Big Beacon Radio Ep. 9: Documentary to Transform Higher Ed

BB Radio HeaderEp. 9 -The Making of a Documentary to Transform Higher Education: LET ME DO IT

Transforming higher education from a culture of expertise and obedience to one that balances expertise and support is critical to unleashing courageous learners to the possibilities in the world and their lives. But the shift required is large, and transforming the master narrative of education is as important as any changes to content, curriculum, and pedagogy. In this episode, host Dave Goldberg interviews the executive producer, Eddy Evans, and director, Ryan Varga, of a new documentary designed to shake up the staid world of engineering education. The documentary, LET ME DO IT, is designed to “become the rallying cry of a growing band of educators who want engineering education to return to its ‘show me, don’t tell me’ roots” and it will premiere in Toronto on Thursday, October 8, 2015. Join Eddy, Ryan, and Dave for this lively conversation about the making of this important documentary and the role of story reframing in higher education transformation more generally.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 8: Leadership Coaching in Higher Ed

BB Radio HeaderEp. 8 – The Leadership Coaching Revolution in Higher Education

The use of leadership coaches has exploded in corporations and other organizations. Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates say “everyone needs a coach,” and increasingly in the C-suite, almost everyone has one. And the reasons for this growth are becoming clearer. When individuals are coached, they become more effective with improvements in task & relationship orientation; and coaching is a good investment returning $5-$7 for every $1 spent. In this episode, Big Beacon Radio host (and coach) Dave Goldberg explores the growing usage of coaches in education with three other coaches. Dave is joined by Bev Jones, Kelly Lewis, and Daryl Nardick for a lively discussion to explore what coaching is (and isn’t), when it can be helpful for faculty and higher ed leaders, and the ways in which the ideas and practices of coaching can help transform higher education. Join Bev, Kelly, Daryl, and Dave for this important conversation on the future of coaching in the transformation of higher education.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 7: Learning How We Learn

BB Radio HeaderEp. 7 -An Interview with MOOC Pioneer Barb Oakley

Since the early days of the university in the 11th century, professors have lectured increasingly large numbers of passive and often bored students. With the advent of educational technology (EdTech) and massive open online courses (MOOCs), the possibility for scaling both the benefits and difficulties of higher education has been received by traditional higher educators as something of a mixed blessing. In this episode, Big Beacon Radio host Dave Goldberg interviews Barbara Oakley, bestselling author, researcher, professor, adventurer, and teacher of one of the most popular MOOCs on the planet, “Learning How to Learn.” In addition to drawing over a million students to her course (co-taught with Terry Sejnowski of the Salk Institute), Barb is author of the provocative and riveting book on how we learn, A Mind for Numbers. Join Barb and Dave for this important conversation on the future of MOOCs, the future of learning, and the transformation of higher education.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 6: Lessons from ‘A Whole New Engineer’

BB Radio HeaderEp. 6 -Lessons from ‘A Whole New Engineer’ for the Transformation of Higher Education

When educators think about transforming higher education they almost immediately start with modifications in content, curriculum, and pedagogy, but a recent book suggests that this approach is fundamentally flawed. Join the writing team of A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education, Mark Somerville (Olin College), Catherine Whitney (writer), and Dave Goldberg (BB Radio Host) for a lively conversation regarding the deep emotional and cultural changes and processes needed to change engineering education, and higher education more generally. The episode starts by looking back on the joy and difficulty of writing the book. It continues with reflections on key learning episodes and stories, and it concludes by reflecting on the “technologies of trust” necessary for transformative educational change. Join Mark, Catherine, and Dave for this important episode to better understand how higher ed transformation is fundamentally different from what it appears.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 5: Education Funding

BB Radio HeaderEp. 5 –The  Future and Transformation of Higher Education Funding

Since the founding of the University of Bologna in 1088, non-profit universities and colleges have dominated the landscape of higher education. With the rise of for-profit universities such as the University of Phoenix, of non-traditional non-profits such as Southern New Hampshire University, and of coding schools and other certificate schools, the door has opened to other forms of higher education powered by start-up entrepreneurship and venture capital. In this episode, Big Beacon Radio host Dave Goldberg interviews higher ed venture capitalist, Daniel Pianko. In a series of recent articles, Pianko has challenged the practice of large gifts given to traditional universities & he urges wealth creators of our times to give to or use their entrepreneurial skills to build educational institutions that can effectively disrupt the status quo. Join Daniel & Dave for this critical and creative examination of the future of funding of transformation in higher education.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 4: Lassonde

BB Radio HeaderEp. 4 – The Lassonde School and the Education of Renaissance Professionals

After years of relative stability in higher education, a small number of engineering schools are emerging around the world to forge a new vision of what it means to be a professional. In this episode host Dave Goldberg interviews Janusz Kozinski, founding dean of one of the newest engineering schools on the planet, the Lassonde School of Engineering in Toronto. Learn how Lassonde got started, about its vision for “renaissance engineers,” and the lessons learned so far. The show is also joined by guest commentator Athena Lin, chair of Students for a Whole New Education and rising junior at the University of Illinois. Athena is working to connect with students around the globe to promote transformative change. Together Athena and Dave explore some of the ramifications of initiatives like Lassonde for students. Join Janusz, Athena, and Dave for this important episode to better understand how the education of engineering and other professionals is undergoing tectonic shifts.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

3 Reasons for the Coming Revolution in Executive Coaching for Academics

The use of executive or leadership coaches has exploded in private corporations, non-profits, and government (here).  Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates (here) say that everyone needs a coach, and in the C-suite, almost everyone has one.  And the reasons for this explosive growth are becoming clearer.   When individuals are coached, they become more effective at work and at home with notable improvements in both their task & relationship orientation; organizations become more productive with coaching returning $5-$7 for every $1 spent.

For some time, the coaching revolution bypassed the academic world, but this, too, is changing.  More and more presidents, provosts, deans, heads, and rank-and-file faculty are hiring coaches to help them become more effective, and this “coming revolution” is well grounded by the current realities of academic life.

Coaching: It’s Not Consulting or Advice Giving

Those unfamiliar with coaching sometimes think that coaching is a form of consulting, mentoring, or advice giving, but at it’s best, coaching is a form of one-on-one inquiry and reflection in which the client is aided by the coaches listening and asking questions in ways that help the client find and overcome obstacles and then identify and realize possibilities.   See a post on 4 Lessons Learned for Coaching from “The Voice” here.

The coach works to support only the client’s agenda, starting wherever he or she is; the coach comes to the engagement without judgment or any ideal sense of what the client should or should not be doing. In this way, the client can safely explore his or her own authentic path, style, and career in a safe, supportive environment.

Compared to other kinds of organizational development interventions such as training and group facilitation, coaching is especially well suited to the highly competitive and individualistic nature of the academy. The confidentiality of the coaching relationship creates a safe haven for sharing hopes and concerns, successes and breakdowns, and possibilities and aspirations.

3 Reasons Coaching is Growing for Academics and Academic Leaders

The revolution in coaching for academics in being propelled by a number of forces:

The academy is under pressure to change. Economic, technological, regulatory change is coming to the academy like a freight train.  It used to be that changes came slowly to colleges and universities, if at all, and faculty and academic leaders alike could expect relative stability.  Today, most bets are off, and leaders and rank-and-file faculty are struggling with the need to change and adapt, but they do so in an environment with almost no formal leadership or organizational development capability in place.  How coaching helps. In this way, coaching serves individuals as a just-in-time, and one-on-one, tailored development plan.

Academic leaders are being asked to play different roles.  A distinction is often made in coaching between administration, management, and leadership as being about the past, present, and future, respectively.  In other words, administrators are asked to capably make yesterday happen tomorrow.  Managers are asked to improve today’s operations.  Leaders are asked to envision and bring about a substantially different tomorrow.  In the good ole days, academic leaders had a portfolio heavily weighted toward administration and management with leadership mainly expected in well understood and trodden areas such as research funding and charitable fundraising.  More and more, however, academic leaders are seeing a shift in their portfolios to require a more fundamental re-envisioning of the mission, operations, structure, and governance of colleges and universities.  How coaching can help.  Coaches can help academic leaders to move out of their comfort zone and into new roles in the quiet of a one-on-one ongoing conversation with a trusted listener and confidant.  Coaches can offer learning resources and sharp soft skill building in the safety of this relationship as the leader struggles to get on top of the rapidly changing demands of the changing role.

Faculty are being challenged to move from “knowing and telling” to “trusting and unleashing.”  As universities charge students more and more, increasing demands are being placed to demonstrate the effectiveness of educational methods and to ensure the employability of graduates.  Moreover, the old reliance of obedience-based education (OBL) is shifting to a kind of courage-based learning (CBL) in which students are unleashed by trusting coaches who help create a new kind of self-efficacious and courageous lifelong learner rather than an individual who has mastered some fixed and known body of knowledge.  More and more, rather than wanting students who shut up and sit down, we want students who will stand up and create amazing things for the benefit of all of us.  As returns to expertise in the classroom and laboratory diminish and faculty are asked to shift from knowing and telling to trusting and unleashing, this may require deep personal changes in many faculty who have not had any preparation for such changes in their graduate education or their current work environment.  How coaching can help.  Good coaches model exactly this kind of trusting and unleashing, and coaches can help build key noticing, listening, question, and story reframing skills (NLQ+S) to help the client be more effective in this new world of higher education.  Coaching is one cost effective way to build these skills in key faculty.

These three items are driving the academy to a revolution in coaching in much the same way private and other non-profit sectors have already experienced.

Finding Your Coach

So perhaps coaching might be helpful to you or those you know. How do you find a coach aligned with your needs? Here are some questions to consider in hiring a coach:

  1. What training and qualifications does the person bring to their coaching?
  2. To what extent does the person have academic experience and understand academic culture?
  3. To what extent is the potential coach curious about you, your obstacles, your opportunities & to what extent do they seem to have one right method or the one right answer?
  4. To what extent do you feel comfortable with the potential coach, and to what extent is it easy or hard to share private information with him or her?
  5. To what extent does the coach ask questions that engage your reflection and are both hard and interesting to answer?
  6. To what extent does the coach seem to listen to you and “get you” through that listening?

A good source of information about coaching and coaches is the International Coach Federation, and these days there is much other information online. If you’d like to learn more about coaching with ThreeJoy, write to Dave Goldberg at or schedule a complimentary coaching session with him or other ThreeJoy coaches at

David E. Goldberg is a trained leadership coach (Georgetown University) and president of ThreeJoy Associates, Inc., a coaching, training, and change leadership consulting firm in Douglas, Michigan; he is also a noted computer scientist, civil engineer, and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He resigned his tenure & a distinguished professorship in 2010 to work full time for the transformation of higher education. He can be reached at  

Goldberg published A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education in October 2014 (with co-author Mark Somerville and writer Catherine Whitney). The book is available in hardcover and all major e-book formats (here). 


Big Beacon Radio Ep. 3: John Kotter

BB Radio HeaderEp. 3 – John Kotter: Leading Change in Higher Education

Organizations are facing unprecedented calls for change, higher education included, yet leading change in established organizations is a daunting task. One of the keenest architects and practitioners of effective change leadership processes and practices is John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor emertitus and Chairman of Kotter International. In this episode, John joins show host Dave Goldberg for a lively conversation to explore how Kotter’s famous 8-step process applies to the world of higher education, and how change itself has changed as the pace of change has accelerated. The show is joined by guest commentator Joe Tranquillo, Bucknell University. Joe is an educational change agent par excellence, and together Joe and Dave explore some of the practical ramifications of these ideas in higher education transformation. Join John, Joe, and Dave for this important episode to better understand how to bring more rapid, effective change to higher education today.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

5 Steps for Transforming Education

Universities, created as an assembly of experts in 1088, are as outdated as buggy whips.  The cost and rewards of a college education are increasingly under attack. To sustain great universities requires cultural transformation consisting of 5 Steps: