Friday, February 06, 2015

Future thoughts: Grades, Degrees, Certifications, Certificates Become Meaningless

The future of Higher Ed is in jeopardy for many reasons. But the single biggest reason is the declining value of their value proposition: The Degree.

The future of Grading scales in all of education are in jeopardy... well... because they just don't accurately measure true competency in a subject. How many adults do you know that took 2 to 4 years of a foreign language in school but can't communicate in that language?

Certification and certificate programs make for a nice addition to the line items on your resume, as well as a nice plaque for your cubical wall.  But do they really prove competence in a newly acquired skill or knowledge set?

Listen to Mark Cuban talk about the future of your social media presence and then we can continue.

I've had conversations prior to seeing this video regarding technologies he, and others, are working on in this space.  But until now, I haven't seen it openly discussed like this.  And what that tells me is that 1) it's real, 2) it's coming faster than anticipated, and 3) it means a LOT more than what Mr. Cuban mentions in this video.

He mentions the movie Minority report which sort of kills a little of the credibility here as viewers will most likely brush off his ideas as crazy. But if you think about what's currently possible (like how much Facebook knows about you) and how fast things are moving it begins to make a lot of sense.

Do you see the same connections to our industry that I see?

Can you read the first part of this blog post, watch the video, and see where this is going?

Let's put aside the fact that the video is fear mongering to help sell apps. He's trying to solve a problem that everyone views as a problem: the evils of the internet and how communicating on it will most certainly one day be what defeats you. That is a completely different blog post for another time.

I prefer to take a much more positive spin on these types of new technologies. If there are algorithms than can predict your personality type, and possible future actions, based on your social media presence, then I will tell you that there are, in fact, algorithms that can also determine your skills and competencies based on the same social graph.

It is not all that different from today's version of "being published" in academia, or showing a portfolio of work in artistic fields like photography, writing, and other fine arts. Your competence is on display every day. And you are only viewed as good as your last big success.

Leveling the Playing Field

There is a powerful leveling of the playing field when you are forced to prove your skills and competencies or basically they don't exist.

Instead of saying you speak 3 languages, the social algorithms will gather all of your online interactions and be able to know if it's true, and to what level you are competent in that skill. It will assess if you've ever communicated with others in those languages and how well you communicated. It will see pictures of your time spent in countries speaking those languages along with the dates to calculate your level of competence. It's a simple example, but it makes sense, right?

And opting out as Mr. Cuban's app supports will be more problematic for everyone. Apps like his will quickly become the default standard for communicating the things you wouldn't communicate publicly. And that's not a bad thing, but it does expose the reality of the human condition in that we all have our demons.

The way I see it, all of this new technology is simply forcing the progression of who we are as people. Are we understanding, forgiving, and loving of others... including their inner demons? Or are we the type of people looking to step on a few heads to get ahead?

In the end, we won't stop this technology from existing. But it will redefine our public institutions, and who we are as a collective redefining our culture. How we learn and what we learn and master will be measured and visible to all...for better or worse.
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