SynED.org Founders Guy Smith and Scott Young knew that there had to be a better way.
A lifelong interest in students and the workforce, one as a community college professor and Dean, the other as a curriculum developer and consultant to private industry needs, both knew that the educational ecosystem was changing fast.
In addition to the swarm of new personal learning technologies, and rapidly changing skill sets needed for work there was also a movement among private business, non profits and concerned corporations to provide alternate educational resources that help students attain 3rd party industry recognized Certifications as digital badges they could post on their LinkedIn profiles.
In a blink the formal academic programs taught over semesters in classroom and only validated on a hard to retrieve transcripts were being replaced by just-in-time on-line education and verifiable digital badges shown on the students LinkedIn profile that could be detected by recruiters searching LinkedIn for new hires.
Alternate education, workforce needs, technology and students are charging forward like swam of bees while traditional educational institutions sits still like a tied up prisoner.
Laws, organizational structure and organized contracts that leave little room to maneuver by traditional education leadership. Even with the open floodgates of funding, the ability to evaluate education programs, implement with scale, purchase with group leverage, and to market with a value proposition are still not agile tools of traditional education. Helpful ideas, opinions and alternatives of every point of view abound and vie for the new funds.
To be effective in this new educational ecosystem there is a need for a larger strategic vision of educational alternatives to include hybrid educational experiences and credit for prior learning in the traditional educational system accompanied by timely decision making and coordinated action on a statewide scale.
However, the traditional educational ecosystem is a very large complex system. Funding for the CA Community College system alone is over 8 billion per year serving over 2.2 million students on 112 campuses. Campus related bond measures, multi year labor contracts with faculty and others, as well as government agency relationships and overlapping funding make this very delicate operation.
Constructive change will need to occur with series of well communicated responsible pilots and programs that also conform, in the case of the CA Community College system, to the executive guidance of Chancellor Eloy Oakley that balances change between the metric goals logic of the Vision of Success and the operational logic of the Guided Pathways program.
The Role of SynED
SynED, synthesis in education, a not-for–profit was formed by Guy and Scott to address the needs of education thru the effective synthesis of technology and strategy involving public, private, and alternate educational solutions. Since its inception SynED has found itself pulled in many directions in pursuit of its mission. As part of a broader technology initiative Syned produced and hosted two Digital Badge Ecosystem Reviews, SynED piloted an unbiased public review of technology with stakeholders, students and technology 7th developers. These Reviews, in northern and southern California covering IT and Healthcare, were published and also served as the basis for a digital badge implementation with Santa Barbara Community College for their Career Skills Institute. The implementation called for a ‘Solutions’ contractor role administering the usiness engagement, vendor management, website development and badge implementation. Additional digital badge implementations for other CCCs with local business engagement are in planning stages.
SynEDs ability to function as a non-profit solutions and contract manager has met a need with many CCCs that have funding for projects but lack the bandwidth to launch an RFP, review vendors, manage multiple vendors on a time line and properly reports results metrics as well as the anecdotal stories that convey the gut level value of these projects. SynED Solutions does that for them by identifying suitable subject matter expert resources to be retained on an as needed basis for these projects. Some projects involve several subject matter experts and administrative staff on a temporary basis, some only need one, but Syned, not the college, handles the cost and management.
This flexibility to expand and target needs on a contractual basis is a real value when dealing with the conditions of educational funds and the stringent requirements for the solutions. With many projects underway due to the CA Community Colleges Strong Workforce mandate, SynEd’s continuous expansion and growth has resulted in the need to separate activities for maximum benefit.
SynED now feels it can serve its clients and target community better by functioning separately in the following new divisions:
SynED Research and Review
A non-profit non-commercial research and review of best practices, new and relevant technology and case studies in innovative education. This would include Publications, Quarterly Review, website postings, presentations, Industry panel convening’s, Conference presentations (like CCCAOE, NCCET). Our goal is always to provide an independent, informed and not affiliated
review and critique of current trends in education, especially tools and technologies. (e.g. see Digital Badge Ecosystem Reports)
A non-profit managed collaboration of public and private entities where independence from bias and effective management is essential to achieving common goals. This would include our original Digital Badge Initiative and now includes our role as Cyberhub host. Cyberhub serves as an independent communications hub and organizer for all the unique and valuable cyber security training and competitions focused at middle and high school levels with continuing progress into the adult work sphere. Initially focused on California, Cyberhub supports the CCCs, CSUs, UC, Government agencies and many other private entities participating in this exciting competition based learning. The initiative has future plans to focus on the adult
employed in competitive teams to strengthen and make exciting the evolving world of cybersecurity. This is a true hybrid education initiative.
SynED Initiatives’ goal is to lead and galvanize budding relevant hybrid educational solutions into sustained growth and adoption across all platforms and institutions.
Non-profit solutions and contract management for educational grants needing professional business expertise and pooling multi-college funds to support innovative and pilot projects. This includes our work with the SBCC CSI Digital Badge efforts as well as several contracts to help enable a robust Net Labs+ Computer Science Lab for regions with 8 and 12 colleges.
In each case SynED does what the College finds difficult, awkward to manage financially, or just not their usual way of doing business. In somecases this may involve a solution for multiple colleges where sharing investment in a solution makes good sense. SynEDs professional can-do approach assures that the quality is included and the reporting meets the needs of the institution.
A non-profit host and support network for innovative and experienced professionals to initiate and direct independent grant proposals.This is a new initiative aimed at recruiting the best minds in education and workforce solutions. Often talented individuals need to be associated with an entity in order to win grants and run the intended program, SynED, as an educational non-profit organization qualifies as a grant host, provides much support from the research, initiatives and solutions divisions as well as the grant administration services necessary to be compliant with grants. Utilizing our wide network of experts, advisors, journalists and creative talent, grantees under the SynED hosting will produce their best work and results.
Combining Research – Initiatives – Solutions – Masters, SynEd achieves the balance that it needs to continue its growth and service to the educational community.
The goal is ultimately a win-win for all. We trust that faculty are motivated by student success. The legislature simply wants a healthy and robust economy with a vibrant workforce to match. Educational administration is likewise dedicated to both. Private and alternate educational solution provides share these same goals with the added incentive of an on going market based business.
We are moving toward a hybridized educational ecosystem we might as well be ready!