Higher education is facing multiple crises, grappling with issues like enrollment cliffs and the overwhelming advancement of technology. The decline in the number of students enrolling in colleges and universities could be attributed to various factors, such as demographic shifts, changes in birth rates, shifting attitudes toward academic pursuits beyond high school, and even external events like pandemics or economic crises.
Aside from enrollment cliffs, higher education is witnessing the evolution of technological disruptions at an alarming pace, from generative artificial intelligence (AI) to machine learning and robotics, or what Goldberg calls, the “Digital Gaggle”. Although these technological advancements offer numerous opportunities for innovation, especially in teaching methodologies, research capabilities, and administrative efficiencies, they also present challenges.
Firstly, it is significant to underscore that integrating these advancements into the framework of higher education not only requires technological expertise but also rethinking the way academia itself makes change. The digital gaggle is, therefore, a double-edged sword, and David E. Goldberg, the founder of ThreeJoy Associates Inc., can help institutions learn how to adapt to it.
David’s educational journey is a testament to his expertise and pioneering contributions. He obtained his doctorate in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan with a groundbreaking dissertation titled "Computer-Aided Gas Pipeline Operation Using Genetic Algorithms and Rule Learning," which showcased his early exploration and application of cutting-edge technologies in engineering operations. Prior to this, he earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering from the same university, solidifying his foundation in AI research and educational innovation.
Following the unexpected success of the University of Illinois’s iFoundry Incubator, David made it his mission to guide individuals, classrooms, schools, and larger organizations through effective transformations. With over 26 years of experience as an award-winning teacher in Alabama and Illinois, a leading AI researcher specializing in genetic and evolutionary computation, and a highly cited writer, David championed the application of the 5 Shift Skills approach and the 4 Sprints and Spirits Method (4SSM). Since pivoting to a coaching, training, and speaking role, Goldberg has led change initiatives from Singapore to Belo Horizonte, to Delft to Lagos and Bogota, giving workshops, and inspirational talks across six continents.
David, recognizing the need for faculty to adapt to the changing landscape of education, aims to help faculty members initiate the shift from merely focusing on research funding and basic teaching to fostering curiosity, understanding, trust, and courage among students. He established a rigorous basis set through the five core shift skills: the Schoen (Yogi) Shift, Brain-on-a-Stick Shift, Wittgenstein's Shift, Little Bets Shift, and Co-Contrary Shift.
The thought leader explained, “The Yogi Shift is about moving away from sticking strictly to theories. Why not focus on practical skills and conversations? Then there’s the Brain-on-a-Stick Shift that reminds us that practitioners are human too. They have feelings and bodies that affect their work. Wittgenstein's Shift shows the importance of language and it’s not only about describing thoughts but also shaping them. On the other hand, the Little Bets Shift encourages practitioners to embrace uncertainty. We can’t rely solely on planning. Exploring and experimenting is just as crucial. Lastly, the Co-Contrary Shift is all about understanding that many issues have multiple sides, and we need to embrace those complexities.”
Essentially, Goldberg developed the 5 Shift Skills Training because he believes that traditional approaches separate faculty and student development. However, he envisions both groups learning the same essential skills. In line with this vision, the change management leadership expert also developed the 4 Sprints and Spirits Method, which is a revolutionary approach to instigate change in engineering education (and higher education at large) within weeks or months, rather than the conventional years or decades. “The 4 Sprints Method confronts common flaws in traditional reforms like ego clashes, stagnant committees, surface-level changes, and ignoring innovative practices. I divided the process into four focused stages: spirits of change, invention and innovation, conceptual canvases, and negotiating a solution sprint,” Goldberg supplied.
Discussions surrounding rapid technological advancement also echo in this landscape of higher education. While celebrating the revolutionary developments in AI, machine learning, and robotics, Goldberg emphasizes its limitations. He stated, “We need to recognize our strengths over AI. Whereas AI is rationally intelligent, human beings are intentional in that they think about things and their own thoughts, feelings, and sensations. In other words, AI excels in logic, but it lacks emotional depth, intuition, and sensory experiences, which are inherently human qualities that we need to capitalize on.”
All these insights and strategies are encapsulated in his new, widely acclaimed book, A Field Manual for a Whole New Education: Rebooting Higher Education for Human Connection and Insight in a Digital World, as well as his ongoing LinkedIn newsletter. As the president and head coach of ThreeJoy Associates, Goldberg extends his expertise by offering one-on-one coaching sessions, online and in-person training sessions, inspirational talks, and change initiative guidance for both individual and organizational success.
Name: David E. Goldberg
Email: [email protected]