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Moving beyond Education 2.0

There’s a lot of talk about moving to “Education 2.0” –but, what would Education 3.0 look like?

Here’s my take on the Education 1.0 – 3.0 spectrum:

Education 1.0

Education 2.0

Education 3.0

Meaning is… Dictated Socially constructed Socially constructed and contextually reinvented
Technology is… Confiscated at the classroom door (digital refugees) Cautiously adopted (digital immigrants) Everywhere (digital universe)
Teaching is done … Teacher to student Teacher to student and student to student (progressivism) Teacher to student, student to student, student to teacher, people-technology-people (co-constructivism)
Schools are located… In a building (brick) In a building or online (brick and click) Everywhere (thoroughly infused into society: cafes, bowling alleys, bars, workplaces, etc.)
Parents view schools as… Daycare Daycare A place for them to learn, too
Teachers are… Licensed professionals Licensed professionals Everybody, everywhere
Hardware and software in schools… Are purchased at great cost and ignored Are open source and available at lower cost Are available at low cost and are used purposively
Industry views graduates as… Assembly line workers As ill-prepared assembly line workers in a knowledge economy As co-workers or entrepreneurs

A co-seminar in action

Following-up from yesterday’s post on the characteristics of co-seminars, here’s a taste of what they look like.

This joint co-seminar, organized between the University of Minnesota, FLACSO-México, FLACSO-Chile and the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja is an “open seminar” – that is, with permission from the students and collaborating institutions, all course content and most of the interactions are available online through the course content management system and blogs for each of the participating institutions (see the class blogs for UMN, FLACSO-Mex, FLACSO-Chile, and UTPL).

The four institutions connected each work through a different syllabus, but we meet virtually to discuss intersecting points of interest related to various knowledge formats, knowledge management, etc. In this co-seminar, we chose to post mini-lectures online, which are available in both English and Spanish (see Spanish and English examples of this week’s video). Students then bring their questions to a bi-weekly video conference (and Skypecast) for discussion. To compensate for instances where technology breaks down, podcasts of recorded discussions are made available for download, and instructor responses students’ questions are made available as YouTube or Google Video:

So, what makes co-seminar experiences different from other online or in-person learning options? I’ll post more reflections as the seminar continues, but several key areas have already emerged:

  1. Student work (posted on the blogs) is phenomenally improved over what typically is produced in courses. What has been posted so far in the past two weeks has been refreshing in terms of thoughtfulness and academic scope – is this because they know other people are viewing and reviewing their writing as professional work?
  2. Without a shared, core “empirical reality” of what knowledge is among the cultures represented, participants at each institution are beginning to learn to embrace and attend to the chaos and ambiguities that emerge in such a course.
  3. The amount of coordination among international partners required by instructors is tremendous –but, it’s all worthwhile as we are all learning new things and making new contacts.

More on co-seminars coming up over the next few months…

Online Education: Innovation or Illusion?

Education Futures readers in Minnesota are invited to join us for the next Horizon Forum meeting!

Online Education: Innovation or Illusion?

Facilitated by Jeffrey Schulz

Friday, February 22

11:00am – 1:00pm

Arthur Upson Room, Walter Library (University of Minnesota East Bank)

As online education continues to explode at all school levels, many questions arise. Is it valid? Does it take funding away from traditional sources? How is it different from what is being delivered in brick and mortar schools? What futures exist for online education? As an added bonus, Allison Powell, Vice President for the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOLplans to join us via Adobe Connect for a portion of the time.

Jeffrey Schulz, Curriculum Coordinator for BlueSky Online Charter School (now a Leapfrog Institutes partner), will lead a discussion and working session regarding online education, current trends and research, along with visioning for the future. You are invited to join the discussion as we envision education for the 21st Century and beyond.

Lunch and validated parking will be provided. Please RSVP your attendance to Carole MacLean at or call 612-625-5060. We look forward to another rich conversation and hope you can join us!

The Virtual Teacher

Sometime ago, I had heard Thomas Friedman suggest that we often have 21st Century students and 20th Century teachers.  I felt indicted by this statement and hope that on my better days, that might actually be true.

I taught for years in an urban setting, teaching for St. Paul Public Schools, and I began to question the relevance of what I brought to the classroom and the manner in which I delivered it.  It caused me to reflect on my own education, training, and experience in a world where change is accelerating at ever-increasing rates.  It caused me to begin asking what we must do to address an educational system that is clearly “preparing” students for a world that no longer exists.  It caused me to ask, how might we prepare students for a world and workforce that doesn’t yet exist.

That brings me to my current role/s.  I am exploring these questions in both my academic life and in my work life.  It is an arena where theory and practice meet and often collide.  It is an arena in which I continue to evolve and ask the question: what does education need to look like for the 21st Century and beyond?

I have recently accepted the role as Curriculum Director for BlueSky Online Charter School, Minnesota’s first fully online public high school.  That said, it is often easy to be lulled into sense of complacency, thinking that simply being an online school is innovative in and of itself.  Simply delivering traditional curriculum in an online environment is not enough. 

For academics and the theorists, these questions are anything but new, and for the NCLB-strapped practioners, day to day survival often dictates something other, and the chasm between theory and practice is often substantial. So over the next few days, I will be musing about how we not only bridge that chasm, but leapfrog into the 21st Century. 

Online enrollments tapering

Today’s Inside Higher Ed reports on a Sloan Foundation report, “Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning,” that found that although more U.S. students are learning online, the growth trend is tapering off. Nearly 20% of post-secondary students have taken at least one course online.

Four-year growth in students taking at least one online course:

  Enrollment, Fall 2002 Enrollment, Fall 2006 Compound Annual Growth Rate
Doctoral/Research 258,489 566,725 21.7%
Master’s 335,703 686,337 19.6%
Baccalaureate 130,677 170,754 6.9%
Community colleges 806,391 1,904,296 24.0%
Specialized 71,710 160,268 22.3%

Not surprisingly, the largest area of growth was among for-profit institutions, who are more pressured to innovate in education. The question is, is online learning really all that innovative? I think not.

Too often, we use new technologies without adopting new pedagogical models and new, contextually-relevant content. The result is that the new technologies are used to teach the same old garbage. And fail. Perhaps this explains why the penetration of online learning is beginning to taper off at 20%.

New models for learning are needed that properly utilize these technologies. Next week, I’ll present one such option, the “co-seminar” model, that begins to address the problem. Stay tuned!

Games in the Classroom (part three)

Twenty years ago, playing games over a distance might have meant that you played turn-taking games like chess over email, and you were cutting edge. I remember people playing chess through snail mail! You would make your move and wait for a reply.

What is happening now is taking place in real-time in virtual environments that are interactive and look better than many films. Decisions, actions, and communications happen like they would in a face-to-face conversation, but they are done through a proxy, that is first and second-person perspectives with an avatar: a graphical representation of yourself in the game space.


Here is my avatar in Second Life.

He is a mix of Yoda, Pei Mei, Zatoichi, Master Po, and Real Ultimate Power. I would have liked to have made him old, but this is only possible if you learn to use some tools outside of the game to create more specialized characters. There are many who do this custom avatar creation, and the cool thing is that you could make your avatar something other than a person. Maybe a virus or a mailbox.

In fact, many people are already creating a comfortable living creating products for in game use. If you have not seen it yet, there are already success stories of people capitalizing on the new economies that virtual worlds have created.


In this Business Week article, one school teacher in Germany has made substantial gains flipping virtual property!

Imagine that you have the tools and access to build in these environments. In Second Life you do. You can visit models of the Sistine Chapel, Yankee Stadium, or even visit government agencies like the Center for Disease Control. You can build what you like on your virtual land.

What make this kind of play appealing is the ability to play and communicate when you want, and the possibility of meeting people from all over the planet. The prospect of building models and interacting in this environments should be very appealing to educators. This is an extension of the diorama. (Tomorrow I will talk about a project using these ideas in the classroom).

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MTV leapfrogs

I just received this note from Janet Cohen:

John –
You are going to love this one – from the Feb 2007 Wired.
A Second Life for MTV by Mark Wallace
article is not online yet, but this article explains the part you’ll like, MTV is calling their Virtual MTV a Leapfrog Initiative!
I’ll try to blog about this soon, if you don’t beat me to it.
cheers, janet

Although MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach has been out for a while, this is a great example of digital media converging with culture — and new culture creation. No wonder they call it leapfrogging!
Thanks Janet!


Update – Jan 24 @ 20:08

You should really read Janet’s thought’s on “leapfrogging” at MTV:

December 12 Horizon Forum recap

At yesterday’s Horizon Forum meeting, Chris Dede delivered a presentation via Skype on using multiple-user virtual environments in educational contexts. These environments, he argues, allows students to co-design and co-instruct their own educational experiences, allowing for guided social constructivism and learning that goes beyond what traditional schools try to accomplish through test-based assessments.


Scott McLeod continued with a discussion on preparing students for the new millennium rather than the industrial age. With the pace of change accelerating, schools, by design, are not able to keep up with society. Schools are in danger of becoming irrelevant unless if they do away with reactionary, compliance-based management and build future-oriented, proactive (and preactive!) leadership.


Finally, with Garth Willis’ help, we experimented with recording the session as a Macromedia Breeze meeting. The recording is available online at: (sorry, the first twenty minutes of audio are missing).

The next Horizon Forum is scheduled for February 5, 2007, and will focus on advances in innovative learning in Latin America.