Scaling Expertise with Dr. Hollis Robbins

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🎧 Episode #21 | Scaling Expertise with Dr. Hollis Robbins

Listen on AppleSpotifyPocket Casts, and watch on YouTube

Dr. Robbins is Dean of Sonoma State University and writes about ed-tech/higher ed.

What universities do well:

Dr. Hollis Robbins is in a unique position in that she is active in both tech and higher education. While her day job is spent as a scholar, professor, and Dean at Sonoma State University, she also writes for a16z, advises ed tech companies, and is active on Clubhouse. She believes that both fields can learn from each other, though she feels as though the conversation is often too skewed towards how ed-tech companies might help universities, rather than the other way around. In this conversation, she makes the case that tech teams could do a much better job of organizing their knowledge like higher education experts do. She’s worried that we have too many commitments that we are “self-secretarying” and that we don’t have the fundamental understanding of organizational theory the way her colleagues within academia might. She also believes that we could all be better writers. 

Recognizing and scaling good teaching.

According to Dr. Robbins, the best way to recognize an expert is to be one. When somebody becomes a world-class expert, they understand the core frameworks that are central to their field. In turn, good teachers are able to teach those frameworks to their students. When she discovers these framework-oriented experts, part of her job as an administrator is to help figure out how to scale their ability to teach. This is where higher education might learn from tech. In this conversation, she discusses gatekeeping, disruption, and the differences between online synchronous teaching and asynchronous teaching.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Also available to listen on Spotify and Pocket Casts.

Past education-themed episodes from The Deep End:

Mentioned in this Episode

  • We’re hosting a live episode with Cooper Turley on 9/28 at 6 PM EST. Register at lu.ma/cooper

  • We’re also hosting a live episode with Bored Elon Musk on 10/1 at 1 PM EST. Register at lu.ma/bored

  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a mentor and friend to Dr. Robbins.

  • We reference this a16z article featuring Dr. Robbins


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You might also want to subscribe to the podcast on AppleSpotifyPocket Casts, and YouTube.

See you next week!

- Jackson


The Deep End is hosted by Marshall Kosloff and produced by On Deck—where top talent go to accelerate their ideas and careers.