March 8, 2010
Mr. Rogers’ Bloggerhood – Good Plans Shape Good Decisions
I was a child of the 80s, where good decisions were an endangered species. How else can one explain the existence of jelly bracelets and stirrup pants, the reemergence of lace gloves and the vest as everyday wear, and the phenomenon that was pegged jeans? I cant say there wasnt planning involved in the outfits donned by the children of the 80s. In fact, I would argue the planning needed to construct some of the unrivaled outfits that were sported by that generation of kids, required more effort and thought than any before it or since.
The missing ingredient, in retrospect, that led to the fashion atrocities committed by the kids of that era was the death of good planning.
Why did I elect to blog about UtahFutures.org (Utahs new electronic education and career planning web utility) by referencing the fashion anomaly that was the 80s? Believe it or not, I think there is a good parallel that can be drawn between the fashion in the 80s and students today. Students, like the fashion accessories of the 80s, have an incredible amount of options. Technology has not only impacted the number and variety of new jobs and fields of study, but it has also made the access to such information much more readily available. The amount of information, much like the aforementioned vests, jelly bracelets, and pants, can often contribute to misinformation or information overload. To extend my metaphor a bit further, when a student makes use of the various options before him or her, many end up with impractical pairings like wearing parachute pants with leg warmers and a pink vest. Each accessory has value individually, and even in various other combinations, but what is still essential in making a student or in this case a wardrobe avoid a malfunction is the presence of good planning.
Educators have the good fortune of being in a position to help students value the notion of good planning. UtahFutures.org, in a sense, is an electronic education and career warehouse. It allows educators a means of ensuring their students are not only presented with good information but it also authorizes them to leverage the system to ensure good planning takes place. It takes many of the excellent components that were available in the UtahMentor and Choices systems and adds additional functionality which makes it much more fluid and seamless. The feature of the system that is most central to the planning function is the Student Education Occupation Plan (SEOP) or portfolio. It is a portfolio utility that allows counselors and students to plan coursework, record education and work experience, and access individually saved information. Every student with an account will be able to generate multiple styles of resumes, access test preparation for the ACT, SAT, AP, among others, and complete a battery of assessments.
The UtahFutures.org system is supported by a consortium of agencies that include: the Utah State Office of Education (USOE), the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), the Utah higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA), the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Adult Education, and GEAR UP. An enormous benefit of having all of these agencies partner together on this system is that it allows it to be much more robust because each entity is bringing its expertise to the table. When a student performs an occupation search they are not only being presented with the United States Department of Labor information but they are also having that piece supplemented with labor market information provided by Utah DWS that breaks down to provide statewide and regionally specific data and does so as it becomes available. When a student explores educational opportunities, they may explore state specific or national institutions and have that data supplemented by the Utah system schools. If a student researches scholarships and financial aid information, they not only have access to national programs, but UHEAA supplements the system and consequently student with specific information that will assist the Utah student in making the transition to post-secondary education.
The UtahFutures.org utility is organized into four primary portals: middle school, high school, post-secondary institutions, and a Utah citizen portal. Students in the middle or high school portals will have accounts created for them, the other portals may be accessed and accounts created by any Utah resident. Counselors and other authorized school personnel will have staff accounts made available that will allow them access to reports and other tools that will assist in facilitating the student education occupation planning process. This utility offers all Utah citizens a place to implement good planning, but in my opinion no one may benefit more from its functionality the students of our state.Posted by: Steve Rogers