Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Chancellor's Opening Session: a Hard Rain

     [UPSHOT: it was a good opening session, featuring Bob Bramucci's goofy guitar antics. Poertner was fairly concise with his message: completion challenges, etc. Main speaker Bramucci was entertaining, had something important to say, namely, that disruption is afoot—coming mostly from dynamic, innovative for-profits—and we need to take the lead, if we can. See Tere's Highlights]

G. Poertner
     POERTNER'S SOBERING ADDRESS. I walked into the McKinney Theater for the Chancellor's Opening Session about ten minutes late. No doubt, earlier, board president Nancy Padberg offered a few words, but they were likely brief.
     Sounds like Chancellor Gary (Poerter) is offering a sobering address about tough issues we face, including an increasing focus on completion, etc. Says Gary:
     Future jobs will require post-secondary education. We've got to meet demands of our community for completion, etc. We've made strides: e.g., progress in respectful interactions. "I've already noticed a more positive spirit, districtwide." Showing great levels of cooperation and collaborations. We need to leave behind all that old history.
     Important -- business analysis project: areas that can be made more efficient. New human resources system. We've reviewed purchasing, accounts payable, receivable, facilities planning and construction, financial aid, payroll and time keeping, curriculum development, contracts, etc.
     It's important that we get imput from people who use these processes. We need to work smarter, not harder.
     We've made real progress in the issues that bogged down the ATEP project for many years. We're waiting for the Navy to release the land that's been held up....
     There is no special ATEP pot of money. Allocation is determined by policy, overseen by BAARC (Basic Aid Allocation Recommendation Council).
     Asks Fitzsimmons and Peebles to come up to explain ATEPery.

R. Peebles
     ATEP MOVES FORWARDPeebles entertains the group by pretending to slowly and mechanically crank down that big screen. Laughter.

     Fitzsimmons: we have a third campus, ATEP. We received the land from the Navy. There was a need for environmental cleanup. (Shows slide of sky view—hovering above Tustin.) We're smack dab in the center of OC.

     Peebles: we've been working for many years for "entitlement" of use of property here. (Shows map.) Property conveyed in 2004. The Navy was doing environmental cleanup before (some of it) could be conveyed. We wanted to be able to do non-educational supportive activities. The shape made the property difficult and expensive to develop. (Shows pic of Poertner with Tustin's Parker signing documents to "close the deal." Shows new map.)
     Newly configured district property: a rectangle. Easier to develop. Better road access, etc. We'll be demo-ing some buildings, grading. The city will begin  construction soon. Their part will be completed in a few years. (Shows slide of current campus.) Focuses on a small corner. Owned now by city of Tustin. We have a three year lease for that property (i.e., our original tin village).

     (Shows other leased land — quite a bit.) It will take a year before the Navy will convey it to us while they scrape up the goo, etc. Quite a large piece. So we're in a waiting period for the Navy to develop it. Shows picture of "demo" occuring now. It is a massive undertaking. 16 major buildings demo-ed in recent years. We're in a development agreement with City of Tustin. We'll be allowed to build educational buildings and also space that is supportive use: research labs, cafeterias, bookstores, etc. Up to 49% of site can be noneducational(?). We need to build a minimum of educational structures first. Tatoo parlors are a no-no, evidently (laughter).

D. Fitzsimmons
     Peebles: (Shows the two colleges' future ATEP buildings. New layout.) Lots of planning left. Need masterplan for land use. Internal streets. Site locations. Lease agreement templates.
     (A "function map" is displayed.) Lots of communication. Lots of input went into this. Coordinated responsibilities.
     Colleges' responsibilities: programs, instruction planning. Partnerships with programs and services.
     District services' responsibilites: Environmental matters, master plan for land use, etc.
     Coordinated responsibilities: between colleges and district services: blah, blah, blah.

     Peebles: Academic programs have been approved: complementary and non-competitive programs. Feb. 2012 meeting decided this. Patient care, emergency services, assessment and training, patient services, etc. Center for Innovation and Health ...
     (Shows IVC programs:) multimedia tech, electrical tech, applied tech, AOJ, etc. Next steps: implementation of new agreements.
     Next steps: academic program planning, demo-ing, transfers (of 10 acres). Etc.
     Some of this depends on transfer from Navy. Lots of "next steps." Need to plan it all carefully.
     We still have some challenges to overcome. We need dollars.
     Several sources possible: could use existing resources, but no. Looking for grants, donors, and other external sources.
     Puts up "bake sale" slide. (Laughter.)

In the past, Chancellor's Opening Sessions were more colorful

     Peebles: remediation going on at ATEP. 7-12 months work still necessary. (Illustrates this activity with a slide. Pretty dry stuff.)

     Fitz: ATEP should not be looked at as an island any more. ATEP needs to be looked at holistically in relation to blah blah blah.  We have an opportunity to build something unique with this site. Need careful planning. The opportuities are really quite endless.

     Poertner: thanks both Fitz and Peebles for all their work. Next, Bramucci. Theme: "Disruptive innovation in education." Bob's been going around the country speaking about this.

B. Bramucci
    DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION IN EDUCATIONBob Bramucci: informally dressed. Gets plugged in [guitar]. What keeps you up at night? Flashes "H8Rs." (Laughter.) Has collected "stories" (news articles, editorials, etc.) and wants to show a few of them.
     Plays laughably grim dramatic music on piano while flashing various stories from the Chronicle, etc. Examples: "College: what's the point?" "Why a college degree may not be worth it." "Higher education and today's job market. Is college workth it?" "Higher ed: engine of inequity" "College degree loses value." "Why tuition has skyrockeded at state schools" "4 ways universities can survive extinction." "The end of the U as we know it."
     QUOTES, including, "In fifty years, half of existing colleges and universities will cease to exist."
     Why are they saying this?

Not everyone appreciates Bob's approach (district photo)
     Two reasons: one, economic bubble. Higher education is ripe for disruption.
     What's a bubble? Prices rise much faster than inflation. Investors' irrational exuberance.
     Bubbles are nothing new. Illustration: the great tulip panic in Holland in 17th Century
     Why are they saying that higher ed might be in a bubble?
     Shows chart. Tuition and fees have gone up far faster than medical care, gas, etc.
     Student loans now top one trillion dollars. This exceeds credit card debt. Student debt has not contracted. Pell grants have skyrocketed. Surge in delingquent loans. "Subprime borrowers" involved. (Sound familiar?) Disparity between how much college costs and economic value of degree. Down by 15%.
     Moody says colleges and U's have unsustainable business model.
     Disinvestment by states.
     Administrators: more than teachers (at UC or some UC campuses).
     There's an amenities (for students) arms race. Shows example of Rutgers U. New dorm. Shows climbing wall.
    Maybe the canary in coal mine: law schools. Producing more lawyers than jobs. Recently, law school enrollments way down.

The eternal beginning
     Formal vs. informal learning: lots of informal learning out there. Tells story of childhood playing on piano. Switched to guitar. Jokes around as per usual. Left formal guitar instruction, intending never to return. Had an unusual record collection of blues, etc. Tells story of the Rolling Stones, and Keith Richard's interest in old blues records.
     Now disruption. Plays a Keith Richard song ("Happy") while displaying articles such as "Latptop U" "Can MOOC's solve the STEP problem?" "Veteran VC predicts an education revolution." "What educational dispruption means for your company." "Massive open online disruption."
     Dr. Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School. He coined the term ("disruptive innovation").
     Disruption: definition.  When product gets simpler, cheaper.
     Disruptive innovation. Making incremental improvements on some product. Someone enters marketplace at low level. They get better and better, eclipsing the former leaders. Another kind: creating customers out of thin air.
     Classic example: steel mills. Suddenly, mini-mills came along. Made poor quality steel. There's a market for that: rebar. They took the rebar market. Steel mills weren't worried. Good riddance, they said. Christensen says--the mini-mills were rapidly improving. Over time, they took over more and more markets. By the time the larger mills woke up, it was too late. The entire market belonged to the mini-mills.
     Discusses the case of Apple. No threat to us, says big business. The two Steves were after families, not mainframe customers. But they became a threat and a force.
     Is disuption a bad thing? From the inside, yes. From the outside, no. Products become simple and affordable. That's good.
N. Padberg
     There have been disruptions before in education.
     E.g., the Morril Act: land for colleges. Served rural areas. Up against pushback, but prevailed.
     Second disruption: community colleges. Doing it bigger, cheaper.
     An alternative has now arisen: for-profit universities. In the past 30 years almost all growth has been in for-profits. Online courses: pace of technology. "A scalable driver." Acts like a ratchet. Quality goes up over time. Gives example of boxing games, starting with Atari. Crude stuff. Contemporary boxing games very sophisticated. That's the ratchet.
     Most of the innovation these days is coming from the informal space, not formal (traditional colleges and universities).
     Gives examples of innovations: e.g., monitor that watches you, responds to you.
     Venture capital is pouring into education. Follett is casting about for new business model. They don't yet have a sustainable business model.
     The company Blizzard, only 15 miles away. "World of Warcraft."
     Black swans: rare events with big impact.
     Case study: Ritz camera. Started in 1918. Grew to be huge, 1300 stores. Made lots of their money on service and film development. Then digital cameras came on the scene. Eroded film business. If your digital camera breaks, you get a new one. Go to big box store, Best Buy. Ritz lost out, now gone.
     Tug of war example. "everybody grab the rope." The side of the room in which everyone, not just best athletes, pulls--that side wins.
     The biggest businesses in the world....
     Examples of online businesses in which the public joins in. Crowd sourcing.
     Case study: stock photography. Used to be hard to get, very expensive. Today, can buy photo for $5. Reduces price of good by 100 times. Crowdsourcing funding and research. The example of Kiva.org.
     Even scientific research. The crowd funds projects in which they are interested. New.
     The seed has sprouted. Gives examples from web. Masters program in computer science--cost only 10% of usual.
     Movement: competency based transcripts. An output model. A different kind of transcript becoming more common. More and more institutions going there.  Some laudatory stories of these new models

     So is this a threat? Not right now. But maybe we're looking at a puppy. Will it become a Great Dane?
     Can we overcome?
     Yes, but I worry. Perhaps we've become "comfortably numb." Plays that song, doing his own accompaniment on electric guitar for 20 seconds or so. (Bob's a crowd pleaser.)
     We (at community colleges) are leaner than others. We have it in us to respond. But there's no magic solution.
     Christensen: we're going to get disrupted. Either we do it ourselves or it will be imposed on us. We have some time. To an extent, we can wait to see what happens to all this innovation out there. Community colleges do a lot with little money. So big monolithic U's are threatened more than us. Christensen: hard for industry to disrupt itself, but not impossible. We have a model for this: charter schools.
     I did come back to the "formal" in music. Returned to be a teacher. Formal education that grows too far removed from the informal is in peril.
     You never know what's going to work. So don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
     Student relationship management growing. Crowdsourced services.
     Let's pilot some of these crowdsource, grab the rope, services.
     The example of KEPLER, using MOOCs. The future is going to be bringing together the formal and informal educational spaces.
     In closing: "The future of California community colleges." Plays "Hotel California" (!?) instrumental. Plays lead guitar to it. Quotes the line about checking in but never checking out. THE END.

     THANKS ALLGary Poertner: Briefly dons Bob's hat. Cheers. Thanks Tere Fluegeman for her efforts to orchestrate this thing. Can't find his notes. Thanks Bob. The rule in the district: "never follow Bob."  [Laughter.] Therefore hands it over to faculty service.

     THE PARADE OF SURVIVORSDavid Bugay: has various trustees, execs stand on stage (Poertner, Jemal, Padberg, Burnett, Roquemore, et al.) I think they're handing out pins, starting with 5 year pins. Good Lord. This goes on for a while. But they focus on 5-year increments (thus they skip me at 27 years, thank God).

     Poertner: Change. Legislators are focused on reform. Everyone anxious to see results from recent initiatives. Business leaders are calling for a more responsible alignment of education and industry.
     Join me in embracing change. Change can yield improvement. We can be part of it or just let it happen to us.
     Have a great semester.

My perspective:
     Hammy guitar noodling notwithstanding, this was a good Opening Session, communicating things that need to be communicated. No doubt, we will be challenged re completion, etc. Those pressures will increase. And Bob's right: things are changing--disruption is afoot—but it's too soon to tell what will prevail. We can easily be left behind, left holding the bag as innovation overtakes us. An important message.
     I would add one thing. Yes, the for-profits are taking the lead in innovation. They're taking the limelight too. But they're also taking the lead in generating debt--especially debt that shouldn't occur in the first place. It is in the for-profit sector that we see the most fraud, the massive exploitation of government insured loans. Exploitation of the poor, the ill-informed. (Ultimately, it is the profit motive that drives this: easy profits; an easy way to transfer public wealth into private hands. The worst kind of transfer-seeking.)
     So one thing that I would add: the country should be cracking down on the for-profits, making them honest,  producing real training and instruction. As it stands, they are wealth-generating machines for the few. Surely, that kind of action, too, would make it easier for traditional instruction to survive, for at least it offers, in its plodding and expensive and glacial way, real instruction, not empty promises from glorified carnival barkers who find endless support from that infernal party of the haves.
     One more thing: gosh, whatever happened to the recent district climate survey? As one person told me after today's session, the results of that survey were a "real eye-opener." Got that right.
     Maybe so, but (unless I missed it), there was no reference to it during today's opening session. How come?

     Also, read a recent interview with Christensen in the Economist. An interesting man.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Higher education is ripe for disruption".... that sounds straight out of The Shock Doctrine.

In "an FBI zone"

     Got home late last night. There were two messages on my phone answering machine.       One was from the FBI. On the recording, a ...