KnowledgeWorks’ strategic foresight team was honored to be voted a finalist in The Mind Trust’s inaugural School Design Competition. We pitched an idea for a new school design, Ubique Academy, that would draw upon trends we’ve been tracking to create meaningful passion-based learning beyond the walls of a traditional school building.
While the school would have hubs and would also make use of digital resources when appropriate, its customized learning pathways would also take learners across Indianapolis. As appropriate to an individual’s needs, interests, and goals, those learning journeys would knit together the city’s resources – such as cultural institutions, businesses, local experts, and community leaders – to support deep engagement in place and community. Learning pathway designers would help students craft and refine their learning journeys, and other kinds of staff informed by our exploration of future educator roles would also provide support.
The prospect of opening a school that is everywhere, for everyone elicited excitement. It also raised questions about the feasibility of such a different approach. The judges asked about:
- Operations, including the financial feasibility of providing such personalized attention and how to keep infrastructure lightweight while honing the instructional approach
- Learner agency, given that not all kids feel motivated and that navigating customized learning pathways would require significant self-direction (though it would also offer support)
- Equity, specifically providing support for students with special needs and in challenging circumstances
- Rigor, centering around whether such interest-based and integrated learning would be sufficiently standards-based
- Learner accountability, namely knowing that kids were actually pursuing their learning pathways when out in the park or another community location
- Understanding, or the need to help people envision this new approach to school by building bridges of understanding by making connections with current developments.
These constructive questions could be answered with further development of the Ubique Academy concept. They also highlight how difficult it can be to conceptualize deeply personalized approaches to school. I’m encouraged that there are existing efforts to foster community-wide learning ecosystems, whether through Pittsburgh’s Remake Learning Network, Columbus’ Surge, or Chattanooga’s Hive. In addition, there are national efforts to broaden where and how learning happens, among them STEM Learning Ecosystems, the Center for the Future of Museums’ vibrant learning effort, and the National Park Service’s recent Learning from the Outside In summit.
I also find it promising that many of the innovative school designs featured at The Mind Trust’s school design competition sought to advance personalized learning, with focus on process over content. For example, in aiming to help future leaders solve the world’s toughest problems, Hack School uses a split staffing model to involve people from industry, who are paid partly by the school and partly by their companies, alongside teachers. In another example, Fontan School from Learning One to One helps students find meaning in their education through personalized learning plans and a staged approach to learner agency.
As we explore new approaches to personalized learning and raise and answer new questions, these and other signals of change can point the way to new possibilities and inspire innovation across the learning spectrum.
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There have typically been two ways education reform efforts have spread, or been scaled, on a local level, from classroom to classroom and district to district.
First, there is the franchise method where models are replicated. One thing is “picked up” from one classroom or school and dropped in another classroom or school.
The second approach to scaling involves committing to a set of principles, or non-negotiables, but leaving the design of everything else up to the context of the classroom or school. This approach is crucial when thinking about beginning the transition to personalize learning.
Each classroom, school, district, and community has its own needs. Whether it be differences in student population, the economy that drives the community, or general expectations of what educations should provide to a community, it is absolutely essential that leaders take these things into consideration when designing a personalized system.
Each classroom, school, district and community has its own needs for #PersonalizedEd.
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Over the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk with students, teachers, school and district leaders, and community partners about the benefits of personalized learning. These conversations usually begin with how to define personalized learning. At KnowledgeWorks, here’s how we talk about personalized learning:
- Instruction is aligned to rigorous college- and career-ready standards and the social and emotional skills students need to be successful in college and career
- Instruction is customized, allowing each student to design learning experiences aligned to his or her interests
- The pace of instruction is varied based on individual student needs, allowing students to accelerate or take additional time based on their level of mastery
- Educators use data from formative assessments and student feedback in real-time to differentiate instruction and provide robust supports and interventions so that every student remains on track to graduation
- Students and parents have access to clear, transferable learning objectives and assessment results so they understand what is expected for mastery and advancement
Once we have a common understanding about what it is we’re talking about, the conversation shifts to “what does this look like in my classroom, school, district, or community?” This is where things get interesting.
As part of our recommendations around the new Every Student Succeeds Act, KnowledgeWorks provides some design questions that communities can consider when implementing personalized learning. Answering these questions could be the difference between raising student outcomes through a personalized system or business as usual.
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As part of an initiative to help education stakeholders make sense of the future of learning, KnowledgeWorks recently convened K-12 leaders and innovators to explore the implications of our latest forecast, The Future of Learning: Education in an Era of Partners in Code. Top issues and opportunities for education over the next decade included the six areas listed below.
- Equity – Pursuing equity is complex now. It is likely to get even more complex in ten years’ time, but we need to bring nuance to the conversation. While new divides could emerge, they won’t necessarily be where we first think to look. For example, it’s easy to focus on the potential for today’s digital divide to deepen, but quick adoption cycles could drive down the cost of new technologies faster than we anticipate. Trends such as increasing customization and new forms of digital support could present new solutions. Continuing to do what we’ve always done won’t create the changes we need to see. We may need to look beyond what happens in current classrooms to consider new learning structures.
- Student Experience – Relationships are central, but how we cultivate them could change. New tools and processes for connecting learners with the right educators and learning experiences could help bring about a focus on personal success skills such as innovation, problem solving, collaboration, and creativity. We need to get better at measuring the skills that are most critical. We also need to find ways of implementing personalized learning that help all learners succeed.
- Standards and Quality Assurance – There could be new opportunities to consider the whole child and to reward what truly matters, but changes to the system could provoke reactions such as opting out. As we work to balance risk and innovation with research-based best practices, we need to find new forms of accountability.
- Human Capital – New educator pathways could open opportunities for restructuring schools and reframing school systems. Current educators could contribute to learning in new ways, and people who are not currently active in education might contribute in full-time or in targeted ways. But policies around teacher certification, student credentials, and funding would need to align with new approaches, and there would likely be strong desire to maintain the status quo.
- Civic Responsibility –As personalization of experience proliferates across many sectors of life, education could have a key role to play in helping people cultivate collective awareness and civic responsibility. Learning experiences could help connect learners with one another and with their communities, but we need to make sure that those experiences are valuable and meaningful.
- Governance – Governance could get more responsive and timely, with innovative community engagement strategies increasing and improving informal decision making. For example, distributed, team-based leadership could help district educators innovate and respond quickly to client needs, with community engagement around vision helping stakeholders understand the context underlying innovation and day-to-day decisions and gather broader input. But strategies for improving governance will require careful sequencing and communication.
As we look toward the future of education, tackling these top challenges will best prepare both students and educators to navigate the uncertain and increasingly complex landscapes of our world.
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The Future of Museums’ future fiction competition invited respondents to describe a compelling and inspiring future of the education in which museums play a starring role. As a judge for the competition, I saw several big themes worth considering as we work to shape the future of education and foster vibrant learning ecosystems that help people navigate increasing complexity.
The stories were set in 2040, so look way ahead as you consider these possibilities.
- “School” could get completely reimagined. Yes, today’s boundary between school- and museum-based educational experiences could erode as more cities cultivate broad-based learning ecosystems to which many kinds of organizations contribute. But there’s also the potential to foster meaningful and fluid lifelong learning landscapes and intergenerational learning.
- Augmented and virtual reality could play a significant role in helping learners access immersive experiences. These immersive experiences could go way beyond super-fancy virtual field trips to form a central part of people’s learning journeys and foster deep engagement.
- There could be increasing interest in homeschooling and other alternative forms of education as people increasingly expect the levels of customization that we already experience in so many areas of life to be available in schooling – or in place of what we have typically thought of as school. The perception that public schools may not be well placed to respond to such expectations underscores the urgency of finding innovative ways of making public education highly personalized and meaningful and rethinking diverse educational structures to be viable for all students.
- While not every learner is going to want or need the same kind of learning experiences, ensuring equity of opportunity is likely to be a continuing challenge. Some of the future fiction stories described experiences that were only available to the “best” students or that were tiered according to levels of privilege or ability. Greater customization and new kinds of learning experiences could bring greater complexity to the challenge of meeting learners where they are and making sure all learners have access to great experiences.
- As institutional authority shifts and educational settings diversify or support people in new ways, learners could have far more control over what, when, and how they study than a typical learner has today. We need to bring nuance to considerations of learner agency, taking care not to assume that people are ready to self-direct their learning – or that they cannot or do not want to do so.
- There could be an opportunity for museums to reimagine themselves as facilitators of dialogue that support people in challenging and renegotiating limiting narratives around race, class, gender, and other historic divides.
- Future technologies could play a variety of roles in education, depending on how people want to use them. Some future fiction stories showed various technologies supporting people in connecting and developing strong relationships around learning, while others depicted people using technologies to go deep in relative isolation. Different learners and educational settings are likely to make different choices about future uses of technology.
- There was some sense across the stories that we could be approaching a cultural and environmental tipping point in which many people reject a lot of what we consider to be status quo today. Some stories described a great turning point in education, largely influenced by mindset shifts. Others projected disruption that extended far beyond education to include race riots, a post-petroleum economy, and new waves of climate and economic refugees. We don’t know whether any of these disruptions will come to pass, but it does behoove us to consider what might happen if the external environment surrounding education changed dramatically, whether in isolated pockets or on a broader scale.
Looking across these themes, some of the future fiction stories reflected fundamental shifts in learning; others projected smaller trajectories of change. But all of them suggested interesting possibilities for how museums might contribute to shaping the future of education. Collectively, they reminded me how powerful it can be to engage with succinct and compelling stories about the future. Stepping into a future story can help us examine possibilities, consider how we want the future to unfold, and strategize about how we might influence its direction.
To read the future fiction stories for yourself, visit the Center for the Future of Museums’ vibrant learning website.
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Technology changes all the time. All. The. Time. It’s imperative that we as educators maintain currency with new technology so we can reach our students where they are and in way that interest them. But with so much technology out there, it can be hard to keep up, which I why I love this new resource from Daily Genius: The Periodic Table of Education Technology.
Much like the scientific periodic table is organized into categories (atomic numbers, electron configurations, recurring chemical properties), the Periodic Table of Education Technology organizes resources by type of technology and where it can be used.
So, as you try to stay current on 2016 education technology and utilize technology to blend instructional pedagogies, check out the Periodic Table of Education Technology. Happy learning!Image Credit and Source: Daily Genius
Today is my favorite childhood author’s 100th birthday. Beverly Clearly. Oh, how I loved her books. I was a latch-key kid that grew up in the late 70s and early 80s. We didn’t have cable in grade school and the closest cluster of kids my age lived 10 minutes away, driving. So, my friends were Henry Huggins, Beezus, and her spunky sister, Ramona.
My appetite for books was voracious, and going to the library once a week was not enough. I dreaded getting to the last of the books on the shelf written by Beverly Clearly. I didn’t want the stories to end. I wanted to move to Klickitat Street – which in my mind was certainly plausible as I lived in Portland, Oregon. I wanted my own Aunt Bea. I wanted Ramona’s raincoat and boots so that I, too, could stomp in the rain.
I was lucky. I had access to books. I had a mom who, despite working 60+ hours at the hospital to make ends meet for our young immigrant family, prioritized time to read to me. To take me once a week just before the library closed after her shift so that I could take home the maximum five books only to read them over and over again until I could replace them with new ones. I went to a school with a base of engaged parents that volunteered in the classroom and helped teachers support struggling readers, which included me, initially.
Other kids aren’t so lucky. In fact, 9 out of 10 high school dropouts were struggling readers in the 3rd grade. Students who can’t read in the 3rd grade don’t typically catch up and fall further and further behind. Those consequences are dire. Those same high school dropouts make up 90 perent of Americans on welfare. 9 out of every 10 teenagers in the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate. And seven out of every 10 prison inmates can’t read above the 4th grade level.
There has been a lot of debate, including in my own community, about retention and social promotion of students who have not yet acquired the minimum learning targets or competencies expected of that grade. The staggering outcomes described above are consistent with the themes and results:
- Retention, which means repeating a grade, has negative effects on student achievement, attitude toward schools, school attendance and student dropout rates.
- Social promotion has a negative effect on student achievement and reinforces the failure by not making sure that students are prepared.
But could a growing movement toward competency-based education or mastery, which replaces seat time with skills, become the main standard for whether students are promoted? By redesigning the education system around actual student learning, we can more effectively prepare each student for college and career.
To learn more, attend a free webinar where attendees will explore school models and practices, and understand the structural elements of competency education.
Introduction to Competency Education
Wednesday, April 20
3:00 – 4:00pm
Speakers include: Dr. Kristen Brittingham, Charleston County School District, South Carolina; Sydney Schaef from Building 21 (currently at reDesign); Virgel Hammonds, KnowledgeWorks; Susan Patrick, iNACOL; and, Chris Sturgis, MetisNet.
Until then, let’s celebrate an author who encouraged our vivid imaginations and our love of reading.
During 15 years of No Child Left Behind, education advocates became increasingly frustrated with the level of federal prescription over the vision and design of state education systems.
Now, under ESSA, states and school districts have more ownership to advance innovative visions for teaching and learning. In fact, almost all the federal barriers to personalized learning are lifted, thanks to the new law.
And that’s exactly what Matt Williams and Lillian Pace discussed on the most recent episode of EduTalk Radio.
“It’s an incredibly different climate from where we were before,” Lillian said during the segment. “Now it will be exciting to see what states will do to take advantage of the ability to knit together a compelling vision for learning.”
Listen to the segment below to learn about ESSA, personalized learning, assessment, accountability, teacher prep and more.
The side-by-side presents opportunities throughout the 391 pages of the bill to make personalized learning a reality for every student in the country. The recommendations acts as a guide for imagining and implementing a vision of personalized learning that aligns with federal, state and local policies. It also offers guiding questions for stakeholders to think through college and career readiness, equity and continuous improvement.
ESSA’s opportunities will only translate into results for students if stakeholders take advantage of them as they design new systems of teaching and learning. For more information and insight, check out the following blogs:
- Top 10 Ways ESSA Opens the Door for Personalized Learning
- ESSA Represents a Historic Opportunity to Advance Personalized Learning on CompetencyWorks
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Back in October, The New York Times ran an article highlighting how much more attention issues of identity have received in 2015. Discovery, discussion, and debate on this topic have taken place between friends, on television, in the media, on college campuses, on city streets, and in the Supreme Court. At many points in that discourse, people have examined who they are, held that up to the systems and structures with which we all interact, and found a disconnect. This was not made for me. This year, some who made that realization refused to accept it. Instead of conforming themselves to the systems, they decided the systems needed to change to become what they need and want.
This reexamination occurs at precisely the time in which our technology is advancing to give us access to new kinds of information about ourselves—our genes, our heritage, our habits, our preferences. Though we sometimes use this new information to change ourselves, the digital environments in which we spend ever-increasing amounts of time are adapting to us, which carries with it new potential expectations about how the physical and social worlds could do the same.
Advanced technology can give new information about ourselves. How could this impact #FutureEd?
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In KnowledgeWorks’ new forecast on the future of learning, Optimized Selves is one of five drivers of change we see having a large impact on the way we live and learn. As with many drivers, it is both technological and social. Signals of this change include not only technological developments such as FitBit, 23andMe, and Thync, but also mindset shifts that bring a widening of the gender spectrum, a push for inclusive work and school spaces, and new ideas about a diversifying population into mainstream discussion. Our research shows that we are optimizing ourselves and working to optimize environments for those selves, which could bring us closer to the goal of truly personalized learning.
And yet, an actual emerging reality is always more complex than the idea of one. Though personalized learning is a widely loved concept, adaptive learning technologies are often met with skepticism and fear of “robots replacing teachers.” Though the vision of student-centered environments is espoused by many, when college students protest to make their universities safer and more inclusive of the identities and experiences of students of color and LGBTQ students, they are told that they are coddled. Education has long been an arena of one-size-fits all environments, broad labels, and hierarchical structures, so it’s no wonder that a new world of responsive environments, nuanced and self-defined identity, and democratized platforms is unsettling to some.
Education has long been an arena of one-size-fits all environments, but no more. #FutureEd
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And the unsettled feeling should not be ignored, but faced: the next generation of learners will have even more precise tools to understand themselves and increasing access to environments optimized for them, a future that could have both positive and negative implications. This is why those of us who care about learning must thoughtfully examine possibilities for the future and have an honest conversation about what is on the horizon and what we want to be true about our society and our education systems.
This year has shown us that optimized selves will require optimized systems. How will we respond?
In January of 2016 KnowledgeWorks released VibrantED, a simulation recruiting platform from 2026 that matches job seekers with employment opportunities in the expanding learning ecosystem as a way of bringing the future to life. VibrantED, along with supporting sites Learning Extravaganza and Amoeba Learning, provides an immersive experience designed to help education stakeholders experience the future, examine their assumptions about what the educator workforce looks like, and imagine how educator roles may change and diversify over the next ten years.
As part of the ongoing simulation and like any recruiting platform, VibrantED has just posted 3 openings for new future educator roles:
- Industrial Arts Educator: SFMakeCenter is hiring a full-time Industrial Arts Educator with experience in high-tech manufacturing to design and run sessions for all ages, help our members and partner schools design projects, and assist when our artisan learners are working independently.
- Competency Tracker: The Central Basin Association of Governments in Nashville, TN is looking for a qualified individual to help identify learning opportunities that will satisfy competency development and credentialing needs.
- Director of Social Good: The Museum of Social Movements is seeking a director of social good to help develop partnerships with other learning ecosystem organizations across the world that connect learners with existing or burgeoning social movements as part of their education.
If you have not already done so, please take a moment to immerse yourself in the world envisioned by this simulation and experience the future. You can start by taking this career quiz to see where you might fit into a more diverse educator workforce. As you navigate the future that VibrantED depicts, here are some questions to consider:
- What excites you about the possibilities this world presents?
- What about this world do you dislike?
- Is there a role or roles you feet drawn to?
- What new roles or skills you think will be needed in the future?
- How might those roles or skills contribute to a vibrant and equitable learning ecosystem?
When you come back from your trip to the future, I invite you to reflect for a moment about you learned during your time in the year 2026. Ask yourself what actions you might take today to begin shaping the future you desire. That might mean working to leverage trends to create a role you were drawn to or perhaps creating an entirely new role. It might involve incorporating new skill sets into existing educator roles – or something else entirely.
Also, keep an eye on VibrantED. As a recruiting platform, it is sure to feature more fictional job openings in the (near) future. If you have not yet found your niche in the learning ecosystem, perhaps a future job opening might inspire you to think about how education stakeholders might shape the future educator workforce and what skills might be needed as the learning ecosystem continues to expand and diversify.
Whether or not you have found a role that resonates with you, it is vital that we begin to think of new possibilities for human capital in learning. Making intentional choices about how we develop human capital for personalized learning will be essential for making the future of learning equitable for all learners.
What if a school extended across a city instead of being confined to four walls? What if a school helped learners craft customized learning pathways that took full advantage of city-wide resources and reflected students’ needs, interests, and goals?
KnowledgeWorks’ strategic foresight team thinks that this kind of school is possible. For The Mind Trust’s 2016 School Design Competition on April 5, we are presenting a break-the-mold school design called Ubique Academy, a high school that would be everywhere, for everyone.
The vision for Ubique Academy is for students and families from across Indianapolis to find a home and experience learner-led, passion-based, real-world personalized learning that meets students where they are and supports them in every aspect of development. Whether learners came to the school with established passions or simply needed a new learning environment, highly trained and caring educators occupying diverse roles would collaborate to help learners design customized learning pathways made of in-person, online, community- and school-based experiences that were meaningful, challenging, and enriching.
Ubique would operate four hubs serving as home bases for our UA Leaders, and staff would be there or would be available virtually. Every hub would double as community space, with offerings based on community interest and need. Ubique would also draw upon city-wide learning resources such as museums, cultural institutions, art galleries, outdoor spaces, and universities, providing transportation and communications resources to transport kids safely and coordinate learning over a distributed learning ecosystem.
Key features include:
- Dedicated support from learning journey mentors and other specialized educators inspired by our exploration of new educator roles
- Customized curriculum making rich use of community-wide assets and enabling learners to make a difference in their communities
- An app to help keep people connected and unlock access to learning experiences, transportation, and food services
- Student communities to ground Ubique’s personalized learning in a persistent social context
- Flexible pathway schedules enabling learners get used to interest-based learning and transition from traditional school or to pursue their passions in deep and meaningful ways.
Sound exciting? We think so too! Wish us luck as we share our vision for Ubique Academy in Indianapolis!
You can follow the @TheMindTrust competition at #INSummit. You can also explore the ideas on which this break-the-mold school design is based by reading our future educator roles paper or exploring the VibrantED simulation site that brings those roles to life through a set of job postings from the year 2025.
We are all concerned about the growing gap in education equity. Sadly, students are experiencing a vast difference in education quality depending on where they live, with many urban core schools lacking the resources available to the wealthy suburbs. Although the root causes stem more from using a school funding model based on real estate taxes and on lack of socioeconomic mobility, the gap is apparent to all. The good news is that there are steps we can take to reduce it, even while working at the macro level to change policy for the long term.
Personalized learning that’s integrated in tightly to the local community is one way we can effect change, and give all kids the same opportunities.
Capstone projects, when required of all seniors to graduate, give all students access to the business and civic community. All kids get a chance to practice the same agency skills, and all kids gain access to engaged, professional adults. Capstones demystify the working world for students, and help them understand what’s possible. It can also open the eyes of the community itself, as professionals engage with real students from a variety of backgrounds, including some unlike their own.
Educators can tend to think about implementing community-education partnerships as their issues to lead and resolve, but looking at the problem from the other way around can help get a new program off the ground. Businesses and trade organizations want to help students, but are largely unaware of the need. Many companies have community engagement goals or even requirements for their employees, and welcome new options to provide for them.
Successful capstone programs ensure that the students are actually in the workplace, whether it’s a construction office, manufacturing site, health care facility or a business office. It’s important to teach agency skills before the project starts: how to network, participate in a meeting, set goals, and communicate through business email. To gain buy-in between business in your community and your school district, engage with the businesses at the top level, then have management communicate the opportunity down through their teams. Businesses can submit project ideas to engage the community even further. Team-based capstones are a good option if such projects are large, and are actually more reflective of a real-world experience.
Take care, though, to continually review the process with an eye towards equity. Schools and students with ready access to family professionals and resources will use them, and those without may have a harder time making the right connections. Actively pairing students with professionals and managing the matching process is one way to guard against this.
Capstone projects can serve to bring an entire community together. When implemented, such cross-pollination of real people across societal segments builds the fiber of a healthy, vibrant community for the long term.
January 4 marked a decade since I walked into KnowledgeWorks’ office in Cincinnati as a new employee.
Back then, I had an office in the same building as my colleagues, and we adhered to clear expectations about the length of our workdays and our lunches. Titles and hierarchy determined the size and privacy level of our workspaces and our access to company-provided technology. In short, KnowledgeWorks operated as nearly every organization did in 2006.
This January 4, reporting to work entailed opening the shades in my home office in Columbus, firing up my laptop, and connecting with my most immediate colleagues, one of whom resides in Pittsburgh and the other in Grass Valley, California.
Today, KnowledgeWorks now has the technological infrastructure and leadership commitment to consider candidates for many new positions regardless of location. My father jokes that I carry my office in my backpack, and it’s true: while still relatively traditional in that it is full-time for a single organization, my work, like that of many people, is mobile, networked, and connected. Hierarchy still exists, as it does in almost all organizations, but it has blurred and softened as work structures have shifted, making many employees more autonomous, and as the organization has worked to make its culture more collaborative and inclusive. Just as in 2006, KnowledgeWorks’ current approaches reflect the nature of work in 2016.
People are increasingly mobile, networked and connected. How could this impact work and #FutureEd?
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During the past decade, the organization’s strategic foresight work has been tracking some of the factors contributing to the changing nature of work. Those include the increasingly distributed authority that our 2020 Forecast highlighted and the increasingly networked and ad hoc work arrangements described in Recombinant Education.
Looking ahead ten more years, the changes to what work looks like and how it functions in and supports our lives promise to get more pronounced; their potential implications, more intense. Our new forecast, The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code, identifies as one of five major drivers of change Labor Relations 2.0, negotiating new machine partnerships. By this we mean that we can expect over the next decade to be redefining, and then defining again and again, the ways in which people work with and alongside increasingly intelligent machines.
Already, we’re seeing robots such as Baxter come out of the cage and train and re-train quickly through relatively natural human interaction. We’re also seeing robots staffing restaurants, artificial intelligence writing news stories and diagnosing illnesses, and cognitive technologies being used to help manage health plans and improve population health. Similarly, sophisticated algorithms and software are streamlining the coordination of micro-tasks and dispatching ad-hoc workers through platforms such as Elance and TaskRabbit and services such as Uber and Lyft. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that his 2016 resolution is to create an AI to run his house and help him with his work. That’s this year.
Over the next decade, we can expect automation to proliferate, causing significant disruption to professional work that used to seem impervious to technological displacement and changing business models in many sectors. For example, rapid innovation could lead to increasingly digital medicine that reduces the need for doctors. Similarly, artificial intelligence could change law firms’ business models by distributing pieces of even complex legal work across new production chains that privilege effective yet inexpensive providers. The impact of such shifts could be so profound that an Oxford University report estimates that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be lost or change significantly over the next two decades.
As machines get smarter, we need to figure out what our contributions will be as humans. #FutureEd.
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As machines get smarter and become more capable of performing non-routine, complex tasks, we’re going to need to figure out where the unique human contributions lie and how to turn those contributions into viable employment structures. We could even find ourselves redefining the role that wage labor plays in our lives. The need is so great, and the changes to the nature of work so widespread, that more and more groups are taking a look at how we might navigate the emerging terrain. Among them, the Aspen Institute recently launched a Future of Work Initiative examining ways of strengthening the social contract as our relationships with organizations change. Similarly, ACT Foundation is pursuing a vision for a national learning economy that will support people in living, working, and learning for the performance era that is replacing the knowledge economy. In addition, the Institute for the Future recently released a report calling for action around 10 strategies for a workable future as platforms displace organizations and traditional categories of work come to clash with the realities that people are experiencing.
While we renegotiate and redefine such a central dimension of life – one whose structures have come to serve as an organizing principle around which other facets such as childcare, education, and leisure often flow – the choices that we make about smart machine partnerships in the workplace will shape both the daily texture of our lives and the purpose of education. We could end up redefining current notions of college and career readiness, with education at all levels preparing learners continually to reskill and upskill and to partner constructively with machines. We could also see a shift from fixed schools organized largely around administrative convenience to more fluid network- and relationship-based school formats reflecting new forms of coordination. Flexible educator swarms might form and reform around learners’ needs, with algorithms helping to match skills with needs and digital companions contributing to learner support alongside human educators occupying diverse roles.
We need to think creatively about how smart machine partnerships could impact the future. #FutureEd.
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With such profound changes on the horizon, we need to think creatively and broadly about what kinds of structures and relationships might support people in pursuing viable work and effective education and how to navigate the potentially turbulent path toward finding their new formats. While I’ve certainly had occasion to learn a lot during my decade at KnowledgeWorks, I think I’d better start getting to know some smart machine partners and fasten my seat belt for a fast ride toward an uncertain future of work.
The post The Nature of Work: Then, Now, and Our Future Machine Partnerships appeared first on World of Learning.
“How do we get better at communicating with our community?”
“How do we create a communications strategy?”
“Where do we share our announcements?”
These are common questions we run across in school districts.
At a recent presentation to superintendents, board members, teachers and school partners, KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Communication Cris Charbonneau energized people around some common goal:
How do we get better at sharing our messages?
The strategy of “sending handout home to the parents” in a school district might no longer be sufficient. Students, teachers, parents, care-takers and stakeholders all have different roles and objectives in what is now a learning community. Add to that blended, culturally diverse family structures and multiple languages.
We have to ask ourselves: Who is your audience? What messages are you trying to communicate?
Communications for school districts is no longer a ‘one-way street.’ Rather, it has become a way to for districts to actively and continuously build community to drive collective outcomes for students. “Every person has the ability to contribute ideas and experiences to the larger body of knowledge,” said Charbonneau.
Charbonneau suggests an intentional integrated strategic framework; by utilizing a communication strategy, leadership of school districts have a pathway of engagement with their audience.
— Melanie Ervin (@_you_got_mel) March 7, 2016
In closing Charbonneau offered 6 things to consider when implementing a family and community engagement strategy:
- Why are you doing it? Make sure you know the answer before you get started.
- Staff for it so you don’t start something you cannot maintain.
- Monitor and listen before jumping in so you learn best practices and can avoid pitfalls.
- Review and develop (social) media policies, protocols and practices.
- Prepare for ‘blue sky’ and ‘grey sky’ days.
- Share suggested practices for faculty and staff, other partners, parents and students.
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Change is in the air. And the community. And the schools. Welcome to Marion, Ohio!
The mission of Marion City Schools is to inspire a community of achievement. District leaders are putting forth an intentional plan to redesign teaching and learning that will ensure each student’s academic and personal development. Upon graduation, students will have acceptance into two or four year colleges, technical jobs, the military, adult education programs or apprenticeships. District leaders in Marion, Ohio, are bold and have even bolder goals.
Recognizing that they can’t achieve their district goals alone, Amy Wood, Director of Educational Programs and Grants for the district, has focused on partnership development that is of benefit to both the district and their partners.
Below are five Critical Practices from Amy that have helped her and the team to experience continued success with partners, as a foundation of trust was established.1. Be Present
“Be present It may seem obvious, but we have numerous distractions in the 21st century! Put your phone away and make eye contact! I find that sitting with community members and tuning in to learn about them is the most refreshing part of my day! When you are present you will come to realize that much of the work ‘gets done’ through informal conversation. As people feel more familiar with you, they will ask you questions during conversations in other settings. (At a ball game, the grocery store, in another unrelated meeting or location, a restaurant, and the like.) Remember the ripple effect. How you behave in one place gets talked about in other places. How you treat one person gets discussed with others. Being present is an easy practice that helps build your credibility.”2. Understand Social Proof
“Secondly, understand social proof. We decide what is correct by noticing what other people think is correct. When you can show community members what others like them believe or are doing, people are more likely to take the same action. Ask yourself: How are our community members connected to one another? What are the informal networks they have that influence one another?
“Our city’s Economic Development Director, Mr. Gus Comstock, has made himself an example of social proof to our benefit. He has taken it upon himself to arrange regular ‘resource development’ lunches for us. We meet with community leaders during this time to share our message and to learn about the other leader’s priorities and organization. As that leader considers his or her support for our work, it is reassuring for them to see that others like them already believe in it.”
“Thirdly, reach out to give. You can build a sense of connectedness in community members by delivering a number of uninvited “first favors” over time. They don’t have to be tangible gifts. In today’s world, useful information is one of the most valuable favors you can deliver. Successful grant writing is a particular talent of mine. Last summer I established a group called Marion Grant Mavens. This is a monthly 1-hour lunch hour meeting with every soft services Director in the entire county who seeks funds for their organization. Through giving them useful information-best practice tips about seeking funds, pro bono expertise in crafting funding applications, and a standing opportunity for networking and collaboration I ‘pay it forward’ on behalf of the District. This is an extremely powerful tactic and has even spurred unequal exchanges like other organizations reaching out to partner with us for financial opportunities and to provide programs to our students that are free of cost to us.”4. Be Involved with Other Organizations
“Fourth, be involved with other organizations. Caring, commitment and consistency in our responsibilities with the work of other organizations make deposits in the emotional bank accounts of our community members. Members of our team sit on the boards of multiple community organizations.
“This allows us the amazing opportunity to deeply engage with our partners and their missions on a regular basis. This helps us establish a comfort level, familiarity, and a history with each of them, and it builds social capital.”5. Show Gratitude
“Fifth and finally, show gratitude! Put simply, always remember to say thank you. It is often the little things that make a big difference.”
The post Five Ways to Engage Partners in Your Community to Help Improve Academic Success appeared first on World of Learning.
There’s a “typical” kind of student that every teacher knows. He can’t sit still. She struggles to read quietly at her desk. He forgets to raise his hand before shouting out the answer to a question.
These are students who may not perfectly fit the mold. They’re full of energy and creativity, yet so many times, they are labeled as trouble makers and rule breakers. So often, they can lose sight of how amazing and capable they are. What if the system could give them the space they need to succeed?
This is the story my high school friend shared when I asked her why she loves being a music teacher. “I have one of the best jobs in the world,” she said. As an elementary school music teacher, she gets to share her love of music with kindergarten through fifth-graders every day – some of whom are these “typical” students – and gets to see every student’s potential in a different way.
That “typical” student is different in the music room, she told me. He shares ideas about why the xylophone should be added to a song. She volunteers to sing examples for the class. He dances to the beat. She masters her favorite song on the recorder and wants to play it for the class.
Students light up when they walk in the music room. They are passionate, capable and encouraged.
Music gives all students a chance to be their best selves. #MIOSM2016
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March is Music in Our Schools Month, and it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate all students and their unique contributions, talents and abilities. As we talk about personalized education, the arts can be a perfect way to help students engage more deeply in their learning.
“Music is important,” my friend told me. “It’s important to the shy little girl who rarely participates in class, but lights up on stage during her first performance. It’s important to the fifth-grader who shares his fear of middle school through a song he wrote with his guitar. It’s important to every person who has expressed themselves simply by singing their heart out to the radio… and who hasn’t?!”
And most importantly, music gives all students a chance to be their best selves.
“As an elementary music teacher, my goal isn’t to inspire future musical prodigies,” my friend says. “My goal is to create a love for music and for each of my students to feel passionate, capable and encouraged.”
And that’s exactly how all students should feel every day during school.
The post Music Education: Helping “Typical” Students Find Their Voice appeared first on World of Learning.
Sometimes the future looks exciting and bright. But other times, it can seem daunting and a little scary.
During SXSWedu, I attended Jane McGonigal’s keynote, “How to Think (and Learn) Like a Futurist.” Jane, who works with the Institute for the Future, shared insight for all the non-futurists in the audience (myself, included). While I work closely with KnowledgeWorks’ strategic foresight team and have read our forecasts for 2020 and 2025, it was incredibly helpful to hear Jane’s introductory lesson.
Here’s how you can think like a futurist, with tips from @avantgame. #FutureEd
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Here are my favorite lessons learned about thinking toward the future:
- “We don’t want to be correct about the future. We want to be creative about the future.” Being a futurist, according to Jane, is not about predicting the future. Instead, it’s about considering the possibilities so we can be proactive in creating a future that we want.
- “Not all futures are futures we want.” If we imagine all possibilities for the future, there will be some not-as-positive options, along with amazing potential. It’s important to consider both, even if it can be a little scary. Then, we can work toward the positive future we want, and work against any would-be futures we don’t want.
- “To create something new, you have to imagine what can be different.” In considering the future, it’s crucial to think outside the box. Depending on what we want for the future, we need to imagine what could be different in the future to make those dreams reality.
- “The 10-year horizon seems to be very effective for unleashing creativity.” Ten years from now is close enough that we can look for signals of the future today: people are already designing the technology, scientists and scholars are already conducting the research, and today’s growing population will influence demographics in 10 years. But it’s also far enough out that we can really imagine how things could be different.
- “Learning personal foresight is the most important aspect of forecasting.” To help think through the 10-year forecast realistically, think about your own role. Consider what role you would play in this potential future. This is the most important part of making the future a reality.
Watch Jane’s entire keynote or check out “The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code” to consider learning in 2025. Let’s explore possibilities for the future.
The recent EDWorks Experience Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, focused on the work of a national network of EDWorks Early College High Schools. These schools focus on first-generation college students and provide the rigor and supports necessary to insure that students graduate from high school with their high school diploma as well as up to 60 college credits, the equivalent of an associate degree. These are tremendous schools and those that work in and with these schools are equally impressive.
Some key takeaways from the conference:
— Matt Williams (@MattAWilliams) March 7, 2016
Deb Delisle, Executive Director of ASCD and member of the KnowledgeWorks Board of Directors, outlined the fact that transformation in schools and education in general is a messy proposition. This couldn’t be truer. To truly transform a system and confront the status quo you have to overturn some apple carts as the saying goes. (To be honest, I’ve never seen an upset apple cart, but I digress). We need more leaders and teachers that are willing to brave the messiness of transformation.
— Matt Williams (@MattAWilliams) March 7, 2016
We have an engagement issue on our schools. As adults we can make all of the excuses we want, but that doesn’t fix the fact that in a globally interconnected world that produces content an exponential levels daily we’ve kept our school system firmly in the proverbial box. We need to find ways daily to capture moments of significance for our students. Students, because they are, you know, human, crave relevance, reflection and collaboration. These are essential. If we were to think back to our very best teachers, they did that for us and we are better for it.
— Matt Williams (@MattAWilliams) March 8, 2016
Ed Boland, an author, closed out the conference. He reflected on his time teaching in the New York City Schools. He brought up a truth about education and one that KnowledgeWorks holds dear. We need to go beyond the walls of the school to transform our educational system. We need students interacting out in the community, with business and industry, with nonprofits and NGOs, with the world around them. AND, they need that same world to come into their schools to mentor, tutor, and help guide them and thus making education relevant, connected and real.
— Colleen Maleski (@colleenmaleski) March 8, 2016
My colleague, Colleen Maleski of StriveTogether, tweeted the above. Amen. Rigor is king. We need to supply rigor in equitable ways. Rigor shouldn’t discriminate or only be present in certain zip codes or for some students but not others. All students rise to the challenge because they want to be challenged. They need an adult to say it’s time to bring their “A” game.
— Matt Williams (@MattAWilliams) March 8, 2016
One of the premises of keynote speaker Ed Boland’s speech was that “we need to dispel the myth of the hero teacher.” His point was that the heroic, movie teachers are just that, fiction. I actually disagree.
We need to reframe the hero teacher myth maybe, but not dispel it. Each of us had one teacher, if not many, that was a hero to us. They may not have been a hero in the made-for-tv-movie sense, but they were a hero because cared for us, challenged us, made us feel special and helped us rise to the occasion. You know what? That’s heroic. For me it was Ms. Alice Van Zant. She was a beast (and that’s the highest praise for me) of a teacher. She expected the best and sometimes thought my best wasn’t good enough. She helped me understand that and step my game up at a time in my life that I just frankly wanted to mail it in. She was and remains my hero.
The post Talking Early College, Education Transformation and Hero Teachers #ECWeek16 appeared first on World of Learning.
With the Every Student Success Act (ESSA) just three months old, all eyes are searching the federal K-12 education law for opportunities to advance education reform. While there are provisions that make me excited, and others that cause me concern. One thing is certain: the 391 pages are full of opportunities to make personalized learning a reality for every student in the country.
But these opportunities will only translate into results for students if stakeholders take advantage of them as they design new systems of teaching and learning. Fortunately, KnowledgeWorks has developed a side-by-side tool that compares key provisions in the previous K-12 education law (No Child Left Behind) to new provisions in ESSA that advance personalized learning. Our goal is to draw attention to these new opportunities so stakeholders are inspired to explore personalized learning elements as they begin to design and advocate for systems change.
ESSA is full of opportunities to make #PersonalizedEd a reality for all students in the country.
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You can access the full side-by-side tool here, or begin with the cliffs notes version below. Either way, we hope this information is useful and helps elevate conversations about how to build a better education system.
Top 10 Opportunities in ESSA to Advance Personalized Learning
- Assessment – Thanks to improvements to Title I assessment requirements and the state assessment grant program, states have an opportunity to replace or enhance current assessments with those that measure complex demonstrations of mastery, integrate multiple points of learning evidence, and provide an accurate picture of each student’s learning trajectory so stakeholders can respond with customized supports and interventions.
- Innovative Assessment Pilot – A new demonstration program will provide interested states with a unique opportunity to pilot high-quality, rigorous assessments that validate mastery of academic knowledge and core competencies through more complex performance-based tasks. These assessments (which may incorporate state-controlled local assessments) will provide a data-rich picture of each student’s performance level – not just those that meet or exceed proficiency.
- Accountability – States may integrate personalized learning indicators into their accountability system and assign substantial weight to those measures to ensure all students master the knowledge, skills, and competencies to succeed in college and career. States may also emphasize growth to proficiency in their accountability system to incentivize success for every student.
- School Improvement – States have significant flexibility in the identification and intervention of underperforming schools. States should take advantage of this opportunity to build a robust system of supports and interventions that incorporates personalized learning strategies to ensure all students are able to reach mastery by graduation. The system should provide schools with real-time data and diagnostic support to make necessary improvements throughout the school year instead of waiting for challenges to escalate.
- Direct Student Services – States have the opportunity to reserve up to 3% of their Title I, Part A grant to provide direct student services. States can leverage these resources to provide students in underperforming schools with access to high quality personalized learning opportunities.
- Educator Quality – By eliminating the highly qualified teacher requirement, ESSA gives states an opportunity to design a new strategy for educator quality that aligns to a vision for personalized learning. States should explore strategies to align their certification and licensing requirements to reflect new teaching roles and competencies for instruction in personalized learning environments.
- Leader Quality – States may take advantage of the opportunity to reserve up to 3% of their Title II, Part A grant to build a workforce of principals and other school leaders with the skills to help schools transition to personalized learning environments.
- Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – ESSA creates a new block grant that states can leverage to encourage innovation and personalized learning activities across the state, especially activities that help educators design customized learning pathways for students focused on mastery of academic content knowledge and social and emotional competencies.
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers – States can leverage these federal resources to support partnerships with community organizations in the provision of personalized learning opportunities outside of the traditional school day, including those that provide students with academic credit.
- Community Support for School Success – Thanks to the authorization of the full-service community schools and promise neighborhoods programs, ESSA provides a significant opportunity for community partners to leverage cross-sector collective impact partnerships to help implement evidence-based personalized learning strategies to improve outcomes for students across the cradle to career continuum.
Download the side-by-side to compare NCLB and ESSA, and to explore opportunities for personalized learning.
The post Top 10 Ways ESSA Opens the Door for Personalized Learning appeared first on World of Learning.
I am grateful to work for an organization that focuses on reforming education and personalized learning, but most of us work passionately behind the scenes without the opportunity to interact directly with the students we ultimately serve. So when the planners of the My Tomorrow initiative at Cincinnati Public Schools asked if we would host students for a job shadowing experience to foster college and career readiness, I was excited to offer the volunteer opportunity at KnowledgeWorks.
We paired sixteen students from Aiken High School with KnowledgeWorks employees who volunteered to spend the day sharing their professional journeys, current roles, and career advice. Students observed meetings, practiced mock college entrance interviews, shared and received feedback on their resumes, interviewed employees about their careers, and learned about the operations of a foundation.
In reflecting on the event and hearing students share their learnings at the close of the day, it’s clear that students left with more than KnowledgeWorks branded pens and tote bags.
- A real-world connection between academic success and success in career. Students asked questions about employees’ education and ongoing training, and made notes in their interview guide about the skills the employees use in their roles – including technical skills like accounting and graphic design, and workforce readiness skills like teamwork and communication. One student spent the day with Drake Bryan, Manager of Network Quality for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. Bryan collects and analyzes data on the StriveTogether Network, and after observing him, the student said she learned that “information in my AP Statistics class really can be used in a career!”
- An understanding that many career paths are not linear and a variety of opportunities exist. Harold Brown, Senior Officer for the Advancement of Underserved Learners at KnowledgeWorks, stressed to students that, “many careers are not linear. When you look back at your resume, it seems to align and make sense in a chronological order, but that’s not always how things happen.” This rang true for my own experiences, as many times roles were adapted or new positions were being formed as I took them. This is also true as we look across the range of skills and talents of KnowledgeWorks employees: a former teacher who is now an education policy researcher, a colleague with an accounting degree who went on to become a technology professional, or a biology major who is now the director of a nonprofit organization. I’m hopeful that the range of career fields at KnowledgeWorks opened students’ thinking to the possibilities available to them.
- Advice and encouragement. During a lunch question-and-answer session with KnowledgeWorks’ President and CEO Judy Peppler, students asked, “How long did it take you to become a CEO?” and, “What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a CEO someday?” She recommended that students find a good mentor, and “not be afraid to take risks.” Judy also shared a story about a former job in which she set a goal for herself to eventually work her way into a state president role within the company. She encouraged the students to set goals and “start with the end in mind” so that every decision is made with a lens of, “Will this help me get closer to my goal?”
My colleagues and I left the day feeling energized and grateful for the opportunity to spend time with such curious, engaged, and talented young people. Sharing the day with one student served as a great reminder to why our work to improve outcomes for every student is so important.
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We’re heading southwest next week to Austin, Texas, for SXSWedu!
Our very own Lillian Pace and Virgel Hammonds will be speaking on a couple panels which – in our 100 percent unbiased opinion – will be the two best sessions of the week.
We have a cool new resource to give out, stories to tell and insight to share. Stop by one of the following sessions to say ‘hello!’
Monday, March 7, 5-6 p.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
In the new Every Student Succeeds Act, there are opportunities to advance personalized learning and competency-based education. Come to this session to hear Lillian Pace, KnowledgeWorks senior director of national policy, explore these opportunities and share a brand new resource (hot off the press!).
Planning on attending this session? Tweet about it!
Can’t wait to learn about #ESSA and #PersonalizedEd w/ @KnowledgeWorks and @nacol at #SXSWedu!
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Tuesday, March 8, 3-6 p.m.
JW Marriott Salon 3
Can we imagine a future of learning where every child fulfills their endless potential? Virgel Hammonds, KnowledgeWorks chief learning officer, will share some of his story working with personalized learning at two school districts – RSU2 in Maine and Lindsey Unified in California.
Virgel will join a panel of personalized learning pioneers, including: Trace Pickering from Iowa BIG, Margaret Black from Big Thought, Michael Hinojosa from Dallas ISD, and Kelly Young from Education Reimagined.
Want to join us for this discussion? Help spread the word on Twitter:
Can’t wait to talk about #PersonalizedEd w/ @KnowledgeWorks & @EdReimagined at #SXSWedu!
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