Future of Learning Top Reads for week of November 20 2017

Photo by  Joshua Earle  on  Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

"Harvard Business School professor: Half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years," by Abigail Hess / @AbigailJHess, on CNBC.com

"At the Innovation + Disruption Symposium in Higher Education in May, Christensen specifically predicted that '50 percent of the 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years.' More recently, he doubled down on his statements, telling 1,500 attendees at Salesforce.org's Higher Education Summit, 'If you're asking whether the providers get disrupted within a decade — I might bet that it takes nine years rather than 10'."

What does this mean for schools? 

Clayton Christensen is the author of the "Innovator's Dilemma," a thesis that explains how low-cost technologies disrupt established companies by eating away at their value chain, from the bottom up.

Colleges are facing a triple whammy: many of them are too expensive for the average person; the return on the investment of an undergraduate diploma is increasingly uncertain in an age of exponential change; and online learning is a disruptive technology that will eat away at the expensive, low-ROI options currently available.

How much of this is also true for private independent schools? Remember: change happens slower than we expect before it happens faster than we think it can.


"The significant learning benefits of getting rid of grades," by Susan Blum / @SusanDebraBlum, in Inside Higher Ed

"Grades are the quintessential form of extrinsic motivation: they reward for accomplishment. But they are also threats: if you don’t comply in every way, no matter how you feel about anything, you will be dethroned. Yet the fact is, most people are motivated by interest or need, not by arbitrary mandates. Extrinsic motivation leads to the minimax principle. If the only thing you care about is something beyond the activity itself -- an extrinsic reward such as the grade -- it is sensible to do as little as possible to procure the highest possible reward (grade), which Arie Kruglanski, Chana Stein and Aviah Riter dubbed in 1977 the ‘minimax strategy’ in instrumental behavior. Cheating, shortcuts, cramming … all those make sense if the only goal is points or winning."

What does this mean for schools? 

Blum goes on to share solutions that she practices and that we know work:

  1. Decenter grading.
  2. Emphasize the entire portfolio.
  3. Have students develop an individual plan.
  4. Encourage self-evaluation.
  5. Conduct portfolio conferences.

The Mastery Transcript Consortium is working on one solution to the grading problem, and Summit Schools have a project-based / personalized learning software platform that offers another solution.


"Are colleges preparing students for the automated future of work?" by Jeff Selingo / @jselingo, in the Washington Post

"[I]t’s not clear that simply adding education, particularly early in one’s life, will be enough to keep up in this new era. 'If a job can be automated in the future, it will be,' Joseph E. Aoun, the president of Northeastern University, told me. 'Very few are talking about the implications for higher education. We owe it to our students to be thinking about how to prepare them for the coming sea change to the future of work'."

What does this mean for schools? 

As Aoun goes on to suggest, colleges need to do three things to prepare students for a future in which more and more jobs will be automated:

  1. Integrate the humanities and the sciences (what Aoun calls “humanics”) to bring out our uniquely human strengths (e.g., creativity, empathy, entrepreneurship, etc.).

  2. Invest in experiential education, because creative problem solving and teamwork are not easily automatable.

  3. Cultivate life long learning--because today’s college students will almost certainly need to continue to learn and grow if they want to be employable into the 22nd century (and yes, the next generation of college students is likely to live into the next century).


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