Featuring Jennifer Griffin, Raymond C. Baumhart, SJ, Professor of Business Ethics
Description Professor Jennifer Griffin joins us to talk about the many ways she has seen technology intervene during the pandemic and what she hopes will stay as we move forward.  
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Season Season 6: Hopes for the Future


Mat Shiley: Welcome to the Q Talks podcast from Loyola University's Quinlan School of Business this season as we prepare to enter post-pandemic life. We are faced with the opportunity to examine ourselves and our society to decide what we want to keep, what we want to discard and what we want to remake. Join us as we discuss both our individual and collective hopes for the future. 

Rick Sindt: Welcome to Q Talks this week, we are joined by Jennifer Griffin, the Raymond C. Baumhart, professor of business ethics at the Quinlan School of Business. In our conversation, Jenn talks about the disruptions of the past and the value they brought to our world today, the trends she sees in the future of higher education and more. Jenn is a thoroughly insightful person, and I hope you enjoy hearing her thoughts as much as I did. Jenn, thank you so much for joining us today. Before we hopped on the mic, you had told me that you were keeping a list of things to keep and things to stay and things to discard, and I was wondering if you could share with us a few items from your list. 

Jenn Griffin: Thanks, Rick. It's great to be here today. Yeah. So I was sitting down with my son at an appropriate place and said, OK, what are things that are here to stay if COVID is over, as COVID recedes somewhat to the background? And sitting at a restaurant, the very first thing was paperless menus, QR codes. So whether that's climate change, whether that is cost consciousness, it is about changing the ability to have. You can change menus that much more quicker, but at the same time, higher consumer prices, food, airlines, hotel, steel, lumber, that's all going up. Yeah, lumber is coming down now, but it's not clear that any of the other one of those prices are going to go down food delivery, anytime, anyplace, virtual services, online ordering, curbside pickup, functioning websites. It's here to stay and having that interactive website, but particularly full-service people are expecting service and good service. And whether you as a business can get that when you're have $15 an hour employees or if you need to up it to twenty or twenty-five or to living wages in Chicago or around the cities, that's going to be interesting because it is about service, whether it's online virtual services and the website. A few clicks, visually appealing, but digital natives and digital transformation is definitely here to stay. And so let me turn it back to you. What do you think is here to stay? 

Rick Sindt: Well, I think that there's, to be honest, I feel a lot of pressure just to go back to the way things were. But some of the things that I hope will stay along with what you were saying was: movies not being released in theaters, I personally love watching films, but I don't like to go to a place with a bunch of strangers and sit in a room just so like the sound can be good and the screen can be big, like I can make that for myself. So I hope that we continue to have more diverse ways to distribute our media, and I think that will also make it more accessible. I hope that the bits and pieces that we've learned about collective action for the benefit of the entire community stays. I'm definitely going to adopt more of like a mask-wearing norm, especially if like I'm sick and I need to go out in public, and I hope others do the same just because my one small action can help many people stay healthy, and that seems like, for me, it's worth it. But I'm maybe a bit more of a collectivist than some people, 

Jenn Griffin: But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Back to your first point about live events and sports and music and concerts. Is it going to be more accessible to even more people? So there might be something in Grant Park, there might be something in Union Park. And then is it also broadcast or televised, or podcast, or streamed? Not from an underground perspective, but from, you know, more legit. But it's something more, thought through perspective to have it live and digitized, likely monetized, too. And that piece that needs to be carefully thought about is whose rights, and how do you collect money from it? Or are you like the Grateful Dead and, you know, it's just freeware, or it's free showing, or it's a subscription and you get as many concerts as you want? 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, that's an interesting thing. So I actually spent from the years twenty thirteen until twenty nineteen, I was one of the people that helped produce Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. And the first thing I thought when you said that was, I like that idea but I also know that the majority of our revenue came from selling beer for a weekend, and that is missing if we go streaming a lot. 

Rick Sindt: So I like the idea. I'm trying to find like the business incentive for the festival producers. 

Jenn Griffin: They will find one. It's just like, what was it, Napster? Way, way, way back in the day. This is probably before you were even born. I think that was twenty nine years. 

Rick Sindt: I was in my teens for Napster, don't worry. 

Jenn Griffin: But even with Napster, it was such a good idea. The music industry had to find a way that people could download and stream and buy individual records. And I think that same sort of individualized, customized, self-curated, self-paced learning material, I can find it on the web, that discovery curiosity is here to stay. And not that, I think has lots of implications, both for the collective good as you were talking about, but also in the classroom and businesses and things of that nature. 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, absolutely, I can definitely see and hope that more self-paced content in whatever circumstance it is sticks around so we can all. I think we might have more effective learning outcomes. I wonder if you agree. 

Jenn Griffin: Well, I think we're going to have to look for different learning outcomes and actually test for not the typical, normal, everyday learning outcomes that we might have had in the past. But if it's self-curated, or self-paced, is there a stackable sort of assessment point that we know? "Oh, wait a second, we've got to go back and check out this" because, for example, if we go back to the way things were, if people are in the classroom and they just attend, maybe they get the "Gentleman's B" and so does that equate with what the new normal is with digitalization? So that's part of the question that I'm wondering about, especially in the classroom with hybrid, online, remote. If you are only in the classroom, is that how you learn? No. You can find anything you want on Google or self-curated. But what questions are you asking and how they in turn educators or teachers facilitate those better questions and how you might find them? And then once you go on Google, is it fake news? Is it trusted news? Is it information that maybe you need to triangulate and look at it from three different perspectives and check it out a couple of different ways, because that's also part of it. Academic dishonesty, as well as fake news and not trusted news, is with us to stay. I would say as well, and academic honesty is going to go through the roof. So testing and assessment and regular periodic ability to understand material, not just regurgitate, but understand and apply it. It's going to be honest, it's going to be both on the classroom and the teacher, but also the school and the university. 

Rick Sindt: Why do you believe that academic dishonesty is going to proliferate? 

Jenn Griffin: It's going to go through the roof because, in part, online education suggests that you can find the material anywhere. And so if faculty if teachers, educators k through 12, whomever is using the exact same assignment or test bank that they were three, five, eight years ago, in twenty twenty two or twenty twenty three, students can find it. And if they're using the exact same Sakai model, or if they're using the exact same platform, maybe they forgot to take off the test, which happened to my son. And so he was able to preview a test because, well, it wasn't updated at the time, but also monitoring an academic monitoring is increasingly dismissed or attacked as a First Amendment right. And so the nature of the assignments, the questions that are being asked, how they're being answered rather than rote knowledge or rote memory, I would say that it can be applied. How is it that they think about what's their opinion, but also not just an opinion, but how do they interpret it to the different situations? 

Rick Sindt: I'm realizing that I misunderstood your definition of academic dishonesty. I was thinking that perhaps there would be.. You saw a trend of knowledge creation becoming a little more loose and dishonest, but you're focusing on the educational experience of the students and how the students behave. 

Jenn Griffin: Right, right, right, right. Right. So the facts of Nixon-Watergate are still the facts of Nixon-Watergate. But if you're saying "how, then, do you change your pedagogy?" Or "how do you change your syllabi?" That's going to need to perhaps adjust and, in some cases, adjust quite a bit. Not necessarily to the academic dishonesty question, but tied to the assessment question, especially in the classroom, is going to be groups and group work. Are you assigning people to seven groups? And how then do you do assessments on group work because there's a lot of free-riding? And does that mean that if there is free-riding and one or two people are carrying the load, that isn't what happens in business nowadays. You can form groups and, you know, fire people and reform groups. And so the ability to have that flexibility during the classroom experience, I think, is going to be really important. 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, I was talking to someone earlier and I don't believe it was on this podcast, but they talked about how they hope that the standard lecture in a hall is a relic of the past now and that our in-person moments are used more meaningfully for engaged learning and different sorts of pedagogy, and, if a lecture must be done, that can be the recorded asynchronous content. 

Jenn Griffin: Absolutely. I'm just sitting here saying, "huzzah!" I think there's such a low tolerance for dull, dry, one-way lectures. That force-fed this is what you need to know sort of dynamic. As opposed to "No, let's engage" let's actually discuss this. Let's create conversation, whether it's synchronous or asynchronous, whether it is written, whether it is verbal, but that engagement with the material, with one another and with whoever is in the front of the classroom. That fluidity, that dynamic, that interactive, that self-directed. This is where you go for more materials that is absolutely, hopefully, please, please, please here with us to stay for some time, and it does require then a different type of facilitation. 

Rick Sindt: What changes are you planning on making to your classroom moving forward? 

Jenn Griffin: Loads, loads of changes. So for last year, for example, I had to create three different syllabi because I updated that was one. Second, it was going to be hybrid, so I was going to have a sync asynchronous. And then too, it was all asynchronous. But one of the key things for my two different preps, both at the undergrad core required course as well as for the graduate elective, is that enrollment were at the max and so using breakout rooms and Zoom, Using icebreakers, that was one of the key things that I did do was I created this thing called icebreaker, so they aren't discussion leaders, but they're icebreakers. They read the case first and they comment within twenty four hours before we actually have class and they lead the discussion, which allows for richer discussion to get from the described, to the explained, to OK, so what is it we're going to do on Monday morning? Dynamic. So, they got us through to the explain and then I could send different groups into breakout rooms so there could be engagement on a specific case, even within the constricted time. So that engagement dynamic was absolutely important as much for the undergrad as it was for the graduate classes. And they quite liked it. And so when I stopped doing that and went to a different learning style or to address a different learning style, it created a "wait a second, we liked this!" So I was doing simulations. So I was doing small case exercises rather than the in-person discussion. And I think I'm going to do even more case discussion because they're desperate for. They want to try out their views, they want to be present, and whether it's present with the synchronous classes or present through the writing. 

Jenn Griffin: And so even after the class, there was probably more writing in the discussion boards after class because they were like, "Wait a second, I was wrong" or "wait a second, I still don't agree" or "wait a second, we haven't thought about..." And so that sort of engagement and that willingness to engage with one another, in a discussion board or in the breakout rooms, not necessarily what the faculty member, which is perfect because he got to do peer to peer. So that changed an awful lot. So that was the in class changes and then there was all sorts of changes to the assignments. And I'm going to make even more changes to the assignments that, for example, group assignments, they create their own group and there's going to be an early on deliverable say within three or four weeks of a 14 week class and they can hire or fire people. They can reform, they can regroup, they can have whatever sort of real life group dynamic that they want to create and that came from working with students last fall that we're tired of, and quite ticked off at, the free-riders. You know, at least I have group evaluations. But they found out way too late because I have a cumulative class that, "oh, wait, maybe these aren't the people that I really want to develop this group project worth and put their names on it." And so people can be a group of one. Why not? People can create their own businesses. They can have their own opinion separate from the mainstream. And that's cool. That's called business, that's called entrepreneurial, that's called real life. That's called. Yeah. Find the information on your own. 

Rick Sindt: So are there ways your professional life is going to need to change to maintain these sorts of classroom dynamics that you found to be beneficial? 

Jenn Griffin: Must know Sakai, must know digital platform. Must be digitally transformed. So, I know how much I don't know about Sakai. I suddenly last year became an expert in Sakai and spent quite a bit of time on the digital platform. But now everyone NTTs, new hires, whomever are going to have to be up to date with... I was more familiar with Blackboard, not Sakai, and so having that ability to flex across different platforms is going to be really key. But also having the ITL support the Instructional Technology Learning and or the Office of Online Learning support. So, when I would get into a deep rabbit hole about grading or responding or whatnot, I needed to have a quick line to someone to say, "Hey, how do I do this? How can I help? I messed up. What do I do to get out of it?" Because the students are very quick to say, "Hey, wait a second, you know you got this wrong" or "you said this, and this is what is happening." And so being responsive to them, which ties back to one of our earlier points. It's about service. It's about meeting the students where they are and helping them and facilitating their learning. And so how is it that I can be engaged? 24/7, 365. Sorry, the nine to five is no longer. And so how is it that you can support and be available and get to know them wherever they're at? 

Rick Sindt: I'd like to transition into what you were talking about before about disparities. 

Jenn Griffin: Well, part of the digital transformation in the classroom is a huge opportunity to increase equity and access to technology, regardless of where you come from, your socioeconomic status, your traditionally underrepresented groups. And so how is it that we at Loyola can then reach into all of the different neighborhoods and part of that is tied to access to technology and the divide between access to technology and the ability to use technology and to be digital natives? Let me think about it. Faculty are what, 60 years old on average? And that's 40 years from the incoming freshmen. That's not four decades, that's like three generations when it comes to being a digital-native but tied to that being able to access and provide education to those that might need it most. The first generation, the traditionally underrepresented, without housing costs, without the commuting costs, without the food costs, so sometimes that extra cost is too prohibitive. And so now if we can just get the learning and the support services, that wrap-around, it's a great opportunity for come-to-believe organizations such as what Aruppe is expanding into. Or its opportunities for underrepresented groups to actually gain access not just to the information, but to engage in the conversations and to take it to the next step. Because if they can listen to it, async, if they can listen to not just lectures, but engagement and engage 24/7, 365. Um, that's that much more viable. 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, it sounds to me like you're describing a new digital version of a commuter student. 

Jenn Griffin: That's right, but it's not just commuter students, but it is definitely digital. It is likely to be the traditionally underrepresented. And by that, though, there's got to be affinity. So there's you've got to create that link in the classroom, you've got to create that link between the university and the individual. So coming to Loyola is a fairly easy proposition because it's mission-driven, it's Jesuit base. You have a good sense that it's about social impact and social justice. And so we attract a certain population and admissions. But translating that intent and translating that mission and those visions, particularly through the strategic plan that Dr Rooney created and making it real in every classroom, all the time, it's going to be the directive. Because the classroom can be, you know, on a busy afternoon, when you're watching the kids, it can be in between different classes that can be while you're literally commuting to a job, or a second job, or a third job. And so how is it that that connection is made? So, for example, how many faculty are first gen? That they have the affinity with students that are first gen? How many faculty paid their own way through college and university and understand how tight money might be or how much food pantries or other things might just be needed? And that's where I actually think the divide and the disparities are going to happen. That Loyola and other universities are going to have to bridge that divide.  

Another opportunity? Tying into not just Arrupe, but the community colleges. Community colleges might be free. They might become the new high schools. But how is it they become either schools? To Loyola, not just the Pell eligibility, because if the Feds increase Pell eligibility and the amount that's given, there's going to be a lot of competition from other universities for those Pell eligible that have a lot of bucks in their back pocket. Same like with vets in D.C. And so to the extent that vets were supported and they wanted to go to the local institution, they would go to the local D.C. institution, which is where I came from and we're going off on a rabbit hole and I need to stop that. But, but the point being that if there are Pell eligible students that have an awful lot of money to spend, there's going to be even more competition for undergraduate degrees, and so does that mean that we become, or others are, the diploma mills? So how is it that we distinguish our mission-driven, social justice oriented institution and actually make that real? But the tendencies will be to follow the dollars, or the money, whether it is through housing, whether it is through grants or government grants, or to follow the money from the tuition from the student. And no let's stay true to the mission. Let's focus on the there there. And let's make that real to all students, not just our traditional students, but the commuter, as you said, the part-time student, the adult-learner, the many different populations and that have access given this great opportunity of the digital transformation. 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, as you've been talking, I've been thinking a lot about how my understanding is that those who are enrolled in universities...it's less and less resembling your typical traditional student. There are a lot more adult learners. There are a lot of first-gen people. There are yeah, there's. The demographics are diversifying, and so it's not just 18 to 22 year olds who are now sitting in undergraduate classes. And so I wonder, maybe you have some ideas on how this digital transformation, these tools that we've had to rapidly learn how to become experts in can support all kinds of learners. 

Jenn Griffin: First things first. Staff matter. Some staff support not of faculty, but staff support of students. Absolutely not, it has to be student-centric. Everything has to wrap around whatever the student needs, where they are needed, where it is needed. And so to embed that online technology as a normal everyday part of the pedagogy to reach, intendedly reach, folks that are not within the boundaries of the classroom, but to give them access and opportunities to either courses, or modules, or degrees. Concentrations, whatever is needed where it's needed. Adult learners, students who need more academic preparation, English as a second language students, international students, I think that's all really important. But the key–and I think you said this earlier, Rick–was about improved student learning. It's not enough to be in the classroom and get your gentleman's A or B. It is. It needs to actually be about engagement and learning and that they acquire both skill sets, but also the ability to do the critical thinking and ask the critical questions because they're going to ask the questions, they're going to go online and find their answers anyway. And as a parent, if the kids are going to go online and ask questions, don't you kind of want to maybe think about, you know, what answers they're getting and where they might be getting it? And thinking about where the source material is from? Embedding interactive, formative, and summative assignments. Being partners. Really tying into the mission orientation of the university and the school and making it the real there. Making it making the real, making the there there. It can't be just words it has to be, in deed. And it has to be in deeds in the classroom, across multiple classrooms, that we actually care about the students. We care about your learning. It also means a lot more entrepreneurial opportunities, faster, new programs, or rollouts, or mechanisms to reach them. Right-sizing. And working with different partners, such as community centers or community colleges. 

Rick Sindt: If I were to try to sum up what I've heard you say today in like one or two sentences, I think I would say that you're hoping that you believe we've learned that there is a lot of validity to all the digital tools that are available to us, whether that be menus at restaurants and delivery services or learning in classroom things. And you hope that we're able to maintain our understanding of that validity and build on it to make more meaningful learning engagement. 

Jenn Griffin: More meaningful and intendedly, more meaningful towards our mission. Especially social justice and social impact. And how then might digital natives, which would be the incoming students, how might they actually take it and accelerate it in leaps and bounds that we can't even imagine? Because let me admit, I'm a dinosaur. But others might be able to think about social impact and going into the communities, and into the neighborhoods, in ways that I just haven't even thought about it. So it really is about value creation. It's about education creation. It's not just about distribution or redistribution, or appropriation, but it's how is it that you create? And I think there's two different students that have really thrived or two different types of people, at least two different types of people that have thrived given COVID. One are those that found their own structure and we're able to, given all the chaos, we're able to sit down and have their classes and have access to technology and get online on a regular basis and have that feedback. So more traditional learning but in a remote location. But I think there's also another set of folks, this would be the adult learners, this would be the non-traditional. This might be the first gen that thrived in the chaos and actually were really entrepreneurial and were able to piece things together. And build businesses, build constancy out of chaos, to build new ideas, to thrive and learn and discover what they were interested in. Those are two very different learning styles. And so to think about going back to normal. Got to say education is probably the only sphere of my life that I hear people say, "I want to go back to what was." When I talk to business folks, they want to move forward. Digital is with us to stay. Oh, we are going to have the remote. We are going to have the hybrid. We are going to make the flexibility. So what is it that education in Loyala is going to do to bring about a new normal? 

Rick Sindt: So we're reaching a point where we should draw to a close. And I'm wondering if you have any final thoughts, or words of wisdom, that you would like to share. 

Jenn Griffin: Two key things. One is technology. So, for example, for businesses, one of the key interview questions now might be with this digital transformation, "Are you a morning person or are you a night person?" So how is it that you work with your colleagues and your department and your international time zones? But it's also getting to know how other people operate best and then helping facilitate that and build that out and lead that in a great direction. And the second observation. Yeah. think about that question just as an interview questions. Just think about it for a moment. It actually is a relevant question. If you can be in a 24/7, 365 remote, just get the job done, Dynamic. Is it morning or afternoon or evening? And that's when you schedule the collaboration, in-person time? 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, I like that. I'm very much interested in–which I know it's like been tried before and didn't really stick–but a result and productivity-oriented work environment rather than a 40-hour workweek environment. 

Jenn Griffin: That was always what attracted me to academia. Is get the job done. Doesn't matter, they don't know that I'm up at midnight or three a.m. with kids and whatnot. But, get her done and deliver on your promises, and I and so I think there's going to be more of that instead of who is around the water cooler, who's staying 12 or 15 hours? I can only hope because that would be a great improvement. Second, comment. Um, it's about information. And access to information, not just digital. So, back in the day when Amazon bought Whole Foods, everyone thought, "Oh, that's kind of crazy. What are they doing getting into food and groceries?" It's not. It's about getting deeper into the communities. And so how is it that Amazon is gathering information about the basics, not just housing but food preferences, but also does it become the drop-off box for Amazon to-go or Amazon boxes? And so that deep in the community dynamic, whether it's education, whether it is services, whether it's delivery, is going to be incredibly important. That's part of that service-oriented, concierge dynamic. Are we willing to pay for it because we want it? 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, and we say we'll meet people where they're at, but if we still expect them to come into our buildings, are we actually doing that? 

Jenn Griffin: And if we expect them to come during our time and listen to our material? Are we there for them? 

Rick Sindt: Yeah, no, I think that's a very nice place to close, and I just want to thank you again for talking with us today. 

Jenn Griffin: Thank you so much very much. My pleasure. 

Mat Shiley: Next time on cue talks, 

Speaker4: But I also think that we have to understand that there's a greater 

Jenn Griffin: Responsibility for business 

Speaker4: To address this in a more systemic way. And so when we think about capitalism, you know, it's this system that has caused inequity. 

 Mat Shiley: And this has been an episode of the Q Talks podcast where we seek to marry the wisdom of the dwindling community with the issues of today. Special thanks to our guests, as well as Marciniak NOAC, interim dean of the Quinlan School of Business, for his continued support of this podcast. Matt Shealy, our student producer for editing this episode, as well as Loyola School of Communication and WW for the continued collaboration. Before you leave. Take a minute to support us by sharing with friends or reading and reviewing our episodes to help expand our reach. Thanks for listening, and we hope you join us next time.