Jacobson Institute for Innovation in Education

Grand View University houses the Jacobson Institute, which was established with a gift from the late Dick Jacobson in 2008. The purpose of the Institute is to enable Grand View to be a resource to the Central Iowa region with a general intent to improve the educational system. Mindful of the community’s attention to “The Future World of Work,” Grand View intends to refocus the Jacobson Institute to help address the educational and job training needs resulting from the deployment of smart technologies in the workplace.

The increased use of smart machines, robotics, and artificial intelligence is changing the nature of work in nearly all industries. Certain jobs are being replaced by technology; others require different skill sets. Employers face the challenge of helping their employees respond to this skills shift. Traditional higher education was not designed to respond to this need but has, in the past, evolved to meet the changing needs of society. Higher education must do so again. Grand View aspires to be at the leading edge of necessary change, and the Jacobson institute can be Des Moines’ design workbench. 

Institute Vision & Strategies

The Jacobson Institute will become the “go to” resource for area businesses as they seek to (a) understand and evaluate their future skills needs, (b) assess their internal skills gaps, and (c) build their own capabilities to reskill their current employees. The Institute will learn from national and international experts in this field, as well as from Central Iowa’s large businesses that are already doing this work, and extend that knowledge to small and medium businesses in the area. In doing so, the Institute will become a “convener” of expertise in the Future World of Work in order to support the region’s economic success. The Institute also will become a leader in aligning K-16 education programs with the literacies and skills needed for value creation in evolving workplaces.

Strategy 1

Convene area businesses who are going about this work.

Strategy 2

Learn from effective learning and development operations and extend that knowledge to employers who lack the resources to build their own capabilities:

  • Offer workshops and consulting to senior executives so they understand how to match workforce skills with winning business strategies;
  • Assist employers in their efforts to assess skill needs and skill gaps;
  • Offer “train the trainer” education to HR professionals in SMBs who have not been able to advance their own capacity for this work;
  • Augment these learning opportunities with direct consulting.
Strategy 3

Assemble resources to support SMBs in this work (examples include):

  • Build and maintain a database of training and educational resources complete with some evaluation of their effectiveness in certain settings (make this available on a subscription/membership basis);
  • Form “coops” or other collaborations to help SMBs build effective learning and development functions within their own firms;
  • As appropriate, provide direct services to SMBs supporting their efforts to reskill their employees;
  • Help customize training and education opportunities to specific industry or business environments;
  • Bring in specialists to support the needs of specific employer groups (e.g., if a group of smaller financial services firms have a common need for understanding how to deploy AI to improve customer service, identify such experts, bring them to Des Moines for special programming);
  • Help identify training and education needs that are not being met and work with area providers to develop appropriate programming (e.g., how to use game design to develop and deploy training opportunities).
Strategy 4

Share all the knowledge that comes from this work with the formal education system (K-16) in Central Iowa and beyond:

  • Maintain a “research” orientation to all this work;
  • Publish findings locally to support economic development in the region;
  • Provide regular updates and programming for education leaders;
  • Bring in expertise on curricular design related to this work to help advance secondary and post-secondary education.

Past Initiatives

To read more about past Institute initiatives, click here