Translating productivity lessons to “learn-ivity” lessons #EdTransformation

You see, the first wave of managers simply replaced their steam engines with electric motors, but they didn’t redesign the factories to take advantage of electricity’s flexibility. It fell to the next generation to invent new work processes, and then productivity soared, often doubling or even tripling in those factories.

= = =

General purpose technologies drive most economic growth, because they unleash cascades of complementary innovations, like lightbulbs and, yes, factory redesign. Is there a general purpose technology of our era? Sure. It’s the computer. But technology alone is not enough. Technology is not destiny.We shape our destiny, and just as the earlier generations of managers needed to redesign their factories, we’re going to need to reinvent our organizations….

Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the machines, #TED

An adjacent possibility and a prediction of some future history-book paragraphs…

“You see the first wave of educators simply replaced their lectures with flipped classrooms and notebooks with iPads (etc.), but they didn’t redesign the curriculum or schools to take advantage of what we know is critical for innovation, engagement, and internally-motivated purpose. It fell to the next generation to invent new school processes, and then engagement and learning soared, often doubling or even tripling in those schools.

= = =

General purpose pedagogies drive most learning growth, because they unleash cascades of complementary innovations, like community-based challenges and integrated-discipline problem-solving. Is there a general purpose pedagogy of our era? Sure. It’s PBL. But PBL alone is not enough. PBL is not destiny.We shape our destiny, and just as the earlier generations of educators needed to redesign their schools, we’re going to need to reinvent our organizations….”

Building a fragmented ‘non-system’ of well-meaning, specialized programs

Twenty-two years ago [now 25], while analyzing why so little of what is known to work gets applied in practice, Lisbeth Schorr wrote of “traditions which segregate bodies of information by professional, academic, political, and bureaucratic boundaries” and a world in which “complex intertwined problems are sliced into manageable but trivial parts.” Around the same time, Sid Gardner wrote that “we end up contributing our money, and more important, our political and spiritual energy, to building a fragmented ‘non-system’ of well-meaning, specialized programs.” Sadly, both observations are still true today.

From A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation – Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. 2010.

Learning is the constant. An intersection at #TEDx Blvd and #EduCon / #EduCon25 Drive

Do you really believe that all students can learn? At high levels?

Do you see learning as the constant… and time and support as the variables? Or do you still see time and support as relatively fixed, so learning must then vary? (Think As, Bs, Cs, Ds, Fs – learning variability in alphabetic symbols.)

Are you willing to rethink entire educational structures in order to facilitate high-level learning for ALL children?

Is all of the above worth at least a half hour of your time – if only to stretch your thinking about what’s possible?

Then, please watch these two TEDx talks.

Beyond the Book: Mary Esselman at TEDxSarasota [total time – 12:33]

Esselman explains her experience with blowing up the construct of age-grouping and re-imagining school such that students of current understanding are “grouped” regardless of their chronological age.


We must invest in research and development in education: Jim Shelton at TEDxMidAtlantic [total time – 14:24]

Shelton shows examples of modern one-on-one tutoring that make new learners as cognitively agile as veterans – even more so. And he makes a strong case that echoes recent words from Sir Ken Robinson – that schools should be asking students, “How are you smart?” not “How smart are you?”

The two talks above come from TEDx Talks Roundup: 4 Fascinating Talk about Education. The other two talks are well worth the views, too. A hat tip to @cannonball31 for passing the blog post to me.

Also, another hat tip to @GregBamford for helping me to think a bit deeper about educational structure (versus individual scapegoating) after I participated in his #EduCon session on organizational development – “Teaching Frameworks for Creative Collaboration.”

I’m getting into stand-up comedy to help spread the word about educational innovation

I’m thinking of adding stand-up comedian to my repertoire and resume. Because people think I’m so funny. Not. But I figure I really only have one way to go…and that’s to get funnier.

Seriously, I am thinking about stand-up comedy, especially that incredible skill of great stand-up comedians to help us to see what we have come to take for granted and what we are neglecting to see or think about any longer.

This weekend, on a long walk with Lucy (my dog), I was listening to the podcast “Seeing in the Dark” on RadioLab. At the end of the podcast, in some NPR fund-raising, the hosts explain that they are touring with comedian Demetri Martin. They play a bit of his recent release “Stand-Up Comedian.” I don’t have the exact transcript right, so please forgive the quotes, but I have most of the essence. Demetri Martin is pointing out the amusing idiocy of how we introduce people…

“This is Frank. Sounds pretty normal but when you think about it. This. Walk up with a person. This. This stuff right here is Frank.”

“Excuse me, what is this?”

“This? Oh, this is Frank.”

“When you call someone. You have to say, ‘Hey. This is Demetri.’ But when you go up to someone in person, the rule flips. You have to say I. ‘Hey. I’m Demetri.’ You can’t say, ‘This is Demetri’ about yourself.”

So, that got me thinking about my stand-up comedy routine. How might I use stand-up comedy to help others see what we have come to take for granted and neglect relative to school and education? I think it will start with something like this…

“Hey. Yeah. I’ve just started this new job. I’m the Director of Educational Innovation. Sometimes I think what it would be like to have this job and title 150 years ago.

“So, we’ve been studying the way children naturally learn. You know, they explore, investigate, inquire, play. That sort of stuff. We want school to be a natural extension of the natural amazingness of human, child learning. I mean, the word education comes from the Latin educatio and educare which mean to draw out from what is normal. So, we’re proposing having the kids sit in desks for about 13 years and listen to adults mostly talk. And when the kids ask questions a lot, we’re telling the adults to say that they don’t have time to answer that right now…there’s too much material to cover.

“And, we want formal education to prepare people for what life’s like after school. We know that most people work in situations in which they don’t have precise answers, and they tend to work in project-mode on complex things that are ambiguous and hard to define. Big challenges and messy issues that need serious solution finding. And empathy.

So, we thought we would mimic that in school by teaching kids about all the stuff we think we already know the answers to. Projects? Oh, of course, we’ll do projects. We’ll have the kids make posters of their latest book report, and we’ll ask them to do it at home with lots of parent ego involved so that the kid’s poster will be the prettiest on Monday morning. And, we’re gonna have them take a lot of multiple choice tests because those hit you all the time in the real world – we take standardized, multiple-choice tests all the time in the real world. So should kids. We think that will really prepare young people for the world they’re gonna face when they get to work.

I think people’s sides will split. Hilarious, don’t you think?

Dr. Jason B. Huett, GPEE, #EdReform Themes and Catalysts

Today, I had reason and opportunity to dig deeper into GPEE – the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. As I was digging, I took time to explore Dr. Jason B. Huett’s keynote at GPEE’s recent August 2012 event. Dr. Huett is the Associate Dean of Online Development at University of West Georgia.

During Dr. Huett’s presentation, he highlights five themes in educational change and ten catalysts for these shifts.

5 Themes in Educational Change from Dr. Jason B. Huett

  1. Education will be more technology-advanced.
  2. Education will be more accessible.
  3. Education will be more flexible.
  4. Education will be more social.
  5. Education will be more affordable.

10 Catalysts for Educational Change from Dr. Jason B. Huett

  1.  Loss of information control.
  2. Promise of open education.
  3. Rise of apps culture, cloud, and wireless.
  4. Bye bye books.
  5. Coming of brick and clicks.
  6. Rise of the competition.
  7. Buyer’s market.
  8. Time as the new variable.
  9. Power of collaboration.
  10. New world of work.

Dr. Huett’s talk is very much worth the listen. He puts very interesting flesh on the 15 interconnected bones listed above. In the embedded video below, his speech begins at 18:05.