Friday, 4 November 2011

I noticed this quote in a Guardian report on digital animators
"A lot of the animators here don't have a degree. It's all about your showreel.'

Obviously the creative digital industry is ahead of others in relying on digital evidence of employability rather than traditional qualifications. But could we see other industries moving in this direction?

Good things I can imagine happening as a result:
Assessment becomes focused around authentic evidence of the learning process and learners' achievements. In fact there is no real distinction between 'assessment' and 'learning' - it's all potentially available as evidence - providing that evidence is transferable to other contexts (i.e. potential employers/clients can access and assess it).
Learning is potentially richer as more diverse evidence of capability is valued.
Digital literacy- e.g. identity and reputation management, networking - is to the fore.

Bad things I can imagine happening as a result:
Education that leads directly to demonstrable, vocational/professional skills are at a premium. It becomes very difficult to fund - or justify public funds for - other forms of learning and education.
The emphasis is on outcomes that have maximum perceived value to potential employers. these may not be the outcomes that give the most satisfying learning experience or the best chance of a fulfilling life in the longer term.
The idea of the 'university' begins to come apart at the seams - e.g. the idea of the common pursuit of knowledge - which leads to cross-funding of some subjects by more 'marketable' others - and the idea that academic values have some relevance, purchase, importance in public life, beyond the value of immediate employability.


Martin Oliver said...

Interesting development, but I can't quite shake off the comments that I saw in the press about the worth of degrees at the time when the news about fees hit. Articles kept pointing to people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who have gone on to be hugely successful without degrees.

Utterly disingenuous: sure, a handful of people without degrees become amazingly successful. Does that make them typical? No. So it's spurious to downplay the worth of a degree because of them, because the odds of you being the next Bill Gates aren't even worth considering.

There's an echo of that here. If you happen to have an exceptional digital showreel then yes, I'd really hope you get a job with it. But if you haven't, and you want that job but don't know where to start, I'd hope that any degree in the area would help you learn how to produce one, create it and understand something about what the whole process means. And who knows, the qualification might also come in handy when they outsource animation to India and you need to get a job doing something else. After all, a degree really should be about more than just training people for one job.

(I've always liked Atkins, M (1999) Oven-Ready and Self-Basting: Taking stock of employability skills. Teaching in Higher Education, 4 (2), 267-280 in that respect.)

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