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Jul 18, 2011

Highlights From Our Collection of Workforce Leader Interviews. Post #2

by: Sam McCoy

It's all in the network.

“Collaborative partnerships - I don’t think we can say enough about them,” 
Kathy Sweeney, Strategic Project Manager for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Relationship building across multiple agencies is vital to workforce leadership activity.  Connecting networks of regional, state and federal agencies, leaders from workforce centers, community colleges and non-profits has always been inportant, but as unemployment and workforce issues become more complex with global competition and rapidly evolving technologies, workforce leaders are having to learn new forms of networking. Technologies such as social media and LinkedIn are becoming a critical component of workforce development and leaders are having to adapt to these changes quickly.  

Effective leaders must also learn to effectively leverage these partnerships.  In our interview with Carol Rayburn-Cofer, WIA Director for the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, she described building these networks through 2 hour Mega Meetings, where regional leaders from community based organizations, workforce and public institutions come together to share information and collectively problem solve. Carol describes the importance of these partnerships and diverse networks because it allows “getting an awareness of what partners are going through and finding ways to alleviate those issues”

Come take a look at the full length collection: On-the-Ground Insight from 12 Workforce Leaders.

Jul 18, 2011

Highlights From Our Collection of Workforce Leader Interviews. Post #1

by: Sam McCoy

From the Front Lines of Worforce Leadership

As part of the Enhancing Workforce Leadership Project we have been talking to a diverse group of leaders throughout the United States from local and state workforce agencies, community colleges, business and non-profit sectors. We recently created a resource of 12 interviews conducted with leaders that are engaged in job creation, talent and workforce development from rural areas of the Great Lakes in Minnesota to the inner-city of Sacramento to learn more about how they are succeeding in their communities.

We are very excited to share the unique insights and perspectives about some of the key areas that are needing to be addressed by workforce leaders today. Here are a few of the highlights about the pressing issues and challenges facing workforce development leaders. Come take a look at the full length collection: On-the-Ground Insight from 12 Workforce Leaders.


Workforce Development is Community Development

“I never thought I would have to be this holistic. Everything is connected to everything else.  We must know all of the players - know about all of the resources within the community.  We act as the connectors, relationship builders and navigators within the system. We are the clearinghouse.” Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (LVWIB) in Pennsylvania

Workforce leaders are taking more holistic approaches on community issues to address so many of the tough challenges they are facing such as slow job growth, unemployment and matching training and skills with the right jobs.  None of which is easy in a constantly changing economy.  Many of the workforce leaders we spoke to describe the need for WIB’s and workforce systems to move beyond skill delivery and program funding requirements to look at the larger issues that underlie community challenges.  WIB’s need to develop broader visions, determination to seek change and the ability to listen to other leaders within the community

"If they build it, they will own it," noted Mike Knutson, from the Maroney Rural Learning Center. Mike argues that workforce leadership aimed at solving these complex problems has to incorporate community collaboration and empowerment.  Problem solving is about facilitating,  not directing or imposing, but co-creating solutions with diverse actors.


Jul 6, 2011

"An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America's Future" A McKinsey Global Institute Report

by: Sam McCoy

Construction Signs
"An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America's Future"

 “The US needs to create 21 million new jobs by 2020 to regain full employment – and only achieves this in our most optimistic job growth scenario.”

Last month, the McKinsey Global Institute published an in depth report focusing on unemployment and the rapidly changing job market in the United States entitled; An economy that works: Job creation and America’s future.  The report examines the causes of slow job growth before the recession, during the recovery and forecasts the impact that they will have on job creation in the future.  The research also projects different scenarios on how the US labor force may evolve over the next ten years based on analysis of sector trends. 

The findings from the McKinsey report present a challenging road for the economy and the under/unemployed American worker.  They predict that if the US were to maintain its current rate of job creation, it wouldn’t be until sometime in 2016 just to get back to the levels of employment before the recession hit. Though the report seems grim at times, it offers new insight into how companies have changed the way they use labor, where new jobs could come from and how to prepare today’s workforce to fill them. “Recoveries are increasingly becoming “jobless” due to firm restructuring, skill and geographical mismatches between workers and jobs, and sharp decline in new start-ups”

The report concludes that a robust economic recovery is still required, but that there is a fundamental need for a concentrated effort to retool our workforce and bridge the growing gaps in skill and education.  Faced with increased worries over the deficit and the inclination to tighten the fiscal belt, workforce leaders will undoubtedly find themselves at the front lines manifesting these solutions into reality. 

“To reverse the recent pattern of slow job growth, businesses, government leaders, educational institutions, and workers themselves will need the courage to consider bold new approaches and must work together for such approaches to succeed.”

  • The nature of workforce development is changing and calling for a new style of leadership.  As budgets get tighter, workforce leaders are becoming more creative, resourceful and are stepping outside their normal roles and redefining how we solve the big issues within our communities.  Workforce leaders today are not simply delivering services, but are needing to look at the greater systemic issues that underlie the problems within our communities.
  • Partnerships have taken on a new precedence within workforce development.  Bridging the gap between employer needs, worker skill, state resources, educational and credential programs within community colleges is vital to understanding how we are going to proceed into the next decade.  Workforce Leadership has is becoming as much about facilitation as it is about directing and delivering programs and services.
  • Leveraging networks and partnerships, engaging and empowering the community, creating a space (real or virtual) to bring all these actors together is the only way to gain community ownership and tap into the creative potential that rests within the community. Developing these networks at the local and regional level will require long term visioning and focus on the concrete needs of community development, while simultaneously creating a supportive environment for the business sector.
  • There has never been greater need for new innovation and experimentation in the workforce sector.  Social media, new technologies and software, such as cloud computing and virtual classrooms, offer new opportunites and methods of education, networking and data sharing.  As traditional forms of agenda setting hierarchies become flatter, we need to be able to embrace opportunites for growth and embrace new methods of learning and collaboration. 

Read the full report here.

Jul 5, 2011

"Orchestrating Leadership Strategies in a Reset Economy", Extended Interviews from the 2010 Wharton Leadership Conference

by: Sam McCoy

Leadership Strategies in a Reset Economy.
In June of 2010, Deloitte Consulting LLP sponsored the 14th annual Wharton Leadership Conference in Philadelphia entitled, "Leading in a Recovering (and Even Rebounding) Economy"

The conference brought together over 250 corporate and executive leaders and served as a platform to exchange idea, experiences and lessons learned from the financial crisis. The conference explored new approaches to the kinds of leadership needed to be successful in todays world and asked such questions as: What individual acts of leadership should have been taken to avert or manage the crisis?  What kind of leadership will now be required for a world that wants to mend? After the conference, Knowledge@Wharton put together a compilation of 6 interviews and articles based on discussions from the conference. The articles highlight some of the unique insights and perspectives of the speakers from the conference.

Each article focuses on leading practices and leadership development strategies such as staff development, the creation of broad networks and the need to create a new culture of innovation.  Here are a two that really stood out:

1. Tapping Into "The Art of Possibility'

Workforce leaders could learn quite a bit from Boston Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor, Benhamin Zander.

A fascinating Harvard Study from 1996 found that orchestra musicians are less satisfied with their jobs than federal prison guards, while string members of string quartets are in the top ranks of job-satisfaction.  The reason, the structure of leadership.  String quartets are based on mutual cooperation, sharing power and having an equal voice.   In most orchestras, on the other hand, musicians are not allowed to even speak to the conductor, unless it is in the form of a question.  Benhamin Zander is radically challenging this paradigm

Zander is inspiring a shift in how we look at leadership, a message that has brought him to speak 4 times at the World Economic Forum, as well as lecture for numerous organizations, such as Disney, Accenture and even the U.S. Army.  His message: Inspire possibility, challenge assumptions, create a space for innovation and see every mistake as an opportunity to learn. The question is, how do we bring this into our organizations?  Our board rooms?  To our directors? How can we think outside of our typical hierarchies and learn to inspire everyone in the room to take ownership, express ideas and tap into all of the possibilities around us. 

2. Solving a 'Wicked Problem': Surviving a Shaky Economy

UPS CEO Scott Davis forecasts 3 possibilities for corporations caught in the recent economic downturn: "Some companies won't make it. Some will get crippled. It may take five, six or seven years for them to get back to the level they were at before the collapse. Some companies will come out of the recovery stronger than ever.  Times of great uncertainty are also times of great opportunity."  

UPS is no stranger to weathering storms of change.  Beginning in 1907, the company has survived depression, major recessions and unbelievable changes in technology and transportation.  So how do leaders guide companies and organizations through these challenges?  According to Scott Davis, it has to do with being able to stick to your integrity, the core values of your organization and remaining flexible and responsive enough to evolve and adjust.    Davis has become accustomed to dealing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of what are called "wicked problems", problems that have no straight forward answer, are based on conflicting and contradictory solutions and often times become more complicated as you try to solve them.  Such that he saw as Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Chairman in 2009, with politicians pressuring banks to lend more money to jump start the economy, while simultaneously direly warned by regulators not to extend credit and jeopardize reserves.  Davis points to similar tensions in the corporate world, how can a corporation stay nimble and flexible enough in moments to ready for crisis and rapid change.

Workforce leaders are obviously feeling the reverberations of similar dilemmas.  How can we stay fluid enough to adapt to major changes in our economy, our industries, methods of communication and educational structures?  Davis' advice: Information and Technology.  By investing the resources and time to understand and experimenting with cutting edge advances in technology, such as online possibilities in real-time data collection and analysis,  as well as in innovations in social media communication and networking has been critical for weathering the storms of these rough transitions.

Read the entire interviews here, including the following articles

  • How GE Builds global leaders: A conversation with Chief Learning Officer Susan Peters
  • ‘Talking the Talk’: Deloitte’s Jeff Schwartz on building talent during a downturn
  • Running faster, falling behind: John Hagel III on how American business can catch up
  • Filling in the ‘missing pieces’: How Mary Ellen Iskenderian and Women’s World Banking are redefining microfinance
Jun 30, 2011

Our Favorite Leadership Books

by: Sam McCoy

Our Favorite Leadership Books
Our Favorite Leadership Books.
We have whittled our list of favorite books down to 11 must-reads for those interested in the future of leadership.   Crossing public, business, non-profit, communication, social media and technology sectors, this collection of books brings together a variety of critical perspectives and trends that are influencing leadership today. 

The New Social Learning

The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations through Social Media
Tony Bingham and Marcia L. Conner
ASTD & Berrett-Koehler, 2010

Social media has predominately been seen in the business community as a tool for marketing and occasionally as a workplace distraction.  In this book, authors Tony Bringham and Marica Conner explore the revolutionary new ways that social media can be used to access the personal experiences and strengths of employees to create collaborative community-oriented learning strategies to grow and improve organizational structures.


The SAGE Handbook of LeadershipThe Sage Handbook of Leadership.

Alan Bryman,Brad Jackson and David Collinson
Sage Productions Limited, 2011

Exploring the future of leadership, this collection examines the dynamics of leadership within the facets of organization and social structures today.  This handbooks is a comprehensive leadership reference for researchers, students and today’s practitioners.




The Power of Pull

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion.
John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison. 
Basic Books, 2010.

As traditional means of communication and ways of conducting business have rapidly changed, the authors explore new opportunities and challenges to guide the revitalization of your business.  




SwitchSwitch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.
Chip Heath and Dan Heath. 
Crown Business, 2010.

Change can at times seem irrationally frightening, Chip and Dan Heath explore the psychological impediments that business and communities face when confronted by the need to adapt to change. The tension between the rational and emotional sides of the brain can often be in conflict when presented with difficult changes in our routine or environment. Switch shows how all people, managers and employees canadapt and succeed when confronted with transfomative change.



Leading Outside the LinesLeading outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the (in)formal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results.  
Jon R. Katzenbach, and Zia Inayat-Khan
Jossey-Bass, 2010.

This great resource is an in-depth exploration into the structures and cultures that shape today’s workplace with useful and practical tools to for organizational and individual self-assessment. For today's managers and leaders, it is vital to understand the formal intricacies of organizational structures, but also crucial to fully grasp the importance of the informal structures, social networks and culture of the modern workplace 


The Truth About Leadership
The Truth about Leadership: the No-fads, Heart-of-the-matter Facts You Need to Know.
James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.
Jossey-Bass, 2010. 


A practical and evidence based analysis of what it means to become an effective and ethical leader. Kouzes and Posner explore 10 core truths that all leaders need to know to be prepared and effective in any organization or community.



Open LeadershipOpen Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.
Charlene Li
Jossey-Bass, 2010.

Openness, transparency and authenticity are three key concepts for todays organization, but making the transition into the world of twitter, blogs and facebook can be difficult and even resisted. Charlene Li's valuable guide to thinking and leading in a world in which social media is not just becoming the norm, but a necessity. 



Leading Across Boundries

Leading Across Boundaries: Creating Collaborative Agencies in a Networked World.
Russell Matthew Linden.
Jossey-Bass, 2010.

A great resource to helping leaders of nonprofit organizations and public agencies work collaboratively and overcome organizational boundaries to develop successful and lasting partnerships. Filled with stories of successful leadership and collaboration, Russell Linden weaves together tales and tips for todays practitioners.



The Art of Public Strategy

The Art of Public Strategy Mobilizing Power and Knowledge for the Common Good.
Geoff Mulgan.
Oxford UP, 2009.

Great for those in leadership positions of public organizations, this book explains how strategies can be shaped to achieve important goals for social institutions and progress.




Liquid LeadershipLiquid Leadership: from Woodstock to Wikipedia :
Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Run Things.

Szollose, Brad Szollose. 
Greenleaf Book Group, 2011

Overcoming generational divides within the workplace is critical skill for leaders of all institutions, explore techniques to bridge clashes of culture and adaptation to modern technology.




MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World.
Tapscott, Don, and Anthony D. Williams. 
Penguin, 2010.

A great book for exploring the multitude of forces that have shaped our models of economic and social innovation and continue to revolutionize the way that we think and work today.


Jun 22, 2011

Exhibit #5: Simulation Designers' Checklist


Simulation Deisgners' Checklist.

This document providers simulation designers with a list of questions to consider as they design immersive learning opportunities. It supports the Community and Industry Simulation Toolkits.

Jun 13, 2011

HOW TO: Use Social Media for Recruiting

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, which shares articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business. 

Finding the right candidate for a job is like finding a new
apartment: timing, finances and quality all have to align just right.
And somehow, the pool of options always seems to feel both
prohibitively large and prohibitively limited at the same time.

So, in both types of searches, online tools have become invaluable. But
while tweeting out a call for a good real estate agent is fairly
straightforward, using social media for recruiting has nuances that, if
overlooked, can render the process far less useful. Here are a few key
pointers from experts in the field to remember when getting started.


1. Start Early

Simply tweeting out a link to a job posting might get you some viable
candidates, but to really make sure you’re reaching your target
audience, it’s important to cultivate your personality as an employer
early on. “Social recruiting is about getting engaged and having
conversations with people before they’re even thinking about you as an
employer,” says Bruce Morton, CMO of Allegis Group Services,
a company that provides human resources consulting. Morton also
suggests that recruiters could “learn a lot from the consumer industry”
in terms of marketing. In that analogy, your company is your brand, and
the available job is just one of many products you have to offer. Keep
that in mind when cultivating a social media presence for your brand
that will eventually allow you to incorporate job announcements.


2. Know Your Audience


These days, it’s the rare holdout who has avoided creating a Facebook
profile. But just because potential candidates have a presence on a
given social network doesn’t mean that it’s the right site to use when
targeting them. Debbie Fischer, human resources manager for advertising
agency Campbell Mithun, found resounding success by using Twitter
as a recruiting tool for summer interns. But, she cautioned that “you
have to think about the types of roles you’re recruiting for,” because
while college students can be open about their job hunt, more seasoned
professionals may not feel comfortable publicly sharing that they are
considering a career move. For those types of roles, Morton says that LinkedIn
can be a good place to start, because, as he puts it, “what LinkedIn
has done is given people the permission to put their resume online,”
without fear of repercussions from current employers.


3. Get Creative


When you make the foray into social recruiting, you are entering a
space in which both passive and active job seekers are already
receiving a massive amount of information on a daily basis. So, to get
the best results, your message has to stand out enough to make people
take note. Additionally, presenting your job openings in a creative way
allows companies to show more about their personalities as
organizations, which in turn helps potential candidates get a feel for
whether or not the culture is likely to be a good fit.

This year, Campbell Mithun hired for their “Lucky 13” internship program through a
process that required those interested to apply by submitting 13 tweets
over 13 days. Due to its novel use of social media, the campaign
garnered press from national outlets like AdAge.com, as well as Mashable.
Even a straightforward job description can spread like wildfire on
social networks if it’s written in a way that sparks discussion, like this announcement
from a Florida newspaper that readers found refreshing for its candid
and witty tone. And if you have more resources, you might consider
creating a short video, as corporations like Facebook
have done, to present your material in a more engaging manner. Morton
says that when seeking Generation Y talent, recruiters can’t assume
that candidates will read a page of text, “but they’ll watch a video.”


4. Be Open in Return


Finding candidates through social channels means you’ll be asking
them to share information with you via possibly public means. For the
process to work, employers need to be willing to share information as
well (while, of course, carefully and closely guarding any personal
information they might have about their applicants). Morton says some
employers express staunch resistance to putting jobs on Twitter, when
in fact, the listings in question are all on Twitter through unofficial
channels anyway. For Campbell Mithun, the finishing touch of a
successful social media-driven hiring process was getting to showcase
the talented, web-savvy young people they had selected. Kristine Olson,
the agency’s Director of Corporate Communications, had a communications
strategy in place that was designed, fittingly, to use social media
channels to share the results of the campaign, noting that the HR team
“had to be really open to allow us to publicize who we were hiring.”

Do you have any success stories about finding great candidates through social recruiting? Let us know in the comments.

Image credits: iStockphoto, SchulteProductions

Jun 3, 2011

Creative Solutions and the Right Leadership Skills Make Northwest Pennsylvania a Success

Senior crossing sign
Northwest Pennsylvania is facing are poverty and significant aging of the workforce. Michele Zieziula, CEO of the Regional Center for Workforce Excellence and the Northwest Workforce Investment Board is tacking these issues head on. We spoke to Michele last week as a part of the Enhancing Workforce Leadership Initiative. Her workforce development peers recommended her as someone who would know about effective leadership, and they were right.  Michele is a wealth of knowledge.

Key Workforce Issues and Creative Solutions
“This workforce area has the highest poverty rate in the state”, says Michele, “In Erie, the largest city in the workforce area, one in four individuals is living in poverty.”  Michele and the Northwest WIB of Pennsylvania are teaming up with the local community foundations since they are the experts on poverty issues.  They have helped Michele and her board members “think outside the box” and develop creative solutions. One of these, ReTool Erie, is a partnership of The Erie Community Foundation, The Nonprofit Partnership, and the Regional Center for Workforce Excellence, aimed at strengthening local nonprofits focused on workforce development. Its goal is to help organizations and their clients prepare for and meet the challenges of the changing economy through training, one-on-one technical assistance and competitive capacity building grants.

The aging of the workforce is another critical communty issue. “The median age of the workforce is 42; the average age in manufacturing is 58,” Michele noted. Therefore, “pipeline development” - focusing on the development of youth as the new and emerging workforce to be ready to replace those who will be retiring in the near future - is a key board priority. The Board is supporting a number of initiatives designed to attract young people to engineering, maunufacturing and related industries. One example is RoboBOTS, a highly successful, competition-based education and training program for students in grades 7 – 12. The youth build robots, and in doing so, challenge their mathematical reasoning, scientific analysis, and team skills. This prepares them for high-demand and emerging careers while meeting the employer–identified skill needs of the advanced manufacturing industry. Student teams are connected to local manufacturers, resulting in changed perceptions by all, and students exposed to career opportunities.  

Connecting with Economic Development
“Employers create jobs and we support what they need,” stated Michele.  And this led to their connection with economic development, since it has a pulse on the needs of businesses.  This connection truly blossomed in 2004 when economic development received state funds to provide outreach for business retention.  At the same time, the Regional Center for Workforce Excellence was also interested in contacting businesses for the same reason.  They partnered. Economic development became the single point of contact with business but shared the information they learned, so that one plan could be developed with a business that would meet all of their needs, from capital investments to workforce training. This partnership pilot was so successful, it was implemented full scale and has continued beyond the life of the state grant that began it.  “It has increased the footprint of business retraining, recruitment, and retention,” Michele says.

Creating Sustainability
The Regional Center for Workforce Excellence is also trying to find ways to sustain the workforce system. They began by creating a “sustainability loop” by purchasing a building in Erie as a home for the Erie One Stop Center eighteen months ago. As they renovate parts of the building, they rent it out to other related workforce partners, and use the resources the building generates to continue current or fund additional services. Since they used the value stream map process to design the building space and customer flow, leading to new technology, and state of the art interview and assessment rooms, they have changed the perception that businesses and job seekers previously had about government funded programs.

Skills Required for these Successes
But what leadership skills did Michele and other community leaders need to create these innovative solutions?  First and foremost was the ability of the WIB to look beyond program funding requirements to broader community challenges. It also required having a vision, determination to seek change, and listening carefully to others in the community. Michele has continuous discussions with various community leaders. She sits on various boards in the community, which allows her to discuss and collaborate, and, develop trust and respect of other’s expertise.  “When doing so”, Michele says, “humility is key.  [To be an effective leader] you must walk into a room and not think you know it all.”

Creating effective solutions to these key workforce development issues also required “the ability to focus on the issue at hand and then ask ‘How can I make a difference?’” Michele stated. Creativity and a willingness to try new ideas and accept possible failure was also important. Michele stated her community pilots ideas and if successful, implements them full scale. This requires truly understanding each agency’s funding beyond your own, leveraging resources, and flexibility. 

Above all, Michele said, “you must engage others and trust the process.”

Jun 1, 2011

If Youth Workforce Were Gamified

Photo credit to FarmVille.

In 2003, Justin Hall contributed to the Annual Question asked by Edge, the company that launched in 1996 as the online version of "The Reality Club," an informal
gathering of intellectuals that held met from 1981-1996 in Chinese
restaurants, artist lofts, the Board Rooms of Rockefeller University,
the New York Academy of Sciences, and investment banking firms,
ballrooms, museums, living rooms, and elsewhere. Though the venue is
now in cyberspace, the spirit of the Reality Club lives on in the
lively back-and-forth discussions on the hot-button ideas driving the
discussion today.  

The Annual Question asked was: What Are The Pressing Scientific Issues for The Nation And The World, And What Is Your Advice On How. Here is a reprint of the letter posted on Edge:

Mr. President:

Education is a proven means for investing in our future. But while
American schools are notoriously under-serving their students, kids are
rushing home to learn how to succeed in alternative universes. Video
games compel kids to spend dozens of hours a week exploring virtual
worlds and learning their rules. Barring a massive overhaul of our
school system, Nintendo and PlayStation will continue to be the most
successful at captivating young minds.

Over 60% of Korean homes have broadband Internet access. Massively
multiplayer online role-playing games are immensely popular there;
increasing numbers of people spend hours each night fighting monsters
together online. The largest Korean textbook distributor Daekyo and an
independent software design firm JMCJ (Interesting & Creative Co.,
Ltd.) have joined forces to make a massively multiplayer online
role-playing game in which children can study math, science and
history: Demiurges. These people intend to make it possible for people
to play in a virtual world saturated with real-world knowledge.

That game may not be successful—educational software has a famously
difficult time competing with splashier commercial titles. In their
paper "Serious Play," academics Jennifer Jensen and Suzanne de Castell
mourn that "Non-commercial development of 'educational games'has been
primarily in the hands of enthusiastic academics from a variety of
disciplines who frequently lack funding, skills, and/or access to
cutting edge technological resources." But while commercial games seize
the most attention in the industry, efforts are still underway in the
States to use games to teach specific skills.

With a budget of $7 million the U.S. Army built the first in a
series of games to be made available as free download over the web, and
to be distributed free on CDs with gaming magazines. Their first title,
"America's Army" helps teenagers learn about tactics and waging war, as
they rush through first-person shooter missions armed with guns and
grenades. Except for the U.S. military trim, and some mission
constraints, "America's Army" is indistinguishable from popular video
games for sale in stores.

Unfortunately, there are few games intent on teaching more civilian
skills. While televisions and slide shows play a large role in
classrooms, video games are still appallingly underutilized as means
for teaching. Throwing money at the problem is not the only answer;
however the kind of advanced technology and game design talent that
money could buy could well serve the project of developing engaging
educational electronic entertainment.

Jensen and de Castell continue: "what researchers and educational
game developers have so far been unable to do is to create an
'educational game' which offers its players an engaging, immersive play
space, in which users want to stay, explore, and 'learn' as they
consistently do in commercial games." Let's match the money and effort
spent on "America's Army" to develop a freely-available game teaching
kids about math and science, history and citizenship.

Justin Hall


After reading Justin's letter we ask the question: How Could Youth Workforce Development Become Gamified? Justin's insight and points to using games to teach specific skills and how it could help solve many key problems with the current approaches to education could also possibly enhance youth workforce development and make our youth more effective at their jobs. What are your thoughts?


About Justin:  A game designer at iPhone-game developer/publisher ngmoco, where he's  a Producer. He has an MFA from USC, and his thesis there turned into The Nethernet, a "passively multiplayer online game (PMOG)" (see the Wired piece), which he developed as CEO of his startup, GameLayers, from 2007 to 2009. Before that, he was famous for running links.net, which started in 1994 as a hand-curated set of interesting links (around the time Yahoo! was founded to do the same), and morphed into a "web diary" of sorts that, appearing as it did some years before the official invention of blogs, led the New York Times Magazine to later call him the "founding father of personal bloggers." 




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