Future of Learning Top Reads for Week of May 13 2019

“Why ‘Group Projects’ Need to Go (and What Should Take Their Place),” by Julia Hodges, on the Redesigning High School blog

“If we assign specific roles and tightly constrain the collaborative process, we have just done all the heavy lifting. We’ve reduced the student role down to something rote and procedural. We rob students of their opportunity to learn how to collaborate.

“Teaching effective collaboration — like most other things, I think — requires less structure but more support than what we see in traditional group projects. It’s a combination of intentionally crafted activities and reflections to get students thinking and talking about how they collaborate and then letting students practice what they think they’ve learned.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

This short piece is dense with insights about student-centered pedagogy as well as practical tips to facilitate student-centered learning.

I especially love the author’s reference to a “try-fail-reflect cycle,” which is a great example of a “first order negative, second order positive.”


“The History of Our Broken System,” by Scott Looney, on the Redesigning School blog

“The multiple choice exam did not exist until Frederick J. Kelly, a graduate student at Kansas State Teachers College, invented the Kansas Silent Reading exam in 1914. Mr. Kelly invented this exam to measure ‘lower order thinking skills among the lower orders.’ He believed that multiple choice exams were useful for targeting the lowest cognitive functions, largely for vocational placement.

”By 1926, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) had chosen multiple choice as its test format, and shortly thereafter it became the primary admission exam for selective colleges.

“The complexity of the world and the inherent stimulation of curiosity that complexity engendered were stripped away from the educational model – replaced by a model of compartmentalized standardization where the speed of acquisition of content knowledge, rather than the depth of understanding, was the standard for success. When Frederick Kelly, a disciple of John Dewey, saw what had become of his multiple choice exam, he was appalled, and he spent the remainder of his life fighting against its use, to no avail.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Does anyone truly believe that standardized assessments are a good way to measure what students know and what they can do with what they know?

A VUCA world will not be forgiving to students who have optimized for such fragile learning.

We need assessments that measure—and therefore promote—resilient learning.

Note: this article was originally authored in 2014 as part 1 of a series. The author, Scott Looney, is the founder of the Mastery Transcript Consortium. The blog reposting his article represents the spirit of that movement.


Thinking about last week’s Future of Learning Top Reads discussion of alternative approaches to credentialing

Tweet by Matthew Rascoff

“Imagine a stackable professional degree made up of 4 certificates. Your employer pays for one at age 24, your alumni association provides one when you’re 26, and you pay for two to top it off and earn your MA/MBA/MPP. Interoperability is the key to systems of perpetual learning.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Rascoff runs Duke’s Learning Innovation team. “Stackable degrees,” made up of lots of mini credentials, could catalyze a wave of innovation in higher ed, first and foremost by providing a cost-effective alternative to highly bundled, highly expensive degree programs.


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Christian Talbot