Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Jan 29 2018

 Photo by  Jonas Verstuyft  on  Unsplash

"WeWork Is Turning Its Offices Into Study Halls," by Olivia Zaleski / @OliviaZaleski, in Bloomberg Technology

"The New York company told Bloomberg it’s teaming up with online education provider 2U Inc., which develops graduate courses for schools, including New York University, University of California, Berkeley, and Yale University. Students enrolled in digital courses offered by 2U will be able to study from WeWork offices, where they can join in-person study groups and rent conference rooms to work together with classmates. Students will have access to any of WeWork’s 207 locations, known for their hip decor, free Wi-Fi and on-tap kombucha."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Learning is fundamentally a social experience. WeWork is fundamentally a social enterprise. While the residential college experience will continue to appeal to many for a long time, there is no reason to think that this alternative--which could signficantly drive down costs--might not be attractive to a large swath of college students (especially those over the age of 24, who constitute a major bloc of matriculated students). Basecamp will keep an eye on this experiment, which will start with 2U's graduate programs, to see how it might impact undergraduate patterns.


"8 global trends impacting higher ed," by Shalina Chatlani / @chatlanis, in Education Dive

"A 2016 survey from PayScale, a company that researches information on salary, benefits and compensation, found that only about half of managers surveyed thought recent college graduates were prepared for the workforce. Rahul Choudaha, executive vice president of global engagement and research at StudyPortals and lead author of the report, told Education Dive it's important to address this disconnect, especially as institutions continue to come under fire for not adequately preparing students."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

As we shared at the start of the year (see "Impatient With Colleges, Empoyers Design Their Own Courses"), there is a growing disconnect between what the global economy demands from college graduates and what college does to prepare its graduates.

During our visit to the Punahou School last week, Tony Wagner framed the disconnect this way:

  • We no longer live in the Knowledge Economy, which rewarded people for knowing a lot of stuff, working alone, being risk averse, following orders, and working in silos.
  • We now live in the Innovation Economy, in which the driving question is: "What can you do with what you know, as a member of a team?" The Innovation Economy rewards college graduates who are comfortable with risk and experimentation, who take the initiative, and who can think and act in transciplinary--or even antidisciplinary--ways.


"This New MIT Master's Program Doesn't Require A College Or High School Degree," by Fred Thys / @fredthys, on WBUR (Boston NRP Radio)

"The Poverty Action Lab, officially known as the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, or J-PAL, is testing more than 800 programs around the world. And now it's part of a bold experiment by MIT: to allow students to take rigorous courses online for credit, and if they perform well on exams, to apply for a master's degree program on campus.

" 'Anybody could do that,' Duflo [co-founder of J-Pal] says. 'At this point, you don't need to have gone to college. For that matter, you don't need to have gone to high school.'

"The master's program is in data, economics and development policy. Duflo says with the knowledge gained in the program, students should be able to run their own evaluation projects. They would know that most imaginative, well-thought-out programs fail, and therefore they have to be tested in the field — and they would have the tools to do that testing."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

MIT continues to experiment boldly with the democritization of elite learning. 20 years ago they started to put all of their course content online for free. Then they started offering micromasters degrees (which continue to expand). Now they are testing what happens when you eliminate the traditional requirements for admission to a graduate program. This would be a radical experiment for anyone—all the more so for one of the best universities in the world. What might happen if we learn that high school and college transcripts and standardized test scores are not correlated to performance in a rigorous graduate course of study?


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Christian Talbot