Academicians stick to their own kind of proof of value when assessing employment candidates. They want to see the grades earned by the people they are going to grade and give the job of grading others. Violent gangs evaluate membership candidates by proof that they have already murdered someone. Any closed system can only use its own rules to rule out, rule on and overrule issues before them. A closed system cannot question or change its own rules without assuming that would destroy the foundation of the institution.
Academic credentials appear ripe for disruption to me. They are consistently poor predictors of job performance, other than the "jobs" of post graduate studies and PhD candidacies. I previously explored expectation that credentials will get disrupted in my much-read post: Goodbye college diplomas. I've pondered how new credentials will get transformed in each of the four migrations away from the institutional morass. Here's a synopsis of what I'm foreseeing:
- The problems getting solved by students in disruptive residential college experiences would best be served by individual "personnel files". These could provide a combination of portfolios and individual recognition. Letters of recommendation from faculty members and athletic coaches would be added routinely. Likewise, student leaders in charge of activities could add notes of accommodation and qualification. These would serve as valuable credentials for seeking administrative, sales, or community outreach positions where the work processes will get learned on the job. The determination qualifications would be revealed by the portfolio and letters, rather than course lists and grades or a diploma.
- Budding professionals in varied apprenticeships need certificates to verify individual competencies. Much like the tests given for operating particular equipment or utilizing specialized software programs, professionals need to qualified one skill-set at a time. Exams can get developed to test how well they diagnose a complex situation, respond to conflicting demands, and nurture ongoing relationships. Granulizing these credentials also serves the likely scenarios of frequent career changes or free lance work in varied capacities.
- Instigators of the next economy will need proof of having made a significant difference in individual lives. There could a website where beneficiaries of their "community service" could log in and post comments, photos, podcasts and videos of the work accomplished. The free ranging students could read/ watch/ listen to this "user generated content" from the people they have been caring for, helping out and assisting change their lives. Other students could check out the public portion to know about someone they are working with, get inspirations for how to make more of a difference, and gain insights on how to have more positive effects on other people.
- Students pursuing scientific and technological disciplines can continue to benefit from transcripts and diplomas. Their studies are so complex that changing careers is unlikely. Their eventual work in research labs, product development or academia can be estimated in advance by their school work. This portion of higher ed can continue as is, like analog wall clocks and AM radios.
As it comes time for this massive disruption to occur, the value of college educations will decline in the minds of the students and their parents. The only reason to go to college will be to get a diploma. Their commitment to school work will decline and cheating will increase. The use of college to make friends and party will overtake the ambition to get enduring value from the coursework, faculty and academic rigors. The market dis-served by institutions of higher ed will be ripe for "good enough" replacement credentials.