- There is no audio other than my voice.
I'm gonna go ahead.
Once we get started here,
I'll pull the link and we'll put that in the chat box,
and that'll give you access to the slides
so you can follow along with us.
The webcast is being recorded and we'll make sure
that we send you a link to the recording next week.
And sometimes, we get way more questions
than we have a chance to answer.
If that's the case, we'll be sure to pull those out,
and share 'em with our presenters,
and then get responses back to you.
So again, this is the WCET Webcast,
Redefining Liberal Arts:
The Future of Higher Education and STEM Education.
So as we go through,
if you have any questions at all,
enter them into the Q&A box.
You can also use the chat box.
Again, you can access the link to the PowerPoint
as soon as I have a chance to drop that in the chat.
We tend to have a pretty active Twitter back channel,
and the hashtag is WCETWebcast.
So as we are ready to get started, I'll introduce myself.
I'm Megan Raymond,
I'm the director of programs here at WCET.
And if you're not familiar with WCET,
be sure to go on our website.
We have lots of resources
and you can access all of our previous webinars
on our YouTube channel so be sure to check us out.
Again, if you have any questions,
enter them into the Q&A box.
We'll hold questions toward the end
unless we feel the need to answer a question
during the presentation but please keep the questions going.
Today, I'm also your moderator,
and my twitter handle is meraymond.
We have a wonderful lineup of speakers today
and I'm very thrilled
to have them do brief self introductions.
I'll go ahead and list their names
and then we'll start with introductions.
So Michael Horn is an author
and formerly with the Clayton Christensen Institute,
and is the CEO of Adjacent Academies.
And Alexandra is a student.
She's in her senior year at Davidson College.
So Michael, go ahead and do an introduction.
- Terrific, thanks so much!
Well, currently, I'm the head of strategy
for the Entangled Group,
and co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute,
and the author of the new book, "Choosing College",
which gets into some of the issues
that we'll be talking about today,
so thrilled to be with you.
Megan, you want me to jump into what I would have been?
- Sure, sure!
I do like to ask our presenters,
if they weren't in this space of higher ed ed tech,
what they would be doing otherwise.
So Michael, what would your answer be?
- Sorry to preempt you on that, but it's been on my mind.
I would be a jazz pianist, that's what I would be.
And are you musically talented and trained?
- I am a pianist.
I just made the decision at some points
from my liberal arts classroom
that piano is not the way
to earn a living wage in the longterm,
so I pivoted to education.
Anh, go ahead and do your intro
and tell us what you would be doing
if you weren't in this fabulous space of ed tech.
- Hi, everybody!
Thanks for joining us today and thanks to all the co-hosts.
As Megan mentioned, I'm the CEO of Adjacent Academies,
and my background is largely in education,
education technology, and HR tech.
Right before joining Adjacent,
I was at a company called Koru
which helped focus on soft skills development and assessment
for large-scale companies,
and then prior to that,
spent a decade at the Gates Foundation
in both the K-12 and higher ed teams.
So as you can hear,
a lot of interest in passion like Michael around education
and around opportunity.
If I weren't doing that,
and I feel really grateful
to have the opportunity to do that full-time,
I would be a full-time Little League Softball coach.
- Anh told me that earlier and I admire her passion
and her patience to do something like that.
And Alexandra, if you weren't pursuing
the degree that you were doing
and weren't in your senior year at college,
what would you be doing?
- Everyone, my name's Alexandra,
I'm an environmental studies senior at Davidson College.
If I weren't pursuing environmental studies,
I would be doing culinary school, I think.
And clearly, we all have some liberal arts passions,
so to be fair,
I would answer the question as a park ranger,
and I was telling Anh that as I've gotten older,
I become more fair weather.
So it'd be a fair weather,
likely part-time park ranger,
but that would give me the ability to get out
and make sure that I'm sharing the love of our trails
and open spaces.
So Anh, why don't you go ahead and get started
with framing the conversation we're gonna have today?
- Sounds good.
Before we dive into the content,
we just wanted to make sure we're clear
on what we want everyone to get out of today's conversation.
So we hope you'll walk away with at least three things.
One is an understanding about some of the skills
and opportunities that are really defining
the future for graduates
of liberal arts institutions and studies.
The second is a student perspective.
This is where Ale comes in
about how students are thinking about accessing opportunity
in the ever-changing world.
And then the third is some ideas about how institutions
are integrating humanities
with science and technology learning.
So at large, that hopefully,
we'll walk away with those three things,
hopefully a lot more,
and feel free to post questions in the chat.
We'll try to address them at the end
and if there are some burning ones,
we'll pause throughout to answer.
- Thank you.
- So we always like to start a bit
with what the opportunities is for students
after they go to school.
And we hear a lot, as you know,
around the jobs that our highest demand,
that we hear that they really bucket into two categories.
There's a lot of conversation around jobs
and opportunities related to healthcare,
as you can see around medical technology, around RNs,
but also, there's a large category
of jobs that you read about
that relate to analytics and technology,
so things like being a web developer,
things like being a data scientist.
And the question is are those truly the jobs
that are highest in demand?
And the spoiler alert is that they're not.
That, in fact, what we see
from a lot of research in the field and work with employers
is that the jobs that are in the most demand
are called hybrid jobs.
And that may be something that,
a term that's familiar to you, but conceptually,
what we mean is that the basics of hybrid jobs,
that they are ones
that don't just require one set of skills.
Megan, next slide.
Is that they really require a balance.
So it's the ability to have not just technical knowledge,
but also the ability to integrate non-technical skills
and ways of thinking,
and that those types of jobs,
those blended jobs are, in fact,
the ones that are growing much more rapidly in the economy.
We all know that the jobs of today,
we can't even predict if those jobs will exist tomorrow
or even what they'll be called, in fact,
and that those jobs that require a broader skillset
are not only growing more quickly,
they're more likely to resist automation.
And from an equity and opportunity perspective,
they are likely to be jobs that result in a higher wage.
Michael, I'm curious in your work
with institutions and with students,
does this language come to bear in those conversations?
It could be that there are talk about hybrid jobs,
it could be they call it something else,
but how do you see this coming up?
- Yeah, it's interesting, in our book "Choosing College",
where we got to create basically 200 mini-documentaries
on students choosing college
and how they frame these questions
and then the experience itself during college.
What's so interesting is that students,
particularly in this day and age,
they don't really know what the labor market is like.
They haven't held jobs when they were in high school,
and so they don't have any clear sense.
And so, my take on it is
we see these hybrid jobs growing in importance
and it's the responsibility, really, of institutions
to intentionally curate and create these opportunities
and expose students to a range of fields, frankly,
so they can start to understand what these new roles
that are emerging in the economy are because otherwise,
they don't have a pointed basis
for even understanding where they could or should go,
and it's really the responsibility of institutions
to surface the opportunities.
The second thing, really quickly,
is that we also see from the research
that specializing too early
actually can be quite dangerous for students
'cause it can send you down a particular career path
that might not be there in the future
or might not actually not match your passions
once you get a much clearer sense of what you like
and don't like from knowing what's out there.
And so, not only is it important to curate these pathways
into hybrid jobs intentionally,
it's also important for students for their later success
to be able to navigate and succeed
in a way that matches their ultimate passions.
So I think I hear from you Michael this idea
that sometimes we hear that it's important
to specialize early,
that students will, as a result,
people talk about the T,
be a generalist but then develop a deep spike,
and that in so doing that,
students are able to become expert more quickly,
and I think you're saying
that there's some risk associated with that,
particularly in an economy that is changing rapidly
and where the skillsets
and the platforms that people are applying those skills to
are always changing.
And so, as we think about what the soft skills are,
and soft skills is one word for them.
I think we hear them called other things.
So we've heard essential skills,
or some institutions call them the non-perishable skills,
the skills that we really endure
despite what specific technologies exist,
and you can see some of those here,
but the ability to think creatively
and problem-solve quite differently,
the ability to collaborate in diverse teams
to find new solutions, to adapt,
to manage time, to manage ambiguity really well,
and those are things
that we know from an employer perspective,
we hear that the majority of employers say that those,
in fact, are what's most important,
and that the ability, if somebody has those things,
then they're more likely to be able to train them
on the technical skills,
but it's actually harder to skill people up
on these types of skills.
The next slide shares a little bit about
some of the technical skills that are emerging,
and some of this research comes out of Burning Glass
around skills such as computing,
AI, data analytics, et cetera.
Megan, next slide.
But what's interesting to see
is that it's not necessarily again
this bright line between these enduring essential skills
and these hard skills, that in fact,
they're coming together over time.
And I think, Michael, this is also something
that you're seeing in your research.
Could you share a little bit more about that?
- Yeah, totally.
I think the phrase that you used is right
which is that the bright line between these
is really disappearing,
and what we're seeing is that
in what economists would call a kind environment
where it's very predictable and so forth.
It's deep specialization, incredibly important,
some of those soft skills may be less important,
like just digging in and building a back base,
but we're in a world right now
that's incredibly interdependent,
unpredictable, changing rapidly,
and what we're seeing is that innovation actually comes
from the combining of different areas,
and creativity is, in fact, a function
of coming at things from different perspectives.
And so, if you're just too laser-focused
on one of these hard skills, say,
you're gonna miss the opportunity to enter intersections,
you really develop back creativity.
And so, many of these soft skills
obviously have generalizable components
but they really come to bear
when you can bring a number of disciplines together
within some domain knowledge as well
to exercise critical thinking or other skills
that weren't necessarily on that first slide,
but really where the magic of all this comes together
is in the intersection
of bringing lots of disciplines together.
- Again, that's right.
And I think, certainly,
something we found at Koru where I was last,
and Anh at Adjacent, actually,
is that those essential skills,
those power skills are really taught in context.
It's not like you can sit someone down and say,
okay, now we're gonna do a session on teamwork,
and now, we're gonna do a session
about thinking about deep impact.
You actually have to be in the process
of solving something with other people
in order to be able to practice, get feedback on,
and then iterate really quickly
your opportunity to build that skill,
and that the environments
that offer students, adults, et cetera
the opportunity to really dig deep
and problem-solve lifetime
are the ones where we likely see the most acceleration
in those types of essential skills
alongside some of the technical skills.
And I think, too, if you think about the types of companies
and the problems and the questions that are being solved,
so the next slide, there are three examples here
on Pinterest, OpenTable, and Uber
that everyone thinks of these companies as tech companies.
They technically live in that space.
But at the end of the day,
the problems that they are trying to solve
are human problems.
They're about human behavior.
They're trying to understand how people create communities.
They're trying to understand people's patterns and behavior
when it comes to eating out, why they eat out,
the type of communities like to form
while they're doing that.
They're trying to understand how people travel
and what their patterns of transport look like,
and that it doesn't require
just having an engineer to answer these questions
so with OpenTable, it's an engineer alongside someone
who maybe has an anthropology background
and can sit and observe people dining.
But at the end of the day,
there are these really big questions that, in fact,
really require the ability to think creatively
and think critically,
and then create an idea that can then be implemented
in some sort of technical way.
So as we think about the liberal arts,
and we're all here, I think,
because we have a lot of respect for the liberal arts,
and think that the students
who come from a humanities background
have a lot to contribute,
and that, in fact, those students are really prepared
because they have a very strong foundation.
They're able to think critically,
they're able to analyze not within their own discipline
but across multiple contexts,
and a lot of the liberal arts is about pattern recognition.
It's about being able to see something,
ask a set of informed questions about it, dig more deeply,
and then make connections to really think innovatively
about how you address that.
We would say that some people talk
about reinventing in the liberal arts.
I would say that the liberal arts adds a lot of value.
It's not about replacing the liberal arts,
it's about augmenting the opportunity that students have.
We've talked a little bit about the skills
and the opportunities
and how these hybrid skills come together
in new opportunities going forward,
and I think it'd be great
to talk specifically now about students,
the second point we wanna talk about
which is how are students thinking about this?
Sometimes, adults come in the room and they say,
oh, well, students are studying humanities
and they don't really know
that there's this bigger world around them,
and I actually don't still think that's true.
I think that many students
who are in liberal arts and humanities,
they are really thinking about what lies ahead for them.
Maya is a student that we were able to work with last summer
who chose very intentionally
to go to a liberal arts education.
She's at Scripps studying art.
She really wanted a diverse education.
She also knew
that she didn't wanna be constrained to galleries
and knew that the scale of impact with technology is broader
so she chose a digital art major.
And she didn't feel comfortable
taking technical courses on campus
because she didn't see people like her in those courses.
She said, "I wanted to become proficient in technology
"with people who have a similar level of proficiency,
"but also have a similar aspiration."
She said, "I don't wanna be a developer at Google.
"I think there's probably other things I can do."
And she walked away from her experience
being really motivated around design and around UI, UX.
Another student has a slightly different story,
Alex on the next slide.
He, like Ale, is at Davidson,
and he has always had a motivation around technology
but he feels like he wanted an opportunity
where he said, quote,
he wanted a holistic approach to learning technology
in a way that kept other people in mind
and kept really the societal impact perspective.
He wanted to surround himself with people
who wanted to think not just about the technical skills
but also that balance of soft skills, societal impact,
and bring that to bear.
And today, we have Ale, who, as you heard,
she's the senior at Davidson.
She just made it past her capstone project
which was really intense.
She's really excited to be past that in senior spring.
I'd love to ask Ale a few questions
and get your thoughts on how you think about your education
and how you think about carrying that forward
into the impact that you wanna have.
First, really simple question is we see
that you're an environmental studies and philosophy major,
how did you choose your major?
So, hi, everyone.
Thank you so much for having me.
I chose environmental studies
because before coming to Davidson,
I had a really big interest in sustainability
but I didn't really know what that looks like,
and I chose a liberal arts education
because it lets you go into school
without knowing what exactly you wanna do,
and they encourage you
to try out different courses and majors,
and so, I went in, took a lot of different courses,
found myself still gravitating to environmental studies,
and I chose the social science track
because they let me look at things
from a sociological perspective,
anthropological perspective, economics perspective
so I ended up majoring in that.
And I was really passionate about the reasoning
and ethics part of answering big sustainability topics
so I became a philosophy minor as well.
So it sounds like you had this real interest
in thinking about different questions
and applying your thinking in different contexts.
I know you eventually
developed a curiosity around technology.
Is that something that's always been a curiosity?
Did you feel like something was missing,
and so you're trying to fill a hole?
Tell us a little bit more about that.
- Yeah, so I did not have any interest
in anything technical at first
but in my junior year,
once I started looking into internship postings
and looking at positions
where I envisioned myself at in the future
that I was really passionate about,
I saw that having some technical skill was a bonus
and something that I was lacking
so I knew I had to work on that
and I knew that I was really prepared
for these positions in the first place
because of my education at Davidson
and the whole interdisciplinary approach,
I was just missing that one aspect,
so I decided to take a data science course
and it gave me a bit more of technical ability
'cause I learned art
but I still felt like I needed something else
so I applied to Adjacent
because they really spoke about being tech curious
and that's what I define myself as
so I went ahead and did that.
- I obviously know how that went.
How and just why not take more data science
or computer science classes on campus?
- Yeah, so I had seen those courses,
and sometimes, I actually added it to my course load
but the first week during syllabus week,
I saw it was all computer science majors, all STEM majors,
and I didn't, one, feel comfortable,
or two, I didn't really feel confident in that space
because I had no background.
It was a very competitive atmosphere
and that wasn't something that I felt comfortable doing.
I felt like everyone had a lot more experience than me
so I ended up dropping those courses.
- So you dropped those courses
'cause they potentially just weren't a good fit
for you at that time.
You did Adjacent
which is a immersive study, away experience,
and now, on the other side of that,
how did that affect you?
What do you think in doing?
Has anything changed about
how you think about technical skills
or technical opportunities?
So after Adjacent,
I realized that if I actually wanted
to become a UX designer, a programmer,
in a very short period of time.
And not only did I learn those languages
but it gave me the tools
to learn how to learn any other language
or any technical slope that I wanted to learn,
and it also gave me the confidence to apply to jobs
where I would eventually need those skills
even if I didn't have that ability necessarily,
like a specific tool or language,
I knew that I could still do it and teach myself,
and just gave me the ability
to keep learning about technical skills
that I was interested in.
- All right, well, thanks for that.
Michael, do you have any questions for Ale?
Actually, while we have a minute?
- That's very good.
Sure thing, yeah.
I'm just curious as something that's come up
is how employers understand these credentials
and how you translate what you've learned
from both the liberal arts and the technical skills
and having those conversations.
I'm just curious to hear how that experience has been.
- I'm sorry, to clarify,
so, through the interview process with employers?
- Yeah, exactly.
Exactly, yeah, yeah.
- So a lot of the positions that I've been applying for
aren't necessarily for something in the tech field
but they ask me if I have some confidence in that.
And it seems like it's been a plus
during my interview process.
I tell them that,
so I'm looking at a lot of sustainability analyst roles
and in sustainability analysis, it's a new role,
but they do use a lot of programming languages like R, SQL,
and tools like Icon.
For example, Icon is a tool that I took on
to use for my capstone last semester
and I didn't know how to use the tool
but talking to my school, they were able to purchase it
and I was able to teach myself how to use it.
And a lot of employers that I've talked to,
they're like, wow, people don't know how to use that
coming out of college,
still being an undergraduate student.
For example, I've talked to someone who said,
"You would need SQL."
And I told them, "Well, I don't know SQL
"but I did do the six-week program
"and I feel confident in teaching myself that,
"and I do have some background with R."
So it's just more the confidence in being able to do it
and saying that I have the skills to teach myself
at an entry-level position
rather than being a computer science major
who knows how to do everything.
It's kind of how I frame it
that it's not my specialty but I can do it.
- I think it's interesting you say that, Ale,
because there's this question in the chat
around articulating, quote, soft skills to employers,
and I think when you're in school,
the way that most institutions are structured,
they're on disciplines.
And so, you think about I'm a history major, I know history,
or I'm an English major, I know English, know how to write.
There's an opportunity I call the decoder ring,
it's like the secret decoder ring
between what you majored in and the world of work,
and there's an opportunity in certain types of environments
to help translate, sure, you may know history,
but really what it is is that ability
to analyze all information, form opinions, et cetera,
or for what you're talking about, Ale,
is it's not necessarily that sustainability.
And the thing that you communicated
in that interview that you referenced
is that you have this different way of thinking
and you have the ability to take on a new language
and figure it out.
So the more that I think we can give students
the opportunity to immerse themselves in experiences
that help them or force them out of the discipline,
and either are interdisciplinary
or are really more focused
on the skill they're actually using,
to answer a problem as opposed to the problem itself,
that the more value there is there.
- Yeah, definitely, because that technical skill
is not what they're looking for,
versus they're usually still looking for sustainability,
all of these courses that I've taken
in sociology and political science
but I'm able to add this other layer, like, okay,
but I can get into the nitty gritty and use data analytics
to help answering these questions
while still having this big systems-thinking approach
that I developed in college.
Well, thank you for sharing your perspective
and we wish you the best of luck,
and can't wait to see what you do with everything.
- Thank you so much for having me.
- Thanks, Ale.
So we've had the chance to talk a little bit about skills,
a little bit about the student perspective,
and we'd love to shift gears
and spend a little bit of time talking about
how institutions and some ideas about how institutions
are giving students these different opportunities.
The value of this is not just to the students but overall,
as we think about enabling more students and graduates
to have this blend of skills,
that there's not just higher job placements
but also reducing poverty,
and the thing I think that's not here
is maybe more of an ethical moral question
of as we move into a world
that is extremely tech and innovation-driven,
there is certainly critique
around leaders that are pure tech.
Actually, yesterday's Inside Higher Ed,
there was an issuing article
by a woman who has been on the side of STEM education in CS
and saying now that she feels
that you can go too far
and that there's real value and more value
in having leaders who have not just the ability
to think technically and can ask those questions
but come from the perspective of the ethics and values
in making decisions,
that really good decisions
that will affect society differently
and not just thinking about the tools.
At Adjacent, we talk a lot about
we want the students coming out of Adjacent
to be really technically capable
but we would be doing them a disservice
if they felt that technology lacked values
and didn't express values.
So if you come out really great at writing a line of code
but you have no sense of any bias
you might be pulling forward in a product that you make
or any negative impact that you have it on community,
that we actually haven't done a good job.
And so, this idea that it's a win-win
not just for students and institutions but at large,
it's a win-win for everybody.
So there are a handful of institutions
that are doing a number of things to help students
try on different opportunities
and develop a different set of skills.
What we'd like to do here
is to walk through a couple of ideas,
share a little bit of the research based around it,
and then talk about specifically
about what the institutions are doing.
We wanted to flag them for you.
We're not gonna go into detail on what they're doing
but just wanted to highlight them here.
So the first general idea is the opportunity for students
to try on related careers that fit their interests.
This isn't a new idea but certainly,
there are more institutions that are doing this
in a real authentic way,
giving students the opportunity
to try things on in a low-risk way.
I think sometimes, students,
particularly those who are high-achieving
feel that taking one step,
if it's not a perfect step, is a bad step.
And so, the question is
how are universities offering
career advising and internships
that give them a chance to try things on
and they can decide whether or not
that's something you wanna continue trying on
or try something else on.
Michael, what are you seeing with respect to this idea?
There's a fair amount of research on this question
that's really come to light in the last several years.
There's a Carnegie Mellon professor,
Robert Miller in economics and statistics
that basically shows that
when you're thinking about career matching,
getting a lot of reps in
in a lot of different fields is extraordinarily important.
He has a slot machine analogy
of playing many slot machines
and figuring out which one
has the greatest probability for you to be successful
isn't extraordinary important.
There's also a lot of research
from Todd Rose in the book "Dark Horse",
David Epstein in "Range" that shows that people
who are the most successful in their field
actually, on average, tend to come
from unpredictable backgrounds
that see them wander a little bit in their 20s
before they find their place.
And so, giving people opportunities
to try on related careers that fit their interests
is extraordinarily important.
And if you get people too quickly on a narrow track,
you actually cut off this exploration process
that may be important to their future success.
- Yup, so one institution that has done this really well
is UT Arlington where they are,
I think a common thread that you'll see in these examples
is they are trying to enable the interdisciplinary travel.
It's this idea of the art and art history departments
really thinking about really applied concentrations,
whether it be in packaging or a degree in music
where they're able to take classes in the business school,
and then have internships and alumni lined up
to help them actually go and do those
either short-form or longterm.
So that's one specific example.
I think the second idea is, Megan, when you click ahead,
is the actual idea of applied learning,
and Northeastern is obviously a very well-known example here
because of the co-op model
where students are able to actually work
as a part of their education.
And Michael, I'm curious if there are other examples here
in the research you see here
around concurrent application of learning
in addition to the education.
- Yeah, I think one of the greatest examples
out there right now is College Unbound.
Super innovative experiment out of Providence
where the curriculum is essentially rooted
in the actual work and experiences
you have on a day-to-day basis,
and it speaks to what Stephen Kosslyn,
who would be founding academic dean at Minerva,
now foundry, a former Harvard professor has written about
that engagement by students is the number one factor
in whether they actually learn.
You have to engage them
and get them in an active learning experience.
And then secondly, it's also important
obviously transferring the learnings in the classroom
to real life,
and that's what Northeastern obviously has done so well
is make those connections explicit over time,
but there's a dual purpose
to applying what you're doing in the classroom
to real practical problems that are better-facing,
and also engaging, frankly, the generation that's coming in
that wanna tackle messy societal problems
with the education system.
- Yeah, I think College Unbound
is a really interesting model
and I think there's obviously some challenges,
and they have the opportunity of a flexible structure
that enables them to operate that way,
and I think more institutions are figuring out how do we,
in the context
of a more traditional academic calendar in space,
how do we create spaces for that,
whether it's semester away or summer study.
The third idea we wanted to highlight
is around more collaboration across departments.
So here, Adjacent has been an interesting example of this.
We work really closely with Davidson College
and have been incredibly impressed with the faculty,
not just in the CS department
where we're developing some technical courses
but also the collaboration with the English department.
So one of the courses of the study
weight experiences around science fiction and technology
which is a space to enable students
to really wrestle with the morals and ethics of tech,
and so it's been really awesome to see the English faculty
really engage with the CS faculty
in not just picking the topics
but exploring the really present examples
of that in technology
to offer students a space to discuss that.
Michael, where are you seeing this come up?
- Companies like 3M, for example,
actually see that the majority
of their patents that they create
and innovations that they produce come at the intersection
of people working across fields and departments,
and so actually moving beyond specialization
is incredibly important.
BCG many years ago created incentives out of this
because they realized people
that actually lacked specialization
but knew just enough about a field
and many, many other fields were able to create huge games,
and so modeling this in schools creates enormous value
that actually then carries over to real life in the future.
And I think it's one that students,
even if they can't explicitly tie it to the institution,
they implicitly realize that these habits of learning,
and means working across departments
creates this nimbleness
that you really need in today's world.
- And how are you seeing that
on the other side with employers?
Or in the (audio cuts off) at large?
- Yeah, in the workforce.
So they're starting to realize it.
I think if you had this conversation 10 years ago,
and one of the reasons
I think we over-indexed frankly on STEM careers and so forth
was that people were so obsessed
over lack of technical skills
and you need science, technology, engineering,
mathematics at all costs.
And I think employers are starting to realize that actually,
there's deficits if they go too specialized,
and that really, their imperative in this economy
is to create growth that comes from unexpected places
and that only comes from the mixing and matching.
And there's actually some really interesting experiments
that even show so diversity of experiences on teams
better than all people who are hyper-specialized.
But actually, diversity of experiences in an individual
often trumps the diversity on teams.
Like having an individual that can literally be like,
on the one hand this, but on the other hand,
so this other perspective that,
and so building that intentionally into individuals
is incredibly important
for creating breakthrough innovations
which employers realize that they have,
and I think they're starting to get wiser to the fact
that they have to move toward this.
One of the challenges is I think sometimes,
HR departments are a little risk-averse
but if you can actually get to the hiring managers
and the people on the front lines themselves,
they see this on the day-to-day,
and so, that's, for students and institutions,
for colleges and universities, frankly,
helping students navigate that process
to realize get beyond HR,
actually have conversations
with the real people and the real jobs,
then you can start to see, actually, hyper-specialization
in the long laundry list of credentials
within a particular department,
maybe not the most important thing.
- Yeah, and I think it goes back to this question too
around how do employers assess for these.
Obviously, industries are different,
and there are some
where there are more traditional methods of recruiting,
working on certain target schools,
working off a certain type of resume,
whether it be GPA or if you studied this thing,
then you'll likely be a good fit.
Our experience at Koru,
we saw that there are certainly a number of employers
who are really wrestling with this question
of how do we honestly take
some of the bias out of our hiring
and not just look at where someone went to school
and what they studied
but really start to ask these questions
around how do they show up in a team?
How much emotional intelligence do they have?
Can they present effectively in different environments?
Can they really wrestle with ambiguity?
Are they the type of person who's gonna figure it out
or are they gonna show up at work
and say I need a manual on how to do my job?
And I think that employers do that in a range of ways.
So we've seen that certainly there are assessments
for soft skills that exist.
I think the great thing when we talk to students
about these types of essential skills
is that they are, in fact,
things that you can get better at.
It's not something fixed that actually,
if you are one aware of what those things are,
so I think part of it is actually helping students
develop a different framework,
that being successful in the world of work
isn't about just getting good grades
and doing well on your course
and being able to write good papers,
it's actually about a different set of skills,
and the sooner that students understand what those are,
and then the sooner they have the opportunity
to start telling their own story to say,
okay, I understand that conflict management
is really important,
and let me think about the times in which I had to do that.
That might have been with a roommate,
it might have been on a sports team,
it might have been on a project at school.
And sometimes, students don't see those examples as valid
because they're really focused
on their transcript and their GPA,
but if they can articulate those stories and share those.
then often, those are more powerful to an employer
who honestly is looking at a set of candidates
that typically look really similar
and are probably saying the same types of things.
Ale, actually, I'm curious, while we still have you here,
as you are thinking about those essential skills
and those soft skills,
how have you learned, 'cause I think you have,
to translate that so that you can
not just catch the eye of an employer
but be authentic in your representation
of some of those softer skills?
So I think that's still a work-in-progress for me
but I think it's mostly during an interview,
in the stories that they ask you,
well, you have to make it a story,
like when they ask you a time you failed
or why did you choose your major,
that's where you highlight those soft skills, I would say.
Personally, for me, school wasn't easy the first few years
so I actually do have a story of saying
I had to overcome school being very difficult for me
for many various personal reasons,
and I create a story of just overcoming that
and having to be honest about that,
I'm working on myself asking for help,
relying on not other people
but just working with other people
so I can get through that
and I think that exemplifies teamwork, conflict resolution.
It's about telling a story about yourself
and marketing yourself as just not just a GPA
and a cold resume.
- (laughs) Yeah, yeah.
I think that's right
and I think that that point of storytelling
is really important,
and we have found that a lot of students,
again, just have the opportunity
to think about that and practice that
and really just go through the exercise
of, sure, I solved a math problem
or did a set of problem sets but really,
what did I have to do in doing that?
And he was asking that question of why was it hard?
What did you have to come to?
I know that, at Career and Adjacent,
we do a lot with students around that translation
and helping them tell their authentic story.
The last idea here before we break
for some dedicated Q&A time
is around really how do we make this type of learning
and make it more accessible to a broader set of students?
Certainly, you heard that refrain
when I was sharing a bit more about Maya and Alex
and Ale herself shared a bit about that too.
Michael, I know you've done a bit of work here
as you think about diversity of minds,
you said diversity within somebody
as opposed to diversity on the team.
Is there anything else you'd like to articulate here
as we think about how we engage more
different types of students in different type of learning?
Look, the reality is I think companies
are becoming much more aware
that diverse teams have huge benefits.
There's a lot of studies showing ROI improvements
from having more diverse teams.
Even Goldman Sachs now will not work with companies
for public listings
unless there's at least one woman on the board.
There are a lot of steps forward I think right now in this.
And so, for students, A, there's benefits to the diversity
that the companies are recognizing,
but B, being able to work with those teams
is extraordinarily important as you're coming up as well
to a build the cultural habits of what that will look like.
And so, I just think the benefits from every single angle
justify creating more opportunities
for more diverse students to come together
to tackle challenges, not just, again, in the classroom,
but also connecting it to some of the other themes
we've talked about, Anh,
in terms of real-world problems and things of that nature.
That's gonna have huge benefits
if you actually can start showing students
the benefits of it much earlier
and help them see that it's actually valued,
it's not something that's being preached, if you will,
but it's actually valued by parts of society more and more.
- Yeah, it's one of the things that's different,
like you can be their parent and say,
it's really important that you learn this,
and we all know that doesn't work.
But if they come to it on their own,
it's far more meaningful.
It makes me think a lot about someone last summer,
this student, Nate, he said,
"I came out of this and I feel like I'm more of a maker
"because I have these skills
"and I feel I can build and break and build and break."
And he said, "But the thing that surprised me the most
"was that I actually feel like I got better
"at managing conflict when I'm on a campus.
"I do a project with a group of people
"and then I walk away and I have lunch,
"or I go play a sport
"where I don't see that person for two days
"'cause that section doesn't meet,
"it only meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays,
"and so, I can just get by not actually addressing it."
And he said, "In a workplace,"
which Adjacent really feels like work
because of the way it's structured,
he said, "I couldn't really hide.
"So I tried to do those things, and it really didn't work,
"and it kinda blew up in my face,
"and then I had to really address it
"because I knew I'd see that person for eight hours tomorrow
"and then eight hours the day after that."
And to your point, Michael,
it's this idea of this immersion
and having to really problem-solve
makes you have that moment of, oh, you know what,
someone did say that was important
but now I'm actually really feeling it myself
and taking some value from that.
So we would love to make sure we answer any questions
that may be remaining.
There's some contact information here.
Certainly, you can also follow up with Megan
if you can't get in touch with any of us,
but we would love to make sure we pause for questions.
- Yeah, and there are some great questions,
and I think you got to the bulk of those
that were presented in the chat.
I would like to hear more about any tools
that you are aware of
that can help measure these, quote-unquote, soft skills
and assess soft skills.
- Yes, so there are actually, and Michael, probably,
you're really well-equipped to do this too,
there's a great rapport around technology and hiring
and it breaks out the workflow around hiring
from sourcing to assessing,
and some of those technologies,
and I can share it out after,
I think it's through Talent Tech Labs
is the actual entity that puts it out.
But there's a bucket around assessment in that
and they do a range of cognitive,
non-cognitive types of assessment
to understand levels of competencies
such as resilience or self-efficacy, things like that.
There are a range of companies that do that.
Michael, you may have other examples
on the assessment space.
- Yeah, I do.
Just a couple that come to mind is
I would check out Ithaca did a really good report
about six to nine months ago.
Ithaca is our RI research.
It aches me every time I research where they spotlighted
a lot of the pre-assessments hiring tools that are,
in many cases, measuring soft skills
so I think that's a good place to get grounded,
and the pie metrics of the world and so forth
that have emerged in this space
to try to offer some of that.
The other thing Anh said much earlier, I think it's true,
which is a lot of these skills are still domain-specific
or at least field-specific,
maybe not specialization-specific,
but at least in the field.
Some of this is making sure you understand the context
in which you are asking the question.
I always like to say Myers-Briggs,
when you're asking in the context of your home life,
it's very different from your answers
when you ask about Myers-Briggs in your work life.
And sometimes, we've treated it as solid traits,
things that are actually more domain-dependent
than they might otherwise appear,
and some context matters, I think, for a lot of this.
It's clearly the case with grit and perseverance
and things of that nature
that the context in which you ask those questions
can dramatically change one's answers
depending on what their reference point is
when they go through some of these assessments.
So that's the other piece just to keep in mind
as you consider the set of assessments that are out there.
- Great, thank you.
Here's a question that came through from Monica.
Given that specializing too early
might put students at a disadvantage
in a rapidly-changing workplace,
has anyone considered offering a degree without a major,
one that teaches to the hard and soft competencies
that are adaptable for future work?
So I think we're starting
to see more and more of these bubble up.
What are you seeing, Michael and Anh?
- Yeah, I feel like I've seen,
and in conversation with a lot of institutions
about more self-designed majors
that aren't specific actually.
Sometimes, a self-design major is like, oh,
it's actually these three majors I want to do
so I'm just gonna call on something
so I can get through all three of them,
and it's really not.
I think that I was just talking to someone
at University of New Haven,
they're developing this emergent studies department
and students there are really more focused
on the skills that they wanna focus on,
and then they can design the projects they want around that.
So I think there's some space not within all institutions
but within some where there is less of a focus again
on the discipline and the the skills and projects
that will come out at the end.
Michael, anything to add there?
- Yeah, the only two quick things I'd add are:
Minerva, I think has done some very interesting work
in rethinking domains that people major in
and more making them rooted actually in many cases
in these soft skills or critical thinking, creativity,
and things like that,
and some having them as outgrowth of that.
And so, that might be one thing to check out.
I'm sorry for background noise.
The other piece that I think is interesting
is in my new book, I wrote about Wayfinding Academy
which has a degree in self and society
which is really about figuring out
who you are as a person
and what are your passions and interests.
So I think right now, in just a point thing,
we see a lot of experimentation.
My read on it is, again, going through different fields
is really important,
developing some technical domain expertise is important,
and being able to combine these things
and articulate them to employers.
And whatever the degree is called,
we're seeing experimentation there,
as long as it is combining intentionally
those different experiences, there's tremendous value.
It's a great answer and great background there.
Our friend TJ, hi, TJ,
has a question in the question box
which is this overall approach seems very interesting
and potentially powerful,
what barriers to scale have you identified?
- Yeah, Mike, I'm gonna let you start here
'cause you've worked across more institutions
and programs than I have,
but then I can talk specifically
on the ones we've experienced.
- Oh, I was gonna say you know this way better.
(both laughing) But yeah,
I'll give a stab in it.
So I think we're seeing just institutions being aware
of faculty processes
and what are they trying to develop on-site
is the biggest one
of as you construct the department or a major,
it's often the sense
that we should offer all the courses in it
or we should have a huge computer science department
or things like that.
When I point it back,
it's got a lot of institutions,
it's very hard to have the breadth and depth that you need
to stand up these majors and fast-changing guilds,
and so, being able to work, I think, with outside entities
can sometimes feel difficult for institutions
but that's the biggest barrier that I frequently see.
I would say given the fact that you're working
with a regional accredited liberal arts institution,
a lot of the transfer concerns that you see in other domains
that have tried to mirror what Adjacent is doing
have been challenged more
when you're trying to transfer, say,
from a community college
to a regionally-accredited Tier One institution.
Less the case, at least in my experience,
when you're talking about a place like Davidson
or other dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment programs
that I have seen,
not just in this landscape but more generally.
Anh? - Yeah, I think that's fair.
I think from our perspective, how do I say this?
I think it is absolutely true
that when we work with students, we should have high rigor,
there's no question about that,
and some of the existing policies in place
are designed to protect that
and to make sure that is the case.
From a values perspective,
I would say we absolutely value that.
But I do think that sometimes,
some of the the policies, as Michael has said,
have gotten in the way
and they're just very institution-specific.
So to Michael's point about Davidson,
it's a very well-established, well-respected institution
and we work very, very closely with their faculty there
but there are some institutions
that don't take domestic study credit,
where they might take study abroad credit,
and we've worked with a number of even college presidents
who say we really want more study-away domestic programs
because not all of our students can go abroad,
but we have this policy in place
where we can't articulate that credit,
which is highly frustrating
but it is just something that exists
that we need to work through.
We run into that barrier when we think
about some of the institutional policies that exist
despite the feedback we get from students
which is extremely positive,
so when we launched Adjacent,
we've seen really strong interest from students,
and there are things that we need to do
to make it possible for them.
- Well, hopefully, with some changes to accreditation
from the Department of Ed,
there should be some more flexibility and adaptability,
so it'll be interesting to see.
And there's another question from Peter,
are there any Adjacent Academies planned for this summer?
So maybe talk more about how that model operates
and how institutions can partner with you, Anh.
So I'm happy to talk more offline
with people who are specifically interested in Adjacent.
We really wanted to focus on the research
and the students today.
But we operate study-away programs
both in the summer and during the semester.
So we're operating one in the spring right now
in San Francisco where it's a 16-week,
four-course semester away program,
and then in the summer,
we'll be operating likely two programs in San Francisco
where similarly, students will move away,
do an experience, gain the skills exposure,
and also the credit.
And then similarly going forward,
we are working with a set of partners
on other locations as well.
So the road map includes not just different locations
but different types of courses as well.
Well, we have about four minutes left.
Are there any final thoughts you all wanna share?
One more question before you jump in on your final thought
is here's another question from the chat:
what is the work organization of Minerva being mentioned?
Michael, you had mentioned Minerva.
- Yeah, sure.
So Minerva is the first elite liberal arts college
created in the last hundred
or so years in the United States.
It's basically students rotate
among eight different campus sites
during their four-year experience.
They have a very intentional active learning platform
that they've developed so students are co-located
but learning online actually
in what's effectively the most tiring yet engaging seminar
you've ever seen in your entire life.
Full disclosure, I don't think I would have been cut out
for it in my college days.
There's a great book about its design
called "Building the Intentional University".
It peels back the layers
of all the things they thought about
to reinvent the liberal arts experience
in a very compelling way.
The last thing to just give you a sense
is the caliber of students they're accepting
is already an Ivy League set of caliber.
The selectivity, I think, is 2% or something like that.
It's an extremely selective school that's gotten its start
but I think it actually has a lot to teach
about how you might design a liberal arts
if you're doing it from scratch today.
Okay, any final closing thoughts?
- Do you want me to jump in with one thought,
and then let you? - Go for it!
- Yeah, I would just say that this is a complicated space
and it's about as we talk
to a lot of different types of institutions,
I would say that there's already an awareness
about the opportunity.
It's not that institutions are hunkered down thinking,
oh, we need to protect the liberal arts
and it's this constrained space,
but there is an awareness
that there's value in the liberal arts
and that we need to support students
in being exposed to other opportunity,
and that it's really around
how do we make that more possible,
particularly for students
typically underrepresented in technology.
So we're thrilled to be working with institutions
who are excited about that opportunity
and supporting many students in doing that.
But again, it's complicated.
I wouldn't say that there's an easy
one-size-fits-all solution out there
and we appreciate that there are people
who are trying on as we share these four different ideas,
it's gonna take a little bit of everything
to get to the place where we can serve all students well.
- Terrific, thank you.
And I agree.
I think it's an exciting time to be in education
because even as slow as we evolve in higher ed,
there's a lot of really,
really interesting momentum and work
so I think that we're gonna see more
in terms of experiential learning
and to see a resurgence in interest
in liberal arts education.
So I wanna thank both of our presenters
and our fantastic student Alexandra.
I know that you're gonna do amazing things,
and we look forward to keeping tabs on you.
It's always wonderful to remind us
of why we're doing this work
and it's students like you
that help reinforce that we are in the right work
and that I shouldn't be a park ranger,
part-time or full-time.
I wanna thank our WCET supporting members
and our wonderful sponsors
that help underwrite much of the programs
and events here we do at WCET.
So if this was your first WCET Webcast,
do get on our website, follow us on Twitter.
We have a fantastic blog
that our communications director updates
two to three times a week.
So we put out as much good information as we can
to help really move the field of higher education forward.
So thank you, all, for your wonderful questions
and your participation,
and we'll see you at the next WCET event.
Thank you, Anh, Alexandra, and Michael.
- Thank you so much! - Thanks, Megan.
- Bye! - Bye!