Future of Learning Top Reads for week of July 31
If you want to sketch the contours of the future of learning, it helps to read beyond educational publications. Here are 3 short articles that can help you sense the shape of where learning will (or should) go next:
“[A] growing number of schools, like Khan Lab School, are not just bolting edtech onto the existing way of doing things but using the new software to change how pupils and teachers spend their time. [...] Artificial intelligence (AI) is letting machines learn about the pupils using them by studying the data produced in the process. [...] Education software is not making teaching obsolete. If anything it is making the craft of teaching more important.”
Why does this matter for the future of learning? Educational technology has long been characterized as a panacea or nemesis, depending on the educator (or business person) describing it. But if exponential technologies can catalyze a shift from student-teacher to learner-coach, we may be at the point where the J-curve of progress gets steep, fast. In the future, schools that thrive will use exponential technologies like AI and virtual reality to personalize school. Those same schools will also recognize that exponential technologies can help us to ask better questions and not just find faster answers.
“China: from Deceptive to Disruptive,” by Peter Diamandis / @PeterDiamandis, on the Diamandis Blog
“While I love the Silicon Valley work ethic, what I found in China was unparalleled.
"The mantra is 9-9-6…. Or 9-12-6…Meaning, entrepreneurs are working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or midnight), 6 days per week. [...] While a decade ago, it might have been true that China was a copycat ecosystem, today that assumption is 100% wrong. Chinese companies are innovating at a faster pace than I could have imagined.”
Why does this matter for the future of learning? Diamandis, creator of the X Prize and founder of the Abundance Insider, is a thought leader in exponential technologies. Don’t believe him? Reid Hoffman, co-founder of PayPal, LinkedIn, and investor in countless internet companies, made almost identical comments about China in a recent episode of Masters of Scale. If students want to work in the same economy as their Chinese competitors, schools of the future will need to make entrepreneurship a mindset and skillset that cuts across all learning experiences.
“The Sound of Bias,” by Lauren Murrow / @laurenmurrow, in Wired
“ ‘Hey Man,’ says the officer sauntering up to your car. The nonchalant greeting might seem insignificant--but it’s not. If you’re white, that cop is statistically more likely to lead with, ‘Hello, sir.’ Jennifer Eberhardt, a social psychologist at Stanford University, heads a team of computational linguists, engineers, and computer scientists that is developing speech-recognition and transcript-analysis software for policing [...] to recognize patterns of racial disparity.”
Why does this matter for the future of learning? It’s one (very impressive) thing to apply machine learning (a form of AI) to natural language processing (NLP) to diagnose patterns of racial disparity. But it takes a team of curious minds asking persistent questions to convert that into a tool to identify “patterns of slanted speech” in real time. Equipped with such a resource, law enforcement officers--and perhaps just as importantly their supervisors--can prevent conflict escalation before it happens. In the future, schools that thrive will do three things: focus student learning on positive social impact; teach those students to use exponential technologies (like AI and NLP); and have them work in teams to prototype and test solutions.
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