Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Sep 30 2019

“Colleges Should Be Building Bridges to Careers, Not Stranded Piers,” by Ryan Craig, in EdSurge News

“For students who do finish with a degree, many programs are still effectively piers because they fail to lead to an intended or desirable destination. The most popular major in the U.S. is now business. The logic seems straightforward enough: the vast majority of good jobs are at businesses and, if nothing else, business majors must be qualified for jobs in businesses, right?

“Unfortunately, many business majors consist of coursework that better reflect the faculty view of what businesses need, rather than what specific businesses actually need for entry-level jobs. Instead of training students on Salesforce, one of the most commonly used tools in American businesses today, most programs tend to focus on academic theories of consumer behavior and pricing strategies.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

To the extent that college should involve career training, all of the above makes sense.

The role of higher ed colleges should also include the teaching of clear thinking. While Ryan Craig may be dismissive of “academic theories of consumer behavior and pricing strategies,” they nevertheless provide important models for thinking about how the world works (or, increasingly, the limits of understanding how the world works).

And learning how to think, and thinking about thinking, will always be more important than hard skills.


“Organizing Your School As A List Of Courses Doesn't Work For Learners,” by Tom Vander Ark, on Forbes

“There are four problems with continuing to organize school as a list of courses:

  1. Measurement: courses are primarily a measure of time rather than learning.

  2. Inflexibility: courses typically lock a cohort into the same learner experience for 180 days with limited divergence in modality or path.

  3. Discipline-based: courses inhibit authentic, community-connected and integrated approaches to real problems.

  4. Idiosyncratic: course content and grading is locally defined and may or may not contribute to growth toward important learner goals.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

One solution?

  • A competency framework with…

  • units of study, within which…

  • students “develop and demonstrate multidimensional competencies.”

The future of learning must enable students to make their unique contribution to the world. A competency-based, project-based learning environment can create such conditions.


“On the importance of filtering information,” on the Cronycle Blog

“Choosing your computation filters (and having a diverse enough choice) is going to be a skill and task that employees will have to practice and learn in order to improve their filtering. This requires judgment and work, but it’s a condition to benefit from advances in computational filtering and stay relevant in your work.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Machines filter. Humans curate.

And if we are only curating what has already been filtered for us, then we are allowing someone else to define the terms of our conversations. (For a great long read on this question, check out Franklin Foer’s World Without Mind.)

The future of learning and the future of democracy will both depend on helping learners (both students and teachers) to “choose computational filters.”


Question of the week:



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Christian Talbot