you. Rarely did you think about it.


But here we are, a number of years later, and the concept of vocational education has taken a sudden shift in direction – backwards! And that’s a good thing. But when we say ‘backwards’ we mean decades and decades. Back to around World War II – you know, the second war to end all wars.


At that time, vocational education wasn’t for folks who weren’t going to ‘make it’; rather, it was for most everyone who wanted to work. Furnace cleaning? Check. Truck and Car Repair? Check. Electrician or plumber or some combination of the two? Check. Secretarial programs (I just hate that word!)? There we white glove programs in every mid-and-large-sized city in the country. Even more ‘white collar’ jobs had real world, real time training – earn while you learn! Did you think most people wanted to sell aluminum siding, cars or office supplies? Of course not! If you had an aptitude, they’d find a way to get you the information and training you need…and then keep you around for as long as humanly possible.


The same is true with unions and guilds. They called them apprenticeships and training programs but the net effect is similar.


Here’s a fact – between 1800 and 1880 written mentions of “apprenticeships” were pretty static; between 1880 and 1900 they fell off a cliff. Population didn’t decline. The First World War hadn’t happened yet. What began was a rise in college attendance. As the industrial age grew, so, too, did the concept. But then came the end of World War II and the idea of “learning a trade” erupted. Returning GI’s promised education and a path to something better – plus a mortgage that they had to pay, somehow — and they went to work finding work.


And they did! In giant numbers. Until they didn’t. In surprising numbers that, for some reason, few people saw coming. Computers put an end to learn a trade and get a job orientation. Digitization slowed it even further. Until…the last decade, when people were finally needed to work WITH computers and smart machines. Professional, hands-on training – and re-training – became a think again. A big thing.


Which is where we are today.


So, if you re thinking about going back to school – or starting a whole new field of work and need the tools – you are not alone. Professional and Vocational Education has become a fast-track to employability again. Because, as you know: everything old is new again.

Promises and pitfalls of online education

Posted on June 29, 2018

Online courses have expanded rapidly and have the potential to extend further the educational opportunities of many students, particularly those least well-served by traditional educational institutions. However, in their current design, online courses are difficult, especially for the students who are least prepared. These students’ learning and persistence outcomes are worse when they take online courses than they would have been had these same students taken in-person courses. Continued improvement of online curricula and instruction can strengthen the quality of these courses and hence the educational opportunities for the most in-need populations. [more]

Why Aren’t We Finishing Our Online Schooling?

Posted on June 22, 2018

“…online education has helped to suppress the tuition prices adult students are paying, and that colleges that enroll many students online are significantly increasing access to higher education for adult students. But the data also show that students at those institutions graduate at sharply lower rates than do those at institutions where in-person and blended modes of learning dominate.”


Let’s review, shall we? More and more adults are signing up for classes and degree-granting programs that are delivered online. More and more money is flooding into the schools (professional, certificate, academic) based on federal and state resources. AND YET THE OUTCOMES ARE DECLINING!


Think about that for a moment. More people. More money. More failure.


Who’s to blame?  Is it the student who has agreed to allocate time and resources to improve their lives? Could it be the financial programs being made available? Or, is it too much of higher education?


Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame stupid money. It’s time for many in higher education to finally admit they unprepared to engage online adults to keep them interested, involved and succeeding.


Their survival relies on getting this right. The success of our families relies on schools’ getting this right. Frankly, the growth of our economy (and country) will have a very strong correlation to getting this right.


Recommendation: postsecondary schools invest no less than 25% of their total budget to getting this fundamental failure to risk going out of business, injuring millions of adults who rely on them to keep and advance their jobs and stagnating a nation based on the digital economy and no longer on the industrial revolution.



Plan Ahead if You Want to Come to America for Higher Ed

Posted on June 15, 2018

Isn’t it great. One of the most aggressive online promoters of US higher education to foreign students says it’s narrowed the process down to a five-step program. Five little steps to transform yourself into an American undergrad and all the benefits that go with that.

Let’s forget, for a moment, that battle royale going on among various sectors of the US Government. Visas. Permits. Family. Residency. Proof. You hear about it every day.

So, instead, let’s move on to their five-point plan:

Step 1 – Research Your Choices.  Thank goodness they offered that nugget; can you imagine doing this without performing some level of research based on what you want and can do?

Step 2 – Finance Your Studies. That’s right. Before you even apply or visit or assess the school, by all means, collect all the money you can and begin applying for every grant, scholarship, and discount known to higher education. And, while you’re at it: get a job.

We interrupt this inane list to insert another item – Learn English. There, I said it. If you don’t have some level of competency with the primary language of the USA, you will be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn nothing and taken nothing away from your investment of time and money (not that American-born students don’t have that unfortunate problem, too.)

Returning, now:

Step 3 – Complete Your Application.  These are mighty ambitious folks, these list-makers Apply to school. As the third step. How many schools? Which schools have folks “most like me” or graduates who have successfully matriculated into the job you covet. Sorry. Looks like you’re on your own for that.

Step 4  — Apply for your Student Visas.   Good luck with that. As an outsider, I’d have started the list with that. It is a process that takes time and money. And if you don’t have both, you don’t have a great shot at landing in the classroom of your dreams.

Step 5 – Prepare for Your Departure.  As I said – terribly ambitious without specifics or realistic expectations.

No discussion of grades and background. No mention of language. No real pricing and payment strategies. Just research, get yourself financed, write an application, and get your visas and airline tickets.

That’s not the way. Not anymore. Think about stretching your favorite target American college to reach your hometown in Serbia or Spain or South America. Online programs let you bring the learning to you. After one or two classes, your chances of admission and success are dramatically increased.

Moral of the story: just because someone says they have a checklist and program to get you across the Ocean and into America as a student…it isn’t necessarily so.