Does it Matter if your Degree is Accredited?

Accreditation has been a very important part of the education sector for decades. As technology has changed access to education (especially home-based learning), many traditional ideas about education have been questioned. Since accreditation is supplied by organizations tasked with maintaining tradition, the need for accreditation is also being questioned.

From Home

The idea of gaining a university education from home is nothing new. It dates back to at least 1892 when the University of Chicago began offering university-level courses via the US Postal Service. Various other institutions developed distance learning courses and programs as technology advanced. A university-level education was offered on the radio in 1921, television in 1963, online via satellite in 1985, and fully online in 1993.

Since the advent of online courses in the early 90s, many students have gotten degrees from accredited universities either online or with a combination of online and on campus. Some graduates have even furthered their education using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), all from the comfort of their own homes. As technology has advanced so too has the methods of education. Online tools such as video chats and social media platforms have enabled online courses to more effectively simulate an on-campus education.

To Competency

Now, competency-based learning is gaining traction in the US and around the world. Competency-based learning is focused on educating people who may not perform well in a classroom environment but are still capable of doing the work that employers require. And employers are responding favorably with competency-based hiring policies.

Now, unaccredited courses and programs are being recognized by employers because of the focus on competency over grades. So, the choice is no longer about whether to take online courses but whether to take accredited courses at all. High school graduates have to decide if getting a traditional, university degree is worth the time, effort and money required for attending an accredited institution. MOOCs offer a more self-guided learning process that is easily adaptable and relevant for the student.

In the Gig Economy

The future of work appears to be steering more and more to a gig economy. In other words, most of us can kiss goodbye any hopes for a permanent position with a reputable company. That may mean your education would need to change as often as your job does. Would anyone really care if your degree is accredited when the direction of your education changes that often?

Employers are already developing relationships with MOOCs, and they may care more about the merits of particular courses and the teachers than the school or its accreditation. So, many students may focus more on attending the courses and schools that a particular company deems worthwhile. At that point, the University of Google might actually accept students from any level with the intention of employing them at Google once their competence is proven.

About Learning

Ultimately, the question of accreditation still boils down to what the student wants to achieve. Every worker – whether they are employees, business owners, or freelance contractors – will require some combination of learning from an institution and from their organization.

  • Business owners need training on a range of topics from a variety of sources. So, MOOCs make sense because they offer the range of topics, and no one cares about accreditation if the business’ products and/ or services are of a high standard.
  • Employees will need specialized training within their organization regardless of how much education they have. In fact, the less time their education takes, the shorter their training will need to be according to one small study.
  • Freelancers who work from home benefit from MOOCs because of the ability to customize their education and narrow their unique selling proposition.

Therefore, your most important skill, no matter who you are, will be learning how to learn. Teaching how to learn is not a strength for most accredited institutions. Perhaps, the most effective way to acquire those skills is to think through multiple futures and how those scenarios should affect your education now.

The above was originally written for Excel4theStreet


More than Money: Get the (Free) Gist on the Future of Blockchain

Our latest Gist report briefly looks at the future of Bitcoin and its related technologies – blockchain, smart contracts and distributed autonomous organizations. Proponents say Bitcoin will decentralize power away from banks and other institutions while distributing it across whole communities. If these promises hold true, Bitcoin will only be the beginning.

Download the whole report for free.

What is changing?

Financial institutions are investing in the blockchain to make their job easier and more secure. R3 CEV is a company specifically set up to help banks trial blockchain technology. They lead a consortium of 42 banks who want to see how blockchain technology could change their industry, the potential of which R3 compares to how the internet changed the music and media industries.

However, the blockchain could be useful for so much more than just financial transactions. Ubitquity has developed a blockchain platform specifically for the real estate industry. The company says the new platform will improve the title transfer process by making it faster, more accurate, and more transparent for fraud prevention. And they say it will improve the due diligence process for the industry.

Multiple organizations are working to use blockchain tech to make voting more secure, and anonymous. In 2014 a major political party in Denmark, the Liberal Alliance, used blockchain tech for its own internal party voting. Since the blockchain relies on consensus anyway, it is inherently a voting platform and could one day be modified by government entities for such purpose.


Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer a libertarian ideal that could destabilize the current infrastructure of banks and other powerful institutions. The blockchain offers distributed, secure, trusted and highly scalable architectures that conventional technologies cannot compete with. Although the banking industry is pre-empting disruption by investing in this new technology, many of their business models and revenue streams will be affected especially with increased competition from the tech industry. The opportunity for the financial industry is high, but the potential risks are also large especially for smaller players in the industry.





Learn more from your future than you do from your past

Verne Wheelwright is a pioneer in using foresight for personal development. The same methods that corporations and governments have used for the past decade are just as relevant for personal use as they are for shaping macro futures.

Many self help authors want readers to connect to their future selves, but none of them offer any practical tools for doing so. Such authors look too narrowly at the future to guide readers into visualizing multiple, plausible futures, and readers often give up or lose faith when their actual future turns out differently than they expected.

Wheelwright takes a different, less mystical approach with his award winning self-help book, It’s Your Future…Make it a Good One. He also offers some free downloads on his website which I strongly recommend, but the book provides readers with the perspective necessary to understand what these free resources are all about.

Most people view the future as either a hazy, cryptic event or a technological utopia. Neither of these views are true much less practical. The future is unpredictable, especially at a personal level. But the future can be forecasted into multiple scenarios to help organizations and (now thanks to Wheelwright) individuals steer their personal lives in a direction to achieve their goals no matter how the future plays out.

If you run your own business, no mater what size, this is the most important book you could read for your business success. As a business owner, your personal life is the rudder that steers your business, and to achieve success you need to align your personal future with the future of your company. Wheelwright even has a book coming out soon about applying these techniques to small and medium sized businesses.

Methods for learning about the future have been in use by businesses for decades, but the process was simply too complex for most individuals. The Personal Futures Network introduces some new, easily understood approaches that will help you to think and plan like a futurist. You will be able learn about and plan for your personal futures.

Think like a futurist? What does that really mean, think like a futurist? Well, each futurist may have some different thoughts, but generally futurists think about longer term futures, usually 10 or more years ahead. Futurists believe that the future is not predetermined, but that several futures are possible. If several futures are possible, then one of those futures may be better than the others, or a “preferred” future. Very important; futurists believe that individuals or groups can take actions in the present that will help determine the future.

That brief paragraph helps explain why most futurists don’t make predictions about the future, but rather suggest multiple possible futures, often in the form of “scenarios” or stories about the future.

The above quote was taken from Wheelwright’s homepage. The whole website is dedicated to helping readers understand how to look at the future in an effective and practical way. Read the book and begin learning more from your future than from you do from your past.

Wearing IT to Work–repost from Shaping Tomorrow

Wearing IT to Work is my latest trend alert based on my report on wearables. I am also hosting 2 free webinars to cover the basics of the report (please see links below).

Wearable electronic devices, or simply wearables, have emerged from specialized markets such as the medical sector and the military and are aggressively entering the mass market. Fitness trackers such as the FitBit, smartwatches such as Samsung’s Gear, and head mounted displays such as Google Glass can accelerate a wearer’s access to information while offering greater convenience.

What is changing?

 Wearable computing is converging with the mainstream mobile sector and driving growth in both industries. Wearables will help expand the mobile sector, but they will also provide significant benefits for almost every other industry as well. Wearables can be categorized into seven primary areas of application:

  • Mobile: One Among Many – The wearables experiencing the biggest push in the market at the moment function as extensions of the wearers’ mobile devices.
  • Measuring Myself – These wearables draw data from the wearers’ activities and physical condition, and they help users better understand their daily activities – sleep, exercise, work.
  • Immersive Experiences – Augmented reality and virtual reality are both rising, and their applications in wearables promise to further immerse users in their digital interactions.
  • Spying on Myself – Wearable recording devices (i.e. cameras or microphones) – previously relegated to spy shops – are being used for liability purposes, personal/ mobile security, and recording personal or organizational legacies.
  • Thinking Outside the Brain – Neurotech is breaking out of the lab to help organisations and individuals gain greater insight on their behavior as well as control certain devices.
  • Wearing My Password – Biometric authentication can be more secure than passwords, but the real benefit will be the convenience of signing in to anything, anywhere with the wave of a hand.
  • Feeling the Data – Haptic feedback is very effective at alerting mobile phone users to incoming messages, but it can communicate more complex information – GPS directions and potentially news feeds such as stock quotes.


 Wearables accelerate access to information, and they increase the types of information made practical in a variety of industries. While maintaining a constant connection, wearers will be able to work hands free allowing wearers to track more information and multitask more effectively. Wearables will also increase security and play a part in improving memory. These benefits will enable individuals to optimize their performance of everything from exercise and driving to teaching and stock trading. One study has already indicated that wearables can increase productivity and even job satisfaction. Wearables will help ramp up the changes spurred by the advent of the internet, but they will also intensify the existing questions surrounding privacy, security and society’s definition of humanity. As the devices enter the mainstream, the cost for R&D will drop, and more organisations will be able to utilize the devices to their full potential. Employees will also want to wear their own devices to work (similar to other BYOD policies), and organisations will have to decide how to regulate their use. The trends and their implications are further explored in our latest trend report,Wearing IT: Trends Expanding the Wearable Web. In it, we also explore wearables’ benefits for:

  • Medical and caregiving
  • Security and defense
  • Training and simulation
  • Transport and logistics
  • Banking and finance
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Travel and Tourism

We are also hosting 2 free webinars that will cover the basic findings from the report. Both webinars will require the download of GoToWebinar software or mobile app to attend. Please register here:

The ShapingTomorrowBlog just posted a quick review of an infographic from that appears to suggest the long awaited arrival of the paperless society. While paperless may be a misnomer, the infographic points out that office use of paper has declined since 2001 and its overall use has declined since 2006. Those are interesting statistics which could herald an even more significant decline happening very soon as smartphones, ereaders, tablets, and the various hybrids continue to grow in popularity.


The idea of a paperless society has been talked about since the 70s. Professor F.W. Lancaster, who coined the phrase, expected its arrival by the end of the 20th century–a typical time horizon for prognosticators of his time period. However, we still use millions of reams of paper everyday, but a significant decline in paper’s use is now being seen at least in the home printer industry. has published a useful infographic that reviews the changes in student use of paper. Now that the generations addicted to paper have graduated, the younger generations are focusing more on electronic devices for textbooks, notes, and probably doodling & gaming in class. The tablet owning student population tripled between 2011 and 2012, and 90% of that population say they use their tablets for educational purposes. More importantly, 70% of all students say they regularly use digital textbooks, and 60% say they prefer…

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