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The role of schools in Education 3.0

Note: This article is a part of the Designing Education 3.0 series at Education Futures.

An an era driven by globalized relationships, innovative social technologies, and fueled by accelerating change, how should we reinvent schools?

Education 3.0 schools produce knowledge-producing students, not automatons that recite facts that may never be applied usefully. Education 3.0 substitutes this “just in case” memorization with skills for designing their futures in a society that is increasingly dependent on imagination, creativity and innovation. One subset of these skills may be expressed in the adoption of New Basics.

Education 3.0 schools share, remix and capitalize on new ideas. This requires a new openness and transformations of schools from places of production line-style learning to laboratories and design centers. 3.0 schools can become “beta” sites to develop and test new technologies, pedagogies and social configurations. These opportunities also imply that schools will express new forms of leadership within the communities that they serve.

Finally, prepare students that will be able to compete for jobs that have not yet been invented, Education 3.0 schools embrace change rather than fighting change. Rather than fighting to maintain the legacies of previous centuries, schools may become the driving forces of creating new paradigms that will drive this and future centuries. Moreover, rather than trying to catch-up with change, 3.0 schools continuously leapfrog ahead of their contemporary institutions to lead in the adoptions of new technologies and practices.

Finally, Education 1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 students. The move to the 3.0 paradigm requires genuine and massive structural transformations, not a cosmetic makeover. If schools continue to embrace the 1.0 paradigm and are outmoded by students that thrive in a 3.0 society, we can only expect continuous failure.


Are we ready to take on the challenge?

Leapfrogging to the New Basics

classroom in Anqing

Are the old basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic relevant in the 21st century? Or, is it time for an upgrade?

Arthur Harkins and I assembled a list of New Basics for education that can help us leapfrog to an education paradigm that is both innovative and relevant for the 21st century and beyond. These learning outcomes are not intended to be definitive. They are, however, designed to serve as starting points for conversations on how youth-oriented human capital development systems may become more innovative and encourage learning that is more meaningful.

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Young communication: Building future skills

Cristóbal Cobo sent me this link to the Ung Kommunikation [Young Communication] project. The project examines the convergence of new technologies, youth culture and learning. And, by looking at the influence of youth culture on digital communication, the project might be able to identify a bridge between the divide of formal and non-formal learning. From Lennart Axelsson’s (Växjö University) description:

We are in the midst of a digital revolution. A multitude of new media is heaped upon us every day, and today’s generation of young people plays a central part in this development. Young peoples’ frequent use of digital tools such as computers, cellular phones, digital cameras, mp3 players and Internet communication, provide a new, and changed social landscape. Never before have youth cultures influenced society’s means of communication the way they do today.

Siftables: A promising future for toys

Wow-oh-wow, oh wow!!!! From TED earlier this month:

MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables — cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. Is this the next thing in hands-on learning?

More elsewhere:

Knowmads in Society 3.0

Remember nomads?

In the pre-industrial age, nomads were people that moved with their livelihood (usually animal herding) instead of settling at a single location. Industrialization forced the settlement of many nomadic peoples…

…but, something new is emerging in the 21st century: Knowmads.

A knowmad is what I term a nomadic knowledge worker –that is, a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. Industrial society is giving way to knowledge and innovation work. Whereas industrialization required people to settle in one place to perform a very specific role or function, the jobs associated with knowledge and information workers have become much less specific in regard to task and place. Moreover, technologies allow for these new paradigm workers to work either at a specific place, virtually, or any blended combination. Knowmads can instantly reconfigure and recontextualize their work environments, and greater mobility is creating new opportunities. Consider this coffee shop in Houston:

The coffee shop has become the workplace of choice for many knowmads. What happens when the investment banker sitting next to the architect have a conversation? What new ideas, products, and services might be created?

The remixing of places and social relationships is also impacting education. Students in knowmad society (or, as I also like to call it, Society 3.0) can learn, work, play, and share in almost any configuration. Remember our videoconference with a fifth grade classroom in Owatonna? The purposive use of technologies allowed standard desks to be removed from the classroom and for students and teachers to instantly reconfigure their social learning environment, allowing for more individualized instruction …and co-instruction among students and their teacher. The differences between students, teachers and colleagues are beginning to blur.

Who are these knowmads in Society 3.0? Workers, students or coffee shop patrons?

(To find out, click on the picture)

Are you a knowmad?

"3G" education

Gustavo Andrade at UNAM in Mexico City just posted a video from a conference I participated in last April. He writes:

3G technology allows us to build an innovative vision of education. Education anywhere and at anytime, with a device that can be your own cell phone. John Moravec at the University of Minnesota explains the features of this form of learning, compared with that which is practiced among the brick walls that make up the classroom. For his part, Cristóbal Cobo of FLACSO-México explains that students and teachers must learn to unlearn in order to innovate in their teaching practices, and learn to respond to the accelerated pace of today’s digital revolution. If you want to know where is this “ubiquitous” information society in schools, take your time to see and hear this video. greetings

McCain and Obama on educational change

Few topics are as political as education, in which at least basic schooling is compulsory for all Americans. It is fitting, then, that we conclude this week’s focus on change with a look at the changes that presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama each propose for U.S. education. After analyzing educational policy statements on each candidate’s website, one contender clearly presents an agenda for educational change: Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Sen. McCain only provides a short statement on his educational stance, while Sen. Obama, in addition to an outline for action he proposes, provides a comprehensive plan for lifetime success through education.

McCain focuses his statements on education on school choice –that is, if a school fails a student, then the student should have the freedom to move to a different school. McCain believes that many schools are failing, and No Child Left Behind helps to illustrate the problem. Obama believes that public education was broken before NCLB –and that NCLB was intended to fix the problem, but was poorly conceived, never properly funded, and was poorly implemented.

Excerpts from statements made by each campaign:

On No Child Left Behind

McCain: No Child Left Behind has focused our attention on the realities of how students perform against a common standard. John McCain believes that we can no longer accept low standards for some students and high standards for others. In this age of honest reporting, we finally see what is happening to students who were previously invisible. While that is progress all its own, it compels us to seek and find solutions to the dismal facts before us.

Obama: Reform NCLB, by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB’s accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

On Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM)

McCain: Unknown.

Obama: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.

On Non-Formal Education

McCain: Unknown.

Obama: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.

Obama’s “STEP UP” plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.

On Higher Education

McCain: Unknown.

Obama: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

On Responsibility for Education

McCain: If a school will not change, the students should be able to change schools. John McCain believes parents should be empowered with school choice to send their children to the school that can best educate them just as many members of Congress do with their own children. He finds it beyond hypocritical that many of those who would refuse to allow public school parents to choose their child’s school would never agree to force their own children into a school that did not work or was unsafe. They can make another choice. John McCain believes that is a fundamental and essential right we should honor for all parents.

Obama: The Obama plan will encourage schools and parents to work together to establish a school-family contract laying out expectations for student attendance, behavior, and homework. These contracts would be provided to families in their native language when possible and would include information on tutoring, academic support, and public school choice options for students.

Right now, Sen. Obama is the only candidate who shares a plan for educational reform. As the election nears, we will revisit the positions on the two candidates. If the McCain campaign comes forward with a plan for educational change, we will share it with you at as the election nears.

Creating one or more Innovation Cells within your school

[Cross posted from the Leapfrog Institutes Newswire]

Ron Fuller is an emeritus teacher at Edison High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Recently, Ron prepared this step-by-step format for creating self-organizing Innovation Cells in schools. With his permission, we are sharing his framework for building ICs in educational settings.

Students are grouped with a licensed staff member by area of interest. (Example: Music, Writing, Computer Programming, Politics, Painting, Robotics, etc)

  • The cells would meet daily during advisory time. The cell becomes the students advisory for the year. Cells would have students from all grade levels.
  • The cells would select a project or projects to focus on for the school year. (Example: Build a robot, Create a short play, Design a new computer program, Complete a community service project, Study global warming, Lobby for a political cause)
  • The cells would meet an additional ½ day once a month to complete work on the project.
  • The cells could elect to meet before or after school to complete a chosen project.
  • At the end of the year, one cell would be chosen to receive the Thomas A Edison Innovation Award. (Maybe the Superintendent or Mayor could help select the winning cell.)
  • An Innovation Fair would be held in the Spring to share innovation ideas and projects with the Edison School Community.
  • Innovation Cells could have displays at school open houses and other community events.
  • 12th and 11th graders could be academic coaches for 9th and 10th graders in their cell.
  • All Licensed Staff would advise an Innovation Cell. Staff would be chosen for cells depending on interests or expertise.
  • Business and Community Leaders could come in during the ½ day each month to advise students on cell projects.
  • The Innovation Cells would provide a learning focus for advisory and help students develop their creative skills.
  • Upper classmen could serve as role models for under classmen.
  • We could start with a few Innovation Cells next year and phase them in over the next few years.

(Created by Ron Fuller 2-7-08) (Revised 3-26-08)

Knowing what we know

As mentioned last week, schools have a hard time determining how students are doing, or what they know. The problem, argues Dr. David Shupe, founder of the eLumen Collaborative, is present at all levels of formal education and is becoming an issue for accreditors. To address the problem, eLumen has created a technology-centered approach to “authentic assessment” (a rubrics-based mix of formative and summative assessments) and is rolling out their product to colleges and universities across the United States.

eLumen Collaborative’s approach to higher education is “Let it be clear what students know and can do,” and they really mean it. Their software models a generic process (with variations) for an academic institution systematically attending to expected and actual student achievement, and individual colleges and universities, to the extent that they use it, come to resemble such an institution. The process is straightforward: faculty, working together, define the specific expected student learning outcomes throughout the institution and its programs and explicit evaluation criteria for each. When these are associated with catalog courses (again in different ways), course instructors link work that students will already be doing to these outcomes — whenever and wherever they choose to do so — and then evaluate this work through those specific lens — e.g., what has this student shown in this activity concerning his or her ability to … [whatever specific outcome(s) the faculty (and perhaps the students) have chosen]. These are judgments that faculty are already making – the difference is that each student is evaluated relative to explicit standards (rather than simply to each other) and that the software is used to record those evaluations.

Given that these data are digital and in an integrated relational database, the system can generate instantaneous reports on actual student achievement — per student, per set of students, per student learning outcome, per set of student learning outcomes, per catalog course, per program, per institution, and selected combinations of these — an array of data on student achievement that has never before been visible. Also, when a program chooses, its students (and authorized advisors) can see, in real time, his or her own data and see how their own achievement record compares to any set of expected student learning outcomes that a program or the institution has devised. Likewise, the appropriate committee can see how any defined set of students stands relative to the same define set of expectations. Perhaps the best analogy is the point-of-sale technology that has revolutionized the retail industry.

What if this were adopted in PreK-12, home schooling, corporate professional development, etc.?

Brooks on the "Cognitive Age"

David Brooks wrote an excellent op-ed piece in today’s New York Times. He states that individuals cannot be successful in a globalized world without building advanced capabilities to transform information into meaningful knowledge:

The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called “the Chinese” or “the Indians,” are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you’re focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

This is one of the few articles in popular media that effectively ties globalization with the need for revolutionizing human capital development. And, it is one of the very few articles that contain the words “globalization” and “pedagogy” together in the same paragraph.

Read the entire article…