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Welcoming Bridge to Success to the Cradle to Career network

Posts from WOL - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 2:00pm

Judy presents certificate

Peppler presents a certificate to Bridge to Success.             (Photo submitted by Bridge to Success)

 

Waterbury, Conn., had cause for celebration last week.

With engagement from business, philanthropy, civic, non-profit, faith-based, early childhood, k-12 and post-secondary education, healthcare, parents and students, the entire community has bridged cross-sector gaps and joined hands to support their students from cradle to career.

Last week, I attended a Bridge to Success Community Partnership event, welcoming the partnership into the Cradle to Career network. With the mayor, three school board members, superintendent and 70 other community partners in the room, the group publicly announced their goal to be the 10th StriveTogether sustaining community.

Part of what is making Bridge to Success productive is the dedication of partners and the community. Already, the partnership has made huge strides in garnering community-wide support.

  • They’ve established six outcomes that partners have agreed to work toward.
  • Every community council member has signed a partnership agreement for Bridge to Success.
  • The local school district has given their support, which builds and maintains trust across the partnership.
  • And the active Bridge to Success collaborative action groups bring together like-minded and passionate public and private partners, parents and caregivers to improve the lives of children in their city.

It’s easy to see that the entire community is energized and committed to the work, proving the possibilities in working collectively for student outcomes.

Congratulations to Bridge to Success and Waterbury, Conn., for your strides in this work. From our experience, we know it’s not easy. It takes a high level of engagement. It’s complex. But through the work of a dedicated community, change can (and will) take place.

We look forward to working with and learning from your community. Keep up the good work.

Bridge to Success partners

Bridge to Success partners pose in celebration. (Photo submitted by Bridge to Success)

 

 

 

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StriveTogether Expert Convening: Exploring What Works

Posts from WOL - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 2:00pm

What better way to learn about moving local-level student outcomes than asking people who are striving to move student outcomes in local cities across the country?

That’s exactly what StriveTogether has organized during their first-ever Expert Convening, which takes place today and tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah.

During the next two days, StriveTogether and six of the most advanced cradle-to-career partnerships will explore innovative ways attendees are using data to drive action and results to help kids throughout the country. With less than 25 participants at this invite-only event, StriveTogether will facilitate focused, dynamic conversations and interactive exercises to draw on participants’ knowledge and experience.

The conversations from this event will ultimately help inform future StriveTogether tools and resources that help the nationwide network in its collective impact efforts.

“This convening is the first time in which StriveTogether is bringing together its most advanced cradle to career communities to explore the innovative ways in which partnerships are using data to drive action to improve student outcomes,” Cradle to Career Network Senior Director Jennifer Blatz said. “Unlike other convenings on collective impact, this one doesn’t focus on building the partnership or creating a shared vision, but instead focuses on what are the actual actions that move outcomes.”

StriveTogether will use its Annie E. Casey Foundation results-based facilitation training throughout the convening. And, most excitedly, they will learn from and engage the cradle-to-career network in a new way.

“The goal is for participants to really connect with each other and learn from one another,” Cradle to Career Network Director Jennifer Perkins said. “At the same time, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to learn from these sites. We will leverage the knowledge and insight from this Expert Convening to help the network as a whole.”

Participating cradle to career partnerships include: All Hands Raised in Multnomah County, Oregon; Milwaukee Succeeds in Wisconsin; E3 Alliance in Austin, Texas; The P16Council of Greater Bexar County, Texas; The Commit! Partnership in Dallas County, Texas; and StrivePartnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

To learn more about what’s happening on the local level, join the conversation on Twitter by following @StriveTogether and #actionSLC, and check out the StriveTogether blog for updates.

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Eyes on Iowa: Imagining Student-Centered Education

Posts from WOL - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 1:00pm

Is climbing a rope really an effective measurement of physical endurance? I may be dating my public school education, but these are the kinds of questions educators are asking.

With a growing movement in competency-based education and personalized student learning, innovators are exploring the future of education and our ability to provide meaningful learning opportunities for each individual student.

Last week at a conference with Iowa ASCD and Iowa Department of Education, educators, higher education representatives and policy makers took a deeper dive to discuss Katherine Prince’s new paper, “Forecasting the Future of K-12 Teaching,” and our future of learning infographic, which both paint a picture of a learning ecosystem entirely focused on the individual student.

In an ideal future, education will be entirely focused on the individual student. There will be multiple learning platforms and more forms of school. Communities will take ownership and accountability of learning, and we will create new innovative educator roles to support all students in more creative, personalized ways. These learning agents will work with parents and students to develop individualized learning playlists in formal and informal contexts, based on each student’s values, aspirations and dreams.

At the conference, Katherine discussed this vision for the future of learning during the keynote address. Participants also engaged in an activity designed to help “imagine breakthrough change toward a diverse learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners,” she said.

Katherine also hosted a breakout session to discuss the future of K-12 educator roles, focusing on teachers, diversifying learning agent roles, and plausible futures for the profession. The session ran twice.

Lillian Pace, KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of National Policy, also hosted a twice-run breakout session, “From NCLB to CBE: Identifying a New Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education.” The session explored major policy barriers for competency-based education and explored solutions to give communities and states the flexibility to study and scale this work.

“I love engaging with educators about federal policy because they bring new and important insights to the conversation,” Lillian said. “Iowa’s educators will be an important voice as we work to create a new federal K-12 policy that supports the growth of competency education.

“After two days working alongside educators in Iowa, I can see why the nation’s eyes are on the state. They have a focused vision and a tremendous amount of energy to make competency education a reality for Iowa students. I believe their leadership will create some compelling proof points that will move the national dialogue forward in an impactful way.”

Hopefully toward a discussion about creating opportunities for personalized learning, helping kids climb their own ladders to reach their aspirations, hopes and dreams.

_______

Iowa ASCD serves more than 1,100 educators, including teachers, principals, superintendents and principals, while collaborating to impact learning for every student in Iowa. “Competency-Based Education: Define! Design! Deliver!” brings together thought leaders and educators to focus on competency-based education, while building capacity to transform the current education system in Iowa.

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Cultivating New Cultures of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 9:00am

Last week I had the opportunity to engage in Grantmakers for Education’s 2014 Education Grantmakers Institute at the Harvard School of Education, which aimed to “get all of us thinking about how education and our learners are changing, and, as result, how our organizations need to change to have the kind of impact our missions demand.”

The conversation ended on a broad note, with emphasis on the need to cultivate large-scale systemic change to help the current education system transform into a vibrant node within the expanded learning ecosystem that our forecast on the future of learning projects. Of course I was pleased to hear this call, as I’ve been speaking and writing for some time now about how we’re facing much greater disruption, and much greater need, than incremental improvements within the existing educational paradigm can address.

But the conversation when beyond emphasizing the striking need to redesign our education structures to focus on learning for and in a world of anytime, anywhere access to knowledge and the continuous remaking of the conditions in which we live and work. It also explored the equally strong imperative to create new cultures of learning. Without them, my fellow participants observed, people operating in new structures will risk simply rubber banding back to the cultures we have always known.

The need to cultivate new cultures of learning has arisen in other recent conversations as well. In collaborating to design Grantmakers for Education’s June 30 event, “Transforming the Learning Ecosystem: Putting Personalized Learning Within Reach for All Learners,” I learned of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning. It argues that we need to design learning – even more flexible learning experiences than characterize today’s typical public school – not around specific learning objectives but around a process of inquiry that fuels a broader set of skills and dispositions for lifelong learning.

During a tour of MIT’s Media Lab, Mitch Resnick, who leads their Lifelong Kindergarten group, described that group’s focus on fostering creative learning for the world. In so doing, they create learning cultures characterized by projects, peers, passion, and play. As he put it, “Learning particular content is not the answer; people need to find creative solutions to the problems we know they’ll encounter.” Within our current education system, he said, kindergarten comes the closest to embodying this kind of learning, although it is increasingly becoming more regimented and more like the rest of the school system.

I hope we can reverse that kind of trend and strengthen the trends that are opening up learning to include many more possibilities for how, when, and what young people learn. That we can open ourselves to exploring fully not just new structures for learning such as competency education but also new cultures for learning that can support truly personalized learning. Learning that is not just paced to the individual but which is driven by his or her interests in meaningful collaborative contexts.

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Creating the Future of Teaching

Posts from WOL - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 10:42am

 Four Scenarios for a Decade of Disruption.

I’m delighted to be releasing a new paper on the future of teaching! “Forecasting the Future of K-12 Teaching: Four Scenarios for a Decade of Disruption” examines how the disruptive changes shaping education might affect teaching in the next ten years. I wrote this paper given the crucial role that teachers play in young people’s lives. As we face dramatic changes to the fundamental structures of education, we need to be intentional about how we design for adults’ roles in supporting learning.

To help education stakeholders around the country create positive futures for the teaching profession, this paper presents four scenarios for the future of K-12 teaching in the United States:

  • A baseline future, “A Plastic Profession,” that extrapolates from today’s dominant reality to project what teaching is likely to look like in ten years if we do not alleviate current stressors on the profession and do not make significant changes to the structure of today’s public education system.
  • An alternative future, “Take Back the Classroom,” that explores what teaching might look like if public educators reclaim the learning agenda by helping to shape the regulatory climate to support their visions for teaching and learning.
  • A second alternative future, “A Supplemental Profession,” which examines what teaching might look like if today’s public education system does not change significantly but professionals from other organizational contexts become increasingly involved in supporting young people in engaging in authentic and relevant learning opportunities outside of school.
  • An ideal future, “Diverse Learning Agent Roles,” that explores how a diverse set of learning agent roles and activities might support rich, relevant, and authentic learning in an expanded and highly personalized learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners.

Each of these scenarios represents a plausible future for K-12 teaching reflecting different drivers of change that are at play in the world today. Emphasizing one set of key drivers versus another leads to different fundamental assumptions about how the future might play out, and therefore to very different narratives about how it might look. Even today, any one of the scenarios might not be equally likely in all places.

While it is unlikely that the future of K-12 teaching will unfold exactly as articulated in any of these scenarios, engaging with them can help us surface key issues facing the profession today, develop visions for what we would like teaching to look like in ten or more years, and create strategies for pursuing those visions while at the same time mitigating against less positive outcomes. We have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to look ahead and channel the forces of change at play in the world today toward outcomes that we want to create.

The choices we make about teaching today will affect not just teachers’ experiences of their profession but also the very design of learning itself and, most importantly, the extent to which we are able to support all learners in achieving their fullest potential. What future of teaching do you want to create?

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Creating Community Learning Landscapes

Posts from WOL - Thu, 06/12/2014 - 2:43pm

Earlier this week I had a chance to chat with Larry Jacobs of Education Talk Radio and Elizabeth Merritt of the American Alliance of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums about AAM’s Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem (see my excerpt on two scenarios for the future).  As the learning ecosystem expands, we see the potential for learning experiences to extend throughout community landscapes – both geographic and virtual – and for museums to play a key role as learning institutions and agents of change.

As I put it in my essay:

In the vibrant learning grid scenario, all learners would be able to move seamlessly across many kinds of learning experiences and providers, with learning agents from a variety of backgrounds supporting them in customizing and carrying out their learning journeys.  In the fractured landscape scenario, museums and other cultural institutions could help fill gaps left by the public education system, providing alternatives for at least some learners who might otherwise have access to few good opportunities.

Museums are great at fostering passion-based learning, which I’d love to see characterize the whole learning ecosystem.  They have much to share around cultivating inquiry, creativity, play, and other attributes that could support learners in following their interests in meaningful collaborative contexts.  And there is great scope for museums and other cultural institutions to extend how they contribute to local and worldwide learning landscapes.

What if we fostered community-wide ownership of learning, with learners moving seamlessly across place-based and virtual experiences as they followed their passions and pursued their learning outcomes?  What if urban mapping tools such as the fictional Community Learning Resources site helped surface and connect a community’s learning assets?  What if new kinds of learning agents, such as this learning journey mentor from the year 2025, helped guide and support learners in creating and pursuing truly personalized learning playlists?

We think that leaders from the education and cultural sectors can work together to integrate the nation’s assets into a vibrant learning grid that makes such possibilities work – and work well – for all students.

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Museums: Agents of change in a vibrant learning ecosystem

Posts from WOL - Mon, 06/09/2014 - 2:20pm

Field trip! My kids loved them. It was a chance to get out of the classroom, experience what they read in a textbook or on a ditto (did I just date myself?) and experience learning in a meaningful way that inspired curiosity, thought and imagination. They crave more hands-on, inquiry-based opportunities to learn.

Museums. They’re educational powerhouses.

  • Museums spend more than $2 billion a year on education. The typical museum devotes three-quarters of its education budget specifically to K–12 students.
  • Museums receive more than 55 million visits every year from students in school groups.
  • Museums create educational programs in math, science, art, literacy, language arts, history, civics and government, economics and financial literacy, geography and social studies, often tailored to the needs of state and local curriculum standards.
  • Each year, museums provide more than 18 million instructional hours for educational programs such as guided tours for students, staff visits to schools, school outreach through science vans and other traveling exhibits, and professional development for teachers

As KnowledgeWorks further explores the Future of Learning and expand the very idea that learning can and already does happen outside the classroom, we invite you to listen-in to this week’s EduTalk on

Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem.

When: Tuesday, June 10
Time: 9:00am (eastern time)

> Listen live

Our very own Katherine Prince, Senior Director of Strategic Foresight, and Elizabeth Merritt, Founding Director of the American Alliance of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums will be discussing the American Alliance of Museums recently published a report, to which KnowledgeWorks contributed, sharing ideas coming out of a convening organized with The Henry Ford in September 2013. Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem explores how leaders from the worlds of education and museums can work together to integrate the nation’s assets into a Vibrant Learning Grid in which all learners have access to the best of the expanding learning ecosystem.

Listen in and tweet #futureoflearning. Think of it as a… fieldtrip.

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Unique Opportunity on June 30 in Washington, D.C. – Transforming the Learning Ecosystem

Posts from WOL - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 3:25pm

Join us at Transforming the Learning Ecosystem, a one-day event, in collaboration with Grantmakers for Education and their Out-of-School Time Funder Network.

As avenues for learning expand, it is essential that we reach outside the traditional learning paradigm to meet the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s students. Since 2005, KnowledgeWorks has studied the trends shaping our world and helped education leaders plan for the future of learning.

Join us at Transforming the Learning Ecosystem, a one-day event, in collaboration with Grantmakers for Education and their Out-of-School Time Funder Network.

This event on June 30th in Washington, D.C., will give participants to opportunity to:

  • Learn more about future education trends;
  • Imagine how formal and informal learning environments can connect in transformative ways, creating learning ecosystems that put students at the center;
  • Discuss how ‘personalized learning’ can support youth voice and achievement, not just in niche programs, but at scale, with attention to equity and access for all;
  • Confront financial and policy challenges to realizing this new vision for future learning; and
  • Consider how grantmakers can spark transformation of the learning ecosystem.

Date: Monday, June 30, 2014
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Location: The Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C. 

Admission to this event is free to GFE members. 

Register and view the full agenda.

Join us for this unique collaboration between Grantmakers for Education (GFE), KnowledgeWorks, and the GFE Out-of-School-Time Funders Network.

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Cultivating New Cultures of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 05/15/2014 - 2:37pm

Last week I had the opportunity to engage in Grantmakers for Education’s 2014 Education Grantmakers Institute at the Harvard School of Education, which aimed to “get all of us thinking about how education and our learners are changing, and, as result, how our organizations need to change to have the kind of impact our missions demand.”

The conversation ended on a broad note, with emphasis on the need to cultivate large-scale systemic change to help the current education system transform into a vibrant node within the expanded learning ecosystem that our forecast on the future of learning projects. Of course I was pleased to hear this call, as I’ve been speaking and writing for some time now about how we’re facing much greater disruption, and much greater need, than incremental improvements within the existing educational paradigm can address.

But the conversation when beyond emphasizing the striking need to redesign our education structures to focus on learning for and in a world of anytime, anywhere access to knowledge and the continuous remaking of the conditions in which we live and work. It also explored the equally strong imperative to create new cultures of learning. Without them, my fellow participants observed, people operating in new structures will risk simply rubber banding back to the cultures we have always known.

The need to cultivate new cultures of learning has arisen in other recent conversations as well. In collaborating to design Grantmakers for Education’s June 30 event, “Transforming the Learning Ecosystem: Putting Personalized Learning Within Reach for All Learners,” I learned of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning. It argues that we need to design learning – even more flexible learning experiences than characterize today’s typical public school – not around specific learning objectives but around a process of inquiry that fuels a broader set of skills and dispositions for lifelong learning.

During a tour of MIT’s Media Lab, Mitch Resnick, who leads their Lifelong Kindergarten group, described that group’s focus on fostering creative learning for the world. In so doing, they create learning cultures characterized by projects, peers, passion, and play. As he put it, “Learning particular content is not the answer; people need to find creative solutions to the problems we know they’ll encounter.” Within our current education system, he said, kindergarten comes the closest to embodying this kind of learning, although it is increasingly becoming more regimented and more like the rest of the school system.

I hope we can reverse that kind of trend and strengthen the trends that are opening up learning to include many more possibilities for how, when, and what young people learn. That we can open ourselves to exploring fully not just new structures for learning such as competency education but also new cultures for learning that can support truly personalized learning. Learning that is not just paced to the individual but which is driven by his or her interests in meaningful collaborative contexts.

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District-level Competency Education Implementation in Maine

Posts from WOL - Tue, 05/06/2014 - 4:56pm

A while back, I wrote about a study that examined the implementation of the proficiency-based (or competency-based) diploma system in Maine. That study focused on school-level implementation. The same folks published another study that focused on district-level implementation in the state. I am going to quickly run through benefits, challenges, and recommendations in the study because I think the overarching challenges identified are most interesting.

Benefits:

  •  Improved student engagement
  • Continued development of robust interventions systems for struggling students
  • Collaborative professional work to develop common standards, align curriculum, and create assessments
  • Collective and transparent monitoring of student progress and needs by educators, administrators, and families

Challenges:

  • Developing clear, common definitions of key system components
  • Local implementation practices consistent with intentions of legislative policy
  • Building parent understanding and support for the new practices
  • Creating job-embedded, sustained professional time for collaboration
  • Understanding the unique needs and approaches of various grade spans or developmental levels, especially the stages of early childhood, the high school level and the population of students with identified special education needs
  • Developing comprehensive, sustainable learning management systems
  • Finding resources to assist with the predicted cost increases
  • Preparing students for post-secondary systems, specifically college and career readiness

Recommendations:

  • State should provide greater guidance in developing common definitions, and greater consistency in standards and assessments
  • State should continue to develop the technical assistance plan it outlined in the law and expand their assistance to include more support for district-level professional development
  • State should take a greater leadership role in helping school districts develop and implement learning management systems that support a proficiency-based system
  • Consider establishing an expanded system for continuous monitoring of both the Maine Department of Education and individual districts as implementation continues

As I said, the overarching challenges are most interesting to me. The first overarching challenge is systems thinking, specifically making sure you pay attention to all elements of the system and how they interact with each other as you’re working to improve the system as a whole. In systems thinking terms, this is called a crisis of fragmentation. The video below does a great job of explaining what the crisis of fragmentation is. This is tricky though. Because while this crisis is very real, there is also a system thinking axiom that says in order to optimize the system, you are required to sub-optimize some or all of the parts of the system. Vice versa, if you optimize the parts of the system, you are guaranteed to sub-optimize the entire system. So, my question is, are people willing to sub-optimize the parts of the system for the betterment of the whole system? This is a pretty difficult question, eh?

The other overarching challenge involves governance, specifically the local control culture in Maine leading to each district being tasked with defining their own competencies and creating their own curriculum and assessments aligned to those competencies. This creates huge discrepancies from district to district about what a high school diploma actually means. The report suggests a Dutch higher education governance model called “steering from a distance” to remedy this (you can learn more on page 7 of this report). Sorry to say, I am no expert on Dutch higher education governance but I will certainly be investigating this model more deeply in the future.

As both MERPI studies report, there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work on the ground in Maine to advance the proficiency-based model. There continue to be significant challenges to this work and I look forward to continually monitoring, and learning from, these great edu-innovators.

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An Introduction to the 10 Essential Elements for High School Race to the Top

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Mon, 03/25/2013 - 4:02pm

President Barack Obama outlined a broad vision for education reform in his fifth State of the Union address, including a commitment to create a new high school reform competition modeled after his signature education initiative – Race to the Top. This competition would encourage schools to partner with colleges and employers to ensure America’s high school graduates have the skills to succeed in an increasingly complex workplace. With college remediation rates at record highs and the high-tech skills gap widening, KnowledgeWorks believes the nation’s high schools could benefit significantly from this type of competition.

A High School Race to the Top competition must challenge the current education system by empowering education stakeholders to break through traditional barriers to learning. Educators in traditional public schools and public charter schools must feel empowered to design flexible learning environments that align with student interest and learning styles and cultivate the knowledge and skills that ensure a seamless transition from high school to college and career. In order to achieve this type of success, KnowledgeWorks believes a new high school competition must include 10 Essential Elements for high school reform. These elements are informed by KnowledgeWorks’ groundbreaking research on the future of learning as reflected in our third forecast, Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem (Forecast 3.0) and the experience of our subsidiary organizations who serve on the front lines of high school reform.

On Thursday, March 28, we will release a policy paper, High School Race to the Top: 10 Essential Elements for High School Reform and College and Career Ready Success that explains the concepts fundamental to high school reform as well as recommended legislative language to guide policymakers as they begin to shape the High School Race to the Top proposal.

If you just can’t wait for the official release, check back here on Wednesday for a sneak peek of the 10 elements. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter to learn about real-world examples of schools and educators working to implement these innovative ideas.

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Affiliating as an Adjunct to Scaling

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Thu, 02/07/2013 - 8:00am

Recently I joined a meeting of NASBE’s study group on learners and learning in 2013 and beyond to share KnowledgeWorks’ Forecast 3.0, Recombinant Education.  During that conversation, one of the members commented about an insight she’d recently had: states have tried and tried to scale innovation but have never quite managed it.  She’d come to the conclusion that “We can’t do it.”  But, she went on to say, “We can affiliate.”

As she explored the difference between scaling and affiliating, a light came on for me: scaling reflects the industrial model that education and many of our other systems have outgrown.  In looking for ways to replicate success, we reflect an orientation toward mass production, even when we customize for local conditions.  But we no longer live in an industrial world.

We at KnowledgeWorks advocate for scaling successful innovations across the education system, for doing more of what we know works well in certain places.  Faced with great need, we all want more of works well for more kids.  But shouldn’t we also think about ways of transforming education that are more in sync with how we’ve begun to organize production in our post-industrial times?

Over the years, primarily in workshops centered on sustainability, I’ve heard several speakers describe our time as being one of a paradigm shift from an economic toward an ecological or biological model.  That feels right to me.  And I see the disruption that Recombinant Education describes as de-institutionalized production as reflecting this shift. 

 As we turn increasingly to networks to organize ad hoc contributions from a talent cloud and to collaborate for however long we need to in order to achieve shared goals, we are operating according to principles of affiliation rather than scale.  And it’s not necessarily one organization affiliating with another, or a formal organization pulling in the right individuals for a time.  It’s also collections of individuals identifying each other along lines of affinity and turning to one another to find shared solutions.

To me, this kind of affiliating is very much in sync with, and a product of, our paradigm shift.  In A Simpler Way, Meg Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers describe the possibilities that emerge when we approach the organization of work and other productive activity from a living systems perspective instead of modeling our organizations on “standards of machine efficiency” (71).   They write:

Local activities build on themselves – connecting, expanding, transforming – and all without traditional planning or direction.  The system emerges as individuals freely work out conditions of life with their neighbors.  No one worries about designing the system.  Everyone concentrates on making sense of the relationships and needs that are vital to their existence.  They are coevolving.  From such local, autonomous, and messy negotiations, something large, complex, and useful emerges….  And from the mess, a system appears that works (71).

No one likes to think about messes in relation to educating our children.  But we are navigating many of them.  Affiliation promises to cultivate new kinds of partnerships and collaborations that could lead to new kinds of solutions for learners.

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Get Your Learning Playlist On

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Fri, 02/01/2013 - 4:42pm

I recently had the pleasure of sharing KnowledgeWorks’ latest future forecast, Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem, with the Union Institute in Cincinnati.  In applying the forecast’s insights with a higher education institution with a long history of innovating to make higher learning accessible to working adults, I found myself particularly intrigued by the question of whether small liberal arts institutions can expect to continue thriving.

 It looks as if current models of higher education will crumble in the face of freely available, blockbuster-quality content (for example, Gautam Kaul’s Introduction to Finance course and other MOOCs) and do it yourself credentialing (for example, Degreed).  Some of today’s universities will probably survive intact.  Some will probably close their doors.  Many will be faced with reinventing themselves. 

They, and other learning providers, will have to think anew about what makes them special.  About what particular value proposition will draw students to them instead of other options.  As learners exercise more and more agency in seeking out precisely what they need and want, there will be many answers to such questions.  Where tuition is high, the need to distinguish value beyond what is freely or inexpensively available will be especially pronounced.

These same questions will apply at the K-12 level.  Probably not as soon.  But Recombinant Education forecasts that education is facing the same kind of deep disruption and reconfiguration that Amazon brought to bookselling, and then to retail more generally, and that iTunes brought to the music industry. 

We expect to see learning resources and experiences fit together in a much more modular way than we are used to thinking of it, the way we now purchase individual songs more often than whole albums.  To see learners develop what we might think of as individual learning playlists to meet their specific needs and goals.  Some learners’ playlists will mainly or only involve a brick and mortar school.   But the range of choices will go far beyond today’s spectrum of in-person, blended, or digital.  So far that some learning playlists might involve learning agents accessed directly from the talent cloud but no formal organization.

For an institution to remain viable in a world of free-flowing learning experiences, the question of value will critical.  Quality could be part of the answer.  So could specialization.  Opening boundaries might be necessary too.  Because even for those students who say “yes” to a particular value proposition, their engagement with it might not be an exclusive learning relationship.

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Digital Learning: Ten Insights from the Future

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Mon, 01/28/2013 - 9:33pm

The digital revolution has been a key lever in opening possibilities for education beyond what seemed possible when KnowledgeWorks published our first forecast on the future of learning in 2006.  Our latest forecast, Recombinant Education, indicates that digital technologies, along with the social innovations that they enable, will continue to disrupt the education system such that the best of today’s solutions will combine with new components to meet learners where they are.

Digital learning will be part of a modular and nimble learning ecosystem in which learning agents, learners, and families create many different learning combinations that reflect their needs, interests, and goals.

Ten Insights from the Future

  1. Interactive tools such as online brokerage services and learning resources maps will be essential in helping learners and their parents choose from a rich array of learning resources and experiences.
  2. Learning agents who specialize in advising learners and their parents will play a critical role in helping learners find the particular mix of learning experiences that’s right for them.
  3. Meaningful data about learners and their learning will need to flow seamlessly across many different learning experiences and providers.
  4. That data will go far beyond logging academic performance data to provide rich insights into learners’ social and emotional conditions, predict performance, and suggest individual strategies for success.
  5. For data to follow individual learners across their learning experiences, technical systems will need to be interoperable, spanning organizational and geographic boundaries.
  6. As digital learning gets more and more sophisticated and as digital technologies increasingly support and complement place-based learning experiences, many forms of hyper-focused “schools” will operate across media and platforms.
  7. Learners will expect all learning experiences, regardless of format, to be highly personalized and relevant.
  8. School and district administrators will manage portfolios of learning resources, combining digital learning experiences and other assets to meet the needs of all learners.
  9. As extreme career mobility and ad hoc work become the norm, strong digital networking skills will become a critical aspect of career readiness.
  10. Digital portfolios and credentialing systems will help both learners and workers demonstrate their accomplishments and manage their personal brands.

It’s impossible to envision a future learning ecosystem without digital learning playing a critical role in delivering learning and without digital learning services providing essential supports for learners, families, and learning agents.

Let’s hold the future of learning in mind as we shape digital learning today.

Categories: Blog

Super Cool Anytime, Anywhere Learning

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:16am

Last week, Michael Robbins, Senior Advisor for Nonprofit Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education, wrote a thought-provoking post on the Department’s blog titled Community Partnerships for the Digital Learning Revolution.  In it, Robbins outlined four key areas of collaboration that community organizations can undertake to advance the digital learning movement:

  • Expanding access and digital literacy;
  • Bridging between schools, families, and communities;
  • Service and volunteering in education; and
  • Creating new avenues for anytime-anywhere learning.

As Digital Learning Day approaches, I am taken back a couple of years to when I was working on the launch of the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning.  I was still very new to the K-12 space; up until then I had worked in higher education, and was enamored with all the super-cool stuff contained in the forecast, especially around anytime, anywhere learning.  One day, someone reminded me that while the 2020 Forecast might articulate some “super cool” things about learning being unhitched from traditional schools, there was also a good chance that this could lead to a widened achievement gap – specifically because of a lack of access to the proper edtech tools for underserved students.  Needless to say, I hadn’t thought about this and was fairly disheartened as I wrapped my brain around the idea.

As I read Robbins’ post, my optimism about anytime, anywhere learning got a boost.  Whether it’s Connect2Compete working “to expand low-cost internet, computers, and digital literacy instruction to low-income families,” or HIVE Learning Networks using, “new technologies and media to better connect students to their interests, aspirations, communities, and careers,” the partnerships he described made the 2020 Forecast super-cool again.

It is becoming increasingly clear that complex social issues, like education, cannot be improved by one sector alone.  Cross sector collaboration; whether it is community or faith-based organizations, non-profits, businesses, or families; is a non-negotiable if we are going to, as Robbins says, “…ignite student curiosity and engagement in learning.”

Categories: Blog

Forecast 3.0: Charting the Future

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Thu, 01/10/2013 - 7:11pm

Publications referencing Forecast 3.0: Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem continue to bubble up in the education space.

Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem,” by Joe Nathan, Director of the Center for School Change, asks if recent inventions or discoveries are changing the way we learn? Focusing on changes we have already witnessed in our lifetimes, Nathan explores some of the disruptions outlined in the Forecast.

Leslie Wilson, CEO-One-to-One Institute, outlines each of the five projected disruptions in “Charting the Future!

Dive deeply into the future of learning – visit our new Learning in 2025 resources page.

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Categories: Blog

Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem

Posts for Strategic Foresight Page - Thu, 10/25/2012 - 8:11am

After months of work with partners around the country, I am delighted to announce the release of KnowledgeWorks Forecast 3.0, Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem.
With our first two forecasts, we anticipated that teaching and learning would become uncoupled from traditional educational institutions. Beginning in 2005, we saw the possibility for a vibrant array of learning experiences, resources, and tools to be available to nearly anyone, anytime, anywhere, for any purpose. In 2012, that future has certainly arrived!
Due to five key disruptions, we expect that the coming decade will bring experiments with the novel recombination of this array of unbundled resources, talent, and technology. We will have the opportunity to put the pieces – some long-established and some new – together in new sequences to create a diverse and evolving learning ecosystem that ensures that each and every child is prepared to thrive in a dynamic future.
Of course, Forecast 3.0 is but one thread in a rich tapestry of the current education conversation. We hope you will be interested in weaving in your ideas by engaging in challenging, inspiring, and disruptive conversations in your own communities, organizations, and schools or here online with us.
Over the next few months, the Organizational Development and Foresight team, along with our KnowledgeWorks colleagues and partners, will continue to elaborate on the disruptions on this blog. We will also use the forecast’s “20,000 foot view” as a starting point for engaging in more practice-based conversations. We expect to examine questions about what the disruptions and opportunities to recombine components of the learning ecosystem might mean for topics as diverse as learning outcomes, curriculum, pedagogy, leadership, governance, teachers’ roles and preparation, professional learning, funding, assessment, partnerships, community involvement, and even the very purpose of education.
Please look for future discussions here or, if we can support your efforts to catalyze new conversations in some other way, please contact us. You can also engage further by ordering hard copies of the forecast free of charge or download the forecast if that is of use to you.
We look forward to creating the future with you!

Categories: Blog

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