The Cost of Learning

The cost of learning is minimal, but the cost of NOT learning is HUGE. Business leaders, are you measuring the costs only in money?

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Un-Learning Un-training, Un-workshop

Ask yourself

  • Is there a lack of excitement and energy around learning and training in your organization?
  • Are learning and training viewed as a requirement and not an opportunity?
  • Is there a disconnect between training and the people being trained?
  • Are training topics of no interest to some of the people being trained?
  • Is training handed down from above with no input from the people?
  • Do people in your organization dread training and learning?

What is un-training?
Most people hate training because they don’t want to be there, they don’t have a connection with the topic, they had no say so in what is being presented, management barely knows training is even going on, and oftentimes the training itself is terribly delivered.

Un-learning and Un-training takes out all of those elements, It is based on a very successful ed-tech and education conference style, called unconference, where the attendees decide the agenda and topics for discussion, learning, and training on the day of training. Un-training is especially effective in generating discussions, brainstorming, idea generation, and team building, but can also be used in skills development and technical training. Managers are invited but they are there at the exact same level as other attendees. After topics are crowd-decided, people go to the sessions of their choice. The “results” and “output” of the sessions are decided by the people in the sessions. Yes, it involves putting the responsibility for learning in the hands of the people and also managers and HR giving up control.

This event works because it is a 100% grass roots, from the agenda, topics, session delivery, and outputs.

Can it be done virtually and in-person?
Yes, it can be done both. It works the exact same way except the sessions are in virtual rooms instead of actual rooms

In general , how does it work?
On the day of (or maybe a couple of days before if needed), all attendees are asked to submit 3 topics they would like to see on the agenda. Those ideas are consolidated, merged, synthesized, and categorized; each of those ideas represents possible learning/training sessions. From the newly synthesized list, attendees are given 3 ‘votes’, in which they can vote for any of the ideas they see value in. Depending on how many session slots are open, popular vote wins, and available session slots are filled with top-voted session topics. No one will need to necessarily be a session leader, although the person who suggests a topic might at least get the discussion started. Now the agenda is set and people can start to plan out which sessions they will attend.

Ok, what are the details?

Materials and location: You will need a large room where everyone can fit. You need some sticky-notes, stickers (like elementary school teachers use), and 3 rooms large enough to fit 1/3 of the people.(1 room for each session topic )

Step 1: Collect a group of volunteers who would like to be part of the un-training team. The volunteers will coordinate (not lead) the event. Once the topics are decided, the volunteers become regular attendees. You may be surprised at people who will take an interest and are looking for ways to lead.

Step 2: Sell it. Publicize it. Let people in the organization know what you are doing. Make sure they know that they are 100% in charge of the training topics. Clear the calendar. Minimize conflicts. Managers encourage your people to participate. Make sure people have every incentive (except requiring attendance) to attend. Managers, leaders, and supervisors- You will need to decide, based on your culture as it stands right now, whether your presence at the event is positive or negative.

Step 3 IDEATION: Solicit topic ideas for the training from the attendees. You can try to have an umbrella topic under which you’d like ideas to be related to. Or you can just let the ideas flow from the ground up. No limit to how many ideas each person can submit. If you are in-person, you can literally pass out sticky-notes and let people put them on a wall, which allows others to see the ideas as they are generated. If virtual, you can replicate the sticky-note style of ideas posting by using a tool such as,, . Take 15 minutes max to do this.

  • EXCEPTION: Technical Traning If some of the sessions will be specific software or other technical training, you will want to make sure you have someone in those sessions who might be willing to ‘lead’. In other words, they would have to be comfortable enough with the technology to be able to lead a mini-training session off-the-cuff upon finding out what people want to learn.


The volunteer group gathers all the ideas. Then as a group try to organize all related ideas into as few categories as possible. It ok to merge ideas together, reword, etc. but try to get the ideas into a reasonably-sized list under each category. So, maybe you reduced everything down to 5 categories, with 5-10 ideas under each. Volunteers Take 15 minutes max to do this. It does not have to be perfect.


  • VOTE: Each attendee, including volunteers, now get 3 ‘votes’ for their favorite top ideas. (or whatever number, but keep it low so people have to make a choice). For in-person, the topic ideas will be posted on 4 separate walls, spread out so everyone can read and vote at the same time. For voting, pass out small stickers(.i.e. stars) to everyone. People browse the room and put stickers on the ideas they support. No rules on how people apply their votes. Take 15 minutes max to do this.
  • SET AGENDA: Volunteers meet for the last time to put the ideas into order based on votes. Ideally, they are spread out across categories, so you can take the top 3 from each category, or make whatever “executive decisions” that need to be made. It is OK to merge ideas together if it helps. Complete the public agenda with the selected topics. Make the agenda available to the attendees.


Sample 3-hour agenda

(8:00 – 8:15) 15 min Gathering and Greeting and Ice breakers
(8:15 – 8:30) 15 min Ideation
(8:30 -8:45) 15 min Topic Condensing
(8:45 – 9:00) 15 min Topic Selection
(9:15-10:00) 45 min Session 1 (topics A, B, C)
15 min Break
(10:15-11:00) 45 min Session 2( (topics D, E, F)
15 min Break
(11:15-12:00) 45 Session 3 (topics G, H, I)

Step 6: Learn.

Make sure people know that they are free to roam from session to session, even if it means leaving a session mid-stream.

Learn with your Feet. If you get into a session and it is not what you needed or not what you hoped, or you really want to catch part of another simultaneous session, then leave–just get up and go. No explanation is needed. No one is “watching”. It’s not an insult to anyone. Go where you get the most value. Contribute where you can the most.

What happens next?
Well, you have placed the learning and training into the hands of the people. Why not let the people decide what happens next? Is specific follow-up training needed? Do some work-related procedures or policies need to be re-visited? Did new ideas arise that need to be fleshed out? In other words, let “what happens next” depend on what happens in the training.

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Discipline-Focused Learning

Ok, isn’t that what all learning is… where we study a discipline?

Uhm no.

Actually it’s not.  The model of education that we have blindly followed for decades is a collection of highly connected disciplines, but yet which rarely interact. Seldom do we see thoughtful collaborations as a regular part of learning. Yet, isn’t the real world “out there” just a huge intersection of every possible discipline?

The role of school has been to prepare students for the real world outside the school walls, but yet it seems as if the walls are getting higher, and the education is more and more irrelevant and disconnected.

We have to experiment with new ways of learning in order to find how to reconnect school, at all ages, with modern-day students. I’m not worried about what worked 25 years ago, and I am not worried about what school will look like in 10 years. I am talking about right now.

Currently, students study numerous subjects in a single day, but each is compartmentalized, meaning that they go to math for an hour, then abruptly change to language, then abruptly change to history,  and so on.  No rhythm. No flow. Little cross-over in the day-to-day, but if we take a step back… all these subjects are heavily related!

No one will disagree that there is math in music and chemistry; there is chemistry in the art class; there is technical reading and writing in language and math; there is biology in physics; recently we are seeing there is AI in every subject….. you see my point. In any one subject, there is a direct connection to every other subject.

What about a new strategy for designing learning?

How about Discipline-Focused Learning? (yeah, I am still working on the name for this)

What if instead of just teaching math in a silo for a year, we completely flipped that concept on its head? What does that look like?

What if for a month, math is the focus of every subject. All subjects continue their lessons for the month but do it through the math lens. For example: history studies the math from periods of history(i.e. Greek, Roman, China, number systems in cultures) and their impact on society; art uses math in art projects (i.e. phi in drawing, perspective, dimensions) and of course the relationship between math and music; English class can focus on technical reading and writing in math with both fiction where math is heavy part of story (i.e. Mars, a Beautiful Mind) and nonfiction( Hidden Figures, writings by Ptolomy) ; foreign language uses culture-based mathematical word problems using mathematical vocabulary including lectures using technical vocab; Computer Science can use trig to rotate a visual object, algebra for variables updates, or use recursion to implementing Fibonacci series; Physical Education can use an obstacle challenge courses that involve calculations, then based on answers, active challenges; and then math itself focuses its curriculum to enhance/support other subjects as they ‘teach’ math along with the math dept.  Each department still does its ‘thing’, but for that month math is the focus, with the other departments approaching it from their perspective. Keep in mind departments should work together on projects, so students can let the flow of learning happen even when changing physical classrooms.

Yes, this would involve heavy collaboration between departments and between faculty. Administrators need to provide time for planning. It will take some time to figure this out. Schools will need to build that into their schedule. Students will need to learn to not stop learning a subject area when they leave the classroom. Teachers will need to help them with that cross-over. Projects will need to be more complex and far-reaching. Teachers will need to learn how to build great cross-curricular projects.

Does that make sense?

Then the following month,  the ‘discipline of focus’ is Computer Science. All subjects continue their lessons but do it through the technology/Computer Science lens. History will study how technology impacts(and has impacted) society, business, elections and politics, and economies; art will be using programming languages to draw geometric shapes, fractals, and repetitive patterns using loops; foreign language will teach vocabulary for how to use different technologies, students use software for projects but that are configured in a specific foreign language. You want to insert an image or add styling? Gotta know how to find that menu option in Spanish; math will study algorithms, variables, loops, and functions to calculate answers to technical word problems. Language class will read fiction and nonfiction on highly technical topics, including business, ethics, AI, (i.e. science fiction and stories with a tech focus (i.e. Bicentennial-Man, Azimov’s Runaround)); physical education will have students outdoors solving classic CS algorithms such as towers of Pisa or implementing active sorting algorithms(look on Youtube you’ll see it); music has students using loops, variables, and functions to generate instrumental music(thanks Bob); and Computer Science itself will be using their curriculum to enhance/support other subjects as they teach Computer Science along with the CS department.

The next month is science, then history, then art, then language, then music, then physical education, and so on. A typical school year is 8 months long, which is plenty of time for every subject area to get a full month of highly focused attention, plus the other 7 months of “regular”. Is that not more than we are doing now? Is it not more how the world works and is it not more relevant?

I gave two examples of Math focus, and Computer Science focus. I’d love to hear ideas on what language, science, fine arts, and history would look like. What I also love about this approach is that each department gets a chance for some front-and-center attention every year.



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6 Elements of Effective Online Learning

The world of online learning has taken the world by storm over the last several years. One of the questions we struggle with is, “How do we create effective online learning?

It’s simple: Address the why before the how.

In any learning, this is the most important element. Without question. No exceptions. Mic Drop.

After the why, we can then dive into the what and how.

While some may tell you that it is the skills that are most important in learning, they are wrong. It is all about pedagogy and the learning environment, and ultimately–the learner.

There are 6 major areas that must be addressed in e-learning:

  • Motivation for learning
  • Relevance of learning
  • Bite-sized learning
  • Hands-on learning
  • Resources for learning
  • Community around learning

Motivation is not external. You cannot motivate learners, but you can provide a learning experience that allows them to discover their own motivation. Buy-in is real and matters. And it is vital for learning.

There are 2 possible reasons learners are spending time with your learning.

  • Want: learners are here voluntarily and are already motivated, or at least willing to become motivated. In this scenario, it is a different game. You don’t need to convince them to learn, but you will need to provide reasons to continue when it gets hard. Take advantage of that raw energy and eagerness and dive in immediately. The only danger now is not providing engaging learning, and they lose interest. Shame on us if this happens.
  • Need: Design interesting scenarios where the obvious solution involves the skills and ideas of the learning. Let learners see that there is a definite need for these skills. There is clear value in them spending time on this learning.  Get them excited and amazed at what they can do with the learning. Then design learning to guide them through scaffolded steps where they build their learning and motivation steadily.

This is why the connection a student has with a course is so important. An engaging, genuine, and enthusiastic instructor, whether live or recorded, helps build that connection.  That connection will expand to include everything about the course, including the content and skills.

It must be crystal clear how this learning relates to the world, but not just any world, the world the learner is in right now. Know your learners: are they mid-career professionals looking to get ahead, are they inexperienced but ambitious young professionals building up their resume, business leaders looking to learn more about an industry, people just looking to learn enough just to get started, or are they just discovering learning for the first time. Use examples, stories, and demonstrations that clearly demonstrate the skills, ideas, and concepts in action. Target your audience;  giving an example of a factory quality assurance system is not the real world for college students. In the same light, using TikTok examples is not going to appeal to your senior leaders.

Bite-sized learning
You have to take high-level and abstract ideas and break them down into smaller chunks that have meaning to the student. They have to incrementally see how the skill or topic applies to the world around them in real ways. But there is something we have to be careful of, called cognitive load, which in essence means you cannot just keep cramming information down their throat all at once. Break it up, and give them chances to digest, synthesize, explore, and review. Provide frequent practice and activities to interact with the content and make sure to intentionally incorporate previously learned skills from earlier lessons. Blending existing knowledge (recent and long-term) with new learning is a powerful way to increase retention.

The days of passive lecture are long gone. Learning must be two-way, where the student is doing things and getting feedback throughout, not just at the end. Interactive learning is used for both basic knowledge as well as application of knowledge. There must be opportunities to demonstrate their learning, yes to a possible employer or boss, but more so just to themselves.  That practice and application helps “store” their new learning in a different area of their brain. Simply providing recorded videos with some questions at the end will not reach your students, and will rarely be effective. It’s ok to use a quiz or test as part of the learning, but practice and demonstration must play a much larger part.  Use interactive and animated visuals;  be especially sure not to just display and describe them, but include some interactions or activities that let students apply what they see in the visual. That can be done through both objective and open-ended questions.

Research shows us that even in virtual learning, students want some sense of community. Find ways to let learners interact with other learners. This can be a student discussion board, social media group, peer feedback, or even online office hours with the course leader. When I was doing my online master’s degree at Ga Tech, I drove several hours just to work together with a group partner for an evening. Is that logical? No. Was it necessary? Yes.

Students will learn on their own, just as they are in your course. You have to replace having an instructor in a room to whom they can ask questions. Anticipate the questions students will ask, and prepare examples and demonstrations for different levels of understanding.  Scaffold the learning enough so you can prepare for common questions, sticking points, and confusion. You will have students lost right at the start, and you will have advanced students getting stuck much farther along. People need different types of learning and resources at different points in their learning journey. Provide a variety of learning including video, audio, text, diagrams, and animations to explain concepts and teach skills.

You have to make sure that they have information that can help them work through their problems as they are working through the course. I can’t emphasize enough the power of great resources.

There you have it. E-learning can be engaging and effective. In truth, the elements I introduced in this article translate directly into any type of learning.

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How to get more females into the tech industry?

Well, it starts in school.

This is something near and dear to my heart. There are several things I experienced as a high school Computer Science teacher that can help us explore this and learn. supports females in tech

In education, technology and CS courses have typically been basically boys clubs. That is who led them, who joined them, who planned activities, who planned the learning, and who they recruited. Diversity of any kind was never a consideration.

Computer Science programs which are designed by hard core techies are designed only to attract other hard core techies, and this is where our stereotypes came from. But what about students who are not already a ‘hard core techy?’ Is there any chance to find their new passion? Yes, if we design CS programs with non-techies in mind. The better CS program will be the ones who target these students, then a strong program develops those same students into technology-minded students will rock solid skills.

How can we change this?

Girls in Tech

Creating learning environments that are attractive to females as well as males. When a girl walks by a Computer Science classroom, she needs to see people in there she can related to, otherwise she walks on by even if she might have been interested. And even take it one step further, reach out to those girls, invite them in, help them connect. Make sure the classroom climate is welcoming to females,recognize them, give them chances to be leaders in class, tell them directly when you see good work, don’t let boys “come to the rescue” of the girls, Zoom with females in industry, teachers use examples and stories with females in leadership roles, and make sure the boys are aware when there is awesomeness happening by some of the girls in class. Talk publicly about how technology needs women, tell them about the status quo and how this is not ok. Ask them if it ok that women are not involved in research, design, implementation, sales, support of technology, both software or hardware. Shouldn’t the people making the technology look like the people using it? Make sure on your classroom walls are pictures of women in tech, posters with diversity represented, and articles supporting this.

Diversity in Tech

The projects you use in class need to be attractive to all genders not just boys. How do you do this? Open-ended projects that have real meaning. This is where project-based learning can be especially powerful. Technical skills can be learned through any context, and what better opportunity to let student learn new skills while pursuing topics and issues they love. Let the project be about real problems and issues in the world around them. We found that students have a lot to say, and want to express themselves, but are never really given that opportunity. Computer Science offers so many cool options for expression such as apps, websites, games, and digital devices such as robotics. Students connecting to the project is essential to students learning the skills needed to complete the project.

There are organizations such as NCWIT, National Council for Women in Technology, whose sole motivation is to help promote and encourage girls in technology. Encourage your girls to engage with NCWIT.

But does this approach really work?

I remember walking into my first CS classroom and there were 5 white boys. I asked, “where are the girls?” So, that became my mission. By the time I left, we had increased our enrollment of women to over 50%, including diversity in color, religion, and life style. Our school had more girls recognized by NCWIT than any other school in SC. And as they made their way into business, the girls were finding their way to the tech worlds at Google, NASA, Honeywell, Meta, and Microsoft.

If this is of interest to you, here are some other articles I have written on the topic

Webinar presentation I made on this topic

If you really want to dive deep – I wrote a book about how to create a Computer Science program as described above.
Here is where you get can get it on Amazon

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The Great Resignation. The Great Layoff. What happened to loyalty?


Immediately following Covid, we saw “The Great Resignation” where the nature of working changed, people were unsatisfied with their current role, the way they were being treated, or how much they were being paid. Because they were remote and alone, they could job search and interview freely. Companies were forced to hire remote workers, so suddenly location became irrelevant. It opened up a world of possibilities for current employees that would not have been there pre-covid.

As we find ourselves now facing an apparent recession, instead of The Great Resignation, now we are seeing “the Great Layoff.” This is where we see the guts of an organization. Layoffs tend to be done behind closed doors, then announced suddenly. It sends a wave of fear, uncertainty, uneasiness, and even anger running through all employees. Those affected find their worlds shattered , and those not affected realize that same uncertainty about their own job, but now also of the organization itself. Any loyalty and trust that had been developed is lost. Desperation becomes the emotion that drive business now.

What is interesting — and not part of the conversation— is the humanity that goes along with loyalty, both employee to employer and vice versa.

It does not have to be this way

The Honeymoon Phase

Think about the excitement of starting a new job from the perspective of the employee. There is eagerness, energy, ideas, and desire to say yes to anything. The loyalty to the organization is unquestioned and given freely. Both in and out of office, the conversation about the company is positive and reaches many ears. Think of the Linked In post, “I am happy to announce I started a new job”, the network of networks all see that; it’s icing on the cake for the company, shows that the company is hiring and doing well. Win win. The thought of looking for another job is not on anyone’s mind.
The employee is all in.

Photo by fauxels:

Think about the excitement of starting a new job from the perspective of the employer. You have a new employee with eagerness, energy, ideas, and desire to say yes to anything. You want to take advantage of all that so you put those people on the projects they can best help with. Colleagues on the same team are excited to have some “new blood” , and perhaps some needed skills, on the team. The new employee may bring a new approach, innovative suggestion, or process change that is huge. New features,new revenue streams, new opportunities. The thought of hiring another person for the job is not on anyone’s mind.
The employer is all in.

Why does that go away?

The long hours you might work, the late night or early morning. Is that noticed? And more than just saying it was noticed, but it can be formally recognized with a gesture, included in the performance review, award , or reward. In other words are your efforts noticed, appreciated, recognized? Is there incentive for you to continue to give your all? Are you still challenged? Do you have the resources you need to succeed? As you get better and faster at what you do, is that rewarded in some way, or are you simply given more work?

I’ll challenge the status quo that this is not all on the shoulders of the company.

Show loyalty.
You feel underappreciated, underpaid. But is it justified? Just because you think you it is, does not necessarily mean it is so. Is this based on something real or just ‘because’? Did you read an article online and now have new expectations? Are you spending your time job searching when you could be upskilling, offering help to a colleague, networking with people in your company, or spending time on a 20% project? If you have extra time and energy and capacity, have you told your boss you can handle more responsibility? Are you going beyond the expectations of your role and is that clear? On those occasional days where some extra effort is needed, are you willing to do it with eagerness? Are you still all in?

You work hard to recruit, but do you spend that same effort retaining your employees? Are you giving them reasons to leave? Are you giving them reasons to stay? Are you expecting more and more, not not offering more? Are your benefits, salary, and perks keeping people excited where they are and no need to look? Are you keeping up with the market and competition? Think about how much it costs you in downtime, interview time, lost revenue, low morale, and training. In most jobs, it can take 1-2 years for an employee to really get good, where now the ROI is clearly there. You lose that every time someone leaves and you have to replace them. Are you spending time ensuring employees have the resources and skills needed to exceed expectations? Are you supporting efforts to upskill? Are you as all in with all your existing employees as you are with new employees?

If people feel valued, paid fairly, and happy, they do not look for jobs elsewhere.

Is there another option for employers? Show loyalty.

Photo by fauxels:

Yes, times are tough now, but the recession will be over in a year or so. Think of how thankful your employees will be if you are honest with them, tell them times will be tough, we are going to need everyone to step up, be creative, do extra, and add more value in any way they can—but in return everyone keeps their job. You just increased the loyalty of everyone in the organization by 100%. These same people are now even more loyal, willing, and able to help you make it through the recession. Employees will be exceeding expectations. You will see new leaders emerge, new ideas generated, people reinvigorated and energized. In fact, you may have just made the organization stronger and that may be exactly what pulls you through the recession.

Your employees are all in.

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Is there a best strategy for Instructional Design content creation?

For those in L & D, internal and external training, and instructional design roles, we have the goal of creating engaging and effective learning content in the optimum learning experience. Ideally that happens through tried and proven methodologies , frameworks, and models.  The friends at your party include ADDIE, SAM, Gagné , and Kirkpatrick, plus a few new kids on the block and a couple has-beens. All of these have the same ultimate goal–to guide you in learning creation so that it is effective. Some of them are decades old, while others have modern spins on old ideas. Truthfully, they are all good and worth your time to explore, but in reality, I find that there is no single one that is only used, nor any one that is necessarily better than the others–because it all depends on the project itself and the people involved. 

They might use different terminology, but essentially for many there is still a basic high level flow. And others might focus in on certain aspects elements of the process. For example Kilpatrick is more focused on evaluating effectiveness than how you involved users in testing throughout.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos:

What I have found is that I bring in strategies from all of these depending on the situation. Yes, if all the parameters in your project are constant, then you might have the luxury of choosing one approach and sticking with it to the end. But I am pretty sure in the history of learning , this has never happened. In reality, project deadlines change, priorities change, project finances change, and project stakeholders change. Your boss had originally given you 8 weeks, but has changed it to 4 weeks.  The budget for the course was $25K, but got cut to $10K. The SMEs change mid-stream and have different styles and beliefs and opinions.  The team you partner with for user testing and client feedback has a reorganization of leadership.

But there are other elements that are part of course-building experiences, such as your own style and personality, the style and personality of the SME, the culture of your company, and the availability of people related to the project.

Photo by Elina Fairytale:

And probably most important is just life itself. Someone gets Covid at a crucial point, so maybe that round of UI feedback is bypassed.  A death in the family means the content is delayed for a week. The production lab is having a makeover and is closed for 4 days. A surprise vacation from one of the key stakeholders(raise your hand if this has happened to you). And keep in mind, while the project may be top priority for you, it may be a side project for others involved, or even a backend project for some.

If you look at some of the more modern methodologies, such as SAM, they still follow the same high level flow of basic design (i.e. ADDIE  is Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation), but they incorporate threads of Agile throughout.  

I would say the common thread I see regardless of which is used is adaptability and flexibility, but also just common sense. Be willing and ready to change the process. No course will ever be perfect. You could always spend just a bit more time on this or that. One trick that I found that was always helpful was just to take some time away, maybe just a day or two. This gives you fresh eyes that will look differently.

Photo by Christina Morillo:

It’s not about you, the topic or the concept… it’s only about the learning and the student.

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What we need in business

The business world needs more technical people who can interact with non-technical people. We need more non-technical people who can interact with technical people. We need more non-technical people to develop technical skills. We need more technically-trained people to develop business skills. And we need more business-trained people to develop technical skills.

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The lack of Liberal-Arts minded Engineers

This post is a response to this article/commentary from the CEO of BMW.

100% agree. The elephant in the room is that what we don’t need is nerds who cannot interact with people in non-technical ways. The stereotypical engineer still exists , in part, because of the systems in place in education. Most high school and university-level engineering (software, hardware) programs recruit and produce the exact stereotypes that have been there for 4 decades. Modern programs have to change their recruitment strategies to attract different types of students. It’s a self-fulfilling circle: stereotypical students are attracted, so they fill the classrooms, curious students look into the classroom and don’t see anyone who looks and acts like them so they don’t enter the classroom. The article talks about the need for engineers to be more balanced with non-technical topics, but I’ll challenge that, equally if not more important, is that we broaden our pool of engineers to be more diverse and inclusive. This means we get more people in the engineering field who ask different questions, bring different perspectives, and approach challenges differently. That kind of classroom both attracts and produces a different type of person….perhaps the liberal-arts-minded engineer that Knudt is referring to.

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Digital Native Skills

Having spent many years in the Computer Science classroom, I developed a pretty good understanding of how digital natives interact with technology.

Digital native technology

The biggest thing I noticed is that their tech device is a part of them like a wallet is to an older generation, or a car to another generation. It’s not something they necessarily appreciate, it just IS. Just like you and I jump in the car to drive to TacoBell, we don’t even think of the decades of work that went into car technology. Some of us love our cars and have chosen to get really good at “under the hood.” Same thing with digital natives, some of them are really good at “under the hood” such as coding , electronics, or cybersecurity. And some of us are just power “users” of our cars , meaning we don’t necessarily know how the engine works, but we can drive the heck out of the car, onroad or offroad. And some digital natives are especially good at using and exploring the functionality of the technology

Sometimes we assume simply because students grew up with technology, that students are wizzes at every aspect of that technology. So, this is really no different than any other subject area or industry, if you want to be a power user of technology, then you master Excel, PPT,Word, Movie Maker, Photo Editing, Tik Tik, and the settings screen on your IPhone. If you want to explore technology as a career, then you master the skills of Computer Science, I.T. or Cybersecurity. Or if you just want to use it minimally, then that is ok as well. There are digital natives who fit into each of those categories. #digitalnative

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