From learning VERSUS career outcomes to learning AND career outcomes.

career-sxsw-professorThere was one contradictory trend at this year’s SXSWedu that’s quickly becoming a hot topic for many colleges and universities.

This year’s SXSWedu—a Conference and Festival invites educators from different spaces—featured high profile opening and closing speakers such as Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org, Goldie Hawn and Sal Khan, as well as a lineup of programming centered around the themes of social and mobile learning, entrepreneurialism in education and big data and learning analytics, among others.

As I reflect back on the conference, there were some contradictory trends that I noticed which made me pause and reflect on my role as a faculty member in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

While some presentations (Disrupting the Disruption in Higher Education) looked at prioritizing job skills in higher education as potentially “anti-intellectual,” Matt Sigelman from Burning Glass Technologies (Not Just Learning Outcomes, Career Outcomes) presented how to stronger align higher education with job and career-aligned skills. The ideas he presented ranged from “evolutionary” steps such as adding external experiences to existing degrees (e.g., an anthropology student gaining robust Excel skills to make oneself more marketable) to revolutionary or “disruptive” ways such as organizing existing courses into new programs customized for specific market opportunities.

(Next page: Making sense of the dichotomy between education and training)


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