Mentoring

What is Design Thinking, Anyway? And Why Should We in Higher Ed Care?

What is Design Thinking, Anyway? And Why Should We in Higher Ed Care?

If you’ve attended a conference or read articles or, well, done anything, really, in the past few years you’ve likely heard of something called “design thinking.” And if you’re anything like me, you’ve turned your nose up at what seems to be the latest fad out of Silicon Valley.

But design thinking is not business-school jargon. It isn’t pretentious, or fake, or overhyped. It’s actually useful—yes, even to higher ed, with all its quirks.

Here's why.

Hello, We're People: How Lessons from Journalism's Crisis Can Save Higher Ed

Hello, We're People: How Lessons from Journalism's Crisis Can Save Higher Ed

Before I co-founded Switchboard, I worked as a reporter. I studied at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and went on to work for National Public Radio, the Boston Globe, and popular shows like Marketplace and Planet Money. I reported on stories ranging from the opioid crisis, to pediatric burns caused by Cup Noodle soup, to rickshaw drivers in India.

It’s hard to overstate how much public newsrooms and education have in common, and how much both professions can learn from one another.

Hello, We're People: The Tao of Engagement

Hello, We're People: The Tao of Engagement

There is no word I use so often and dislike so much as I do the word “engagement.” It is overused, it sounds like it was lifted from an 80s business seminar, and—its worst crime of all—it is vague.

Because the word is already ubiquitous, we can’t get away from using it. So we try and try again to redefine it instead.

At Switchboard, we begin our weekly team meetings with a segment called “Hello, we’re people.” It’s a chance for us to be light-hearted and share something about ourselves. For example, what our favorite kind of pie is, or what sort of crime we’d most like to adjudicate as jurors (high-level white collar crime, across the board).

In that spirit, today I’m writing about how my understanding of Daoist philosophy informs my relationship with that terrible word—engagement.

Scaling Networks to Empower Our Students, Alumni, and Institutions

Pick a career services professional at any school, and you’ll find that they’re busy.  Too many students to help, too little time.

Not to mention alumni. Many career services offices don’t have time to serve alumni, and even those that do often only have one or two people serving a population of thousands—or tens of thousands.

No matter how many one-on-one meetings you have or events you throw, when you’re operating on that kind of scale, there’s no way that traditional methods can help all the students and alumni who need it.

In 2018, Patch Your Leaks Before Building New Programs

In 2018, Patch Your Leaks Before Building New Programs

When your ship is sinking, is it better to try to patch the leaks, or to build another boat?

In higher ed, whether we realize it or not, our first instinct is often to build another boat. When our existing programming stops drawing crowds, we look for new programming to bring them back. What we should do instead is ask ourselves, "Why did this stop working?" and then try to fix it.

How the Black Box of "Mentoring" Tricks Us Into Implementing Failing Strategies

Mentoring programs for students and young alumni are increasingly popular in the higher education community, but they're not turning out to be all that we hope they are. Mentoring programs promise to tap into the inactive parts of our alumni networks to help students and young alumni advance their careers and engage older alumni at the same time. This promise isn't being realized.