Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Dec 4 2017

Photo by  Tarun Ram  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tarun Ram on Unsplash


"Philly area students travel to Syria, visit Mars - virtually," by Kathy Boccella / @Kathy_Boccella, in Philadelphia Inquirer

" 'In the camp, it was so crowded,' said Stella Costabile, talking about the family of seven she’d seen sleeping on the floor of the cramped living quarters. A classmate voiced surprise at the large buses and trucks rolling down streets, just like in a large city, while others talked about how most of the people they saw were women and children."

Why does this matter to schools?

The future of learning is about empathy and social impact through project based learning. As the quote above suggests, virtual reality can be a powerful vehicle for catalyzing empathy--especially when most social impact experiences are either too dangerous or too expensive to access directly. In addition, VR experiences can provide powerful project launches. Schools that experiment now with integrating VR into learning will have an advantage as they design for empathy x social impact x project based learning.


"Students at elite business schools bypass Wall Street for blockchain," by Seema Mody / @SeemaCNBC, on CNBC.com

"Last summer, a group of Stanford MBA students including Mitchnick, wrote a letter to Yossi Feinberg, the senior associate dean for academic affairs, arguing that blockchain is of fundamental importance to business and the economy and listing reasons a course should be developed for business school students.

"This spring, Stanford's first comprehensive class on blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be taught by Kathryn Haun, a former federal prosecutor for the Justice Department, where she often focused on digital currencies and financial fraud."

Why does this matter to schools?

We should interpret the actions taken by three leading business schools--Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton--as leading indicators for two reasons:

  1. Relevance: It is too early to tell whether blockchain / crypto and other exponential technologies will supplement, complement, or replace current literacies, but in an age of exponential change they are hyper-relevant.
  2. Nimbleness: Schools (higher ed and secondary ed) are known for their glacial pace when it comes to authorizing new courses, because of territory battles over who gets to teach what. The fact that Stanford and Wharton are launching blockchain / crypto courses in Spring 2018 suggests that other schools will need to become much more nimble if they want to compete. Before this is a question of operating model (i.e., "who gets to teach what"), it is a question of organizational culture. And the Basecamp thesis is that Innovation emerges from an "order of operations": Mission > Vision > Culture.


"Maybe American Students Are Bad at Standardized Tests Because They Don’t Try Very Hard," by Ben Leubsdorf / @BenLeubsdorf, in the Wall Street Journal

"The latest study didn’t isolate why Chinese students tried harder than American students on the test [...]. In any case, she said, the results serve as a warning to not put much weight on international rankings based on tests. Students taking the PISA exam don’t receive individual results, so they may not feel much incentive to try hard when taking it."

Why does this matter to schools?

  1. Incentives matter
    • "Is this about you..." (e.g., you need to put a grade in your gradebook, so you're giving me a test)
    • "...or this is about me?" (e.g., you're going to give me feedback on how I can grow)
  2. Relevance matters: Standardized tests are artifacts of the early and mid 20th century. Maybe they were the best we could do then, but today they inhibit how well we characterize what kids know and what they can do. For a primer on why our reliance on standardized testing and averages is absurd, check out this 84-second video from the 180° Project. Its inspiration, Todd Rose's The End of Average, is a must-read for every educator.


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