Saturday, April 29, 2006


I’m just returning from Paris after attending the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) annual International Conference. It was a good event that once again reinforced just how seriously leaders from around the world are taking education these days. Political, corporate, and educational leaders sang a similar song—colleges, communities, and countries must educate well or die on the vine.

On a different—but related—note, whenever I travel to Paris, I’m struck by the size of the portions. They’re tiny. Every coffee cup and wine glass seems like it comes from my 7-year-old’s Barbie set. Of course, the problem is mine. America’s portions are ridiculously big—not to mention incredibly wasteful. It’s hard to deny that, on the whole, we are a country of food excess (see Super-Size Me). And, more often than not, we take it for granted.

Our K-Ph.D. education system is another good example. While other countries scramble to give access to education at least a portion of their population and parents in other parts of the world only dream of giving their children the ability to read and write, some in our country blithely neglect our treasure. In relation to the rest of the world, our education portions are huge. Moreover, we just assume it was always that way. We forget that universal high schools, community colleges, and Pell Grants only came about in the last 100 years. In addition, we have to admit, we’re a little wasteful. We throw curricula, interventions and technology at students without always doing the hard work of assessing impact. We can tell great inspirational stories about the outcomes, but rarely do we develop the culture of evidence necessary to really know if we’re making a difference.

Still, just like the food situation, I’m not unhappy with the US education excess. It’s better to be battling problems of excess, rather than crises of shortage. My Grandparents stories about the Great Depression make that very clear. However, wrestle with our comparative education excess we must. Because anyone with excess has a moral imperative to ask harder questions about what you do with what is provided. We also need to discuss the fact that, just like with food, the unevenness of our education excess is galling. From K-12 school district funding to higher-education endowment distribution, one doesn’t have to look very far to see that those who need it the least, get it the most—money to support their learning.

Hard truth: excess can lead to unevenness, lack of focus, and the devaluing of the goodness at hand. Do we have a portion problem in US education?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pavlovian Problems

Ding. I turn to the computer screen and look as today’s 113th little announcement box for e-mail emerges. Ring. While I’m still on the other line, I scan my Blackberry screen to see whose calling. Ping. A pre-selected sonar sound announces an incoming instant message. Fling. I hurl myself from the open balcony.

OK, the last one’s a joke. But after a day full of these Pavlovian prompts pushing persistent partial attention, anyone can get pretty close to making the leap. There are some simple things, however, we can do to take on these Pavlovian problems. I’ll offer just three of them here that can help make a dent in our Crazy Busy lifestyles. They take a little time, and sometimes even some tech support. But they are worthwhile to ensure that we are using technology, not being used by it.

First, turn off the automatic download function in your e-mail program. Whether it’s Outlook or Netscape, you can stop the preconfigured “check the server for e-mail every two minutes” function. By doing this, e-mail only comes in when you hit send/receive. You take the control back. Why do this? Imagine if 15 years ago the mail clerk jetted by your office or cube every two minutes with new memos, letters, and junk mail and yelled “Mail!” as he threw them in your inbox. Even without the ubiquitous Viagra ads, it still might be a little distracting, no? The constant ding of your e-mail is the modern virtual equivalent. Some have related to me that the e-mail chime problem is so bad that they feel their workday is nothing more than responding to e-mails—no time for reflection, planning, execution, or interaction. Talk about being reactive instead of proactive! Worse yet, I’ve seen more than one person’s e-mail announcements go off during major presentations in front of hundreds of folks. It’s just that pernicious, persistent, and deeply problematic. Take the controls back.

Second, all-in-one devices are wonderful. Blackberry’s, Treos, and web phones make mobility and ease of connection a reality. I’m all for them. With my Blackberry, I can knock out little office emergencies quickly, clean out the inbox before I ever sit down back at my desk, access my full contact list whenever and wherever, and hop online for quick Google lookups as necessary. At their best, there are a thousand reasons whey these devices are useful and just plain lifesaving. At their worst, however, they can become painful Pavlovian pals. How many of us see our colleagues ding, ring, and ping their way through their meetings, lunches, and conversations. It’s almost an epidemic.

This is where profile management comes in. It takes some work, but dive into the profiles on your device and ensure that you choose the least distracting notifications (if any at all)—don’t take the defaults. For example, the Blackberry’s default has you buzzing and ringing and beeping with every task, e-mail, and phone call. It’s impossible to go 3 minutes without some sound or blinker going off. Stop it. Change the settings to fit your tastes, and remember, the person or people in front of you deserve your attention. The task at hand is best done without a divided mind. We need to get off the "Crackberry pipe." Remember, off buttons can be amazing things. Not taking a call may say more to the person you’re with than you may ever know.

Third, wireless technology is freeing, but it’s becoming a meeting and class killer. Trying to teach a class or hold a meeting with keyboards clamoring is stunningly distracting. I’ve been in meetings where the leader is checking their laptop while running the discussion! If that doesn’t say something about the value of the meeting, I don’t know what does. Worse yet, if the folks at the table haven’t muted their sound, you get this wonderful concert of dings and pings all throughout the dialogue. And every once and awhile someone turns their machine on, off, or reboots and you get that marvelous Microsoft minute that brings the meeting to a halt as the Windows theme song serenades you all.

Think long and hard about bringing your laptop to a meeting. If you must, mute it well before the meeting begins. And don’t kid yourself; if you try to steal a minute for a quick check of the e-mail or to scan a website, someone notices. It sends a loud cultural message about your commitment to the group. If the meeting is that bad, then you may want to lead a larger conversation about why are you having the meeting in the first place.

Well, these are just a few observations and ideas drawn from colleagues around the country as they have taken on these challenges. Make no mistake about it, we’re all figuring this out as we go along. So sharing some best practices is probably a good thing (e.g., visit the TLTGroup’s Overloadatorium). It can be our own little massive multiplayer online support group. And it may just help us solve some of these Pavlovian problems before they take too big a bite out of our lives.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

If We Build It, They Will Come—Maybe

Dr. Steven Johnson, one of the most innovative college leaders in the country, co-presents a workshop with me called On the Horizon and In Your Face 2.0: Key Issues in Information Technology for Education Leaders. In this 2.0 version of the workshop, we again look at major trends “in our face” and “on the horizon” and explore ways in which educators can adapt, leverage, and engage these happenings.

One of the trends in this version of the workshop we call the “Technology Building.” This idea sprung from a conversation about how to help more seasoned board, faculty, and staff members understand how vital technology is, how much a part of the infrastructure it must be for education institutions to be credible in the today’s world. An early problem was that the early rhetoric around technology tended to be full of hyperbolic fury about how fundamentally different IT is, how transformative it will be, and how we need to think differently to really understand its impact. At some level, this is nonsense. In many ways, technology infrastructure is very similar to something legislators, board members, faculty, and staff are used to: buildings.

When we build buildings, we usually operate off of a campus master plan. We have a facilities committee that meets regularly to update the plan. We benchmark other facilities, develop capital budgets, build in operational funding strategies, and plan for deferred maintenance. We know how to do these things because for hundreds of years, we’ve had to. It’s the cost of doing business. It’s expected to have “curb appeal.”

In today education world, we also need “tech appeal,” however. And the building metaphor is exactly the strategy we suggest that leaders begin adopting when advocating for technology infrastructure—from computers to new simulation labs for healthcare. Instead of doing what Casey Green from the Campus Computing Survey calls the traditional “dust bowl financing”—buying software, computers, servers, network hardware with year-end money that has to spent or lost—we should be more strategic. Casey’s survey shows that at the higher education level colleges are getting better and better and preparing and leading from a technology plan. If we review these plans, they are much like our facilities plan; capital, operational, maintenance strategies all linked to institutional mission—if they’re good that is. Steve Gilbert from the Teaching Learning and Technology Group advocates driving this plan based on conversations first about quality teaching and learning, and then asking “Oh by the way, what technology will we need to do this?” Technology should not drive the learning agenda anymore than finance should.

Learning-centered technology planning makes all the sense in the world. But there is still a challenge; many institutions across K-Ph.D. are still running parallel planning tracks. Facilities master planning happens, technology master planning happens, and maybe in a final strategic planning document prepared for accreditation or budget allocations they actually share the same stage. But what would happen if we build these plans together.

Most modern businesses are a complex set of infrastructures—at the most simple, Web, phone, and face-to-face. In the modern world of customer relationship management, they are taking hard looks at the blends of these worlds. Our students—not to mention our legislators, board members, faculty and staff—are swimming in this world. They shop for airline tickets online, but still call the travel agent to book the tickets. They shop for cars online, but still go to the dealership to test drive and make the deal. We drive doctors crazy; we go to WebMD and self diagnose and then come to our appointments with the printouts. Put simply, while sometimes it’s or—web, phone, or face to face—more often it’s and. Because of this, companies are leveraging extensive data mining and predictive analytics to do activity-based costing and customer analytics to determine the best version of and.

Shouldn’t we begin to think about more deeply and strategically blending our infrastructure planning? What if instead of doing two planning cycles, technology becomes a fixed component of the standing facilities master planning process? Or what if—wait for it—facilities became a fixed component of the technology planning? What if we committed to never do these in isolation again—it’s not only an artificial division of our modern infrastructure in education, its just inefficient. As a result, many college leaders end up in episodic interventions because the work of either the CIO or CFO so impacts the other area that the two end up having to get at the same table to hash things out. Let’s just end run this whole scenario; let’s hash it out up front! Let’s just do infrastructure master planning.

There are real issues to be worked out in this strategy. Facility and technology planning horizons tend to be different, skills sets of those involved more specialized, and budget allocations may come from different sources. Still, at some point we need to blend these efforts, or just resign ourselves to the constant push and pull of competing vital infrastructures.

If we build it, they will come—maybe. Today’s modern education infrastructure needs to be a thoughtful blend of online, over the phone, and face to face infrastructures. If we neglect this blend and just hope it works out, students may make another choice. Worse yet, we’ll be less capable of teaching and reaching with the best tool set available. However, with the right planning, we can be well positioned to meet the needs of those students in our face, and on the horizon. It’s a master plan worth working toward.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We're in This Together

Earlier this month, Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Clinton and newly appointed University of North Carolina System President, delivered his inaugural address. I encourage you to read the speech and notice something breathtaking. The speech is not just about how great the university system is in North Carolina—and I happen to think it’s outstanding—and where it’s going. The speech is much more about a simpler and harder hitting truth.

Unlike many system leaders who see it as their place in life to challenge, deride, or excoriate other education sectors in the fight for their piece of the legislative appropriation pie, Bowles reaches out to the K-12 schools in the state and says, “How can we help.” He pays tribute to the NC community college system—representing some 58 institutions—and talks about the importance of supporting and connecting to their work. And it’s not just lip service. He makes the larger case to the public that to successfully compete in the modern global economy, a state must bring its full complement of educational resources to bear; all sectors have to work in concert, support each other, and play to their unique strengths. It’s not about which system is better, more important, or more deserving; it’s about what is possible if they work together.

Watch for great things from the partnership of Erskine Bowles, Martin Lancaster, the North Carolina Community College System president, and June Atkinson, the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction. They are three leaders that are ready and willing to work together. Better yet, they clearly understand that as the world becomes flatter and more driven by creativity and innovation, folks across the K-20 spectrum are served well by remembering the simple truth: we’re in this together!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

E-Mail Serenity Prayer

grant me the Serenity
to accept the e-mails
I cannot get to,
the Time to answer
the ones I should,
and the Wisdom
to know the difference

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Arming our Students for Success with Games

OK, I’ll admit it: I love to play video games. There is little doubt that one wonderful part of my being a parent is drawing at the kitchen table with my daughter and playing catch in the yard with my youngest son. But I also love battling it out on Shrek2 with my other son. Actually, all four of us regularly jump on the X-box and work collaboratively to get from one level of a game to the next. Now mind you, we also hike in the woods, play with the goats on our little farm, and do creative story telling—so we’re not techno freaks or anything. But the video games are just plain fun for us. Not to mention, it gives me a great venue to teach them about working together, winning gracefully, leveraging strategy, and the power of persistence.

They’re also useful for learning other things. For example, before Richard scrambled around the field in his first soccer game, we bought an FIFA-World Cup Soccer video game. He learned all the rules, strategy, and scoring weeks before he ever touched the field. In the end, it didn’t lessen his love of kicking and scoring on the field at all, it just put some learning of what he called “the boring stuff” (i.e., the rules) into another context. Not to mention, he saw some pretty impressive models of quality soccer playing on the screen. We’ve since used the same strategy with baseball and tennis. In addition, all of my kids use video games to learn language and math skills on sites like DisneyBlast and It’s just an everyday part of their routine; to them, it’s as novel as a toaster.

This experience really came to the fore recently when my brother joined the National Guard. And after seeing America’s Army, and learning about the success of this huge online gaming site in preparing new recruits for boot camp, this learning strategy hit home. New recruits that play America’s Army enter basic training already understanding chain of command, battlefield strategy, and base protocols. It doesn’t help them shoot straight or calm the pounding heart in conflict situations, but a good deal of learning can be displaced long before they hit their barracks. Take the time to check it out to see the impressive breadth and depth of this online resource.

Gaming is here to stay. And when you compare the learning our kids will do in school vs. in games remember the often stated maxim: the worst thing you can say about homework is that it’s too hard; the worst thing you can say about a game is that it’s too easy. It’s great that the Army uses these tools to train soldiers, but shouldn’t we be looking to develop something similar to arm our kids for schools and universities. Couldn’t we work together to develop interactive games and online communities for school readiness, college orientations, and even virtual co-opts? The answer is a resounding YES. I just hope it’s a regular part of our children’s learning soon, because playing video games is fun. And when learning is play, it’s the best of all worlds.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Questions about a Quality City Life

According to the most recent Quality of Life survey by Mercer Human Resource, our major cities are falling behind—yet again. Pollution, traffic, crime, population density, and access to quality education are all dragging our ratings down. Honolulu and San Francisco are our highest rated cities, and they don’t even crack the top 25. Bagdad, not surprisingly, is the lowest rated city for the second survey in a row.

Mercer conducts and distributes this survey as part of an effort to inform international companies as they make choices about where to locate headquarter and design compensation packages for expatriates. Again, as the world become “Flat”—as Thomas Friedman argues—or as the international creative competition ensues—as Richard Florida argues—we had better start paying attention to the data. Others certainly are.

We can argue about the structure of the survey or the weighting Mercer gives to different elements; however, the fact remains that international conversations are not swaying positively in our favor. We look more insular, anti-education, regressive, and protectionist than ever. Yes, our large cities may not be the most accurate reflection of how “most” in the US live. However, they are our largest brand to an increasingly connected and competitive world. While they may be a convenient target for dogmatic diatribes, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot as we demonize these urban centers.

So, the question remains: How do we create a quality city life? What should be doing to improve our approach to education, environment, and safety? I read with interest what NY is investing in their massive reforms of their city schools. Is this the right kind of model? How will this relate to and improve rural and suburban funding, connections, and community building as well? For other ideas, check out the One Cleveland Initiative, which was introduced to me by the always impressive Lev Gonick—CIO of Case Western Reserve University. This may be another powerful option, a creative way leverage technology, community building, and collaboration to improve our cities. Their work to address poverty and improve quality of life has been impressive. Are there other areas where we can use the information already at our fingertips in our cities to make a difference?

I’m not sure of the answers here; but as champions of quality learning, leadership, creativity, and health, I know we better start asking the questions.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Let's Get it On!

Let's end online segregation. Let's continue to bring online tools—from e-mail to websites to mobile phones to ipods—fully into the mainstream and stop thinking of them as “new” or “innovative.” It’s time we simply welcome them into the family of options for teaching and reaching students in the modern era.

Yes, online education used to be considered innovative. Along with e-mail, the idea of getting online to retrieve resources was a first step to a teaching-with-technology craze in the 1990s. It was followed by the idea of taking an entire course online. This was a traumatic step for some, and the quality police came raging. While they rarely held in-class courses to the same standards that they expected online courses to match, they were quick to pronounce online-course taking DOA because of the lack of academic rigor.

Once online educators jumped the course hurdle, they looked to online degrees. Places like University of Phoenix (which, contrary to most people’s preconceptions, is still a predominantly on-ground university), Rio Salado College, and Western Governors University stepped into the breach and proved it could happen—with quality and accreditation. Creative projects like the Florida Virtual School pushed the envelope and helped bring online education into High Schools. You should really take the time to attend the Virtual School Symposium put on by the North American Council of Online Learning if you want to see just how much online action is emerging in public schools.

Still, most of this work remained segregated. In many educators’ minds, there was the online world and then there was the “real” education world. The online courses had to be specially marked in the catalog, if they were allowed in at all. Often, the online program resided in the continuing education department. Tenure-track faculty that dared to support this work had their promotions held up (see the early material from Randy Bass and the Crossroads Project) and administrators searched to find a “lower friction” location for this innovative learning model.

Then came the rise of hybrids, or blended learning. Truthfully, it wasn’t really we educators that pushed this envelope, it was the students. First, studies began to show that “distance” education—which many folks positioned online education as—actually was predominantly serving students within 30 miles of the campus. Online education, it seems, was much more about students being able to take a course at more convenient times, places, and paces. Second, students began doing both traditional and online education at the same time. It became commonplace to find that most students taking online courses were taking two or more traditional courses. At one point, the largest cohort of students in Michigan Virtual University was made up of students living in the University of Michigan dorms!

The next natural step has now been taken. University of Phoenix launched its FlexNet service last year, which quickly became its fastest growing segment. FlexNet is basically a blend of online and in-class instruction. Community Colleges and Universities are launching their hybrid programs, or at least putting their toe in the water. The Florida Virtual School is showing that hybrid resources for High School Students are powerful tools to keep engagement with a new generation of students that fully expect online tools to be comfortably woven into their learning experiences. You see, the rising student block doesn’t get all the fuss.

We’re finally here. We’re at a place were we can begin fully integrating online tools into how we teach and reach students—mainstream them, if you will. And as you know, I will never say that online education and outreach tools are “better” than face-to-face methods. In my college days, I sat through too many lectures where I wanted to stab my eyes out with my pencil, and since have seen class PowerPoint presentations that had neither power nor a point, and online course mazes that lead to nowhere (particularly learning). I don’t have any illusions about one method being better than another. It’s all about how the tools are used—and usually it’s the teacher and reacher that have greatest impact in the direction the tools take and the difference they make.

To really make move online into the mainstream, however, we have to continue pushing through the sticking points and keep a dialog going. We have to have thoughtful conversations about when online tools are appropriate, when face to face interaction is essential, and when moderated and mobile tools might help. The list of topics is long. But the conversation is vital if integration is to reach it potential.

This is one of the reasons I’m such a fan of NACOL (mentioned earlier) for the K-12 level, and the Sloan-C consortium at the higher education level. Sloan-C was founded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to help drive what their Program Director Frank Mayadas calls “Asynchronous Learning.” Frank and Burkes Oakley (you have to check out his work at University of Illinois) are two of the leading idea champions behind Sloan-C, and have been at the forefront of this movement to the mainstream from the beginning. Sloan-C has a great catalog of online degrees and resources, a rowdy listserv, and great conferences. Both NACOL and Sloan-C both help create communities of practice and share solid resources for interested educators. Check them out if you want to end the online segregation at your institution. Check them out if you want to get the conversation off the on-line vs. on-ground debate. When it comes to the kinds of conversations we should be focusing on, I say, "let's get it on!" On whatever works to improve and expand learning.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Poverty Perspective

Jeffery Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and a special advisor to the UN. He’s also the author of the powerful book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, and the economist guru behind much of the singer Bono’s work in the developing world. In fact, Bono wrote the forward for The End of Poverty. I’ve been diving into the book as I prepare for some meetings in Europe in the coming month and am taken with its breadth and boldness.

Many of the points that Sachs make come from data you may have seen in other places. The way he makes the case, however, is unique. While the data may be bleak, he is not a defeatist. With over a billion of the 6 billion people on this planet living in extreme poverty—literally a cultural or conditional hiccup away from disaster—it is not surprising that more than 20,000 people a day die of completely preventable diseases (e.g., malaria, aids, dysentery). Most of this poverty is found in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America—however, there are pockets elsewhere around the world as well. He does a good job of pointing out that the growing divide between have and have not is immoral, unnecessary, and really unique to the last 220 years. Before then, most people on this planet lived at or around the same standard of living. The industrial revolution, geography, and a host of other factors began the poverty split in earnest. Extreme poverty, you see, is not explained away by the convenient “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” rhetoric—you need boots for that. The challenges have more to do with infrastructure (political, physical, and cultural), health systems, and education. This “holy trinity” of development is a starting point for understanding the plight of those trapped in extreme poverty.

The good news is that the knowledge revolution we are living through today holds the promise of helping address many of these issues and turn the situation around. However, we have to do the hard work of educating people about a situation that many would rather forget or ignore. We also have to resist the temptation to explain it away because we don’t want to back the hard work necessary to bring world economic bodies and developed nations together in a strategic way. Yes, we have to care enough to work together with other nations to make a dent in this problem. And yes, there is “tough love” for the countries in distress. However, we have to be careful in the latter approach. As I like to say, throwing a drowning man a self-help book means he soon won’t have a self to help. Most of men, women, and children in extreme poverty are drowning in it.

Sachs outlines the exciting truth that we have the tools at our disposal to end extreme poverty in our generation. Not surprisingly, education will be essential on many fronts. We need to educate our students and communities and leaders about the real challenges of poverty to help generate the support necessary to make a difference. We need to educate a new breed of economists and development specialists with true “clinical development” skills to address the key issues that drive extreme poverty. Finally, we need to help stand up educational systems for these areas to create a new community of learners supporting their countries joining a community of nations as happy and healthy partners.

Take the time to pick up the book and learn more about the topic. The read definitely helps put poverty in perspective.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Power to Know You’re Making a Difference

Learn or die. The need for insight in education is almost that stark. Whether you’re talking about countries, counties, cities or citizens, whether you’re reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, Richard Florida’s The Flight of the Creative Class or the Education Commission of the States’ report Keeping America’s Promise, the conclusion is clear: Without education, the prospects are bleak. Freidman argues that without education and imagination, a country cannot compete in a globally woven world. Florida argues that communities that fail to support education — or worse yet, mute education expansion — are ensuring their fast decline. The authors of Keeping America’s Promise point to harsh statistics showing that without achieving at least “some” higher education, a person is destined for a very different future, one with far less security, far less opportunity and far less promise.

Thankfully, the converse also is true: Education is a powerful pathway to possibility for individuals, organizations and communities. In many ways, it is the modern difference-maker. Education opens doors to economic opportunity, individual empowerment and creative expression in a way no other force can.

It is not surprising, then, that the power to know we are making a difference in education has become a necessity for schools, colleges, universities, communities, states, provinces and nations. Nor is it surprising that the search to make better decisions, leverage better strategies and design better systems in education is the highest of priorities in academia today. To achieve these ends, to gain the power to know we’re making a difference, we need to begin to embrace insight initiatives. Insight initiatives in this context can be thought of as explorations of information from the past (hindsight) combined with looks to the future (foresight) that come together in a moment of insight to power decisions that make a positive difference. In the corporate world, some would use the term business intelligence to describe this work, or they might call it “competing on analytics.” These initiatives leverage technology, planning, research, strategy and host of other key elements.

If you're interested in these issues, here's a link to a free White Paper based on my speech to the Higher Learning Commission's 111th annual conference earlier this month; it's called The Power to Know You’re Making a Difference: Embracing Insight Initiatives in Education. What I offer in the paper is a broad exploration of the embrace of insight initiatives across multiple sectors: business, government, healthcare and education. It also explores the technological infrastructure necessary to make these insight efforts work. Finally, we dive deeper into the key issues that arise as a result of these initiatives and surface a powerful role for education, not only in leveraging insight but also in living free in the modern world.

Most likely, you agree that education is a modern imperative; and that this imperative is driving the embrace of insight initiatives in education. And you’ll see in the paper, we are not alone. The corporate, government and healthcare sectors also are taking on this sort of work, for a host of different reasons. So it’s time for us to use the CASE method—Copy And Steal Everything. Let’s see if we can learn from other sectors, learn from each other and learn from our own work in an effort to bring more meaningful, deep learning to our students. By working together, we can know that we’re making a difference — and know that we’re helping students embrace their exciting futures.

A Higher Learning

On Sunday I had the great pleasure of keynoting the Higher Learning Commission's 111th Annual Conference in Chicago. What a powerful event with more than 3,700 leaders from across the North Central Accreditation region. When I reflect on the evening, I have to once again note how impressed I am by folks like Steven Crow, Executive Director of the Commission. Even in the face of the open, broadside attacks on accreditation—the core purpose of his organization—he challenged these higher education leaders to listen to the criticisms, be thoughtful in analyzing the issues, and to come together to respond. He could have launched into a dogmatic diatribe, but he’s not an education reactionary that bristles and bites at any challenge of the education community. He’s quality leader of a powerful education body that is committed to driving positive change. He and the insightful leaders he catalyzes will continue to make a difference in education because they don’t simply defend the status quo; they work together to thoughtfully champion quality learning.

I’ll be posting a bit from my speech and the resulting white paper a little later today. In the meantime, I just wanted to pass on a little of Steven Crow’s Higher Learning!