Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Nov 6 2017

Photo by  Laura Aziz  on  Unsplash  / Basecamp's friend Sam Chaltain uses the murmuration as a metaphor to describe the future of learning: what if kids experienced learning more like a murmuration and less like an assembly line?

Photo by Laura Aziz on Unsplash / Basecamp's friend Sam Chaltain uses the murmuration as a metaphor to describe the future of learning: what if kids experienced learning more like a murmuration and less like an assembly line?


"Creating an innovation culture," by Waguih Ishak, in McKinsey Quarterly

Below are the 6 principles offered by Ishak, with a commentary on each:

  1. "Practice innovation parenting": Why does this matter for school innovation? School leaders need to be relentless in
    • clarifying their school's Mission > Vision > Culture
    • telling stories to illustrate that Mission > Vision > Culture continuum
    • encouraging faculty and staff to bring that Mission > Vision > Culture to life
  2. "Bust hierarchy": Why does this matter for school innovation? School leaders should hit reset on cultural practices that allow tenure, title, and roles to dictate innovation. Instead, design opportunities for new hires, for those in other departments, or those in informal roles to pitch innovative ideas that align to Mission > Vision > Culture.
  3. "Encourage the unreasonable": Why does this matter for school innovation? As my friend, colleague, and mentor Carla Silver likes to say, the three most conservative industries are insurance, pizza, and... education. Status quo bias often leads faculty and staff to aim for the "reasonable." But people can almost always do more than they think is possible. And when it comes to innovation, that mindset is essential.
  4. "Don't die of indigestion": Why does this matter for school innovation? Chances are your school has a lot of people with a lot of great ideas. The key is to litmus test which ones align to Mission > Vision > Culture. Then, figure out which ones are desirable, feasible (i.e., your school can do them) and viable (i.e., your school can sustain them). Without these filters, your faculty and staff will be too thinly spread, which decreases the chances for innovations to achieve escape velocity.
  5. "Cultivate external relationships": Why does this matter for school innovation? Does your school have relationships (ideally partnerships) with higher ed institutions? Thought leaders from industry? Other experts? If not, you're not activating your network's greatest potential.
  6. "Hire the best--and fast": Why does this matter for school innovation? Your teachers are your #1 source of leverage for ensuring an incredible student experience. Do you have a bullpen of people you would hire today--growth-minded people with leadership potential who will enrich your community with diverse strengths and perspectives? If not, someonen else is going to wind up with that talent.


"Six myths about choosing a college major," by Jeff Selingo / @jselingo, in the New York Times

" 'Majors are artificial and restrictive,' said Christine Ortiz, a dean at MIT on leave to design a new nonprofit university that will have no majors, and also no lectures or classrooms. 'Majors result from the academic structure of the university, tied to the classic academic disciplines. There is no reason they need to be boxed up like that. They don’t take into account emerging fields that cross disciplines.'

Majors tend to lag behind changes in the workplace. No wonder fewer than a third of college graduates work in jobs related to their majors. And picking one based on today’s in-demand jobs is risky, said Dr. Webber of Temple, especially if the occupation is threatened by automation.

'I would argue against majoring in accounting,' he said, 'or anything that a computer can be programmed to do'. "

Why does this matter to the future of learning? The comments from Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Webber underscore the importance of educating for transdisciplinary thinking. In this age of rapid change, schools must design learning experiences that teach learners how to learn so that they can continually think across disciplines that they haven't "majored" in. This insight is especially relevant given the myths about employment and income debunked by Selingo.


"As Corporate World Moves Toward Curated ‘Microlearning,’ Higher Ed Must Adapt," by Sean Gallagher / @HighEdStrat, in EdSurge

"[According to SAP's VP for Global Learning] 'There’s a shift from formal to more informal learning—bite-sized training and the application of experience. You get an introduction to a topic, apply it, do a short video or course, then apply that. That microlearning trend is really where things are going—short snippets of formal learning followed by application'.

"The curation approach and microlearning philosophy also provides a level of personalization that individuals have come to expect. At PVH, each associate has an individualized learning plan, which according to Bradley takes into consideration the 'success profile' for each position in the company, and the 'competencies, capabilities, knowledge, and experiences are necessary'."

Why does this matter to the future of learning? As the previous commentary about college majors indicates, graduates entering the workforce must be nimble and adaptive learners. Learning never ended at college, but the stakes are much higher in an age of automation. Schools should design learning experiences that foster new skills, mental models, and knowledge sets; and--perhaps most of all--that help students to learn how to "race with the machines" and not against them.


    "These Students Built The Anti-Bot Algorithm Twitter Desperately Needs," by Katharine Schwab / @kschwabable, in FastCo Design

    "Twitter in particular has a problem with bots controlled by organizations affiliated with the Kremlin. But the company can’t seem to figure out how to identify whether the many bots on its service are malevolent bots tweeting inflammatory political statements on both sides of the aisle or real Americans exercising their freedom of speech. [...] But it’s not that difficult–because recently a group of students took a big step toward solving it. Their chrome plug-in, called Bot Check, identifies when Twitter handles display political propaganda bot-like behavior."

    Why does this matter to the future of learning? As exponential technologies (like social media) evolve and occupy more space in public life, they present not only pernicious challenges (like bots), but also project-based learning experiences (like designing anti-bot algorithms). In this instance, two students from UC Berkeley used learnings not only in programming, but also in political language, and in how big data differs from static data. They even developed hypotheses about how bots and their humans creators might be collaborating to amplify the bots' effects. For learners to thrive, and for exponential technologies to be more beneficial than harmful, students need to practice solving problems that don't involve selecting a multiple choice answer.


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