Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Oct 14 2019

“Where Did All the Students Go?” in the Chronicle of Higher Education

“ ‘Higher education has fully entered a new structural reality,’ argues Bill Conley, vice president for enrollment management at Bucknell University, in a recent essay in The Chronicle Review. When Bucknell failed to hit its enrollment goals this spring, it wasn’t alone — National Association for College Admission Counseling data show a large increase in the number of colleges still soliciting applications after the May 1 deadline. ‘Up and down the selectivity ladder, especially among private colleges,’ Conley writes, ‘yield models had been invalidated by a sea change in student college-choice behavior.’

“It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For decades, this is how colleges handled enrollment. Instead of transformation, they tweaked at the margins. This is no longer sufficient. The answer to the ‘revenue problem’ has always been ‘get more students who can pay’ or ‘go recruit in a new market.’ Those wells are drying up.

“Colleges have to ask: What else can we do to increase revenue that is consistent with our mission? Colleges have historically added programs, increased the size of their student body, or added fees. We are hitting a wall on all of those options.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

As we often say, higher ed trends are leading indicators for K12 independent schools.

The best time to contemplate new business models was 20 years ago. The next best time is right now. What got you here won’t get you there...


Forget STEM, We Need MESH,” by Tim Wise, on Medium

“But without an equal commitment to comprehensive civics education — an examination of subjects that touch on the relationships between people, government, the economy, and media — all the technical know-how in the world will be for naught.

“For this reason, I would suggest a renewed focus on MESH education, which stands for Media Literacy, Ethics, Sociology, and History. Because if these are not given equal attention, we could end up with incredibly bright and technically proficient people who lack all capacity for democratic citizenship.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

H/T Tara Kinsey at the Hewitt School for sharing this article on Twitter.

Maybe it’s time to consider Liberal Arts 2.0: STEM + MESH, but rather than teaching them as an aggregation of separate disciplines, organize the curriculum around the most pressing problems of our time.

Solving climate collapse, after all, will not be just a matter of science, but also how we mobilize political will and policy to enact scientific solutions. Which will require an understanding of behavioral economics. Which means running experiments. Which means collecting data, analyzing them, and generating statistically valid inferences.

A school day that moves kids from English to Chemistry to History to Spanish, etc., every 45 minutes isn’t going to cut it.

… and as a complementary read…


“This New 2-Year College Is Unlike Any Other. And That Could Be Its Biggest Challenge,” by in EdSurge News

“At Wayfinding Academy, the top priority is self-discovery, with academic content as a background feature. Wayfinding’s leaders say their academics are just as rigorous as any other college—they’ve gained approval from the state of Oregon to grant degrees, and they’ve started applying for accreditation so they might eventually qualify for federal financial aid. […]

“ ‘I care very very deeply about the role of higher education in our society, and my own personal calling is to help young people figure out what they want to do with their lives,’ [Wayfinding’s founder] told the crowd. ‘Our culture of higher education is backwards. We first ask young people to first pick a four-year university to attend, and then to choose a major from some list, and then to figure out what they want to do, and then to go try it. And I feel like we need to flip this frontwards.’”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

If much of Liberal Arts 2.0 is organized around students learning to solve the world’s most pressing problems, it might also consist of regular opportunities for them to contemplate how those problems intersect with their own “self-discovery.”

At Basecamp, we think of this balance through the lens of the 4 Big Questions:

  • Who am I?

  • Who are we?

  • What matters to us?

  • What are we going to do about it?


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Christian Talbot