About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The silver lining

I've been reading a lot lately about the impact of the economic downturn on training and education. Michael Hanley had a great post about the response companies are having to the economic downturn, with less investment in Training and education, and marketing. It is interesting that these are the two areas most likely to use social networking within a company. My own university, in feeling the pinch, has created larger classes (without corresponding classroom space) and a drive towards using distance education with a minimal amount of investment.

While all of this might sound like the death knoll for e-learning or distance education, the fact is that I see it as a great opportunity for instructional design, e-learning, and educational technology. With that in mind, these are the opportunities I see for the next two years:

1) More training for telecommuters. As companies cut their training budgets, they will want a cost/benefit analysis to justify training. Creating training programs that will orient workers to become effective telecommuters (including communication structures and procedures, distributed team building, online supervision, management, and performance evaluation, and new technology skills) will help companies that are closing brick and mortar spaces to be replaced by telecommuters. One of the options that SUNY has identified to cut costs is to either shut down buildings during low demand and allow workers to work from home, or closing building for administrative offices, combining departments and having workers share desks, with telecommuting.

For this to be effective, there needs to be more research on collaboration, distributed teams, and information literacy.

2. There will be a greater need for new technologies, new instructional designs, and new means of assessing learning. History has shown that recessions and depressions create a greater level of innovation and entrepreneurship. Of course, this innovation will come from outside of a firm. I think there will be a greater level of innovation as people lose their jobs and are no longer constrained by the big business fear of risk-taking. Although terrifying, many unemployed will take the opportunity to start their own companies. The use of new technologies are not going to go away, so those that can take advantage of this time to create something useful, will prosper in the long run.

3. The new US administration is committed to connecting the country to high speed internet, creating lifelong learners, and supporting the development of innovation. If the new economic stimulus package is passed, there will be access to grants and tax credits for the development of new technology, wireless and broadband structural improvements at the community level, and education at all levels (children to adults). It is important that we all take advantage of this opportunity to develop new approaches to learning using educational technology.

4. We are currently in the midst of a change in generational power. As such, I see a shift in the way business and education is conducted within the next decade. It is important that we take this opportunity to become involved in the planning process, bridging the gap from the computer (computation) based business practices to the web 2.0 ("connected" and information based) based business practices. This will require the transition of top management into networked communication, a structural change to the organization, and a change in the educational system from information transfer to information analysis to prepare workers and citizens of the future. I think also there will be a new push towards integrating creativity into the curriculum as new solutions are needed for the developing world problems.

As the eternal optimist who survived the 1982 recession (although at the time it was never acknowledged that there was a recession, I think we have a great opportunity to become phoenixes rising out of the crash and burn economy that was really in a downward spiral for longer than many wanted to admit.

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