Future of Learning Top Reads for week of August 14 2017

 Photo by  Michał Grosicki  on  Unsplash

If you want to sketch the contours of the future of learning, it helps to read beyond traditional educational publications. Here are 3 short articles that can help you sense the shape of where learning will (or should) go next:

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"The Future is Now: Metrics of Innovation in Schools," by Grant Lichtman / @GrantLichtman, in Transcend Blog

"organizational velocity (OV) — a calculation of the average speed at which a worthy new idea travels the path to implementation (N.B. a notoriously sluggish pace in most academic environments)"

Why does this matter to the future of learning? Grant Lichtman says that the titles of these metrics were developed in 2012, tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek; five years later, things like the "curiosity index," "obsolescence ratio," and "silo scale" seem prescient rather than satirical. My favorite is "The F=A paradox: the measure of the portion of the curriculum where the greatest risks and failures are given the greatest rewards." Ultimately, Lichtman has identified a set of metrics not just for instutitional practice, but even more so for culture. Peter Drucker famously said that culture eats strategy for breakfast; I believe that your culture is your strategy. In the future, schools that thrive will develop cultures that promote the behaviors underlying Lichtman's metrics.

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"Why education is the hardest sector of the economy to automate," by Raya Bidshahri / @raya_bid, in Singulary Hub

"Technologies like [Jill Watson, the AI teaching assistant from Georgia Tech] also have applications in grading and providing feedback. Some AI algorithms are being trained and refined to perform automatic essay scoring. One project has achieved a 0.945 correlation with human graders."

Why does this matter to the future of learning? Don't be fooled by the title of Bidshahri's piece: she isn't arguing against automation in education. Her points is that education is the slowest to adopt automation because "An effective teacher is not just responsive to each student’s strengths and weaknesses, but is also empathetic towards the student’s state of mind." Of course, automation does not require an either / or perspective. In the future, schools that thrive will develop teachers who "race with the machines" rather than oppose them or cede their place to them.

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"What Biracial People Know," by Moises Valesquez-Manoff / @moisesvm, in the New York Times

"[D]iversity — of one’s own makeup, one’s experience, of groups of people solving problems, of cities and nations — is linked to economic prosperity, greater scientific prowess and a fairer judicial process. If human groups represent a series of brains networked together, the more dissimilar these brains are in terms of life experience, the better the 'hivemind' may be at thinking around any given problem."

Why does this matter to the future of learning? The horrific event in Charlottesville and the President's support for racists seeking to preserve monuments to the Confederacy have spotlighted the question of diversity. Racists have a zero-sum mentality: they believe that they must be losing something if non-white people are thriving. In fact, science has shown that an abundance mindset makes much more sense. In the future, schools that thrive will nurture pluralistic cultures to create the rising tide that lifts all boats.

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Christian Talbot