Why students still need knowledge when anything can be Googled

Andrew_Douch_croppedAndrew Douch is an independent education technology expert with 22 years’ classroom experience. He has won numerous awards for his work with emerging technologies in education, including the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teacher of the Year. His mantra is ‘You don’t need to be very good with technology to do very good things with technology’.

In my enthusiasm to explain why teachers should be spending more time with their students working at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy, I have often pointed out the fact that knowledge has falling value. I stand by that statement. Google is a pretty good knowledge prosthesis. A head full of knowledge is unlikely to get you a job any more. The skills that make a person valuable now are the so called “soft skills” – problem-solving skills, entrepreneurship, computational thinking skills, presentation skills, communication skills, an eye for design and leadership skills. Those skills are hard to automate and you can’t easily google them. In 2017 a head full of facts is only valuable at trivia nights. Oh! – and in exams.

But in my effort to point out that the value of knowledge is falling, I have sometimes been misunderstood to be saying that the importance of knowledge is falling. On the contrary. In many ways the importance of knowledge is rising!

Every year the Oxford Dictionary announces their word of the year; a word that has entered the public vocabulary in a profound way. In 2013, for example, the word of the year was “Selfie”. Can you guess what the word of the year was in 2016?

“Post-truth”.

“You can’t believe everything you read in the papers” is a saying that long predates the internet. But the saying is doubly true now. You definitely can’t believe everything you read on the internet. As the value of knowledge has fallen over the past two decades, it has taken trustworthiness down with it. That’s the downside of the internet giving everyone a voice. There are now lots of unedited voices being exercised.

A student without knowledge in a subject, has no filter through which to sift new information. In a post-truth world, knowledge is more important than ever – it’s just not what employers will be basing their hiring decisions on.

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Andrew Douch.

What is a ‘best fit’ working environment?

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organisations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. A keynote speaker at the inaugural EdVET 2017 in Melbourne in April, her Trina discusses how to become a SMART workplace.

“Best Fit” workplaces consider virtual and co-located work environments as viable places to get the job done. “Best Fit” workplaces find and build talented teams that align with the organization’s desired culture and goals. They’re SMART about how they design the organizational structure so that it “fits” the way work gets done and the way knowledge is stored.

SMART workplaces start by asking how ‘Best Fit’ their organisation is in 3 ways:

“Best Fit” Work Environment

Offices and team spaces should be resources, not status symbols or uninspiring mazes. Design business operations and workspaces to match what people need. Today’s workspace may call for more teaming spaces and drop-in work stations with fewer offices. This work environment needs to support teams being able to easily manage multiple relationships – customers, teammates, project groups, managers, task forces, and so on. Showing up for multiple team meetings by web conference is a significant “best fit” time-saver for busy contributors.

“Best Fit” Organizations

“Best fit” organizations may be wholly co-located, blend office workers with mobile workers, or be completely virtual. It depends on the purpose, business goals, stage of growth and focus. All these factors contribute to what organization design and structure is the “Best Fit”. The key to success is understanding that there is no one right way because “Best Fit” is different for every organization. When organizations assess how integrated operations need to be for people to easily contribute their best, they can adapt or redesign business practices for “Best Fit”.

“Best Fit” Teams

Team leaders want to hire team members who are a “Best Fit” for their group. When considering hiring new team member, consider these multiple factors:

  • Competence and expertise – This includes the obvious professional skills, but also includes less obvious virtual collaboration competence. (See TSW blog post The Power of True Collaboration.)
  • Functional representation
  • Cultural fit, and
  • Simple availability.

Cross-organizational teams require additional “fitting.” They need to share knowledge and “think” together across organizational boundaries. They need to develop communication that “fits” all the people represented. Develop communication agreements that enable appropriate information sharing and protect organizational boundaries, such as intellectual property and proprietary processes.

Disengaged virtual workers aren’t a ‘good fit’.  And it’s not their fault.

“Best Fit” organizations need team leaders who are strong in co-located and virtual work environments. I’ve facilitated heart-sinking conversations when the team member and manager realize that the feverish work completed was in the wrong direction. Communication had broken down across the miles. Individually and collectively, virtual teams produce results when they coordinate work, negotiate competing priorities, and check in with each other regularly

If virtual team members do not have a clear sense of how their work “best fits” the team’s purpose, three unfortunate outcomes usually result:

  • They disengage
  • They waste effort on work misaligned with the team’s needs
  • They miss performance goals or quality standards.

Strong team leaders work with their teams to develop communication habits and team agreements that “best fit” the needs of the work while easily bridging virtual distance.

Get rid of virtual distance among organizations, teams and employees. Facilitate connections among the network of teams and across geography and culture. Look for operational efficiency and continuous improvements while flexibly serving the customers. In other words, learn to be SMART about the way that you work.

EdVET 2017

At EdVET 2017 in April, Trina Hoefling will join a team of bright minds in online and technology-enhanced education including Andrew Douch, respected educational technology specialist and presenter on 21st Century learning. Presentations will include:

  • Teaching tomorrow’s workforce today
  • The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners
  • Using tech to meet rapidly changing ESOL student expectations
  • Towards a Moodle quality assurance framework.

For more information and to register for this inspiring event please visit the EdVET 2017 website.

Teaching is my lifelong passion

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organizations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. Scheduled to visit Melbourne in April 2017, today Trina shares her journey into teaching.

In 4th grade I was partnered with Steve to be his coach. He was a cool kid getting poor grades. I was a quiet girl who got A’s. I can’t remember if his grades got better, but I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a teacher. I remember lining up my stuffed animals in rows on my bed, teaching what I studied in school.

I’m often teaching, whether I travel to the student, from a virtual classroom, or in a coaching conversation. Recently a grade school classmate asked me why I loved teaching and training so much. Another classmate answered for me so simply –

“Trina is driven to help people get to their goals. Teaching is the main way she does that.”

She was right; teaching people what they need to meet their goals IS what I do.

trina_photoI was a high school teacher in the early 80’s before computers and copy machines. My first teaching clothes were polyester double knit, that enduring fabric that absorbs chalk, mimeograph ink, and never ever wrinkled. I was a fashion icon with a mullet…

I’ve been a corporate trainer and coach for over three decades. My clothing choices improved and I was an early adopter of laptops. I’ve logged many frequent flyer miles getting to where my learners were. I started to burn out in the mid-90’s though I still loved my work. The travel was extreme. It wasn’t great for the clients either.

Learner follow-up was limited to one-off courses and little follow-up. Something had to change, so I became an advocate and early adopter of online learning. All of us then were learning as we went.
Soon I was training trainers at international online learning conferences, still logging frequent flyer miles but less often.

Today I’m an online educator, never far from my MacPro. I teach professionals already established who are improving themselves and their careers. I also teach one-on-one through mentoring and coaching – mostly by telephone. I am a Master Teacher in two graduate programs for the University of Denver, and co-founding faculty at Virtual Workplace University, an online learning destination for today’s professional.

I’m a learner, too. I seek out ways to engage with my peers, tapping wisdom and offering some. I live with a learning mindset. My profession helps me be passionate all the time, without effort and usually without fail.

I’m no longer burned out. When I log frequent flyer miles now, it’s a treat to physically be with fellow learners.

I lucked into a career in 4th grade, thanks to Steve, my first teaching assignment. How I teach and learn has changed, but my passion as a teacher hasn’t.

What we do matters.

Join Trina as she presents at EdVET 2017 on April 28th. Click here for more information.

Literacy and numeracy testing

Prashil Singh is the manager of Partnership and Stakeholders Relations at VETASSESS where he works with a team of assessors and online platform developers. His role involves connecting customers to a range of assessment services and solutions, and he is a firm believer of the value that assessment can play in quality performance monitoring and improvement.

As VETASSESS rolls out our latest assessment service, we would like to take the opportunity to talk about the importance of literacy and numeracy testing.

Literacy and numeracy are vital skills that can determine whether an individual succeeds in a particular area of training or industry.  Literacy and numeracy testing offers an effective and efficient way to assess these skills in applicants to determine whether they are sufficient to meet the demands of studying or working.

The VETASSESS Test

The VETASSESS Test is an online assessment tool aligned to the Australian Core Skills Framework, covering levels 1-4, as the registered standard for adult literacy and numeracy in Australia.  The test is already in use as the pre-entry test for the Diploma of Nursing by a number of course providers.

With reforms to the VET Student Loans 2017 scheme effective from 1 January 2017, literacy and numeracy testing has become compulsory for applicants seeking loan assistance for VET Diploma level courses and above.  The VETASSESS Test has been approved by the Australian Government as an external and independently verified assessment tool for RTOs, including providers needing to fulfil the entry requirement for the VET Student Loan 2017 scheme.

Can your Organisation Benefit from Literacy and Numeracy Testing?

While the VETASSESS Test was developed to support education providers, it can be beneficial for other VET courses, as well as business organisations for the purposes of recruitment and internal training.  Ensuring literacy and numeracy competency of your members whether they are from an English speaking background or a non-English speaking background can help maintain quality performance within your organisation and industry overall.

The VETASSESS Test provides the user with a report identifying areas requiring improvement as part of the assessment. It also provides reporting on group statistics across the particular cohort.  This information can help guide applicants on how to seek further training, and provide valuable insight for RTOs and employers on whether additional support systems may be needed for their new or existing members.

If you’re using an existing tool, before renewing talk to us about our quality and cost-effective solution. VETASSESS is currently conducting onsite demonstrations and can tailor test requirements for pre-course entry and selection.  For further information and consultation, contact Matthew Miller on +61 3 9655 4754 or email testenquiries@vetassess.com.au