KnowledgeWorks recently partnered with ReSchool Colorado to explore this question at a convening of their network in Denver. The event buzzed with a sense that the need to rebundle education is getting more urgent and that we have more and more ways of making that happen. Indeed, the program featured several people and organizations that are already finding new ways forward.
As we continue to consider how best to position education for the emerging era of partners in code and the changing economic realities that it is likely to bring, the conversation highlighted several guideposts for our collective exploration. We need to:
1. Develop new guides for the new landscape. Learning across more diverse landscapes and in more ways and places will require new navigators to help all learners and families rebundle education successfully. ReSchool Colorado is experimenting with learner advocate networks that play this role. A learning Sherpa, another way of thinking about this new guidance and connection function, resonated across the conversation.
2. Expand educator roles. We can’t get very far with rebundling education without re-examining current teacher and administrative roles. So what might new roles look like? The conversation highlighted the need to provide people working with learners day to day with webs of support that can help them grow their practice, make connections beyond their areas of expertise, and activate non-academic supports as needs arise. Career connectors could help working adults develop new skills as workplace demands shifted.
3. Foster new skills for a project-based world. Tom Vanderark of Getting Smart emphasized the need for an innovation mindset to help people succeed in an increasingly project-based world of learning, work, and life. As he defines it, an innovation mindset combines effort, initiative, and collaboration. Orienting learning around future-ready skills promises to ensure that the substance of rebundled learning ecosystems prepares learners for navigating life beyond school.
4. Co-create new approaches with learners. They need to be part of the design process. An integral part. We can’t design solutions for learners in particular places and circumstances without truly understanding their realities. Learners can co-create new schools and learning ecosystems as well as their own learning pathways. Organizations such as Boulder Housing Partners, the XQ Team for Fort Collins’ Compass High School, and Carbondale’s Valley Settlement Project are already helping people drive their own learning.
5. Accede some financial control to families. If we keep giving money to schools, we’ll keep getting school-centric approaches to education. To rebundle education effectively instead of creating only supplemental pathways or innovation at the (often wealthy) fringes, learners and families need to control at least part of the per-pupil funding. That financial power would begin to shift the locus of education from the system to the student. It could also incent innovation among learning providers seeking to attract clients.
As we plan for rebundling education for a new era, we’ll need to hone these and many other strategies for creating and navigating increasing choice and learner-centered ecosystems. At the same time, we’ll need to keep in mind the exponential rate of change that surrounds our efforts, planning for adaptability even as we create new learning relationships and environments and shift systemic structures to support them.
For more insights from the conversation, see ReSchool Colorado’s takeaways, and stay tuned as they explore ways of ensuring quality and value across a larger landscape of learning this summer.
Katherine Prince is the Senior Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks. She is excited about the future of learning, transformative leadership, and building resilient solutions for a sustainable world.