More than 40 years ago, I started working at Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC). Even though I was on the consulting track, I was encouraged to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and become a licensed CPA. Having this license, along with an MBA, boosted my career and I subsequently served as CFO at five different companies over the years.
An article by Pamela Wood in the Baltimore Sun discusses fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, the latest and perhaps the greatest innovation for wireless devices. The technology will deliver data and video faster to consumers’ phones and also enable broader Internet of Things (IoT) technology usage like smart street lights, self-driving vehicles, etc. Our current cell technology utilizes tall towers located every mile or two in large metropolitan areas and further away in rural ones. The 5G technology will incorporate smaller antennas located much closer together, say every few blocks in a large city.
Cell phone operators are seeking standards that allow them to scalably roll out the new technology. Local governments, in Maryland and elsewhere, are attempting to protect their ability to regulate rights of way along streets and to charge fees and taxes as with other utilities. To expedite the process, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered that cities and counties approve applications within 90 days and cap associated fees. According to the Sun, dozens of cities and counties have sued the FCC, but the order stands while the court cases play out. Baltimore began working with cell operators in 2010 and expects that five companies will be installing these new cell facilities in 2020.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Skills Training Can’t Replace Higher Education,” Dr. George Kuh posits that “much of the current media-reported posturing by policy makers and pundits about the failure of U.S. colleges and universities to adequately prepare people for the 21st-century workplace is either ill-informed or misguided.” Dr. Kuh, chancellor’s professor emeritus of higher education at Indiana University, describes today’s media narrative as one focused on the need for vocational skills versus “useless liberal arts programs.” Multiple badges and certificates will be issued to indicate proficiency in certain skills and in the future, a trusted entity will “rack and stack” a combination of them to issue the equivalent of a college degree. He acknowledges that “short-term vocational skills-based programs are critically important and well-suited for many.” However, he also questions why this should be the desired policy for addressing the needs of the 21st-century workplace.
Dr. Kuh notes that “workplaces, societal institutions, and the world order are only going to get more complicated and challenging to navigate and manage, increasing the need for people with accumulated wisdom, interpersonal and practical competence, and more than a splash of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and altruism.” He also notes that there are “no short cuts” to enabling people to deepen learning, develop resilience, and convert information into action. Shortening education in order to bolster productivity is shortsighted for many reasons, and he expects that many learners from traditionally underrepresented groups will likely gravitate toward these shorter and less expensive training programs at the risk of delaying or denying themselves a foundational baccalaureate degree. He calls on business leaders to speak about what the country needs from our postsecondary system and for a re-balancing to occur based on their experience leading their corporations through this era of rapid, technology-driven change.
Last year was undoubtedly a whirlwind in the world of technology—both good and bad. Taking effect a little over a year ago, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changed the way tech giants such as Google, Facebook, AWS, Apple, and others collect and use their consumers' personal data. To date, 89,271 data breaches have been reported by the GDPR Data Protection Authorities. Although GDPR appears to be an important move to increase security around personal data, there have been a growing number of tech companies, where data are key components to core functionality of their technology offerings/products, who have been negatively affected.
When I first joined APUS, conferences were an easy way to get up to speed on many issues. Similar to other industries, there are many different higher ed conferences whose agendas reflect member needs. There are events for college presidents, financial officers, enrollment management and student services staff, academic advisors, accreditation leaders, chief academic officers, faculty, etc. Over time, I’ve reduced my conference schedule as I feel more comfortable with the relevant issues in a given area.
One conference I consistently attend is the Higher Education Leadership Conference at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The event is unique in that only graduates of Penn’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program are invited. Alumni organize the agenda to address some of the current issues in higher education. Because graduates are administrators at colleges and universities (including more than 50 college and university presidents), the dialogue between speakers, panelists, and participants is as stimulating as the presentations.
APUS Associate Dean of Alternative Learning Cali Morrison and APUS Provost Dr. Vernon Smith were each recently appointed to new leadership positions with the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), one of the leading authorities on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Cali recently sat down with Dr. Smith to discuss the value of APUS's long-standing relationship with WCET and their respective new advisory roles.
Something about a challenge motivates us. Whether it’s the first transatlantic flight, landing on the moon, or taking on one of numerous YouTube challenges going viral on smartphones everywhere, there is something about challenges that creates energy, creativity, and innovation. Even the U.S. government has harnessed the power of challenges, from using RFID to locate items on the International Space Station, launching payloads into space within a matter of days, or helping to prevent opioid misuse in expectant and new mothers. Challenges with cash prizes are available from various agencies on Challenge.gov, which reports awarding over $250 million in prizes to creative individuals, small business owners and academic researchers.
One of the wonderful aspects of the challenge process is that you don’t have to do the challenge to participate; you can learn from the process itself and even assist in judging entries for which you have expertise and interest. However, if you have a unique approach or an innovative idea, you can join the students, entrepreneurs, technology-inclined, and academic researchers in the challenge to be the first and best.
I recently participated on a panel at the University of Pennsylvania’s Future of Higher Education conference. The text below is excerpted from my prepared remarks.
It’s no surprise that we have both digital-only universities and universities that offer digital classes. However, you may be surprised that in the U.S., we have 140 digital-only universities and 3,338 universities and colleges offering online courses. The latest Babson Survey Research Group online learning survey found that approximately 6.4 million students attending U.S. universities (representing 31.6% of all students) took at least one online course in the last year. Almost half of these students attended one of 235 institutions representing 5% of U.S. higher education institutions.
I recently attended my third CBExchange and this year, I had the pleasure of serving on the program and welcome committees. The number one benefit to being a Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) member and/or attending CBExchange is learning from the experiences of those who participate. The community is open in sharing the good, the bad, the challenges, and the triumphs of starting, fostering, and scaling CBE programs. While I wasn’t around at the beginning of the online education movement, the comradery I’ve seen forged in those who built online education is reflected in the relationships established through CBEN.
The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) held its biannual Internet, Policy, and Politics conference on September 20-21, 2018 at St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. The conference is one of academia’s leading venues for examining the interplay between technology, politics, and the development of innovative new policy. This year’s event, “Long Live Democracy?”, examined the challenges and opportunities for democratic processes in a digital world.
The conference was organized by OII and the journal Policy and Internet, in collaboration with the European Consortium of Political Research’s standing group on Internet and Politics, Policy Studies Organization (PSO), and American Public University System. Scholars attended from all over the world, including Bar Ilan University, Cornell University, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul Bilgi University, London School of Economics, McGill University, Northwestern University, St. Petersburg State University, University of Amsterdam, University of Helsinki, University of St. Andrews, University of Sydney, University of Texas at Austin, and World Bank Group, among others.