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If the economy is about to crash in education–you know, larger class sizes, laid off teachers, state technology allotment is gone or severely reduced, financial exigency for over 50% of Texas school districts, etc.–and technology is needed to make education more efficient (also resulting in job loss), what should I be doing now to get ready for the future?

Some follow up questions to that include:

  • Will children’s education be out-sourced as a result of online learning opportunities?
  • Should we as individual educators be learning social media tools, blogs, wikis and all the Read/Write Web tools? 
  • As educators, how should you supplement your current salary? If the economy is going down, education gets “transformed,” how could you make extra money to keep your family afloat? 

The answer to those questions is up for debate. I’m convinced that school district personnel must become incredibly nimble in facilitating online learning opportunities, as well as strategic in what offerings they spend their time in. For example, I’m not sure I want to spend time developing “How to Blog Effectively in Your Classroom” online course. Instead, the need for content-area deep learning a la problem-based learning in an online environment sounds like something a bit more long lasting.

The West Virginia Board of Education plans to ask lawmakers for $271 million to help schools statewide move from traditional textbooks to online content. The school board wants to provide more than 300,000 laptops or other mobile devices to every student and teacher in the state. (Source: The Associated Press via Education Week)

Where do you invest limited time, effort, and funding now to ensure you are marketable in the future?

Technology has changed the game in jobs. We had technology bumping around for years in the 80s and 90s and we were trying to make it work. And now it it’s working…You couple the habits of efficiency from a deep recession with an exponential increase in technology, and you are not going to see jobs in a long, long time. (Source: Jack Welch, former CEO of GE)

Yes, online learning will be one of the habits of efficiency with an exponential increase in technology.

Obviously, elearning or online/mobile learning is big and can only get bigger. Some have argued that elearning is what is going to transform schools. Yet, schools aren’t going to be doing this transformation to themselves…the smart leaders are going to build up the infrastructure in their school districts, begin moving in that direction as aggressively as possible…but as a friend and I considered, perhaps incorrectly, the tsunami transformations that are coming will wash them out as well

Yesterday, I asked myself, “How do you get started as a security guard?” Answering that question started in Plurk, continued in Facebook, but didn’t really get answered. So, the search for an answer continued a little further with Google. You can see what I found out here, which was also a detour to another destination.

That question arose from discussions about how to prepare for the wave of unemployment that we anticipate, must prepare for since we work in education. It may be that only the best will happen, but we want to be as prepared as possible. As we were shopping at the grocery store, I pulled up this point by Allan Blinder:

The crucial distinction for the future, he argues, might be not between highly educated and less educated workers but between those jobs that can be done abroad and those — such as nurse or pilot — that cannot.

Another point is enhanced by this quote:

…service occupations, those that involve “helping, caring for or assisting others,” such as security guard, cook and waiter. Most of these workers have no college education and get hourly wages that are on the low end of the scale. Jobs in this segment too have been growing robustly.

Notice that “teacher” wasn’t in that list. Teacher as babysitter is still needed apparently, but increasingly, it may be possible to “outsource” learning opportunities for children…online learning will play a part in that. Teachers in that scenario CAN be housed anywhere in the world.

What happens to those teachers–those who don’t read this blog or any other blog–who haven’t a clue how to teach, much less learn, online?

People who work in knowledge-based fields like information technology, accounting, graphic design or legal research are probably well aware that their jobs are susceptible to being outsourced to a low wage country. (Source: Martin Ford’s Outsourcing Jobs…that can’t be outsourced)

So, back to the conversation with my wife. Apparently, it got her thinking. With groceries in hand, she walked up to a security guard in the parking lot and asked, “How did you get to be a security guard? How well does the job pay?” It resulted in a short, conversation about how unarmed security guards, or security officers, make about $17.50 per hour, while those who carry a weapon can get up to $25 per hour working on a military base. Compare that to many entry teacher jobs that earn $18.50 to $25 per hour.

The entry point for security guards is pretty low…you just need your GED, and if you have your college degree, you might be considered for supervisory track. Am I considering being a security guard? Not really…although it would be an area rife for blogging about.

What I’m really curious about is how online learning and becoming a security guard could go together. Problem is, such a course could easily be designed and pushed outsourced. . .unless a security guard company gets the jump now. Oops, too late. Here are a few.

This idea of adapting training for jobs that have to be done locally–rather than abroad. A colleague worked to “Moodle-ize” her husband’s air-conditioning course and make it available online. Given the expertise of a online course designer and a subject matter expert, I wouldn’t be surprised their course is already online and available for folks to sign up.

Some tips for surviving a tsunami transformation (adapted from WikiHow (smile)):

  1. Learn about the potential dangers in advance and plan for them. If teaching/education is going to be out-sourced, have a backup trade that can’t be shipped abroad. Being a nurse, cook, security officer are some examples provided. What are others? Probably hair-dresser. Here’s a interesting list.
  2. Mobilize others and build coalitions that perhaps can survive together. Would micro-loans concept work between families and small business entrepreneurs thrown suddenly into the job market?
  3. Combine your trade job with an interest. Always wanted to fix your own faucets and do your own electrical wiring? Why not combine that desire with a new career in that area? As some have pointed out, plumbers and electricians often make more than classroom teachers.

Of course, crowdsourcing video surveillance may present some problems for security officers’ future. Maybe, wars will be fought through deployment of non-lethal high-altitude EMPs (HEMP) to address this issue. Imagine a coalition of unemployed workers–whose jobs were outsourced–deploying a HEMP to knock their less-paid global competition offline. Wait! Isn’t there a book about this out already? Hmm….


In the words of Louis L’Amour’s character from The Walking Drum, Yol bolsun!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure