Guest post by Sunanna Chand. Sunanna is Learning Innovation Strategist for the Remake Learning Council. The Remake Learning Network is comprised of 250+ organizations collaborating to bring engaging and relevant learning experiences to all kids in the Pittsburgh region.
We know that our lives are changing more rapidly than ever. Here in Pittsburgh, where once-reliable steel mill jobs ruled the city, we now have self-driving taxis criss-crossing our region. In five years, who knows where we’ll be: Will we even need our own cars? What skills will help program those cars? What’s next?
We talk a lot about “21st century learning” in Pittsburgh. We want kids who are “digital natives” to feel connected to education, both in and out-of-school. But we are in a time of exponential change. Not only are we already nearly a fifth of the way through the 21st century, our civilization is also doubling knowledge every year – a head-spinning pace. If we’re only thinking about the next year, we’re already close to being far behind.
What this means is that the future is more opaque than any time in human history. The challenge we often face is: How do we prepare kids for the future, when the only thing we know for certain is that it will be shaped by constant uncertainty?
We can’t live in that reality and think that education can proceed the way it has been for hundreds of years.
Limited predictive ability about the future of learning, work, and life in general can be intimidating. KnowledgeWorks helped us realize, though, how what we are doing now is setting us on the right path.
The Pittsburgh region is fostering learning environments in which kids can build systems that impact their communities. They can choose niche programming tailored to their interests. They can experience, to an increasing degree, the “community as a campus” idea in the region: that no matter where they go, whether schools, museums, libraries, afterschool programs, YMCAs, and more, students can benefit from engaging and relevant learning experiences that prepare them for a rapidly changing world.
Remake Learning, the network of organizations I work to support, brings innovators and educators together to recreate learning experiences that are engaging and relevant, not just to a kid’s interests, but to their culture, context, and the 21st century economy. Within the Network, it’s not uncommon for school districts to work together, for ed tech companies to playtest in museums, or for learning scientists to be embedded in Kindergarten classrooms. It’s all about crossing between organizational walls, with the understanding that innovation and deep, meaningful learning comes from collaboration, both between students and adults.
My biggest insight from the Forecast was about the exponential rate of change. It’s a very natural thing to think linearly about the future. What the Forecast helps you do is intentionally think about rapid change in order to help us as a Network better prepare. It pushes the thinking of even the most forward-thinkers of the Network, giving us the chance to ask more tough and provocative questions of our own programs, projects, innovations, and collaborations.
Reading the Forecast on its own can be scary and overwhelming. Mapping it to our own hyper-local context, though, made us realize that while we still have a long way to go, we are moving in the right direction.
I encourage everyone to read the Forecast and ask tough questions of their own conceptions of learning. What more might be possible that we haven’t even considered yet?