Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Sep 23 2019

“Wanted: More Entrepreneurial School Leaders,” by Tom Olverson, on the RG175 blog

“Timothy Butler in his 2017 article ‘Hiring an Entrepreneurial Leader’ uses data from an extensive study of leaders to identify three critical attributes that define the entrepreneur. First, according to Butler, entrepreneurs have an ability to thrive in uncertainty. Butler makes clear that these leaders don’t enjoy risk, but rather feel more comfortable making decisions when there are significant unknowns and the strategic path is unclear. […] Many of the independent schools that are struggling don’t realize that they are in a poker game, that decisions are fraught with risk, and that ‘no decision’ or mindless imitation of other schools is a prescription for ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ Heads paralyzed by the unknown or lacking in imagination will not solve our industry’s problems.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Some simple—but difficult—lessons:

  • No decision = a decision. Standing still in rapidly evolving environment is a recipe for disaster.

  • Mindless imitation = death by a thousand cuts. As many wise people have said, if you only do what other people do, only read what they read, and only think what they think, you’ll only ever get average results. Like standing still, settling for average is a recipe for disaster in a rapidly evolving environment.

  • Get comfortable with uncertainty. Right now is the slowest that things will ever be. Right now is the simplest that things will ever be. Speed + complexity = irreducible uncertainty. Schools deserve leaders who can tolerate—or thrive in—such a condition.


“Four Mega Trends Reshaping Global Learning,” by Tom Vander Ark, in Forbes

1. New Goals: There is a global reconsideration of learning goals and 'graduate profiles' based on the new economy (what the World Economic Forum calls the 4th Industrial Revolution). There are lots of folks asking: What Should Graduates Know and Be Able to Do? […]

2. Active learning: Active learning is more student-centered, with a combination of directed tasks and open-ended challenges that provide more learner voice and choice. […]

3. Competency: There is a global shift from seat time to ‘show what you know’ and progress on demonstrated mastery. It’s a complex shift that will take a few decades to play out as new tools, strategies and measures are developed. It’s moving most quickly around dynamic job clusters where an academic pedigree matters less that what you can do.

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Tom Vander Ark and the Getting Smart team are consistently strong at helping educators to identify and make sense of major trends.

For schools that are considering strategic planning, we have partnered with Carla Silver at L+D to curate three reads (including this Tom Vander Ark article) to help school leaders think about how to skate to where the hockey puck is going.


“MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit,” by Anthony Ha, in TechCrunch

“Even as it grows, Rasmussen suggested that Outlier will remain focused on ‘the first 25 college-level courses,’ rather than recreating an entire college curriculum. […]

“ ‘We’re really focused on these first couple years, [where we can] hack down a bunch of the student debt.’”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

What if there were an incredibly high quality, engaging, inexpensive way to earn transferable college credits? (Outlier has established a partnership with U. Pittsburgh to provide official college credit.)

What if that were available to high school students?

How might that change the value proposition of what you’re currently offering to 11th and 12th graders? How might the ability to save a semester or even year of college tuition change the price sensitivity of parents thinking about the cost of paying for K12 independent school?

We don’t have the answers, but we believe that those are some of the big questions to ask…


Question of the week:


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Christian Talbot