Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Oct 29 2018

Photo by  James Graham  on  Unsplash

“With acquisition, SNHU seeks pathway between K-12, college and work,” by Lindsay McKenzie, in Inside Higher Ed

“ ‘People have tried pieces of this,’ she said. ‘There are people who’ve tried to badge within their institutions. There are nonprofits that have tried to use badges within cities. But nobody has done it in a way that has potential to build an ecosystem.’ ”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

If you haven’t heard of Southern New Hampshire University, you should start paying attention. They have one of the largest and most successful online learning programs in the country. (They currently enroll 90,000 students online. 90,000!)

Their acquisition of LRNG, a digital badging platform, will enable them to build an ecosystem that reaches down into middle school and up into the world of work. Digital badges provide bite-sized alternatives to bundled, time-intensive, and expensive credentials (i.e., degrees and certificates).

Executed well, this could be a game-changer, especially for low-income and first-generation college students, who will be able to “ ‘try on’ various professional identities with little financial risk -- something more privileged students may take for granted.”

Digital badges delivered within a high quality online learning ecosystem may be the disruption that higher ed has been waiting for, as predicted in Kevin Carey’s must-read The End of College (2015).


“Dubai universities drop exams to focus on ‘the real world’,” by Anam Rizvi, in The National

“A college in Dubai has abolished examinations in an attempt to prepare students for the workplace rather than merely ‘test their memorisation skills’.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

When parts of the world historically dominated by “traditional learning techniques” drop standardized tests, you know the tectonic plates are truly moving.

We have said it before and we will say it again: standardized tests prove very little about what matters in a VUCA world.

Instead we need assessments—and learning experiences leading up to those assessments—that prepare learners to identify problems no one has thought of before, then prototype their way toward better and better solutions.

Is your school assessing students for the world that is emerging or for the one that has already disappeared?


“Kids aren’t failing school—school is failing kids,” by Eillie Anzilotti, in FastCompany

“A new study from The New Teacher Project […] delves into a phenomenon that’s taken hold across the U.S.: As students finish high school and either enroll in college or head straight to the workforce, they’re finding themselves poorly prepared for whatever path they choose. ‘They’re planning their futures on the belief that doing well in school creates opportunities—that showing up, doing the work, and meeting their teachers’ expectations will prepare them for what’s next,’ the study notes, but something, along the way, is not working.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

One root cause for this troubling phenomenon? Teachers are designing (or defaulting to) poor asesessments that don’t match the relevance or the sophistication of college or work.

And once teachers use lousy assessments, it is hard to avoid backing into lousy instruction. After all, if you want to prepare students to take a certain kind of assessment, you’re going to teach to that assessment.

By contrast, mastery-based assessments paired with student-centered instructional design prepare learners for the challenges of our VUCA world.

So at the risk of repeating…

Is your school assessing students for the world that is emerging or for the one that has already disappeared?


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