Future of Learning Top Reads for week of July 17 2017

 Photo by  Cole Keister  on  Unsplash

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

If you want to sketch the contours of the future of learning, it helps to read beyond educational publications. Here are 4 short articles that can help you sense the shape of where learning will go next:


“The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” by Alex Gray / @alexlgray, on World Economic Forum

“By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics. These developments will transform the way we live, and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace. What is certain is that the future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace.”

Why does this matter for the future of learning? The World Economic Forum periodically asks global hiring managers to identify the most critical skills for our networked, global economy. On the most recent, the only skill that schools teach by design is “critical thinking” (and even then it is taught unevenly). In the future, thriving schools will dialog constantly with industry, public purpose, and non profit leaders to align learning with the demands of the imminent future.


“How VR can save lives,” by Bill Gates, on LinkedIn

“Last month, in a government building in Maryland, I put on virtual reality headset and got a glimpse of the future of medicine...” [Note: watch the brief video showing Gates use VR to explore the flu virus]

Why does this matter for the future of learning? Virtual reality is one of many “exponential technologies” that will radically shift how we learn and solve problems. Schools that stick to the status quo will find themselves looking up at a tsunami crashing down on them, but schools that test VR now will be prepared to form learners who can contribute to solving centuries old dilemmas like the flu.


“What if your high school transcript didn’t include grades?” by James Vaznis / @globevaznis, on BostonGlobe.com

“For years, students have been stacking their high school transcripts with as many advanced courses and A’s as possible in an effort to get into the best colleges. But under a radical redesign of the document — being led by dozens of private schools nationwide — the practice of listing courses and grades could come to an end.”

Why does this matter for the future of learning? Grades and GPA incentivize students to game the system. The Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC), which recently received a $2M grant from the EE Ford Foundation, is developing the platform to enable schools to capture what they say truly matters: degrees of proficiency and mastery transcript model. Over 100 MTC member schools are talking about pilots for the 2017-18 school year to test different approaches to mastery based credentialing. (Full disclosure: during my tenure as Head of School at Malvern Prep, I initiated Malvern’s membership in the MTC.)


“Why X Prize is asking writers to take us through a wormhole to 2037,” by Raya Bidshahri / @raya_bid, on SingularityHub

“Sci-fi shows like Black Mirror or Star Trek aren’t just entertainment. They allow us to imagine and explore the influence of technology on humanity. [...] It is an extension of STEAM education [...]. Story-telling with science fiction allows us to use the arts in order to educate and engage the public about scientific advancements and its implications.”

Why does this matter for the future of learning? For decades schools have talked about “interdisciplinary learning,” but we still require students to take courses that belong to discrete departments. This is why many teachers will say, “I teach English” rather than “I teach students how to understand the power of narrative”; or “I teach Science” rather than “I teach students how to apply the scientific method to new problems.” Schools that thrive in the future will design learning around problems--like imagining life in the year 2037--rather than “subjects.”


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Christian Talbot