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WHERS | World Higher Education Ranking Summit - Issues and Controversies - Closing the gap between industry and academia

Quality of Education

Issues and Controversies - Closing the gap between industry and academia

Dr. Georgia Bedford

PhD Communication, Higher Education, Speaker, Consultant
University of Pittsburgh

February 22nd 2022 - United States of America

Harmonizing Horizons: Bridging Industry and Academia - Unveiling Controversies and Insights

Welcome to the groundbreaking summit of the World Higher Education-Bridging Conference, where crucial dialogues take center stage. In this thought-provoking video titled "Bridging the Gap Between Industry and Academia: Issues and Controversies," we delve into a topic of immense significance that's generating waves of discussion.

As the world grapples with the divide between industry and academia, this video takes you on a journey that's both enlightening and controversial. The spotlight is firmly on the challenges and complexities surrounding this issue - one that demands sincere effort and an open mind.

Intriguingly, the lack of communication has fueled the divide, and today's video seeks to unravel these intricacies. A distinguished guest takes the stage as Dr. Bedford, a prominent figure in the field, is interviewed. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge as a visiting lecturer at the esteemed University of Pittsburgh, boasting years of teaching experience across renowned universities in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

Dr. Bedford's expertise resonates as she guides us through the realms of teaching critical skills. From civil discourse to effective media usage, intercultural communication to public speaking - her career has centered around nurturing these essential abilities. But it doesn't stop there. Dr. Georgia's professional journey also encompasses the art of instruction in arguments, media literacy, business communication, and more.

As the discussion unfolds, Dr. Bedford's role as a student advisor, mentor, and committee member adds another layer of insight. Her invaluable contributions extend to grant reviewing, and her research journey is driven by a dedication to contemporary issues surrounding curriculum assessment, access, equality, and equity.

The interview navigates the intriguing concept of "work ready." Delving into its meaning, Dr. Bedford shares her insights on whether professionals sometimes harbor a skewed perception that their professional status equips them inherently. These thought-provoking questions shed light on the multifaceted perspectives within the field.

This video captures the essence of the conference, encapsulating the drive to bridge the gap between industry and academia. Dr. Bedford's presence offers a beacon of wisdom and experience, encouraging viewers to question and reflect upon preconceived notions.

Join us in this exploration of knowledge and controversy as we uncover the intersections of education and industry. It's an honor to have Dr. Georgia Bedford on board, and her insights are bound to reshape your understanding of the intricate relationship between these vital spheres.

Speakers Info


Dr. Georgia M. Bedford Visiting Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Georgia Bedford possesses a unique combination of educational leadership experience across prestigious institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock University, Robert Morris University, Penn State, and Duquesne University. Her background also includes robust business acumen, with roles as a Consulting COO, Project Manager, and Director of Communications. She excels at leveraging her extensive education and business experiences to coordinate and administer academic programs while implementing strategic plans independently and in collaboration with diverse stakeholders.

Session Script: Issues and Controversies - Closing the gap between industry and academia


Angelica Sharygina
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm much honoured to welcome you to the world higher education-breaking summit worse conference.
Today's topic is super important because it's very, very controversial. And it requires a lot of effort. Because today's topic is bridging, bridging the gap between industry and academia, Issues and Controversies. And today's topic is really important because we see the divide, and we see the divide because there is a lack of communication. And today I'm honoured to interview Dr. Bedford, who is a real leader in the field. She is a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh with years of teaching experience for top-ranking universities throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area.

Additionally, the career you are referring to includes teaching people how to argue, engage in civil discourse, use media effectively, communicate across cultures, communicate in business and professional settings, and speak in public.

What is more, you are professionally referred to including providing instruction arguments, civil discourse, media literacy, intercultural communication, business, and professional communication, and public speaking. And Dir. Georgia has been positioned as a student advisor, student mentor, and member of assessment and curriculum committees. What is more, she's a grant reviewer. And Dr. Bedfords' research continues from her dissertation dealing with contemporary issues and problems associated with curriculum assessment, access, equality, and equity. Dr. Georgia, it's a great pleasure, to interview you to see you here. And my first question is, what the meaning of the term work ready.

Do professionals in the field believe that sometimes they have the skewed perception that they are somehow more equipped because they are professionals?

Dr. Georgia
Well, I think we have two points where we have a lack of under Standing on communication, we assume that when we have students enter into higher education, they are coming to us equipped with certain skills, such as research skills, and they're they don't, they also have a very poor understanding of technology, we are in a technology-driven society. And so we also have deficiencies in areas such as reading and writing skills, and basic mathematical skills. So some of that is coming from this movement. Back in industrialism, we're still following those same strategies. And so we're not teaching students we're part of what came about during that time, is the standardized testing movement, that's when it began. And so what we're doing is for preparing students to take exams, rather than preparing them with what they're going to need for higher education. So they start higher education at a deficit.

And we spend time scrambling to catch them up to pace, and many of them and certainly STEM careers struggle with this, you know, generating academia can't seem to generate enough STEM majors. And it is, in part because they're lacking in skills when they get to us. And so this is a very controversial issue. And it's almost as though we're not supposed to talk about it. But the systems are not aligned. There's no alignment. This is the list of courses that you should take. We still are lacking in critical thinking skills, reading and writing, and basic mathematical skills. And so when students arrive to us, they may want to major in something that they cannot major in. And so we have trouble generating on the other side, the number of students certainly required that go out there with critical thinking skills and basic reading, writing mathematics skills. So obviously, it's industry-dependent, but we're not communicating as a whole in terms of two different systems of education, K through 12. And then higher education, there's certainly none. But then higher education, we need to have a better understanding of what is required in the industry.

And rather than chasing work ready as a goal, perhaps what we need to do is identify the threads, what is core in terms of what is expected in the workplace, because actually, most companies provide training in the skills that someone will need, you know that's industry-dependent if a person is going into the accounting field, they need to have the basics of accounting. But some people take jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with the major that they studied because they're looking for certain skills. So what are those core skills? What is that thread that is running through that defines these types of knowledge areas and these are the skills that we need? So there is not enough communication at either end of higher education.

Angelica Sharygina
Thank you so much, Dr. Georgia, for your in-depth analysis of this topic. My next question is on the problem of directing education, according to practical skills, and aim.

The challenge of focusing education on practical skills and goals.

Dr. Georgia
The practical skills aim, what is practical tends to be associated with what is useful, and that changes alternately through whatever social movements progress in society, those are changing terms. And so again, this is where we need to identify that core thread in terms of critical thinking, strong skills, reading, writing, and understanding of what it is that people are going to be exposed to an industry.
For example, taking a class like an argument teaches people how to analyse information, how examine sources to evaluate their credibility, understand how complex the world is, and how to conduct research, how to obtain a better understanding of things. And so these are skills in critical thinking that you know, across many different dimensions, and I have students ranging from engineering students to medical students, all of whom leave saying this has changed my life because now I know how, from any perspective, taking a course that is, I'm a rhetorician, or rhetoric based course, we are teaching them how to analyse information, how to think critically, how to how to speak well, how to write well, these are core areas that are practical. But they give students an added dimension that also aids in helping them be productive members of any society.

Angelica Sharygina
Thank you, Dr. Georgia, this is very important to address, those questions and those issues. But my next concern is about the factory model of education. So has the factory model of education contributed to the literacy problem in your mind?

Does the factory model of education have something to do with the problem of literacy?

Dr. Georgia
You know, there's a lot of evidence about this. And again, this goes back to when universities used to have rhetoric departments. And, you know, I'm going to get into a little bit of trouble with this, because we have, we typically have English departments or communication departments, the rhetoric used to provide those basic oral and written communication skills, skills in critical thinking, and so forth. And it's not that I'm promoting rhetoric as a discipline. But it is it was the first model of education. It goes back to Plato, Aristotle, and all of those ancients who defined education, and these are some of the core areas that, you know, are important now. And so when that shift happened, and English became the model, and there was more of a literary focus, rhetoric departments used to provide those writing skills and oral skills. So they were separated, and writing came under English. And now, there's this production orientation, when somebody is in communication, they tend to take things like public speaking. And so that has added to the literacy problem because immediately after that happened, when departments started developing entrance exams, that looked at things such as literacy, there were there was a sharp decline in writing skills and reading skills.

And it's not a crisis that we've put the language of the crisis on this, but it's not a crisis. This is an ongoing situation, it has been this way. And one of the reasons is, as an example, we teach our kids how to read using the factory model that comes from the research of Frederick Taylor, and his time and motion studies. So what we're trying to do is automate human beings so that they can perform functions within a certain timeframe. So reading comprehension is assumed to come about if a student can read a piece of writing, an excerpt, and they're able to read it to completion without making any mistakes within one minute. The problem is, every time the student makes the mistake, they are made to start over again. And so if they do that repeatedly, 100 times, and I witnessed this myself, with my children when they were doing some online learning, what kicks in is rote memorization. They're starting to memorize, rather than comprehend, comprehension is the ability to paraphrase something and put it into your own words that is a demonstration of understanding. So we're not teaching them really how to read or to write. And so that literacy problem has been following us for a very long time.

Angelica Sharygina
Thank you so much, Dr. Georgia, for shedding light on this. And even though this is not hugely supported in academia, this is exactly the challenge that needs to be addressed. And your work and your research are doing a lot in this realm. And my next question is actually on the relationship. And if there is any relationship between the high-stakes standardized testing environment and the onset of mental illness in children

Is there a connection between the setting of high-stakes testing and the onset of mental illness in children?

Dr. Georgia
And the answer to that is complex because again, it is an area where there's a lot of silence around it. We need more research, but we do have proof. And in fact, Clawson, in all said testing, anxiety has been proven to be detrimental to student's test scores. So we look at anxiety as a function of being able, to perform well on tests, but we're not looking at what that is doing at the outset.

So, again, I had to home-school my children, I took them out of the system a couple of times because they were changing as a result of this. And I, could see, and any parent can tell you the anxiety a student develops surrounding the testing time. And so when standardized testing has been done, there's a lot of practice that students are made to go through. And they have to reproduce these answers effectively. And there's a lot of anxiety that they develop, they start losing sleep, they become very nervous, their eating habits are affected, all sorts of things. So we need to examine what is happening as a result of taking the tests themselves. I mean, the experience of test taking, we know people develop testing anxiety, but as a result, specifically of taking a standardized test, we need more information, and we need to continue research into this area, we need to figure out is that itself contributing to the onset of mental illness?

Angelica Sharygina
This is a very crucial topic for, students, or pupils, for everyone, thank you so much for, putting this on agenda. And I believe that everything you write and everything you research is based on the angle of also contributing to the angle of mental health here. And my last question for today is actually about industry leaders in tech, tech is one of the most rapidly growing ecosystems and tech giants, are they really, set rules for many of us? And what is what do they say about the type of skills that they are looking for in candidates? And does academia provide those types of skills?

What do they mention regarding the qualifications that they want in candidates? And do academic institutions teach those kinds of skills?

Dr. Georgia
Well, we, you know, academia, we do our best in higher education. As I said, the students that are coming to us are often challenged with basic skills, and what the tech giants are saying, you know, Elon Musk, for example, Bill Gates, they have said that strong reading, writing comprehension skills are very important. And the late Steve Jobs has a very interesting story. He did not complete college, he started college and dropped out because he didn't want to cause this type of expense for his parents. But the interesting thing was that he started taking various types of courses, including calligraphy.

And that became the basis of all of the fonts that we see used in Microsoft Word and every font that we're using to communicate with each other. And so he was the father of that. And so He also stressed the importance of those foundational skills. And I think that's the key when we start to stress how we can produce people that are industry ready so that industry can shape them, according to what they want. Elon Musk was hiring people from all over different professions, different disciplines, I should say. So they're not looking specifically for somebody that's coming out necessarily, with this body of skills, because those skills are going to change. Technology is ever-changing, ever advancing. But what we do need is to produce people that can learn to think critically, and to write. And so I think if we look to those as guides, we can start to develop a better understanding as to what work ready means.

Angelica Sharygina
And Dr. Georgia, it's been an honour as always to have you here with us. And your perspective is truly unique. But at the same time, you bring so much action towards the research and bridging the gap. Bridging that divide between industry and academia is essential for every person in this world because everyone is affected by this. It's not only the problem of academics, but it's also not only the problem of industry leaders, and it’s the problem of the community. So only through collaboration through communication through unity this can be addressed and challenged. Thank you so much for your effort. Thank you so much for your research and I'm looking forward to hosting you again it's been a great pleasure to interview you thank you Dr. Georgia

Dr. Georgia
Thank you so much

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