Professional educations are in worse shape than the degree programs in technical disciplines or the humanities. By "professional" I have in mind every imaginable profession: education, journalism, film/theater, design, marketing, management, economics, industry, media, airlines, medicine, law, politics, consulting, community activism, etc.
Professionals appear to be the most tainted by how they were taught obscuring what they were taught. Perhaps because professors are professionals, the students assimilate the business model, worldview and practices of their instructors and institutions. Professionals gravitate toward large, bureaucratic organizations affiliated with profitable private practices. The beneficiaries of those professional services are finding them to be less accessible, responsive and flexible while becoming more expensive, specialized and useless.
In contemplating how to disrupt this portion of higher ed, I've come to a radical conclusion: professional education ought to be removed entirely from the dominion of higher ed. The cultivation of next-generation professionals needs to return to the apprenticeship model of medieval guilds with the added feature of online communities. Rather than continue to educate apprentices with expertise delivered through instruction, what works is entirely hands-on. Professionals need to learn by practicing what they've seen practiced, realized needs to be practiced and discovered needs more practice to get it right. Quality preparation for professional practice will emerge from all that practice, not from formal instruction. This suggests several facets to the replacement support system for apprenticeship.
- Apprenticeships will be held to the new standard of "brain rules" which maintains optimum conditions for cognitive functionality. Excessive stress, passivity, and consistency will be ruled out.
- Too much information will be avoided by numerous timeouts to reflect, assimilate and tie-in the new ideas. The latest input will be tried out until it makes sense, feels right and gets beyond the idea stage.
- Learning will be about becoming effective in situations. Getting a read on the circumstances will become as important as professional conduct. Sensitivity to complexity, variations, and nuances will prove to be as valuable as consummate execution of skill-sets in order to have intended effects on those being served.
- Skills for researching field conditions will take precedence over empirical research of controlled conditions. Hypotheses will get formulated from pattern recognition acumen applied to messy situations, ill formed problems and changing complications.
- Online support can be provided for every conceivable question, confusion and setback by crowdsourcing the responses. The next generation of web usage can "lend a hand" to these professionals in apprenticeship who ask for help in the context of their immediate uses for the response.
- This explosion of free-style learning will need a new kind of assessment to cope with so much variability in what's been practiced, considered and understood. Rather than standardized tests of "content that's been covered in class" , commercial testing facilities for apprentices will be modeled on product and personnel testing technologies.
- What gets learned hands-on will incorporate an implicit business model for providing value to others. The skills will be understood in the context of making a difference in other lives. The strategy for monetizing the skill-set will be inherent in how it was learned and fine tuned to be effective.
These kinds of innovations are inconceivable to incumbent institutions. This apprenticeship model appears to require "walking on water" or "letting go for it to happen". The opportunity space is off radar, inconceivable and repulsive. The only way for it to come about is start-ups with "good enough" approaches to gain a foothold