Why Learner Centered Education Is The Key To Meaningful School Improvement

Effective educators have long known that one-size-fits all approaches to teaching and learning are insufficient. Through extraordinary effort, they have figured out ways to differentiate and personalize learning for their students. They have done so despite an industrial-era education paradigm that makes it very difficult to do so. Over time, some of their efforts were named, systematized, and scaled.

Today, building on these approaches, some believe (count us among them) that a shift to an entirely new education paradigm is within reach. Harnessing new technologies, aided by advancements in transportation and communication, and required in order to adequately respond to deep and disruptive social, economic, environmental, and political forces, we envision a fundamental shift in how learners experience their education.

Specifically, we envision moving from a school-centric, industrial-age model akin to factories and assembly lines, to a learner-centric, networked-age model characterized by lateral connections and flexibility. In short, we envision learner-centered education. But what does the movement towards learner-centered education mean for the many methods for designing learning and differentiating support to students developed in recent decades?

In this piece, we identify some of the most-broadly adopted methods developed by educators to differentiate support, improve learning design, and meet the individual needs of learners. They include Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive-Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Then, we seek to compare learner-centered education to these approaches, exploring the implications for each. Ultimately, we will make the following arguments:

  1. Learner-centered education is about a paradigm shift, not a specific methodology.
  2. Learner-centered education requires learning design that is flexible and adaptive, similar to or expanding upon the principles of UDL.
  3. Learner-centered education may include specific methodologies for differentiating support (e.g. RtI or PBIS), but it is more likely to extend and/or replace them.
  4. Learner-centered education is additive to and inherently strengthens existing systems-level approaches such as MTSS.
  5. Learner-centered education is fundamentally adaptive and outcomes-focused (rather than technical and process-focused).

All of the approaches we name above recognize the same problem. The current industrial model for teaching and learning was designed based on an assembly line metaphor, expecting students to move through school in the same amount of time with more or less the same amount of support regardless of where they enter, unique challenges they may be facing, or strengths they may bring.

Within this rigid system, educators have sought ways to differentiate support. Over time, some of the techniques educators developed to provide each student the support they need have been built upon to create school and systems-level approaches. Tiered systems of support and intervention such as Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) were developed to introduce achievable levels of differentiated support (e.g. 3 tiers) within the constraints of the industrial paradigm.

  • Response to Intervention is a multi-tier approach and framework for instruction that screens all students for learning needs, and then provides progressive levels of intervention to students on an as needed basis. Interventions scale-up in the level of intensity such as supplemental instruction within the large group (typically Tier 1), targeted small group instruction (Tier 2), and individualized, intensive instruction aimed at skill deficits (Tier 3), though tier definitions and strategies differ by school. In practice, RtI models may call for individualized interventions (problem-solving models) or preselected interventions (standard protocol models). The three essential components are tired instruction and intervention, ongoing student assessment, and family involvement. RtI originated from the goal of proactively identifying and providing special education interventions to students before they fall too far behind.
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is also a three-tier approach and framework but focused on student behavior and social-emotional development. The goal of PBIS is to proactively promote positive behavior. Similar to RtI, PBIS typically scales interventions starting with universal and proactive routines and support provided to the full classroom or school (Tier 1), then targeted behavior support (Tier 2), and lastly individualized, intensive support (Tier 3).

Recent innovations with tiered systems of support by organizations such as Turnaround for Children expand these models to include an understanding of trauma and adversity as well as taking into account how to adjust for hybrid and remote learning options.

These systems were developed based on a recognition that all students are capable of reaching similar outcomes, but require different amounts of time and support to get there. They were helpful steps towards providing each student with different amounts of time, support, and attention based on their needs. They have positively impacted tens of thousands of students in achieving desired standards however this often comes at the cost of removing students from their peers and narrowing the curriculum and will continue in such a manner as long as the traditional paradigm exists.

At the same time that these methodologies proliferated for differentiating and targeting support by pulling students out, complementary methodologies were developed for designing learning in a way that was flexible enough to meet the needs of learners with different motivations, interests, (dis)abilities, and needs. One example is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an approach and framework for designing instruction and learning environments that are accessible to all students.

UDL emphasizes providing flexibility in how students access content (e.g., visual, audio, hands-on) engage with it, and demonstrate knowledge or mastery. The goal is to remove barriers to learning. UDL is rooted in the premise that while accommodations and flexibility are necessary to ensure learning accessibility for some individuals, they in fact benefit all individuals (sometimes in unforeseen ways) and therefore should always be in play.

More recently, attempts have been made to create overarching systems that build on and integrate these into an overall coherent framework for systems change. One example that has gained widespread interest and adoption is Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). MTSS is a framework for meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students. It builds upon and may include data-driven, tiered intervention strategies such as RtI and PBIS as part of the approach.

However whereas RtI primarily focuses on academic learning and PBIS focuses on behavior and social/emotional development, MTSS aims to bring a more comprehensive lens and integrated approach to meeting the needs of learners. Moreover, MTSS is often described as a system-level approach with implications for aligned leadership, resource allocation, professional development and more.

This now brings us to the term that is at the center of our inquiry: learner-centered education. Like MTSS, learner-centered education has been growing in popularity. Learner-centered attempts to define an alternative to the industrial-era education model itself. The graphic below, borrowed from Education Reimagined, makes this clear.

Learner-centered education is about a paradigm shift, not a specific intervention methodology. It pushes education leaders to critically consider the purpose of school and to re-envision how the complete education ecosystem prepares students for the future. Learner-centered education demands that we move away from the traditional industrial model towards a transformative one that designs learning in response to the diverse needs of students.

This future-oriented paradigm requires a new set of student outcomes and aligned success metrics as part of its vision, whereas most of the above can function within the traditional set of outcome metrics. Lastly, learner-centered education goes beyond schools as the unit of change. Instead, it looks at the needs and goals of the individual learner and macroscopically at opportunities for learning within an education ecosystem.

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Source: Why Learner-Centered Education is the Key to Meaningful School Improvement | Getting Smart

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Together While Apart: Classroom Communication

By their very nature, pandemics shake the systems of society, and that is certainly true for the global educational system right now. Institutions have had to adjust their entire structures, and for many educators, that has meant being thrust into remote learning environments, often without time to study or plan for the change. Until now, many educators have rightfully spent the bulk of their energies on meeting students’ most urgent needs, checking on physical and mental well-being first. Now, though, we find ourselves beginning to plan and conduct actual instruction, and the realities of remote learning bring new challenges. However, it may also bring opportunities to innovate, and, in the way of teachers across time, chances to flex our problem-solving muscles.

Our hope is that the Turnitin team can support you in ensuring student needs are met. This post, the first of three in our Together While Apart series, is part of our effort to help, but that’s not all that we’re doing. We have officially launched Turnitin’s Remote Learning Resources page and populated it with all the best materials, including past publications and a stockpile of brand new content specifically designed to meet the challenges of remote learning.

Remote learning is a broad term encompassing many different approaches. Often, these approaches fall into two brackets – synchronous or asynchronous. When classes meet at specific times in much the same way that they would in person, except that some form of technology is connecting everyone, that is known as synchronous learning. Because of the emergency nature of COVID-19, many institutions are finding themselves more likely to pursue asynchronous learning. In asynchronous learning, collective meetings are not always happening in real-time, and students often independently access content, assignments, and assessments virtually (or even through paper formats, in some places) on widely varying schedules.

Of the many shifts in instructional delivery, one of the most dramatic will be the methods by which educators communicate with their students. The challenges there will impact nearly every aspect of asynchronous instruction, so let’s begin there.

Instructor Challenge: How will I help my students combat a feeling of having limited live access to personalized support?

Strategies:

  1. Set up specific shared times for discussions, question and answer, etc. so that students CAN schedule around the time and check-in if they need to. Make sure to set these times up in advance to increase the possibility that students will be able to participate. For students who can’t join in real-time, record those sessions and post them so that students won’t be isolated or miss out on critical conversations. Additionally, this will build in opportunities for peer interaction and support, which can be critical to the learning process and may help feelings of isolation, loneliness, and even depression that can occur when working remotely. This is a common phenomenon for people working remotely and is likely to present a similar problem for some students.
  2. Offer 1:1 time slots on the calendar for students in the event that they need more support. In addition to the shared times for interaction, many students will want or need some individual interaction with instructors. It’s important to give them time and space to ask questions, seek out individualized clarification and support, and to simply connect.

Instructor Challenge: How will I ensure that my students always know WHEN learning activities are occurring and WHERE to find the information they need?

Strategies:

  1. Set up a centralized communication hub with ALL relevant information. Students can link out to the various tools and materials you’ll use, but they will have this as a home base of sorts.
  2. Establish a calendar! Set up a shared calendar where you list all relevant dates and can allow students to use it to schedule their own learning activities and time with you. Pro Tip: Feedback Studio users can use the Class Calendar tool to do this inside the system for ease of access to the information. 
  3. Consistent communication methods – pick the right tool for a task and then stick to it. Try making a list of all the different kinds of communication tasks involved in your instruction, and then match each to a communication TOOL that will best fit the purpose. For example, giving an overview of an assignment is different than providing ongoing feedback throughout an assignment. Which is the best tool for each? You need something that is well suited to longer, more comprehensive sets of information for the overview, but you need something fast and tied to specific student work for the second. Be thoughtful about the tools you select. Once you match each task with a particular tool, make sure you document that and share it with your students. Keep it in a location where students can easily access it over time too.

Once you select a tool, use it consistently! For example, try to avoid announcing some assignments through email and then some on a discussion board and still others on Twitter. Using other communication methods as back-ups are fine, but always utilize the one established upfront so there isn’t any confusion about where to access information.

Instructor Challenge: Since I am not communicating in person with my students, how will I avoid misalignment or misunderstandings about expectations, processes, or products?

Strategies:

  1. Anticipate questions or misunderstandings and address them upfront. It might help to picture a particular student and ask what questions they might have. By answering them in advance, you are more likely to head off any confusion and save both yourself and your students wasted time and effort. Additionally, you will ensure that every student has the right information whether they ask for it or not.
  2. Over-communicate – If you think your students already know your expectations, spell them out anyway. Sometimes, we make assumptions about how students think, but students surprise us. Losing physical proximity can complicate this even more. Outside the physical environment of a classroom, students sometimes fall back into the patterns of their new space. “I’m learning from my kitchen table, where I feel relaxed and easy-going.” Sometimes, those changes infect their thinking about work and expectations in unproductive ways. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to reassert those expectations and processes so that they carry over into students’ work.
  3. Document – To the greatest extent possible, write down and/or record–audio or video, and with captions, if available–all information so that students can access it repeatedly. This might seem incredibly time-consuming, but the upfront investment will save time later as you’ll be able to refer students back to it anytime you need to, and you’ll find that you are able to re-use it. Since students won’t be accessing instructions or content at the same time, recording it in writing or through another medium means that they can read or hear it from anywhere, any time, and as MANY times as they need to. Just think… this might actually mean that you don’t have to answer the same question 10 times! Additionally, it means that students can repeat information without any fear of judgment from their teacher or their peers, and you will have done so in a way that encourages them to seek out critical information they need rather than passively waiting.
  4. Provide feedback about expectations and processes, not only products. Students will make mistakes. In many cases, asynchronous learning is new to them too. Include opportunities to practice new skills within the tools they use and the processes involved, and make sure you give them feedback. Doing so has the added bonus of building their sense of agency and taking ownership of their own learning. Pro Tip: Be honest about your mistakes and what you have learned from this process so that students understand that learning is messy and requires us all to be reflective.

Students and teachers alike are overwhelmed by all that has changed in such a short time. That means that the “soft skills” that go into effective educational practices are perhaps more essential than ever. At its most fundamental level, education is built on relationships and communication.

 

Decolonising Study Skills & The Role of Learning Development

At Newcastle this year, we’ve been beyond fortunate to have an incredible Student Union exec, a team of formidable and inspiring Sabs who have not only worked their hardest to support their fellow students through what they couldn’t have known would be one of the hardest academic years ever due to the pandemic, but who have also somewhere found the reserves of energy to engage with another critical and timely issue, decolonizing the curriculum. Their Decolonise NCL campaign has to date included a series of online events attracting a seriously impressive array of speakers, as well as pulling together resources and pushing the University to pledge a commitment to decolonisation and anti-racist work at all levels. It’s simply awe-inspiring.

Their work has got me thinking about the place of decolonisation in what’s commonly called ‘study skills’, and how it impacts on the role of Learning Developers. I wrote a while ago about coming to understand the related and tricky value of emancipatory practice, a related concept, which I feel is the defining Learning Development value, but even at the time felt I was only just beginning to get a handle on it. Since then, my Leeds colleague Sunny Dhillon has written eloquently both about his ambivalent feelings about emancipation in LD as well as questioning whether universities can feasibly decolonise themselves. Working on projects around student induction this year, at the time of the Black Lives Matter protests, I’ve also examined ways in which an uncritical approach to inducting students to our academic community could be oppressive. The Student Union campaign has prompted me to further this thinking and tie these disparate threads together in the context of my own profession.

To this end, I offered to contribute a session to their programme of Decol NCL events, NOT because I have any expertise in this area, but because I wanted to pick up the challenge they had thrown down and explore how this ‘well-meaning middle class white woman’ might begin doing her own anti-racist work within her professional context. I’ve since taken this discussion to a meeting of my own profession of Learning Developers in Scotland (ScotHELD). This post draws together some of the questions and avenues I explored in those sessions. Our NUSU sabs talk about brave spaces as well as safe spaces, about the need to let people take risks to step outside their comfort zone, and I’d like to take that idea up and step out.

“…universities remain white middle-class spaces. They require students to adopt particular ways of being and doing – those which conform to middle-class practices that define success in higher education – ways of writing, speaking and the use of academic language. Universities measure a particular type of success that is possessed by those from white middle-class backgrounds.”

(Bhopal, 2018)

As I’ve written before, my role is often understood as teaching students to write ‘properly’. Implicitly, that means as white, middle class and male. I’d extend this understanding of ‘academic literacy’ also beyond just academic writing to other practices covered by a Learning Developer, from seminar participation to independent study, reading to critical thinking, time management to revision, which are equally situated in socio-cultural expectations of what it means to be a “good” student – the default norm being a white, middle class, male student with all the resources, privilege, cultural capital and opportunities they possess.

“Academic practices are usually presented as neutral, decontextualised sets of technical skills and literacy that students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are seen to lack”

(Lillis, 2001). 

These practices are not neutral, and those of us who teach them must interrogate what it is that we are doing, and whether it is reinforcing a colonial, oppressive education system rooted in white, middle class, western norms of how we should think, act and communicate at university, thereby positioning Black, Asian, working class etc students in terms of deficits to be remediated. While it may be true as Bourdieu says that ‘academic English is […] no one’s mother tongue’, it’s a language closely related to my own RP middle class English, and one I can learn with greater ease and inhabit more comfortably without challenge to my identity and sense of belonging.

“Through taken- for-granted academic practices, constructions of difference are formed, often in problematic ways. The tendency is to project a pathologist gaze on racialist bodies that have historically been constructed as a problem, and as suffering from a range of deficit disorders (e.g. lack of aspiration, lack of motivation, lack of confidence and so on’)”

(Burke, 2015).

What I’ve learned from the speakers at NUSU’s events so far: Decolonisation is not synonymous with other concepts such as diversity, inclusion, equality or widening participation, laudable as those initiatives may be. They imply an extension of the status quo, an affirmation of it, additive rather than transformational. Decolonisation, while related to these concepts, demands a fundamental change, a dismantling, decentring, disruption, a relinquishing, restitution, restoration. It has a revolutionary quality. “Decolonisation”, we are told, “is not a metaphor” (Tuck and Yang, 2012). Moreover, decolonisation cannot be achieved simply through inclusion or widening participation measures, as the structures and processes of an oppressive system are ill suited to fundamentally dismantling its underlying issues: “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Lorde, 18984). To decolonise the HE curriculum means

an underlying transformation from a culture of denial and exclusion to a consideration of different traditions of knowledge. To diversify our curriculum is to challenge power relations and call for deeper thinking about the content of our courses and how we teach them.

James Muldoon

How does this relate to Learning Development? Well, by extension, to decolonise the curriculum means not only what we teach and how, but also how we expect students to learn. Lea and Street’s tripartite framework of approaches to the teaching of academic writing offers us a lens to examine our practice. The second level, the academic socialisation model, maps onto ideas of inclusion and widening participation: “ [it] is concerned with students’ acculturation into disciplinary and subject-based discourses and genres. Students acquire the ways of talking, writing, thinking, and using literacy that typified members of a disciplinary or subject area community” (Lea and Street, 2006). These ways also typify the ideal or assumed white, middle class, male member of that community, for whom that system was created and in whose interests it operates. This is Academic Literacy as The Thing That We LDers Teach to students.

A Learning Developer whose primary guiding model is an academic socialisation approach is upholding this status quo. No matter how welcoming the gatekeeper, no matter how wide we throw open those doors and how helpful we are in orientating those we admit within the walls, we are still insisting that students enter on the terms of a white, middle class academy. We are also closing our ears to our students’ experiences; what is just a surface feature and linguistic or practice quirk to us is a troubling challenge to their identity or weighty burden to enact, for some students.

Colonialism assimilates or destroys; this is Learning Development as colonial assimilation. Become like us, or fail. We don’t want the bits of you that don’t conform. But not only does a predominantly academic socialisation approach assume that “once students have learned and understood the ground rules of a particular academic discourse, they are able to reproduce it unproblematically”, it also assumes that those ground rules are unproblematic.

‘Inclusion tends to be more about fitting into the dominant culture than about interrogating that culture for the ways that it is complicit in the social and cultural reproduction of exclusion, misrecognition and inequality.’  

(Burke, 2015)

The third model identified by Lea and Street maps more closely onto the decolonisation agenda. It not only notes that academic writing is not homogeneous but a multiplicity of practices or meanings, but also acknowledges that these meanings are bound up with epistemology and identity, that they consist of socio-cultural practices situated within hierarchies of power and authority and are therefore contested on unequal terms. I’d like to raise an observation I’ve frequently made when listening to or reading accounts of Academic Literacies as a model, both in Learning Development and EAP. Very often, these accounts focus on one implication of Academic Literacies, that academic writing is not generic or monolithic and therefore our work needs to differentiate multiple discipline-specific discourses and tailor provision, at the expense of the other: that these discourses are situated in hierarchies of power and authority. That critical, radical observation is right there in the model, and yet is frequently downplayed or overlooked.

Similarly, it positions study skills not as surface tools to be adopted at will, but fundamentally entwined with identity, and therefore belonging. Education is supposed to change you, but not to the extent that you can only learn if you become someone else entirely, or fragment your identity, your self. And if Learning Development’s defining value is its emancipatory practice, then it is these more critical implications that we need to foreground, or what we have is a tailored academic socialisation model (Ivanic’s 2004 four tier model acknowledges this better perhaps than Lea and Street’s, separating out writing as a contextualised event from writing as a sociocultural and political practice).

The principal function of student writing is increasingly that of gatekeeping.

(Lillis, 2001)

Due to the nature of our work, Learning Developers have a special relevance to the project of decolonisation in Higher Education. Decolonisation is often spoken of in terms of adding a more diverse range of authors to a reading list, or including broader topics in a module, mostly applying to Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Put a few Black authors on the English Literature curriculum, hire a couple of BAME lecturers and be done with it. But decolonisation applies to the whole system of how we teach, the way we expect students to learn, and how we recognise and assess that learning, a system which, if it’s not designed for you, makes everything harder, if it doesn’t exclude you outright. It forces you to learn on someone else’s terms, and ‘Study Skills’, the core remit of Learning Development, cross-cuts and underpins all aspects of the curriculum at every level, in every discipline.

It’s our role to not only to help students better understand their curriculum, institution and discipline better, but also to negotiate it successfully. Negotiate – it’s a wonderful word in this context, meaning both to find your way through obstacles, but also to bring about a desired outcome through discussion between parties. Negotiation demands dialogue and change on both sides to progress. I’m not sure decolonisation is something Learning Developers can really choose to disengage from or remain neutral on.

How should we respond to decolonisation? Do we need to decolonise study skills? I think it’s clear that we must, and that Learning Development has a key role to play in this. I’ll look at how we might do that in my next post…

By: RattusScholasticus Head of Writing Development Service and Learning Developer at Newcastle University. View all posts by RattusScholasticus

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A Manifesto for Learning DevelopERs

SOAS University of London

Dr. Meera Sabaratnam and SOAS students talk about the university’s efforts to decolonize the curriculum and provide a more global education. Our blog: https://www.soas.ac.uk/blogs/study/de…​ Study at SOAS: https://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/

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This 31-Year-Old’s Company Rocketed To A $1 Billion Valuation Helping Workers Get Degrees

Its 9 a.m. two days before Thanksgiving, and Walmart executives are dragging their suitcases around a windowless Arkansas office building in search of a large conference room. They settle on an interior lunchroom with dull gray carpet, claiming one side of a long table in the corner and gesturing for their guests to sit opposite them.

Ellie Bertani, Walmart’s director of workforce strategy, says she’s struggling to find qualified people to staff the company’s expanding network of 5,000 pharmacies and 3,400 vision centers. Her fellow Walmart execs are silent, but Rachel Romer Carlson, 31, cofounder and CEO of Guild Education, sees her opening. Without hesitation she says her team can work with Walmart and find a solution fast. “You guys and us,” she says, “let’s do it!”

Carlson flew to Bentonville from Guild’s Denver headquarters the day before. Dressed in a sensible navy blazer and black slacks, she’s hardly bothered with makeup. Since 7:30 that morning she’s been huddling with teams of Walmart brass, going over options to train workers for those new jobs. They range from a one-year pharmacy technician certificate program offered by a for-profit online outfit called Penn Foster to an online bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration at nonprofit Southern New Hampshire University.

Carlson’s groundbreaking idea when she launched Guild four years ago: help companies offer education benefits that employees will actually use. Many big employers will pay for their workers to go to school (it’s a tax break), but hardly any workers take advantage of the opportunity. Applying and signing up for courses can be cumbersome, and in most instances employees have to front the tuition and wait to be reimbursed.

Meanwhile, many colleges are desperate for students because they have small—or nonexistent—endowments and are financially dependent on tuition. Many nonselective online programs spend more than $3,000 to attract each new student. Carlson charges schools a finder’s fee (she won’t say how much) for the students she delivers from her corporate partners.

So far Guild has signed up more than 20 companies, including Disney and Taco Bell. Guild gets paid only if students complete their coursework, so a full 150 of the company’s 415 staffers serve as coaches who help employees apply to degree programs and plan how to balance their studies with work and family.

When a company like Walmart requests a customized training course, Guild solicits proposals from as many as 100 education providers (nearly all of them online) and recommends the programs it deems best. It also negotiates tuition discounts and facilitates direct payments between employers and schools, a big plus for workers who would otherwise have to wait months to be reimbursed.

Carlson, an alumna of the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and a judge on the 2020 list, says she has already channeled more than $100 million in tuition benefits to workers this year alone. Forbes estimates 2019 revenue will top $50 million, and Guild investor Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners predicts 2020 revenue of more than $100 million.

In mid-November Carlson closed her fifth round of financing, led by General Catalyst, bringing her total money raised to $228 million at a $1 billion valuation. In the sleepy, well-intentioned world of edtech, Guild is one of only a few startups whose values have soared, says Daniel Pianko, a New York-based edtech investor with no stake in the company.

“I can see a path for Guild to be a $100 billion company,” says Paul Freedman, CEO of San Francisco venture firm Entangled Group, who has known Carlson since she was in business school and was one of Guild’s earliest ­investors.

When asked to detail Guild’s inner workings, like its strategy for soliciting custom courses, Carlson eschews specifics and delivers what sounds like a political stump speech: “The economy’s moving so fast,” she says. “We can’t let higher education dictate the skills and competencies that we need five to ten years from now.”

There’s a reason she talks this way. Her grandfather Roy Romer was a three-term (1987–1999) Democratic governor of Colorado before spending six years as superintendent of Los Angeles’ public schools. Carlson started riding along on his campaign bus when she was 6 years old; occasionally she would even speak at his rallies. When her father, Chris Romer, a former Colorado state senator, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Denver in 2011, she served as his finance director. (“The loss was devastating,” she says.)

                            

Along with politics, the Romers were committed to increasing access to education, especially for working adults. Roy Romer helped start Salt Lake City-based Western Governors University, a pioneer in online adult education. In the wake of Chris Romer’s mayoral bid, in 2011, he cofounded American Honors, a for-profit company that offered honors courses at community colleges (the company struggled, and the brand is now owned by Wellspring International, a student recruitment firm).

After graduating from Stanford undergrad and working briefly in the Obama White House, Carlson launched her first venture, Student Blueprint, while getting her M.B.A. (also at Stanford) in 2014. Student Blueprint sought to use technology to match community college students with jobs.

It was a noble idea, but she decided to finish school and sold the software she had developed to Paul Freedman’s Entangled Group in 2014 for a negligible sum. In 2015, after she wrapped up her M.B.A., she pitched the idea for Guild to one of her professors, Michael Dearing, and to seed investor Aileen Lee, of Cowboy Ventures, raising $2 million.

                          

After relocating to her home turf in Denver, she landed her first major corporate partner in the summer of 2016 when she sent a LinkedIn message to a Chipotle benefits manager that played up the fast-food chain’s “strong Denver roots and social mission.”

With help from Guild, Chipotle’s $12-an-hour burrito rollers are now pursuing online bachelor’s degrees from Bellevue University in Nebraska or taking computer security courses at Wilmington University in Delaware. In October 2019, Carlson persuaded Chipotle to lift its cap on tuition benefits above the $5,250 the IRS allows companies to write off.

Guild’s biggest competitor is a division of ­Watertown, Massachusetts-based ­publicly traded daycare provider Bright Horizons, which has offered tuition benefit services since 2009. It works with 210 companies including Home Depot and Goldman Sachs. Under Bright Horizons’ system, the companies—not the colleges—pay. Much of the genius of Guild’s business model is that it correctly aligns incentives: The colleges are the most ­financially motivated party, so they foot the bill. ­Another ­competitor, Los Angeles-based InStride, launched in 2019 with funding from Arizona State University, and like Bright Horizons it charges the corporations.

“I see our competition as the status quo,” Carlson says. “Classically, employers have offered tuition-reimbursement programs, but no one is using those programs.”

The nonprofit Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation has done five case studies showing returns on investment as high as 140% for companies that offer tuition-reimbursement programs. “We saw powerful impacts on retention,” says Lumina’s strategy director, Haley Glover.

“Walmart and Amazon are in a death struggle,” proclaims Joseph Fuller, a professor at Harvard Business School. “If a Walmart worker can say, ‘I got an education that allowed me to get promoted,’ they’re going to be someone who speaks generously about Walmart and they are more likely be a Walmart shopper.”

Like a good politician, Carlson is working to please everyone. “We found a win-win,” she says, “where we can help companies align their objectives with helping their employees achieve their goals.”

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice and success secrets.

As an associate editor at Forbes, I cover young entrepreneurs and edit the 30 Under 30 lists. I’m particularly interested in companies finding unique ways to make our world more sustainable. I previously wrote for The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town, South Africa. I graduated from Northwestern University where I studied Journalism, Environmental Policy and Political Science. Follow me on Twitter @AlexandraNWil.

Source: Class Act: This 31-Year-Old’s Company Rocketed To A $1 Billion Valuation Helping Workers Get Degrees

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Bertani says Walmart is using technology to increase productivity and help workers focus on customer service.

College Is No Longer The Path To Success: New Study Shows That College And High School Graduates Earn About The Same

An alarming—yet illuminating—new study conducted by Third Way, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, concludes that college graduates only earn the equivalent salary of high graduates. Contrary to popular opinion, which contends that the path to success is rooted in attaining a college education, the frightening findings indicate that half of U.S. colleges in 2018 churned out a majority of graduates that earned under $28,000 a year.

In past generations, primarily the upper-class, wealthy elites attended universities. After World War II and the passing of the G.I. bill, soldiers returning from the battlefields were offered financial assistance to attend college—and they did so in large numbers. Slowly over time, in the ensuing decades, enrolling into college became almost commonplace for the average American. Today, there is great pressure put upon high school students to attend universities—even if they lack the aptitude or interest. Sometimes the pressure exerted on kids to attend top-tier institutions is intense. This was clearly exemplified by the recent college admittance scandal, in which the rich and famous parents allegedly bribed school officials to get their children into ivy league and top-tier universities.

Along with the general acceptance of college for everyone, the tuition has grown beyond belief. We are now making 17 and 18-year-old kids take on loans in the neighborhood of up to—and in excess of—$200,000. These same young adults are prohibited from voting, smoking and other things, which require you to be considered an adult and mature enough to render an important decision. How many adults do you know of that you’d feel comfortable loaning $200,000 to and feeling confident that they’ll use it wisely? Would you allow the recipient of the loan to stay up late on weeknights attending parties, drinking and smoking pot? Would you permit the person to invest the funds in a venture that was fun, interesting or about a social cause, but lacked any ability to earn a profit or become a sustainable business? Of course not! However, this is the very thing we are doing to our children.

Today In: Leadership

Once in college, there is a proliferation of courses and majors in subject matters that may be interesting, but don’t lend themselves to a real job—paying a reasonable living with the opportunity to advance. These kids graduate with a degree that is not marketable. On top of that, they are saddled with an enormous student debt that may be impossible to ever pay back.

Data from the federal government indicates that many students will leave their academic careers with employment opportunities and compensation that fall far short of what they were led to believe would happen. To compound the problem, when the new graduates realize the slim prospects of opportunities available, they’re encouraged to pursue even more expensive education by signing up for graduate school or a law degree. Then, on top of their already-big burden of loans, they’ll pile up even more potentially ruinous debt.

The study states what should be obvious to most rational people—it’s imperative that prospective students—and their parents—only consider institutions that serve them well by being able to make a living. College rankings are important. It’s great to live at a school with a beautiful campus. Parents love to brag about the name of the school that their children attend. We need to filter out the unessential trappings and look for rankings that focus on the factors that truly benefit students, such as how likely they are to pay back their loans and whether or not they can get a well-paying job with their major—not on things like prestige and exclusivity.

Working as a tradesperson or in a blue-collar type of job was once seen as acceptable and a means toward becoming middle class. Somewhere along the way, as a culture, we started to look down upon those who chose to be a carpenter, electrician, plumber or related function. This further placed pressure on parents to guide their children away from these roles and toward going to college, even if they weren’t emotionally or mentally ready—or even interested. The irony is that blue-collar workers earn a handsome living. Think of how hard it is to get a person to do some work on your home. Many times, a tradesperson starts out as a heating, air conditioning and HVAC apprentice and, 10 years later, he has a thriving business, managing a fleet of trucks and servicing a substantial clientele that pays handsomely for their services.

The study is a wake-up call to take a cold, hard look at what we are doing to our children. According to the data from the study, we are misleading them with false hopes and resigning them to low-paying jobs and a not-so-bright future.

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I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am passionate about advocating for job seekers. In doing so, I have founded a start-up company, WeCruitr, where our mission is to make the job search more humane and enjoyable. As a proponent of career growth, I am excited to share my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and entertaining manner. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real-world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.

Source: College Is No Longer The Path To Success: New Study Shows That College And High School Graduates Earn About The Same

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Get Your Free Elon Musk Book with Amazon Audible 30-day Trial: https://amzn.to/2VaMsGs Here are some successful people explaining why a college degree is useless and worthless in some occasions. Not everyone needs to go to college to be successful because there are more than just one path to success. Many entrepreneurs find that college is not very beneficial when it comes to teaching people how to build a business. The education system is built mostly to teach people how to be workers and not build businesses. With this said, everyone’s situation is different and people need to consider what is beneficial for them. Music Credit: The Bright Morning Star By Borrtex All credit goes to respective owners. Only for educational purposes.
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