Hypothesis: We Can Change the Learning Curve

1 Oct 2013

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
     –Rilke’s Book of Hours

My life is a hypothesis—that personal digital learning will change the world.
Right in front of us is the opportunity to build new tools and schools that help young people around the world learn more faster, deeper, and cheaper.   New tools will boost engagement and persistence.   New schools will reach and lift kids in Detroit and Delhi.  Hundreds of millions of young people will gain the opportunity to connect with college and careers.
The learning revolution underway is the shift from print to digital, lectures to interaction, testing to feedback, classes to individuals, school to anywhere.  The revolution will yield powerful learning platforms that result from public-private partnerships.  Some of the key elements of SAAS (school-as-a-service) will include:

  • an engaging media library of learning objects and experiences
  • instant feedback from lots of content embedded assessment (games, sims, virtual environments, unit quizzes)
  • a comprehensive student profile (as discussed with Aneesh Chopra)
  • a customized experience driven by a smart recommendation engine
  • mixed modes of learning that leverage community assets
  • social learning with formal, informal, and flexible groups
  • internet access, content consumption, and production device(s)
  • student support services tailored to individual needs (e.g., online
  • the support of a team of learning professionals and community members

This all becomes widely available when money follows the student to the best learning experience, when students aren’t bound by time and place (i.e., seat time requirements and only one way to learn), when they have access to the best teachers regardless of location, and after we figure out a bunch of privacy and security issues.
We have the first chance in history to change the learning curve.   Technology has driven productivity and service breakthroughs in every other sector—education is next.  It will soon be clear that we can do better for less in the U.S.—more achievement, higher completion rates, better preparation—and extend access to quality education to hundreds of millions of young people worldwide.
My life is a hypothesis—a blog, an advocacy shop, a fund, and a lot of great colleagues.
The mission is becoming a movement of edupreneurs and funders.   Here’s how my friends at KnowledgWorks introduce their map of the future:

If you think our future will require better schools, you’re wrong.  The future of education calls for entirely new kinds of learning environments.
If you think we will need better teachers, you’re wrong.  Tomorrow’s learners will need guides who take on fundamentally different roles.
As every dimension of our world evolves so rapidly, the education challenges of tomorrow will require solutions that go far beyond today’s answers.

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