Beginning in the Spring of 2014, I began to blog on a regular basis. At the time, I was coming off the publication of my last book, Harnessing America’s Wasted Talent: A New Ecology of Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2010), the publication of several articles, and then intense developmental activity focused on using the new ecology to develop innovative practices. The blogging began as my attempt to understand the changes sweeping higher education, to conceptualize a structure that explained them, and to chronicle the evolution of this new ecology, the policy and governmental responses to new services being developed, and its critical moments.
As I developed the series, I found myself looking, once again, at personal learning as a major beneficiary of the new ecology. And I came to understand that our capacity to identify and assess personal learning was exploding as was our ability to support personal learning going forward. That, in turn, led to serious personal reflection on my part about the learning I have done over the years, the events and people who influenced my personal and professional development and the people who have made a significant difference in my life as a personal learner.
Now, I am looking back over the last three years of my attempts to chronicle progress, events, and issues, to suggest ways of understanding possible organizing elements of this “new ecology”, to innovations which I have developed and implemented, and my evolving understanding of my own development as a person and a professional educator.
With all this in mind, it is time for me to put this pen down and begin work on two books (hopefully) that I have in my mind’s eye. I hope that the last year of blogs, written after I retired from Kaplan University and accepted the Orkand Chair as Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has been useful. In these I have moved to a position “trying to provide goggles (of understanding) for those of us skiing in this blizzard of change.” I walked myself and you, the reader, through 5 discussion stages as I continued to try to make sense of the new ecosystem and rethink higher education. They were:
- Refreshing and updating the intensely personal nature of all learning,
- Assessing and discussing new opportunities for learning in the new ecosystem,
- Presenting questions about cost and quality in the new ecosystem,
- Offering a format for how to move from concept to implementation of the “college of the future”, and
- Presenting specific examples of how UMUC is using the potential of the new ecosystem to chart its future course.
And so, after three years and 75 blogs, I am going to take a rest from this activity. Until the next time, and there will be a next time one way or the other, travel safely and be well.