Quality Education Vs Accreditation

Education:

“The act or process of educating or being educated; the knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process!”

Inquiries into furthering my educational aspirations were made to various colleges within my immediate environmental area. Several of the schools contacted required placement exams that I did not challenge, as I am adept and very capable of dealing with college examinations. The thing that got to me was the disparaging remarks from some college recruiters regarding their standards for education as opposed to another college. One of the schools that I’ve attended is a two-year degree school while the other is as well. They hold real estate in the same zip code and competed for students in the same local. They both educated local students as well as out of state and students from other countries and nations.

One school considered itself superior to the other by reason of accreditation. The school that was described as inferior did not have middle states accreditation. The school was described as below standard by the other. The so-called superior school is lead and operated by a non-HBCU affiliation while the other happened to be lead and operated by an African American staff. The self-described superior school has made plans, designs, and did bid for the take-over of the African American school. Albeit, the self-described superior school admits that it does not and will not accept credentials from the so-called inferior school. I have attended both of these institutions and received very good instruction from its teachers as well. While the lessons learned were an invaluable source of information, the education that I received from personal academic research (self-taught) has enhanced my knowledge base. Money was not a factor in my personal research, study, and/or practicum. I would add, the knowledge and information that was derived from the HBCU School proved to be equally rewarding as the other if not better!

Personally, I would say that I received more educational value at the HBCU (Historical Black Colleges and Universities) as opposed to the other collegiate institution. Albeit, they both required money.

When students visit college campuses they are encouraged to become a student at that particular school. The tour guides’ show all of the amenities and accolades that are offered in order to get you enrolled…and to gain your tuition monies. But what about the quality of education offered by the particular schools? The majority of the colleges will often quote their accreditation as compared to another school of choice. What has accreditation to do with a good and valuable quality education? Money! And the ability to make money! Education does not and should not require money!

In 1899 Dr. Matthew Anderson, an outstanding community leader, and his wife Caroline Still Anderson founded Berean Manual and Industrial School. Dr. Anderson was a pivotal influence in the religious, business, and educational history of Philadelphia. Dr. Anderson also founded the Berean Presbyterian Church and the Berean Savings Fund Society.

Caroline Still is the daughter of the great William Still, a Philadelphia Abolitionist and member of the Underground Railroad.

Mr. William Still (a self-educated man), one of seventeen children, was born in Burlington County in 1821. His father escaped slavery from Maryland to New Jersey and later was followed by his wife and children. William Still left New Jersey for Philadelphia in 1844. Three years later he was appointed secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

“When Brother William Still was 23, he left the family farm in New Jersey for Philadelphia, to seek his fortune. He arrived, friendless with only five dollars in his possession. Mr. Still taught himself to read and write. In fact, so well, that in three years he was able to gain and hold the position of secretary in the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Brother Still provided the all-white society with his views on how to aid fugitive slaves. After all, he had been one himself. He was such an asset to the group, that he was elected chairman in 1851. Still held the position for the next ten years. He also became chairman of the Vigilance Committee in 1852. Still was the first black man to join the society and was able to provide first-hand experience of what it was like to be a slave.”

“Mr. Still established a profitable coal business in Philadelphia. His house was used as one of the stations on the Underground Railroad. Brother Still interviewed escaped fugitives and kept careful records of each so that their family and friends might locate them. According to his records, Still helped 649 slaves receive their freedom. The number is compounded with the number of slaves saved by Sister Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.”

“William Still, a self-educated man, began his campaign to end racial discrimination on Philadelphia streetcars. He wrote an account of this campaign in Struggle for the Civil Rights of the Coloured People of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars (1867). He followed this with The Underground Railroad (1872) and Voting and Laboring (1874).”

“William Still, a self-educated man, established an orphanage for the children of African-American soldiers and sailors. Other charitable work included the founding of a Mission Sabbath School and working with the Young Men’s Christian Association. William Still died in Philadelphia on 14th July, 1902.”

The Concise History of Berean Institute:

“In 1904 Berean Institute of Philadelphia Pennsylvania qualified for state aid and received a grant of $10,000. Over the years, state aid has enabled the school to expand its services and diversify its programs of study. Funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania now provide a significant portion of the total operating budget. Berean Institute embarked on a program of expansion under the dynamic leadership of the late Dr. William H. Gray, Jr., who utilized the support of many influential citizens of Pennsylvania including the former Governor Milton J. Shapp. Dr. Gray served as Chairman of the Berean Board of Trustees. Under Dr. Gray’s leadership Berean Manual and Industrial School began operating as Berean Institute. He also had Berean Institute’s current building constructed in 1973.”

“Mrs. Lucille P. Blondin, who served the school for forty-five years, became Berean Institute’s first President. Mrs. Blondin retired in June 1993. Dr. Norman K. Spencer was appointed to serve as the second President and Chief Executive Officer. Under Dr. Spencer’s leadership, contracted programs funded by the City and Commonwealth agencies as well as community outreach projects have been added. Hon. John Braxton, former Judge, Court of Common Pleas heads a list of distinguished Board of Trustees members.”

“Berean Institute enrolled students in full and part-time programs. Most of the students are residents of the Commonwealth and live in Philadelphia. Other students have come from Central and South America, China, India, Puerto Rico, Tonga, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, England, Cambodia, Viet Nam and states along the eastern seaboard of the United States.”

“A number of students come to learn a marketable skill and their Berean training fulfills their current educational aspirations. Many others regard the school as a stepping-stone to further education. Berean has many graduates who have gone on to earn four-year college degrees and others who have completed graduate studies at some of the area’s outstanding institutions of higher learning.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education granted Berean Institute approval to award the Associate in Specialized Technology Degree on September 15, 1976, and the Associate in Specialized Business Degree on December 27, 1976.

Again, education is:

“The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life; the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession; a degree, level, or kind of schooling: a university education; .the result produced by instruction, training, or study: to show one’s education; the science or art of teaching; pedagogics.”

A definition of education: ‘The act or process of educating or being educated; the knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process; a program of instruction of a specified kind or level: driver education; a college education; the field of study that is concerned with the pedagogy of teaching and learning; an instructive or enlightening experience:

Dictionary.com Unabridged

Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009

So why does another school rate it’s accreditation over and above that of another? Money! Many colleges and universities rate its’ educational values based on the amount of money in its’ coffers as well as the amount of money that they can amass! Another tool to increase superiority in the education business is to attain and maintain accreditation and as many acquisitions as possible.

Several opinions suggest education achieved through these venues is designed to prepare people/students for the job market as opposed to being prepared for life skills. The skills required to carry ones posterity and their descendants that follow into prosperous futures.

Is it fair to assess the stature of a collegiate institution above any other based on the amount of money that is needed to be spent or the amount of education that is achieved? Ivy league institutions turn out many students who are not prepared for the challenges of life…but many of them are rich and have spent thousands of dollars to attend those schools as well as graduating from them. On the other hand, many poor people that are lucky enough to qualify for grants, loans, scholarships, etc., are better prepared to face the challenges set before them (so it seems).

Many poor and working poor students seem to value the collegiate level education as if their life depended upon it, so they tend to work a bit harder to achieve the degree status. The document can be deemed worthless when the graduate cannot find the desired job for which he/she has studied. It is even worse when the graduated student finds that they are worse off than when they started college. They are now burdened with school loan debt plus the debts that they have had to meet before attending college. Working at McDonalds and the like, seem to be the only job that is attainable for many of them. The competition is fierce. These students are for the most part, grouped in with many applicants that are not college educated and many do not have high school diplomas as well! The knowledge attained is not considered or tested by many of these employers. Kiosk type pictures on a cash-register computer is what they have to work with. Is this not insulting to a student who has studied computer science, read and write computer programs and its languages, as well as other academics of study?

Why is it that many non-ivy league students find themselves out of work? Why is it that many of them find that they are the first to lose their employment positions compared to their ivy-league colleagues? Why is it that many inner-city college educated graduates find themselves less likely to be selected as team-leaders than their counter part ivy-leaguers? Many employers advertise their openings with statements that don’t require a college level education. They ask that candidates simply have a high school level education. College educated candidates apply to those openings and find themselves scrutinized out of the running, i.e., background checks, credit checks, criminal histories, schooling activities, etc. Why is it college educated candidates find that not only do they have to compete with ivy-leaguers, they have to compete with high school educated folks as well. What is the sense in enduring hours, years, and other sacrifices to attain the coveted two and/or four-year college level degree when you’re not going to qualify for the job anyway?

The notion of accreditation, money, and notable stature should not be the basis of choosing the collegiate route to education. Education should be based on ones ability to achieve, retain, and utilize education. The achievement of education begins in the home (as well as anyone who desires it). It begins with the Childs’ upbringing and the stressed importance placed by the parent and/or guardian. Should the child be highly scholastic in abilities that enable him/her to be described as intellectually talented above average, that student deserves free college education. While the rest of us who are collegiate material may well have to pay for our higher education. Mind you, my argument is based on the ability to access education without having to spend money…teachers need to earn a living, schools need to pay the costs of operating and maintaining buildings and staff. So the money has to come from somewhere. Albeit, the aforementioned disparages between different colleges should cease the practice of who’s a better institution of higher learning. Is it the responsibility of educated people to enlighten people who are not?

While many may not be aware, education is achievable without attending so-called accredited and/or less accredited schools, of higher learning…start with the libraries in your homes as well as the public facilities, news papers, magazines, shared information, and articles. Why is the education attained by others kept to a level of secrecy that one should have to pay for it?

Attained and acquired education is the responsibility of the educational pursuer…the burden is placed solely on the student not the educational pursued. I’m not advocating that one can become a doctor, architect, or a lawyer by simply reading text…there is a difference between education and training.

Adults Returning to Education: A Guide

Adult education gives high quality education for adults to improve their standard in the society, and it can be continued at any stage of their life. It helps people graduate with the help of nation’s various adult education centers and programs. It ensures people to compete in a better way in this competitive society.

There are lots of reasons for adults to return to education after some time. Adult education can help people who wish to continue their education, people who look for a career change, or people who just wish to enhance their knowledge. Adults returning to education programs offer you plenty of choices and features to study. Many new programs and various educational departments guide you with providing high quality education in an interactive manner. It offers basic knowledge regarding computer literacy, numerical ability, and correctional education. Moreover, it allows people in developing different employment opportunities. This can be done by returning to education with various adult education programs which are available in different states.

Many educational providers invite adults to return to education after a formal break. Educational centers like Adults Who Are Returning to Education (AWARE), Center for Adults Returning to Education (CARE) are few amongst the adult education continuing centers that are doing a fine job. Adults who return to education would have had different backgrounds that led to their interruption from continuing education. Instructors in these educational centers are well trained to improve their education level according to their ability. Careful adjustments are given for older students during the learning process. There are various adult education centers and programs in which adults can continue their interrupted education.

There are many foundations throughout the nation that help adults return to education with some major features. They offer many scholarships for the adults who return to education. Adult student technical college scholarships, minority/female technical scholarships, and UW-Marinette scholarships are few of the scholarships for adults who return to education in few of the states. One can continue his/her interrupted education at any stage through these educational centers for adults and many other foundations.

Special Learning Needs – Effective Educational Services For Students

15 million school age children in the US have learning problems that public and private schools can’t solve. There are 72,000 special education students in LAUSD, alone. Every day these students sit unhappily in class, losing hope of ever realizing their dreams. Students are living in pain and shame. They are not learning to be successful students.

Their parents are frustrated in their attempts to find suitable education for their child. They’ve tried working through the public schools. They have hired tutors. Parents are calling for real solutions.

In order to thrive, these students need special educational methods that address their unique profile of strengths and needs. But even more importantly, these children require a new mindset of success.

Educational therapy offers help and hope to children and adults with learning challenges such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and learning disabilities. Educational therapy is an appropriate and highly successful approach to helping students of all ages achieve their maximum potential.

Educational therapists use state of the art educational programs and methods that have been proven to teach students with learning problems the skills they require to be successful. Educational therapy shows students how to overcome their learning problems and lead successful lives.

All throughout the school years, foundations for future success are laid down. Not only are students learning essential skills such as reading, they are also learning to value education. But most importantly, they are learning to believe that they are successful students!

When students experience repeated frustration and failure, they develop self-doubt along with dislike or distrust of educational experiences. These negative views influence how much students can learn, at every level from elementary school through college!

Special needs students experience three major problems with learning:

Teachers and tutors use the same methods for every child. Children are unique and each learns in his or her own way.

Teachers and tutors usually do not understand how to modify their approach to address different learning styles.

Teachers and tutors only teach subject matter. Students who experience repeated academic failure lack the underlying foundational skills to be successful students. They often don’t know the best study methods, how to manage their time, or what the real secrets are to academic success.

Teachers and tutors do not address the root cause of continued academic failure-learned helplessness. When students experience failure after failure, they develop a mindset that they are “stupid” and “can’t learn.” They give up on ever being a good student! But, when students believe they can succeed, they begin to try. When they believe they can learn, they begin to study. When they believe they can have impressive futures, they make powerful choices. Students have the right to believe in their innate intelligence and skill!

Educational therapists generally begin their professional careers in special education, child development or counseling.

The Association of Educational Therapists is the national professional organization that sets the training standards for educational therapists. There are three levels of membership in the Association of Educational Therapists: Associate Professional (introductory level), Professional (experienced), Board Certified (seasoned).

According to the Association of Educational Therapists: “Regardless of previous background, all Professional members of the Association of Educational Therapists (AET) have met rigorous professional requirements in the academic areas of elementary and/or secondary education, child development, educational assessment, learning theory, learning disabilities, and principles of educational therapy. All members have a B.A. degree and are required to hold a Masters Degree or equivalent in post-BA course work. They have completed at least 1500 supervised direct service hours, and are required to complete 40 clock hours of Continuing Education every two years.

To become a Board Certified Educational Therapist (BCET), a member must meet the following additional requirements: Masters Degree (required); one year membership in AET at the Professional level; 1000 hours of professional practice; formal written Case Study evaluated and passed by the AET Certification Board; a written examination that demonstrates professional expertise in educational therapy.”

Millennium Education Development – Ways To Achieve

Dr. Tooley: His conclusions on Private Education and Entrepreneurship

Professor James Tooley criticized the United Nations’ proposals to eliminate all fees in state primary schools globally to meet its goal of universal education by 2015. Dr. Tooley says the UN, which is placing particular emphasis on those regions doing worse at moving towards ‘education for all’ namely sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, is “backing the wrong horse”.1

On his extensive research in the world poorest countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and China, Dr. Tooley found that private unaided schools in the slum areas outperform their public counterparts. A significant number of a large majority of school children came from unrecognized schools and children from such schools outperform similar students in government schools in key school subjects.2 Private schools for the poor are counterparts for private schools for the elite. While elite private schools cater the needs of the privilege classes, there come the non-elite private schools which, as the entrepreneurs claimed, were set up in a mixture of philanthropy and commerce, from scarce resources. These private sector aims to serve the poor by offering the best quality they could while charging affordable fees.3

Thus, Dr. Tooley concluded that private education can be made available for all. He suggested that the quality of private education especially the private unaided schools can be raised through the help of International Aid. If the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) could find ways to invest in private schools, then genuine education could result. 4 Offering loans to help schools improve their infrastructure or worthwhile teacher training, or creating partial vouchers to help even more of the poor to gain access to private schools are other strategies to be considered. Dr. Tooley holds that since many poor parents use private and not state schools, then “Education for All is going to be much easier to achieve than is currently believed”.

Hurdles in Achieving the MED

Teachers are the key factor in the learning phenomenon. They must now become the centerpiece of national efforts to achieve the dream that every child can have an education of good quality by 2015. Yet 18 million more teachers are needed if every child is to receive a quality education. 100 million children are still denied the opportunity of going to school. Millions are sitting in over-crowded classrooms for only a few hours a day.5 Too many excellent teachers who make learning exciting will change professions for higher paid opportunities while less productive teachers will retire on the job and coast toward their pension.6 How can we provide millions of more teachers?

Discrimination in girls access to education persists in many areas, owing to customary attitudes, early marriages and pregnancies, inadequate and gender-biased teaching and educational materials, sexual harassment and lack of adequate and physically and other wise accessible schooling facilities. 7

Child labor is common among the third world countries. Too many children undertake heavy domestic works at early age and are expected to manage heavy responsibilities. Numerous children rarely enjoy proper nutrition and are forced to do laborious toils.

Peace and economic struggles are other things to consider. The Bhutan country for example, has to take hurdles of high population growth (3%), vast mountainous areas with low population density, a limited resources base and unemployment. Sri Lanka reported an impressive record, yet, civil war is affecting its ability to mobilize funds since spending on defense eats up a quarter of the national budget.8

Putting children into school may not be enough. Bangladesh’s Education minister, A. S. H. Sadique, announced a 65% literacy rate, 3% increase since Dakar and a 30% rise since 1990. While basic education and literacy had improved in his country, he said that quality had been sacrificed in the pursuit of number.9 According to Nigel Fisher of UNICEF Kathmandu, “fewer children in his country survive to Grade 5 than in any region of the world. Repetition was a gross wastage of resources”.

Furthermore, other challenges in meeting the goal include: (1) How to reach out with education to HIV/AIDS orphans in regions such as Africa when the pandemic is wreaking havoc. (2) How to offer education to ever-increasing number of refugees and displaced people. (3) How to help teachers acquire a new understanding of their role and how to harness the new technologies to benefit the poor. And (4), in a world with 700 million people living in a forty-two highly indebted countries – how to help education overcome poverty and give millions of children a chance to realize their full potential.10

Education for All: How?

The goal is simple: Get the 100 million kids missing an education into school.
The question: How?

The first most essential problem in education is the lack of teachers and it has to be addressed first. Teacher corps should be improved through better recruitment strategies, mentoring and enhancing training academies. 11 Assistant teachers could be trained. Through mentoring, assistant teachers will develop the skills to become good teachers. In order to build a higher quality teacher workforce; selective hiring, a lengthy apprenticeship with comprehensive evaluation, follow ups with regular and rigorous personnel evaluations with pay-for-performance rewards, should be considered.12 Remuneration of teaching staff will motivate good teachers to stay and the unfruitful ones to do better.

Problems regarding sex discrimination and child labor should be eliminated. The Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), for example, addressed the problem of gender inequality. BPFA calls on governments and relevant sectors to create an education and social environment, in which women and men, girls and boys, are treated equally, and to provide access for and retention of girls and women at all levels of education.13 The Global Task Force on Child Labor and Education and its proposed role for advocacy, coordination and research, were endorsed by the participants in Beijing. The UN added that incentives should be provided to the poorest families to support their children’s education.14

Highly indebted countries complain on lack of resources. Most of these countries spend on education and health as much as debt repayments. If these countries are with pro-poor programs that have a strong bias for basic education, will debt cancellation help them? Should these regions be a lobby for debt relief?

Partly explains the lack of progress, the rich countries, by paying themselves a piece dividend at the end of the Cold War, had reduced their international development assistance. In 2000, the real value of aid flows stood at only about 80% of their 1990 levels. Furthermore, the share of the aid going to education fell by 30% between 1990 and 2000 represented 7% of bilateral aid by that time. 15 Given this case, what is the chance of the United Nations’ call to the donors to double the billion of dollars of aid? According to John Daniel, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO (2001-04), at present, 97% of the resources devoted to education in the developing countries come from the countries themselves and only 3% from the international resources. The key principle is that the primary responsibility for achieving ‘education for all’ lies with the national governments. International and bilateral agencies can help, but the drive has to come from the country itself. These countries are advised to chart a sustainable strategy for achieving education for all. This could mean reallocation of resources to education from other expenditures. It will often mean reallocation of resources within the education budget to basic education and away from other levels. 16

A Closer Look: Private and Public Schools

Some of the most disadvantage people on this planet vote with their feet: exit the public schools and move their children in private schools. Why are private schools better than state schools?
Teachers in the private schools are more accountable. There are more classroom activities and levels of teachers’ dedication. The teachers are accountable to the manager who can fire them whenever they are seen with incompetence. The manager as well is accountable to the parents who can withdraw their children.17 Thus; basically, the private schools are driven with negative reinforcements. These drives, however, bear positive results. Private schools are able to carry quality education better than state schools. The new research found that private schools for the poor exist in the slum areas aiming to help the very disadvantage have access to quality education. The poor subsidized the poorest.

Such accountability is not present in the government schools. Teachers in the public schools cannot be fired mainly because of incompetence. Principals/head teachers are not accountable to the parents if their children are not given adequate education. Researchers noted of irresponsible teachers ‘keeping a school closed … for months at a time, many cases of drunk teachers, and head teachers who asked children to do domestic chores including baby sitting. These actions are ‘plainly negligence’.

Are there any means to battle the system of negligence that pulls the state schools into failing? Should international aids be invested solely to private schools that are performing better and leave the state schools in total collapse? If private education seems to be the hope in achieving education for all, why not privatize all low performing state schools? Should the public schools be developed through a systematic change, will the competition between the public and the private schools result to much better outcomes? What is the chance that all educational entrepreneurs of the world will adapt the spirit of dedication and social works – offering free places for the poorest students and catering their needs?

Public schools can be made better. They can be made great schools if the resources are there, the community is included and teachers and other school workers get the support and respect they need. The government has to be hands on in improving the quality of education of state schools. In New York City for example, ACORN formed a collaborative with other community groups and the teachers union to improve 10 low-performing district 9 schools. The collaborative won $1.6 million in funding for most of its comprehensive plan to hire more effective principals, support the development of a highly teaching force and build strong family-school partnerships. 18

Standardized tests are also vital in improving schools and student achievements. It provides comparable information about schools and identifies schools that are doing fine, schools that are doing badly and some that are barely functioning. The data on student achievement provided by the standardized tests are essential diagnostic tool to improve performance. 19

The privatization of public schools is not the answer at all. Take for instance the idea of charter schools. As an alternative to failed public schools and government bureaucracy, local communities in America used public funds to start their own schools. And what started in a handful of states became a nationwide phenomenon. But according to a new national comparison of test
scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools, most charter schools aren’t measuring up. The Education Department’s findings showed that in almost every racial, economic and geographic category, fourth graders in traditional public schools outperform fourth graders in charter schools. 20

If the government can harness the quality of state schools, and if the World Bank and the Bilateral Agencies could find ways to invest on both the private and the public schools – instead of putting money only on the private schools where only a small fraction of students will have access to quality education while the majority are left behind – then ‘genuine education’ could result.

Conclusion

Education for all apparently is a simple goal, yet, is taking a long time for the world to achieve. Several of destructive forces are blocking its way to meet the goal and the fear of failure is strong. Numerous solutions are available to fix the failed system of public schools but the best solution is still unknown. Several challenges are faced by the private schools to meet their accountabilities, but the resources are scarce. Every country is committed to develop its education to bring every child into school but most are still struggling with mountainous debts.
‘Primary education for all by 2015’ will not be easy. However, everyone must be assured that the millennium development goal is possible and attainable. Since the Dakar meeting, several countries reported their progress in education. In Africa, for example, thirteen countries have, or should have attained Universal Primary Education (UPE) by the target date of 2015. 23 It challenges other countries, those that are lagging behind in achieving universal education to base their policies on programs that have proved effective in other African nations. Many more are working for the goal, each progressing in different paces. One thing is clear; the World is committed to meet its goal. The challenge is not to make that commitment falter, because a well-educated world will be a world that can better cope with conflicts and difficulties: thus, a better place to live.

Recognizing Navigational Tools For the Future of Education

I have to laugh when I think of the times I watched the television program, “Flash Gordon,” as he putted through outer space in his make-believe space ship, talking on his make-believe wireless radio, and dressed in his make-believe space suit. Well, I’m not laughing anymore. Today we have shuttled astronauts into outer space, have men living in a Space Station, have space suites that take your temperature and gauge your heart rate, and wireless communication devices that send pictures to Planet Earth. Far fetched from reality? Not anymore. As we speak, the future is starring us in the face, waiting to see how we will promote her in the next 5-10 years.

How did science-fiction become reality over the past 50 years? Let’s consider one aspect of innovation: the learning environment – post secondary education. Why post secondary education, you may ask? As post secondary education population increases, programs to accommodate students will develop into curriculum that affords students the freedom to create and design systems they toy with on a daily basis. Are there risks involved in this adaptation process? There are risks involved when change occurs, and leadership should be aware of how to diplomatically confront the risk areas that could slow down progress. Some of the risks that could be encountered due to change are:

o Systems risks

o Subsystem risks

o People

o Financial/economic risks

o Societal/Cultural risks

If communication between systems, subsystems, people, and cultures within the organizational environment has established a strong communication system, risks factors will be at a minimum as long as the creative teams are honest and upfront about their reservations to change.

Let’s look into the future through ‘futureoculers’ and see how the universe of learning can be brought into the present. I want to introduce to you five (5) key trends that I believe affect the current learning environment, can create change, and renovate the perspective of learners and educators for students of the future. These trends could be the key in creating a new perspective in post secondary education for an institution. The key trends are:

o Competitive classroom learning environments – campus on-site/online/distant

o Increase in technological tools

o Teaching/learning environments-more hands on

o Global expansion capability-internal and external

o Student input in the creative learning process

Navigational Systems

Before the five (5) key trends are defined, there needs to be an acknowledgement of how the trends will be supported and regulated through a changing environment. According to de Kluyver, and Pearce, II, having the right systems and processes/subsystems enhances organizational effectiveness and facilitates coping with change. Misaligned systems and processes can be a powerful drag on an organization’s ability to adapt. Therefore, check what effect, if any, current systems and processes are likely to have on a company’s ability to implement a particular strategy is well advised. Support systems such as a company’s planning, budgeting, accounting, information and reward and incentive systems can be critical to successful strategy implementation. Although they do not by themselves define a sustainable competitive advantage, superior support systems help a company adapt more quickly and effectively to changing requirements. A well-designed planning system ensures that planning is an orderly process, gets the right amount of attention by the right executives, and has a balanced external and internal focus. Budgeting and accounting systems are valuable in providing accurate historical data, setting benchmarks and targets, and defining measures of performance. A state-of-the-art information system supports all other corporate systems, and it facilitates analysis as well as internal and external communications. Finally, a properly designed reward and incentive system is key to creating energy through motivation and commitment. A process (or subsystem) is a systematic way of doing things. Processes can be formal or informal; they define organization roles and relationships, and they can facilitate or obstruct change. Some processes or subsystems look beyond immediate issues of implementation to an explicit focus on developing a stronger capacity for adapting to change. Processes/subsystems aimed at creating a learning organization and at fostering continuous improvement are good examples. As an example, processes or subsystems are functional and maintain the operation of the system; the system may be Student Services and the subsystem may be the Financial Aid office or Admissions. Subsystems can be more in depth in relation to office operations, which involves employee positions and their culture; financial advisors, academic advisors, guidance counselors. These operations are functions performed on the human level and could have a positive or negative impact in the development of key trends. If employees are valued and rewarded for their dedication and service, the outcome will be responsible, committed employees for the success of their subsystem.

The Navigator

Every navigator needs a map, a plan, a driver to give direction to for a successful trip. In this case, the driver is several elements:

o Service integrity, reputation

o Affordability with an open door concept

Hughes and Beatty relate drivers as Strategic drivers; those relatively few determinants of sustainable competitive advantage for a particular organization in a particular industry or competitive environment (also called factors of competitive success, key success factors, key value propositions). The reason for identifying a relatively small number of strategic drivers for an organization is primarily to ensure that people become focused about what pattern of inherently limited investments will give the greatest strategic leverage and competitive advantage. Drivers can change over time, or the relative emphasis on those drivers can change, as an organization satisfies its key driver. In the case of post secondary education, drivers help measure success rates in the area of course completion ratio, student retention, and transfer acceptance into a university and/or the successful employment of students. Because change is so rampant in education, it is wise for leadership to anticipate change and develop a spirit of foresight to keep up with global trends.

Drivers can help identify the integrity of internal and external functions of systems and subsystems, as mentioned previously, by identifying entity types that feed the drivers’ success. They are:

o Clientele Industry – external Market – feeder high schools, cultural and socio-economic demographic and geographic populations

– Competitors – local and online educational systems

– Nature of Industry – promote a learning community

– Governmental influences – licensed curriculum programs supported by local, state, and federal funds

– Economic and social influences – job market, employers, outreach programs

o College Planning and Environment – internal

– Capacity – Open door environment

– Products and services – high demand curriculum programs that meet, local, state, and federal high demand employment needs

– Market position – Promote on and off-campus activities that attract clientele

– Customers – traditional and non-traditional credit and non-credit students

– Systems, processes, and structures – trained staff and state-of-the art technical systems

– Leadership – integrity-driven, compassionate leadership teams

– Organizational culture – promote on-campus activities promoting a proactive environment for students

According to Hughes and Beatty, these functions can assimilate into the Vision, Mission, and Values statements to define the key strategic drivers for developing successful environments.

Navigating Towards a Destination

With the recognition of systems, subsystems, and drivers, we can see our destination in the distance and their value in building a foundation to support the five key trends. The five (5) key trends will help define strategic thinking in a global perspective; the understanding of futuristic thinking that encompasses: risk taking, imagination, creativity, communication among leadership, and a perspective of how the future can fit into today’s agenda. The five (5) key trends are:

1. Competitive Classroom Learning Environments – campus on-site/online/distant

One of the major attractions in education today is to accommodate a student at every level: academically, financially, and socially. These three environments are the mainstream of why one school is selected over another school. Today there is a change in tide. Students who once competed for seats in post secondary schools are becoming a valued asset as post secondary schools compete between each other for students. High schools are no longer the only feeder into colleges. Today, students are coming from home schools, career schools, charter schools, high risk schools, private schools, religious schools, work environments, and ATB tested environments. So, how can the educational system attract students and keep them motivated in an interactive learning environment they can grow in? Wacker and Taylor writes that the story of every great enterprise begins with the delivery of a promise, and every product a great enterprise makes is nothing but an artifact of the truth of that promise. So what great enterprise can be created to attract new students? By creating learning/teaching environments, post secondary schools can prepare students to meet the demands of everyday life and their life in the community. Schools can consider incorporating a learning model to enable professors and/or community leaders/entrepreneurs to team teach in the classroom/online environment. Team Teaching will contribute valuable views into the learning environment, as well as, give students the working community’s real-time perspective. In an excerpt from “The University at the Millennium: The Glion Declaration” (1998) quoted by Frank H.T. Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell University, for the Louisiana State Board of Regents report, Dr. Rhodes wrote that universities are learning communities, created and supported because of the need of students to learn, the benefit to scholars of intellectual community, and the importance to society of new knowledge, educated leaders, informed citizens, expert professional skills and training, and individual certification and accreditation. Those functions remain distinctive, essential contributions to society; they form the basis of an unwritten social compact, by which, in exchange for the effective and responsible provision of those services, the public supports the university, contributes to its finance, accepts its professional judgment and scholarly certification, and grants it a unique degree of institutional autonomy and scholarly freedom. To experience education is learning, to exercise knowledge is freedom, and to combine them is wisdom.

2. Teaching/learning environments-more hands on

As post secondary educators relinquish hands-on-chalk-board teaching styles and establish group teaching models, students will develop a greater understanding of the theme of the class environment as well as the professor in developing an understanding of the class cultures’ stance in learning. Educators are discovering that inclusive learning styles are revamping the teaching model and becoming a positive influence in retention, better grades, camaraderie among students, and a greater respect for the professor. As professors learn to develop relationships with students, interaction will transpire, lecturing will be condensed into a time frame and interactive learning between students and professor will enhance the classroom environment.

3. Global expansion capability-internal and external

Students are surrounded by virtual global environments or are impacted by global elements: the clothes they wear are made overseas, the games they play on their electronic toys are created overseas, the war games they play are created to identify with global war games, etc. The only draw back to this scenario is a truly global learning experience. What they are seeing is not what they are getting; a real time global experience. James Morrison writes that in order to meet unprecedented demand for access, colleges and universities need to expand their use of IT tools via online learning, which will enable them to teach more students without building more classrooms. Moreover, in order for professors to prepare their pupils for success in the global economy, they need to ensure that students can access, analyze, process, and communicate information; use information technology tools; work with people from different cultural backgrounds; and engage in continuous, self-directed learning. Christopher Hayter writes that post secondary schools need to be ‘Globally Focused’ for the 21st century that includes a global marketplace and be internationally focused. This means ensuring that skills needed to compete in a global marketplace are taught and that the mastery of such skills by students is internationally benchmarked. It may also mean a new emphasis on learning languages and understanding other cultures and the business practices of other countries.

More and more businesses are expanding into the global marketplace, opening corporate offices in foreign countries and hiring and training employees from those countries. Are our college graduates being trained to assimilate into cultures and work side-by-side with employees who may not be able to relate to them? Developing curriculums accommodating social and cultural entities will propel a student into higher realms of learning and create change in the individual student as well as support their career for their future.

4. Student input in the creative learning process

Professors are the gatekeepers in education. However, as Baby Boomer Professors begin to exit the educational workforce and head down the path of retirement, younger generation professors will take their place bringing with them innovative teaching methods that can expand the learning process. Are post secondary educators equipped to prepare for the onslaught of younger generation educators needed to be trained for this mega shift in the workforce? Most important, will those professors caught between Boomers and Xer’s be willing to adapt to change in the education industry to accommodate incoming generations? I believe younger generations will impact even the technological industry and challenge change that will equip them for their future. Previous generation students slowly adapted to technological advances. The good news is change can occur, and educators can utilize life experiences from students familiar with technology tools and create fascinating learning environments.

5. Increase in Technological tools

In an Executive Summary written for the National Governors Association in a report called “Innovation America – A Compact for Post Secondary Education,” the report reads that while post secondary education in the United States has already achieved key successes in the innovation economy, the public post secondary education system overall risks falling behind its counterparts in many other nations around the world-places where there have been massive efforts to link post secondary education to the specific innovation needs of industries and regions. According to this report, American post secondary education is losing ground in the race to produce innovative and imaginative realms in education. Can this trend be counteracted? With the cooperation of post secondary educational institutions within each community, leadership can create co-op learning environments that can be supported through e-learning and online teaching that can provide virtual reality technology to enhance real-time learning environments. Through Business Development operations currently established in post secondary institutions, a shared technology program can be created that will afford students access to ongoing virtual business environment settings and prepare students with knowledge and insight into a specific industry. As students prepare to transfer, graduate, or seek employment after completing a certification program, virtual experience in the job market can help a student assimilate education and work experience to their advantage. This concept could challenge Human Resource departments to create new mandates in accepting virtual-experienced college graduates as they enter the workforce.

Reaching the Destination

As Flash Gordan lands his Spacecraft on unclaimed territory, you imagine yourself slowly turning the handle to the spaceship with your spaceship gloves, opening the door with explosive anticipation. Your heart racing, sweat running down your brow, and your eyes at half mask waiting to see a new world; a world filled with beauty and potential when suddenly, the television shuts off and your Mom is standing in front of you telling you to get up and go clean your room and stop daydreaming! Ah, Mom, you say to yourself, you just destroyed my imaginary planet! Oh, by the way, did I mention that this was you as a child growing up and using your imagination?

Now that I’ve created a visual world of potential for you can you see the power within to see the future from the present and help others visualize the potential benefits of change in their lives and the lives of others in an organization? T. Irene Sanders states that thinking in pictures helps us link our intuitive sense of events in the world with our intellectual understanding. Now, more than ever, we need to integrate the techniques of imagination and the skill of intuition with our analytic competencies to help us see and understand the complexities that vex us daily. Visualization is the key to insight and foresight-and the next revolution in strategic thinking and planning.

Can you SEE the systems, subsystems, drivers, and the five (5) trends with a visual perspective in a post secondary educational environment? This is the nature of Strategic Thinking, which can or is taking place in your organization; a cognitive process required for the collection, interpretation, generation, and evaluation of information and ideas that shape an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage. The need to stay abreast of progress, technology, and global opportunities will be the change in drivers that will validate the creative elements needed to stay attuned in a global perspective. The author’s intention of introducing Flash Gordan into the paper was to create a visual image and demonstrate imagination fulfillment to a present day reality. Is there anything out there that cannot be done if it is fine tuned and prepared for a service of excellence? What are the risks involved by not exercising strategic thinking in the elements mentioned in this article?

Education is not about the present it’s about the future. The five (5) trends are only a beginning adventure into an unknown space. Do you remember when you were in college and wished things were done differently, be more exciting, more adventurous? Consider the age groups becoming proficient in technology. Will post secondary educators be prepared to teach/instruct future students? Educators must invite strategic thinking into the system and take the risks needed to build post secondary education back into the global futuristic race of achievement. In an article written by Arthur Hauptman entitled “Strategies for Improving Student Success in Post secondary Education” (07), he concluded his report listing four elements:

1. While there is a growing rhetorical commitment to student success, the reality is that policies often do not mirror the rhetoric. Whether intentional or not, policies in many states are at best benign and often antithetical to improving student success.

2. Policy focus in most states has been to lower tuitions or the provision of student financial aid. This ignores the importance of ensuring adequate supply of seats to accommodate all students as well as providing a proper set of incentives that encourage institutions to recruit, enroll, and graduate the students who are most at-risk.

3. Some progress has been made in developing contemporary practices that have great potential for providing the right incentives in place of redress this traditional imbalance. But much more needs to be done in this regard.

4. Efforts to create incentives for students to be better prepared and for institutions to enroll and graduate more at-risk students have the potential for greatly improving rates of retention and degree completion.

Can the five trends be a stepping stone in rebuilding or strengthening the weakest link in the system? The evidence of deficiency is public, and that’s a good start. Educators have the choice to rebuild and prepare for the advancement of our future; our students. I encourage you to take the five (5) trends and see how they can accommodate your institute of higher learning.

Board of Regents, State of Louisiana. (2001). Master Plan for Public Postsecondary Education: 2001. Excerpt written by Frank H.T. Rhodes, President, Emeritus of Cornell University from “The University at the Millennium: The Glion Declaration” (1998). http://www.regents.state.la.us/pdfs/Planning/masterplan2001.pdf

de Kluyver, Cornelis A. & Pearce, II, John A. (2006). STRATEGY: A View from the Top (An Executive Perspective). 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall Publishers. Pgs. 19-20.

Hauptman, Arthur M. (2007). “Strategies for Improving Student Success in Postsecondary Education.” Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation for Education. Boulder, CO: Policy Analysis and Research unit. Pg. 20.

Hayter, Christopher. (2007). Innovation America – A Compact for Postsecondary Education. National Governors Association. Washington, D.C.: NGA. Pg. 4.

Hughes, Richard L. & Beatty, Katherine Colarelli. (2005). Becoming a Strategic Leader. Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success. Center for Creative Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Pg. 27.

Morrison, James. 2003. U.S. Higher Education in Transition. On the Horizon, 11(1), pp. 6-10. Posted on U.S. Higher Education in Transition web site with permission from Emerald. http://horizon.unc.edu/courses/papers/InTransition.html

Raymond, Alexander Gillespie (Creator & Artist). (1934-1940). Buster Crabbe: Flash Gordan (1936), Flash Gordan’s Trip to Mars (1938), & Flash Gordan Conquers the Universe (1940). United States: Hearst Entertainment, Inc.

Sanders, T. Irene. (1998). Strategic Thinking and the New Science. Planning in the Midst of Chaos, Complexity, and Change. New York, NY: The FREE PRESS. pg. 84.

Wacker, Watts & Taylor, Jim. (2000). The Visionary’s Handbook. Nine Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business. New York, NY: Harper Business Publication. Pg. 144.