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I’m delighted to be the opening keynote speaker for EdNet 2016 in Dallas — what is arguably the most important conference for education content providers.

My keynote will take a look at the future of education, and what these folks — textbook publishers and others — must do to align themselves to an era of acceleration!

Here’s my keynote description — I’ll be sure to tweet and blog more about the event.


ednet2016-1

Jim’s client list is a veritable who’s who of global leaders from various Fortune 1000 companies and organizations. Jim has shared the stage at events with President George W. Bush, Carrie Fisher, Terry Bradshaw, Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11, and Newt Gingrich, among many others. 

Sixty-five percent of the children who are in pre-school today will work in a job or career that doesn’t yet exist. Half of what students learn in their first year at college is obsolete or revised—by the time they graduate. Fifty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.

With all of these changes at hand, futurist, trends, and innovation expert Jim Carroll succinctly puts into perspective both the challenges and opportunities that exist in the future for education. He will provide concise insight that links a wide variety of global social, demographic, scientific, technological, business, and other trends to the impact on education. He provides a an understanding on the velocity of change impacting the industry and why we need to rethink the context of “how we educate” in light of the realities that has knowledge growing exponentially, the foundation of knowledge generation forever changed, and global social networks challenging traditional education delivery models.

Carroll challenges audiences to think about innovation in the education sector that takes on bold goals to deal with a reality that has rapid knowledge obsolescence and emergence, the disappearance of existing careers and the emergence of new careers, an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment, and the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia. There’s a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation, the fast emergence of new micro-careers, an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment, and a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions-and an increasing focus on “just-in-time” knowledge.

ednet2016

Sixty five percent of the children who are in pre-school today will work in a job or career that doesn’t yet exist. Half of what students learn in their first year at college is obsolete or revised—by the time they graduate. Fifty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.

With all of these changes at hand, futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll helps some of the world’s leading educational organizations and institutions make sense of this rapidly evolving future. His clients include the American Society of Private Colleges and Universities, the Institute for Credentialing Excellence Conference, the American Society of Testing Professionals, the Pearson CITE National Education Conference, Cengage Learning Corporation, the College Board Colloquium and the National Association of College Stores.

In his keynote presentations, Carroll provides concise insight that links a wide variety of global social, demographic, scientific, technological, business and other trends to the impact on education. He provides a an understanding on the velocity of change impacting the industry, and why we need to rethink the context of “how we teach” in light of the realities that has knowledge growing exponentially, the foundation of knowledge generation forever changed and global social networks challenging traditional education delivery models. The reality is that the exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization—we are in the midst of a fundamental structural organizational and career change, and by 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”

Carroll challenges audiences to think about innovation in the education sector that takes on bold goals to deal with a reality that has rapid knowledge obsolescence and emergence, the disappearance of existing careers and the emergence of new careers, an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment and the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia. There’s a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation, the fast emergence of new micro-careers, an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment and a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions

In other words: much of the education structure that we have in place today doesn’t match the reality of what we really need to do, given the rapid change occurring in the fundamentals of knowledge—which is why innovative thinking in the field of education today is more important than ever before.

"Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?"

“Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?” Think about this kid – he’s going into a world of rapid knowledge obsolescence, the rapid emergence of new careers, and an era of hyper-knowledge. I’ll cover that and more when I keynote the Association of Private Colleges and Universities annual conference in June, 2015.

University Business Magazine has run an article, “Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2015 trends: Presidents and other thought leaders look ahead on cost, technology and learning.”

They called me for my thoughts which I offered up in a concise way:

Trend: When it comes to the future of education, it’s all about “just-in-time knowledge.” Increasingly specialized careers and skills, and accelerating technological change, mean more organizations will need people who can deliver the right skills, at the right time, for the right purpose. Knowledge development and deployment will accelerate to keep up with trend.

The article offers up a good variety of opinions on the future of education; it’s an industry that is ripe for and in the middle of some pretty significant disruption. I’ve done a lot of keynotes in this space, as seen on my Education Trends page.

As I noted in one of the posts there, “In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

I’m thrilled to announce that my efforts to help people understand the massive transformation that is occurring in what is known as “education” continues; I’ve been confirmed as the opening keynote speaker for the 2015 Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities annual conference in Denver in June.

There are more thoughts that can be found in my PDF, “21st Century Skills”, below. Read it here or by clicking on the image.

21stcenturyskills

“Skills are Experiential. Skills are Generational. One of the most important assets that a company can invest in is “experiential capital”—that is, the cumulative knowledge the company has generated through innovation, risk, failure and success. Boost that skills capability and you’ve done something that flows onto the bottom line.”

 

If you want to known why you need to speed up your organization, spend a bit more time staring at an iPhone — or for that matter, any Apple device that you might happen to have in your home or office.

Think about the fact that Apple now masters such a torrid pace of product development that 60% of its’ revenue comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago. Then ask yourself if your organization could do the same thing.

Many of the organizations who bring me in for a CEO level leadership meeting, board retreat or staff event want to focus on a message that revolves around the idea of ‘how can we innovate faster.’ They recognize that increasingly, they too are becoming like Apple, in a world in which they must continually reinvent their products and services to stay relevant to their customers, or simply to keep up with the pacesetters in their industry.

With that context in mind, watch this video from a recent keynote in which I talk about the how innovators align themselves for this world of fast-paced innovation by taking advantage of what I call the “big global idea machine.”

 This is a great story, since it demonstrates how organizations are realizing that we are in a world of ever accelerating scientific velocity, driven by global collaboration, increasing speed with pure and accidental research, the impact of a global ‘tinkering’ culture, and other factors which are speeding up the discovery of new knowledge.

New knowledge drives new innovation — and its’ by learning to tap into new knowledge that you can accelerate your innovation cycles.

That’s where an increasing number of organizations have been engaging me — to help them understand how to speed up their knowledge ingestion capabilities. They know they have to do this because the shelf life of the product or service that they have in the marketplace is continuing to decrease at an often alarming rate. And in some industries, products are obsolete before they get to market. (Just ask HP with its’ new Tablet product, which was abandoned shortly after being brought to market!)

Think about that for a moment: we now find ourselves in a period of time in which innovation and change is occurring so quickly that the very concept of a product lifecycle is beginning to disappear. And just as product lifecycles collapse, so too does the half life of knowledge and the relevance of skills. It’s only by picking up the pace of reinventing that knowledge and skills that you can get ahead — and one of the ways to do that is through the “global idea machine.” Hence, people are focused on open innovation, global innovate idea sourcing, new forms of collaboration, and other methods to generate insight and knowledge faster — to speed up the process of R&D.

Whether I’m dealing with a company driven by rapid change in the  medical, scientific, financial, mechanical or engineering knowledge, one thing is clear: the knowledge that a organization needs to succeed in the future  is becoming infinitely more complex every minute, with a constant, relentless flood of that which is new. And from my perspective, the story of the Apple is becoming increasingly common — as every organization is driven by the same rates of change that are enveloping this global giant.

The bottom line is simple:

  • the ability of obtaining rapid, instant knowledge generation is becoming an urgent necessity in almost every field of endeavor;
  • the ability to quickly digest, understand and assess new knowledge is an increasingly important skill – one that not a lot of organizations have mastered;
  • the ability to reformulate our thinking, assumptions and capabilities to respond to the constant change being thrust upon our organization is of increasing importance

In a nutshell, I coined the phrase “just in time knowledge” over a decade ago to describe the nexus of these realities. In the world of hyper-change represented by the Apple iPhone, it’s clear that we are already there.

Just in time knowledge involves a form of continuous learning that is instant, fast, and urgent. Think about situations where a need for JIT-knowledge is evident:

  • Some estimates suggest that medical knowledge is now doubling every eight years. Rapid advances in new methodologies, technologies, treatments and methods of care evolve at a furious pace. In such a world, medical professionals can’t be expected to know everything there is to know within their particular field of endeavor. The new reality going forward for doctors, nurses and any other professional is that these professionals are increasingly forced to go out and obtain new knowledge, just at the time that they need it. The same holds true for pharmaceutical companies, medical device technology manufacturers, and anyone else remotely involved with health care.
  • Sales based organizations are quickly discovering that furious rates of hyper-innovation in their marketplace require a sales force that is extremely adaptable, agile, flexible — and quick to understand the potential of new markets. If a product has a life of about six months in the marketplace, an organization can’t afford to waste any time in preparing to assault the market. The result is that there is an ever increasing need for sales based organizations gain deep, rapid insight into the sales potential of a new product line, while discarding the knowledge and understanding they have of the old product line.
  • Mechanical engineers continue to see rapid developments in manufacturing methodologies, as well as a need to quickly master the art of managing ever more complex global supply chains. With increasing sophistication and agility in the manufacturing process, every engineer involved in process automation must have the ability to quickly gain insight and intelligence into leading edge issues associated with plant design, construction, automation, assembly, robotics, and all kinds of other complex topics.

The reality going forward? If an organization is to succeed in the future, it must be a master of the ability to succeed with just-in-time-knowledge.

Are you ready for the world of just-in-time knowledge? Here’s what you should do to answer the question:

  • Undertake a knowledge turnover assessment. The first thing you need to do is get an accurate picture of just how quickly the issue of just-in-time knowledge is becoming a critical success factor in your industry. How quickly does new knowledge expire? How quickly is new knowledge generated? And what does this suggest to you in terms of the knowledge replenishment role that you need to master?
  • Consider the risks and opportunities. What happens if your company doesn’t adapt to this fast paced new reality? What’s the downside? Now is a good time to frame the future in terms of bold contrasts, and in terms of the cost of inaction.
  • Envision the future. If your organization excels at just-in-time knowledge, what will they be doing in 2015? 2020? How will their role have changed? What might they be doing day to day on January 15, 2015, compared to what they are doing today? And what you will, as their knowledge mentor, have done to have helped them make the transition?
  • Educate your leadership and staff. I’d hazard a guess that few of your executive team are even thinking about the issue and challenges that come with just-in-time knowledge. If they aren’t aware that it is an issue, they likely aren’t aware that their future opportunity and success will come from mastering this critical new corporate capability. If they don’t know about the challenges that lie ahead, educate them now.
  • Prepare a road map and adjust your strategy. Attaining the objective of having an organization master just in time knowledge promises to be a long, complex and arduous task – but what an opportunity! Start to rethink everything you do in terms of your new just-in-time knowledge role – whether in your board meetings, strategy sessions, or leadership discussions, and you’ll find that everyone is thinking the same thing: we need to start working to prepare for it now.

If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.

I’m working away at preparing for a keynote for an ice-cream and dairy company today. Not that this has anything to do with the topic of the “future of knowledge.”

But going through some old slide decks while preparing, I came across a list I used a year ago for a keynote that summarized my thoughts about the “future of knowledge.”

I’ve written extensively about all of these topics online or speak to them at various keynotes, particularly in the education sector. In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

Putting a little more detail on these trends? A few years ago I addressed a prestigious groups of educators on this theme. Here’s what I covered. All the quotes are verbatim from my keynote.

1. Knowledge is growing exponentially. For example, the rate of discovery based on research into gene variants for common diseases is increasing rapidly: One or two were discovered each year beginning in 2000; thousands were discovered in 2007. “This knowledge reorients the entire medical system, from one where patients are treated once they are sick to one where patients are treated for what they are likely to develop as a result of their genetic makeup.
The volume of medical knowledge is doubling every eight years, and similar changes are occurring in other trades and professions.”

How is the fundamental business model of education challenged by exponential growth? Should it continue to focus on providing a fundamental body of knowledge over four years of higher education and then send graduates out into the world? Or should it be doing more?

2. The foundation of knowledge generation has changed. Academia was once the home of most of the fundamental research that occurred in the world; a majority of new discoveries took place in the world of higher education. “Higher education is no longer the central force in the generation of knowledge There are different terms for what has replaced it: peer-based knowledge, community knowledge or the infinite global idea cycle. For example, in terms of renewable energy and green technologies, some of the research and development is occurring in the world of academia, but it is also occurring in the global idea machine. Ten years ago, knowledge generation was based on peer-review journals (a slow, careful and deliberative process) — but today, backyard tinkerers are plugged into a global network of peers. The impact of this trend is that the rate of scientific discovery speeds up; the new way leads to much faster innovation.”

What is the role of traditional academia in the era of community knowledge? How should the business model change to respond to this new reality?

3. The velocity of knowledge is accelerating. The typical video game makes 60 to 70 percent of its money in the first four or five days after it is released. Everything is focused on maximizing revenue at the beginning. The next generation of televisions, LED televisions, is expected to have only 18 to 24 months to maximize revenue before they are obsolete and replaced by the next generation of televisions. “Ideas can go from concepts to an industry literally overnight. Anyone can put an idea out into the global idea machine where someone else can grab it and build on it. Knowledge is being impacted by velocity.”

All areas are affected; for example, in construction, new methods, new materials and new priorities, such as eco-design, are changing the way buildings are built. In every profession and career, the ability to keep up with new knowledge and to act upon it defines success. College graduates will encounter constant change in their work lives. Can education challenge itself to deploy knowledge faster? Or do we have a fundamental business model that is slow to react in a world that is quickly catching up?

4. Exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization. It increases the volume of knowledge workers are expected to have, and it speeds up the pace of developments that can impact careers. “If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.”

For example, in terms of the trades, there is a huge volume of new technical knowledge to master. There is a niche for manufacturing engineers who understand all the new manufacturing methodologies and thus can help companies compete with offshore manufacturers. There is a need for manufacturing engineers who are “process transformation specialists,” focused on how to streamline an existing manufacturing process. “We are reaching a world in which everything around us is getting plugged into everything else. And as everything is getting plugged in, manufacturing is fundamentally changing.”

Is our future narrow in terms of what we deliver? Is our future wide? Do we focus on narrow niches, wide areas of knowledge, or both?

5. Fundamental structural organizational change is occurring. How we think about careers and jobs is undergoing a substantial change. There are unique ideas as to what constitutes a career. “Evidence of this shift is that baby boomers tend to ask, ‘What do you do for a living?’ while those under age 25 ask, ‘What do you like to do?’ Watch for this. The new generation prefers to get work done in odd hours, using BlackBerrys; they care less about structure. They define their lives not by what they do for a living, but what they like to do. It is a fundamental, significant transformation — and I don’t think we appreciate the depths of what it means in terms of the future of knowledge.

But it’s not just happening with them. There is a prediction that in the U.S., 60 percent of consulting engineers will be freelancers — nomadic workers for hire — making their specialized skills available to organizations on a just-in-time basis. Do you think a lot of Fortune 1000 companies will hire full-time employees after the current economic situation is resolved? No, because they will recognize the cost of employees in terms of health care and other long-term investment. Increasingly, American workers will become nomadic workers for hire. We are witnessing the end of the concept of the organization as we know it. As far back as 1987, an op-ed in the New York Times referenced a ‘world without walls,’ where corporations would hire people with specialized skills on a demand basis. What’s fascinating here is that we are seeing the development of the extreme specialist at the same time that we see the emergence of the extreme knowledge generalist. For example, “hospitalists”: People who understand all the medical specialists and understand how hospitals work; their role is to guide patients through the increasing complexities of the system. This career is expected to grow from the current 12,000 hospitalists to 130,000 by 2010. We have to acknowledge these two key trends — the fast emergence of niche skills deployment and the emergence of masters of generalization — to determine how to educate people to simply understand the high-velocity knowledge niching that is occurring in the world today.

6. By 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”In a world of fast knowledge development, none of us will have the capability to know much of anything at all. The most important skill we will have will be the ability to go out to get the right knowledge for the right purpose at the right time.”

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