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Roger Clarke's 'Lifelong Learning'

Lifelong Learning
University-Industry Collaboration as a Tool for Upskilling and Reskilling

Version of 8 December 2023

Notes for a Panel Session at ACIS'23, Wellington, 6 December 2023

Roger Clarke **

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1. Reflect All Key Players in the Skills and Expertise Ecology


But also:

2. Impose Obligations on Universities re Lifelong Learning

Undergraduate offerings need to provide not just:

But also:

3. Require a Full-Year Certificate (III/IV) in Workplace Skills

Universities work at the level of education / expertise / theoretical knowledge.

Few universities have ever been good at training / skills development / the emergence of practical acumen (an exception being team-projects).

Award of an undergraduate degree should be made conditional on prior completion of a suitable Certificate from an accredited Vocational Ed & Trg organisation (VET), i.e. government-run Technical & Further Ed (TAFE), plus private-sector Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

4. Impose on Employers Obligations, Enforcement, Embarrassment and Incentives

Most employers across all sectors (private, public, not-for-profit) suffer from short-termism, driven by the quarterly reporting cycle, owners and/or competition. Many employers take advantage of an over-supply of labour and floods of new arrivals, e.g. through wage-rates, piecework and casualisation. In addition, the temptation exists to freeload on educational institutions and other employers, by providing employees with no training, and little or no time off for education.

Employers have to be jolted (back) into acknowledging responsibility for, encouraging and supporting ongoing professional development. That requires a commitment by governments to be strategic in their largesse to the private sector, ensuring that at least some of the many channels through which corporate welfare is delivered are subject to conditions relating to education and training of their staff.

5. Reverse the Over-Intellectualisation Meme

The often-touted link between IS academic staff's research and teaching has been undermined. Practice-relevant IS research is less and less common, as a result of:

That's been exacerbated by the simple-minded focus of Deans on publication in A* journals - which were defined by members of the IS discipline in the first place, but now strangle even well-established researchers let alone early-career academics.

Universities and senior members of disciplines must stop driving academics to conduct and publish more, ever-more-irrelevant research. Their energies need to be redirected to practice-relevant IS research which usefully feeds into undergraduate and postgraduate professional courses.

6. Manage the Risks Posed by Micro-Credentials

Micro-credentials all too easily float in a void, lacking educational context. This may matter little with the kinds of specific-product, specific-process and specific-technique short courses run by commercial organisations. But it matters enormously to degree-granting educational institutions. Micro-credentials represent a slippery slope, because they tend to have their pre-requisites ratchetted down low (to attract more paying customers), and this results in compromise to course objectives, content and outcomes.

If the pressures arising from this phenomenon are not carefully managed, the natural consequence is deconstruction of the degree notion. That would mean the loss of the carefully-devised combination of breadth of disciplinary base, depth of full major, contextual experiences, and steady progression up the disciplinary pyramid over a period of several years, that together deliver effective graduates.

Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke moved on from business systems analysis and IS project management to become a consultant of (too) long standing in the strategic and policy impacts of transformative information technologies. He is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra.

He is also a Visiting Professor in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University, a Visiting Professor associated with the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation in UNSW Law, a member of the governing Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd committee of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), and a Fellow of the (professional) ACS and of the (academic) Association for Information Systems (AIS).

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The content and infrastructure for these community service pages are provided by Roger Clarke through his consultancy company, Xamax.

From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

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Created: 4 December 2023 - Last Amended: 8 December 2023 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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