I recently returned from the first ever Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools (OESES) conference in Southern California. Overall a pretty good conference, and on a topic that all schools need to be looking at seriously as they plan for the future. While I am interested in the topic of online education, and I think that it is important to stay abreast of the latest developments in all learning spaces and trends, what I was struck most with was my aversion to thinking about online education as the disruption that education needs to move to bring it to the next level of efficiency and efficacy. I’ve actually been meaning to write this blog post ever since reading Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson. The premise of the book, and indeed of the conference (Michael Horn keynoted) is that online education is the growing disruption that will — and needs to — alter the heart of our education systems. I disagree. Read More »
(Originally posted on the Cooperative Catalyst)
I don’t believe that necessarily, but read on and you’ll see why I wrote it (on top of shooting for a subject line controversial enough to increase the open rate of my post
I attended a workshop this summer at the Right Question Institute in Boston. We spent two days working hands-on with the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), a process developed over the last 20 years to help people improve their question-asking skills. The technique was originally developed during work with parents from low income schools when parents said they were not getting involved in their children’s schooling because they did not know what questions to ask the teachers. The technique was then adopted by the medical community for use in patient advocacy development, and has more recently been moving into the education arena. Read More »
Why has it been so hard to ‘get technology in the classroom” for the last 40 years? Because it’s a round peg in a square hole. Technology is of a different world, where information is free-flowing and flat and wide, liquid networks prevail; where inquiry can always find fuel and sustenance at the moment of spark and grow with iterative input from others.
Technology will become an obvious extension of teaching when our century-plus old model of education shifts its paradigm to be about learning instead of sorting and conditioning; when schools put learning first and college hoop jumping gets retrofitted in, instead of other way around (at least until colleges get on board with using more meaningful metrics for admission).
Joel Rose does a nice job addressing this issue in his recent Atlantic article, How to Break Free of Our 19th-Century Factory-Model Education System:
”…our collective charge in K-12 innovation today should go beyond merely designing and producing new tools. Rather, our focus should primarily be to design new classroom models that take advantage of what these tools can do.”
If you replace “classroom” with “learning” in Rose’s quote, I think it’s spot on. I say that because the new model may in fact preclude the idea of the classroom in any sense of how we currently know it.
And what will these new learning models look like? Here is a quote from MacArthur Foundation Director Connie Yowell on the foundation’s shift in focus from traditional school reform to learning:
“A shift from institutions to networks. In the digital age, the fundamental operating and delivery systems are networks, not institutions such as schools, which are a node on a young person’s network of learning opportunities. People learn across institutions, so an entire learning network must be supported.
A shift from consumption of information to participatory learning. A new system of learning must be peer-based and organized around learners’ interests, enabling them to create as well as consume information.”
It’s about networks, it’s peer and inquiry driven, and here is a key point: we can’t build it and then hand it to the kids; they have to co-create it with us.
In closing, I offer a small example below of the power of this technology to network, to facilitate iteration of ideas between peers, and to catalyze inquiry. Thanks to the wonderful Kat Haber whom I met in Doha, Qatar (and thanks TEDx) and with whom I share a connection to many others around the world on this and many other subjects. Exchanges like the one below, involving multiple people in many cases, have helped me iterate my thinking on the points above in ways that could not have been possible in such a quick time without today’s technology.
Here’s hoping for faster iteration and evolution in education.
A couple of items in the news recently have combined with a local tidbit to raise an eyebrow about what higher ed will look like in 10 or 20 years:
1) A local graduate school (I will withhold the name) has a team looking into whether tuition-driven universities will even exist in the near future, and how to evolve fast enough to stay relevant
2) Take it with a grain of salt since this article is from MIT news, but this is actually creating a pretty big stir.
“MIT and Harvard launch a ‘revolution in education’”
3) Offering scholarships in exchange for a stake in student start-ups (Clarkson University)
Flash in the pan or the beginning of a big shift….?
From my own viewpoint I will say that I think any school of any level not looking hard at how to become nimble enough to iterate and evolve quickly in response to our changing environment – in all aspects – risks becoming irrelevant.
My crystal ball leaves me to think that in the not-too-distant future an obviously superior paradigm of education will break through, and the exodus from the current system to the new system will mimic the flow from MySpace to Facebook in scope and timeline.