While we’re on the subject of blogging-as-branding and students-as-conceptual-entrepreneurs, here’s a little more from Weblogg-ed, in the form of a letter from Will to his children Tess and Tucker.

And throughout this process, I will support you in the creation of your learning portfolio, the artifact which when the time comes, you will share to prospective employers or collaborators to begin your life’s work. (In all likelihood, in fact, you will probably find these people as a part of this process.) Instead of the piece of paper on the wall that says you are an expert, you will have an array of products and experiences, reflections and conversations that show your expertise, show what you know, make it transparent. It will be comprised of a body of work and a network of learners that you will continually turn to over time, that will evolve as you evolve, and will capture your most important learning.

He does a nice job of gently exploding the idea that a traditonal college degree is a necessary condition for success in today’s world. It may be true that, statistically speaking, investing in a higher ed degree pays significant dividends; but we all know examples of successful people from the fringe who’ve taken non-traditional paths.

And it’s only going to get gloriously messier from here. In a presentation originally created for a faculty meeting in his district, Karl Fisch assembles a collection of eye-popping statistics about the rate of technology change and 21st century skills, including this from the US Department of Labor: today’s students will have 10-14 jobs by age 38. And we’ve all heard this chestnut before, but some of those 10-14 jobs don’t exist yet. It all points to a future where credentials, skills, and work experiences are much more fluid and thematically-based than now. Let’s even go out on a limb and predict that the thread to tie all this together will be narrative—telling the story of one’s life. To borrow William Least Heat-Moon’s cartographic notion of "deep mapping" (cf. PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country), perhaps what Will Richardson means when he says "a body of work and a network of learners" is really a deep portfolio.