Critical Thinking in the Age of Disruption: Executive Education at the University of Auckland


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One of my goals this year has been to try and put together a kind of DIY MBA for myself.

Not really a proper MBA, mind you… who’s got time for that? I like my marriage.

What I mean is more of a collection of training and inputs from sources outside of what I would normally have access to on my own. Things to help me think differently.

My first step was to take a course in Service Design Thinking through the Exec Education programme at Auckland Uni.

The university has changed a lot over the nearly 20 years since I studied and worked there, but it still feels very familiar to me.

I like it there and I really enjoyed engaging with the Service Design content. I had done a little bit of reading beforehand, but much of it was new to me.

Professionally, those two days have laid the groundwork for a methodology that I can implement over the next couple of big projects I’m hoping to be involved with.

Because the first course was such a buzz, I enrolled in a second one in March. This time the focus was Critical Thinking.

My relationship to critical thinking is different to service design, however. Service design was a new subject area for me personally.

Critical thinking though is something that I’ve been reading about and working on for a long time. At least since my studies at Auckland as an undergraduate.

One of the things that really resonated with me with regards to this course was what provoked it. This was two things according to the course facilitator:

  1. The requirement for you (i.e. me) to change.
  2. To enable you (i.e me) to influence, lead and coach others.

This pretty much sums up where I’m at right now.

I’m aware of the need to foster a kind of radical open-mindedness about what I need to be working on. This applies personally and professionally.

As Bob Dylan almost said: “The times they are a-changin’ and in fact accelerating more rapidly everyday…”

For me, this means I need critical thinking skills more than ever. So the course seemed a good opportunity to brush up on things I thought I knew but also expose myself to some new thinking about thinking.

If I have a criticism, it’s that the course spent a lot of time defining critical thinking. So I’m not going go over that ground here apart from to say there are some really great definitions out there and lots of frameworks that people can tap into.

What I want to get to is some of the key takeaways for me that made the two days really worthwhile.

Here’s one: The connection of critical thinking to the age of disruption in which we live right now. Here’s an illustration:

The largest taxi company has no taxis – UBER.

The largest accommodation company has no real estate – AIRBNB.

The largest telephone company has no infrastructure – SKYPE.

The largest retailer has no inventory – ALIBABA.

The largest movie theatre has no movie theatres – NETFLIX

Eric Schmidt – Executive Chairman

Alphabet Inc

2018

 

If you don’t recognise where the reference is from, Alphabet Inc is the company that owns Google.

Here’s another below. This relates to the need for all of us to become better critical thinkers:

As we enter what has been termed the 4th industrial revolution (a period of rapid and fundamental change brough about by the convergence to the internet and technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics) there are a few skills that are becoming more valuable over time.

The 10 Skills You Need to Thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Future of Jobs Report

World Economic Forum 2016

I looked up this report… Here are there conclusions in summary form, by 2020:

  • Over one third (35%) of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.
  • Advanced robotics, autonomous transport, artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced materials, biotech and genomics will transform the way we live and work.
  • Some jobs will disappear altogether, others will grow and there will be jobs that don’t exist today that will be commonplace.

Based on their compared the top 10 skills needed by global employers in 2015 when the survey was done, to their predictions. Here’s what you get:

In 2015

In 2020

1. Complex problem solving 1. Complex problem solving (no change)
2. Coordinating with others 2. Critical thinking (+2)
3. People management 3. Creativity (+7)
4. Critical thinking 4. People management (-1)
5. Negotiation 5. Coordinating with others (-3)
6. Quality control 6. Emotional intelligence (new)
7. Service orientation 7. Judgement and decision making (+1)
8. Judgement and decision making 8. Service orientation (-1)
9. Active listening 9. Negotiation (-4)
10. Creativity 10. Cognitive flexibility (new)

Keep in mind these are just predictions, but it’s interesting for lots of reasons. One is that the need for critical thinking isn’t going away. It’s just going to increase.

Another thing is that this need for critical thinkers is going to be coupled with a need for the same people to be highly creative and good a solving complex problems.

Things that disappeared off the list for 2020 include quality control, judgement and decision making and active listening.

I don’t think that these are going away anywhere. But some of this will simply be automated and overshadowed by the need for a different skillset.

Also, new to the 2020 list is emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility.

Food for thought: I’m writing this right now in 2018. This means we’re somewhere in the middle of these two lists.

  • How well prepared are you? Not for the next 20 years, but for the next two years?

If you want to brush up on your critical thinking skills there are plenty of great books and online materials.

However, if you’re after something more “hands on” that can set things in motion for you, you’ll find it hard to go past the Critical Thinking in the Age of Disruption short course at the University of Auckland.

 

Four Tools For Building Cool Stuff Online: Or How To Start Thinking Outside The Box


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I went to the Supercharge conference the other day in Wellington. This was a business conference… nothing to do with literacy, numeracy or even education (I know… thank goodness right…?)

Lots of cool stuff. The coolest though was the 40-minute presentation by Justin Wilcox of Customer Development Labs.

At the start of his presentation, he said that in the 40 minutes that he had to speak he was going to do the following:

  1. Come up with a product idea.
  2. Get some customer feedback.
  3. Build a website
  4. Launch the product

Considering that by the time he had said all this he only had about 35 minutes left I think we were all rather skeptical.

But he pulled it off. And these were the tools that he used:

1. Customer Discovery Ninja

Just this on its own was very cool to see in action. The Customer Discovery Ninja is a tool that allows you to connect to potential customers in North America. They sign up because they have time on their hands and get a small reward for participating.

Justin had decided that he wanted to create some kind of Fitness Tracking App, so he had selected various categories and subcategories in the Customer Discovery Ninja. And ended up with something relating to fitness, weight loss, and diet as the key areas.

From there, he opened the phone line and waited for the call. 10 minutes later someone connected and we listened to him interview a guy in New York who was struggling with diet and weight loss issues.

After a few minutes, it was clear that what this guy needed was not a fitness tracking app, but some kind of product that allowed him to track what was working when it came to diet.

So based on the dialogue, Justin switched away from his initial idea to the diet tracking idea. And then he had about 10 minutes left to do everything else.

2. Instapage

And this is mostly what he used: Instapage. Within about 2 minutes, he had built two landing pages for his new product. Instapage allows you to create web pages via drag and drop.

And then he  created an alternate version of the page so that you could do A/B testing. Instapage makes this really easy. I haven’t tried any of this yet, but based on the demo I think it’s all doable.

3. Powtoon

From here, Justin wanted to jazz up the landing page a bit with a short animated video. For this he used Powtoon. Powtoon advertises itself as an alternative to Powerpoint. It;s drag and drop like Powerpoint or Keynote, but you end up with a animation at the end.

So another 2 minutes to create a short animation. And then he imported this into the Instapage landing pages.

4. Celery

Finally, he wanted a button on the landing page to take pre-orders for the product. So he used Celery for this. Celery is very simple. It’s just a button for taking credit card information for pre-orders. Buyers don’t get charged until your product launches.

And then he launched it.

So Justin didn’t actually create the product, but he did something that was in line with the lean startup method: Come up with a minimal viable product idea and then see if anyone would buy it.

From here, he would be able to take pre-orders to fund the development of the actual product.

It was fast and dirty. But it was impressive.

Justin practises what he preaches as well. And you can have a look at his series of books on how to implement this kind of thinking at his website here: The Focus Framework.

This stuff is cool. I wish I knew this when I started in business. Talking to Justin afterwards, he said that everyone wishes the same thing. And that we all come to these conclusions late.

In my field, we tend to be good at what we do. But this is only in terms of our technical skills. We get professional development and training in these areas.

But we are often rubbish at the skills we need to use our technical skills to build and run a sustainable business. We don’t know how to make a buck… to put it in crude terms.

Most of all, I think we need this kind of thinking in education: Customer validation, lean startup methodology, designing a minimum viable product, product testing.

And then quickly pivoting when it’s obvious that something isn’t working. Unfortunately, the regulatory environment (both TEC and NZQA) act in ways that run counter to this kind of thinking.

This is not their fault. But it’s time to start thinking outside the box.

Really thinking outside the box.

NCALNE (Voc): Essential But Not Sufficient


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Skip this post unless you manage foundation tutors or work as a tutor in the adult literacy and numeracy sector.

Here’s the question:

  • Will the NCALNE training help my organisation develop more mature embedded literacy and numeracy practices?

Here’s the answer:

  • Yes. It’s a great start. But it’s the beginning of the journey. Not the end.

The criteria above have been out for a couple of years now. And the NCALNE training and credentials will help your tutors and your organisation move from emergent practices, towards more mature embedded literacy and numeracy practices.

I’ll do a breakdown of this with more detail as to what and how at some stage. But that will be a different post.

Just remember: the NCALNE on its own is not a silver bullet. You need to have full organisations support to get the kind of mature practice that the TEC describe in the table above.

Some further ideas:

  • What about measuring literacy and numeracy gains over a much longer time period.
  • What about measuring changes in what tutors actually do?
  • Think about what milestones tutors have to reach before you start to see improvements in learner outcomes? For example, NCALNE (Voc) plus… stuff: resources, organisational support, ongoing professional development.

The table is here below if you’re looking for a PDF version to share or print.

Hat Tip: Thanks, Damon Whitten for the wording in the heading and some of the ideas here.

Literacy & Numeracy Job Vacancies: Kaiako / Tutor Positions With Te Wananga o Aotearoa and Corrections


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Here’s the first job vacancy announcement for the Job Board from my friends at Te Wananga O Aotearoa.

Seems fitting that it’s International Literacy Day. Perhaps you should celebrate by getting a new job.

Did I say that there are 14 positions available? This is exciting work moving forward in the most challenging teaching environment you can find anywhere.

We still have a handful of places available in our professional development course if you need to get the qualification mentioned below.

Feel free to comment. Pasted in below:

Kaiako/Tutor – Literacy & Numeracy Support Services (14 positions)

Fixed term (until 30 June 2018), full time
Ref: 15DIDG487 – Northern, Central and Lower Northern Regions

He karanga tēnei ki te hunga e kai ngākau nui ana ki te kaupapa o Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Mā te hoe kotahi ka haere kotahi atu

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is working with the Department of Corrections to provide literacy and numeracy support services (LNSS) throughout NZ correctional facilities within the Northern/Central and the Lower Northern Regions at this stage. We invite applications from passionate, professional and energetic individuals for the Kaiako / Tutor positions.

Reporting to the Regional Manager the primary function of the Kaiako role is to deliver Literacy & Numeracy Support Services (LNSS) within the Prison environment to support Tauira / Learner gain in literacy and numeracy life and vocational skills to enable tauira to pathway into further education.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Assessing tauira and interpreting their results using the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults’ Assessment tool (LNAAT);
  • Developing teaching materials such as handouts and study materials as required to support learning;
  • Developing, implementing, evaluating and reporting on learner progression using Tauira Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s);
  • Facilitating learning sessions to increase tauira knowledge, skills and competence;
  • Maintaining records of tauira assessment results, attendance registers, progress and feedback.

Qualifications and experience include:

  • Holding or working towards The National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (NCALNE) (Voc) (Level 5) qualification as a minimum;
  • NZQA unit standard 4098;
  • 2 years’ experience successfully delivering training to at risk or second chance learners is essential;
  • The ability to pass a stringent Police check to enable access to corrections facilities and delivering Literacy and Numeracy training in the prison context; and
  • The ability to understand and converse in te reo Māori at a basic level and an understanding of Māori values, culture and tikanga would be an advantage.

As the successful candidate you will be required to complete the Department of Corrections on site induction in addition to the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa induction process.

To apply for this position you must complete an application form which you will find on the previous web page along with the position description for this role. Send your application along with an updated CV and a cover letter to –

hrdept@twoa.ac.nz or HR Department, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, PO Box 151, Te Awamutu 3840 Enquiries to 0800 777 404

Closes 5:00pm, 21 September 2015

Literacy & Numeracy Jobs Wanted: Setting Up LN Job Board


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Are you looking for staff with literacy and numeracy expertise and credentials?

If you have a literacy and numeracy related job to advertise, I will post it here for free. The same thing applies if you are looking for a contractor or consulting expertise relating to adult literacy and numeracy.

At the moment, I am only interested in jobs offered, not jobs wanted.

This is an experiment… And I’m happy to give it some time and energy thanks to the responses I got the other day (check out the comment section if you’re interested).

For the present time, I’m happy to post any literacy and numeracy related positions, jobs or contract work. I will post positions for literacy and numeracy related work in New Zealand, Australia, for online or remote work, and internationally if I get them.

This includes work where the job is for someone who is a dual professional, e.g. a specialist in some content area other than numeracy and literacy, but who has the skills to embed literacy and numeracy into that content. NCALNE qualified trades trainers and vocational tutors fall into this category.

And of course, I’ll post jobs that are for literacy and numeracy specialists.

Terms and conditions are whatever I feel like at the time and I reserve the right not to publish your company’s job or position if I think it’s dodgy or breaches my sense of ethics or any other rules I make up at any later stage.

Possible ideas for job postings could include any or all of these:

  • Vocational and trade-related training at levels 1 and 2 where literacy and numeracy are embedded.
  • Workplace Literacy (WPL) and numeracy education.
  • Intensive literacy and numeracy (ILN).
  • Adult literacy and numeracy education including professional development and related employment or contract work.
  • Any other foundation learning focused training where literacy and numeracy are required or desired.
  • Any management, support, coordination, or consulting positions where the focus is on supporting tutors or trainers in any of the roles above.

How do I do I get a job posted here?

For the present time, if you want to post a job here you can leave a message in the comment section of this blog post (or any post on my blog), and we’ll work out how to exchange the info.

I’ll probably ask you for the following:

  1. An relevant image that I can upload, e.g. your company logo or branding.
  2. The text for the job advertisement.
  3. An expiry date for the post.
  4. A commitment to answer any questions that people leave on the site regarding the job.
  5. A commitment to come back and comment when or if the position is filled.

I’ll probably just post your text “as is” but I also reserve the right to edit it or make comments as well.

If you think this is useful to someone, particularly someone in management who might not regularly see my blog, please consider sharing this post with them via one of the sharing buttons below. Or just message them with the short link to this page: http://wp.me/p1JmwP-LP

If I get any traction with this I may revisit my idea for some kind of voluntary “opt in” register of LN credentialed professionals who are currently active. Thanks for the support so far.

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE) Job Board: Anyone interested…?


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I’m thinking of adding a Job Board to my blog. Or alternatively, I might set up another site just to deal with this if it got a lot of traffic.

There aren’t that many jobs relating to literacy and numeracy and foundation learning, but then again the pool of talent is quite small as well.

Job postings could potentially include any of the following:

  • Vocational and trade-related training at levels 1 and 2 where literacy and numeracy are embedded.
  • Workplace Literacy (WPL) and numeracy education.
  • Intensive literacy and numeracy (ILN).
  • Adult literacy and numeracy education including professional development and related employment or contract work.
  • Any other foundation learning focused training where literacy and numeracy are required or desired.
  • Any management or coordination roles where the focus is on supporting tutors or trainers in any of the roles above.

Did I miss anything? Anyone interested if I set this up? Please comment and let me know. If I hear nothing, I’ll assume no interest.

Pathways Awarua is for educators: Share this video with someone today…!


Pathways Awarua is a great free resource for learners and educators. Do you know someone that could benefit from improving their reading and maths? There’s a short video here explaining how they can use this free resource.

Are you an educator or do you know someone who is? If your answer is yes, you need to watch the video above. Instructions on how to sign up as an educator are here.

There are more videos on the Pathways Awarua website here.

Gill is the project leader for Pathways Awarua. In this video, especially for tutors, trainers and employers, she explains the aims and purpose of Pathways Awarua and how it can be effectively used within education and training programmes.

For more on our own collaboration with Pathways Awarua on the NCALNE (Voc) professional development you can have a look here.