Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Oct 7 2019

“Does Work Experience Even Matter?” by David Burkus

“Job experience has most often been used as a proxy for measuring knowledge, skills, and abilities. But that proxy only works when employees acquire diverse sets of experiences, develop wide-ranging sets of skills, and grow in their abilities. If they merely repeat the same tasks and those projects never stretch their abilities or require gaining new knowledge, then the number of years spent on that job aren’t all that important. […]

“Some people have 10 years of experience and others have 1 years of experience repeated 10 times.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

You probably won’t find your best teachers coming to you from education departments or from other schools.

A complementary insight: Talent is everywhere, if you have the eyes to see it.

Once you know how to identify talent (especially by looking in non-obvious places), then you should design your recruitment, hiring, development, and promotion strategies accordingly.

You define nearly all of your culture through the people whom you hire and promote, or fire.

And culture = strategy.


“The Endless Pursuit of Harvard,” by Jeff Selingo

“Here's what admissions officers and high-school counselors say they can imagine happening…

  • Colleges offering applicants first priority for housing or special scholarships if they apply early decision (a binding decision).

  • Offering more money in May, June, and July to students who were accepted but didn’t enroll.

  • Sending messages to first-year undergraduates who enrolled elsewhere. Imagine a college freshman getting this message over winter break: ‘If you’re not happy at the University of X, we still have a spot for you.’”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

The college admissions game just got more stressful.

Low-income families “have nowhere to turn and could be vulnerable to accepting a bad deal.”

Middle-income families may “come to like this if they get more money in post-May 1 offers. But I also know students and families are exhausted by the college search. They want it to eventually end. This could stretch it well into the summer after high-school graduation.”

And affluent families now have one more reason to ratchet up the stress on their kids to craft the perfect resume prior to the start of senior year.


“Author discusses his new book speculating on alternative models of higher education,” by Scott Jaschik, in Inside Higher Ed

“ ‘Interface University’ is, I think, the most necessary and pressing organizational form of the future university. […] Interface University would be the institution where human and artificial intelligence learns to think together, to achieve the state of interface. Interface University would be the institution that generates the knowledge produced by the interaction and human and artificial intelligence. […]

“I also rather like the idea of ‘Polymath University.’ In this model, as a condition for graduation, students must major in three disparate disciplines. So, a student could not major in history, English and philosophy, or accounting, finance and business administration. Instead, a student would be required to major in, say, philosophy, sociology and finance, or accounting, history and design. There is some interesting literature on students who double major in such nonadjacent subjects, and the kinds of creative, innovative thinkers they become. A student who triple majors in widely divergent subjects would develop a supple and complex mind.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Organizational form should emerge naturally from essential questions, which we call the Order of Operations:

  1. What is your mission? (What is your timeless reason for existence? What is, in in fact, your license to exist?)

  2. What is your vision? (What is your timely picture of success? What would it look like for your mission to meet today’s and tomorrow’s deepest needs?)

  3. What is your culture? (What value-driven behaviors characterize the way that each person in your organization will bring the vision to life?)

Once your community is clear on those things, a new approach to organizational form can be a game-changer.


Question of the week:



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Christian Talbot