Just as I was contemplating the events of the past week, Erik Duval popped up on Twitter with a link to his blog on visual portrayal of goals. I was contemplating the idea of requiring all engaged in higher and professional education create a one page diagram of what they have achieved as they reach each learning milestone (degree, certificate, personal objective, etc) so that other people can more easily see how an individual set of knowledge and skills aligns with whatever it is they (as employers or senior academics) want.
While goal-driven diagrams may be very useful to individuals, I would usually argue that from an individual’s perspective the diagrams must be capable of being scrubbed out and redrawn with new targets. After all, how do you know when you set yourself a goal what you will discover on the way that will require further exploration and possibly cause you to abandon your first goal? Employers and providers of tightly structured degrees/certificates are unlikely to be comfortable with that when their aim is to develop a defined skill-set or achieve a certain pass rate but that tension is always there and there is nothing to stop anyone having two goal-based diagrams.
More interesting, perhaps, is the idea of an individual’s outcomes-achieved diagram. That could help the broad-curriculum liberal arts student show where cohesion and a sense of direction exist. It could help the focused academic explain briefly to a non-specialist how their knowledge relates to a job application. It company-standard colour coding was used, it could help a work-based mentor or HR professional quickly to spot learning gaps or to spot where outlying strengths could be developed. It will no doubt be argued that cvs/resumes and HR systems already do all that. Perhaps. Which would you rather wade through: 300 academic cvs or 300 single-page diagrams? As a lifelong learner, which is more useful to you: your cv or a diagram that gives an overview of what you have achieved and the links between the various outcomes?