What narrative do we hope school-age students share about “school?” #WhatIfWeekly

Summer is the time of adventures, exploring what is out in the world that you really enjoy. Then you come back to the fall with a good basic foundation to start the school year ready for action. It is almost like the true beginning of the year is the summer because it is when you really start learning and preparing for the next year. – High School (Rising) Sophomore, from her blog

It’s an interesting narrative, isn’t it? Worthy of much reflection and inquiry. Is it the narrative we educators really want school students to have? That summer is the time of adventures – the seasonal time in our annual cycle to explore in the world that which “you really enjoy?”

What if school-age students perceived school to be the time of adventures and the time to explore that which we really enjoy? What if we reverse engineered from that desired outcome? What if we backwards designed from that narrative? What if the content, competencies, and motivations (HT @DrTonyWagner) that we know to constitute deeper, lifelong learning and citizenship formed the bedrock of formalized schooling? What if play, passion, and purpose (HT #2 to @DrTonyWagner) were more deliberately woven into the tapestry of what we call the academic year? What if summer were not the sole domain of adventure and exploring “the world that you really enjoy?”

How are you thinking about the “package” we call “school?” #MVIFI

Do you ever wish you could choose the particular cable (or satellite) TV channels that you most want? Instead of having to buy the package service that comes with 361 channels or 902 channels, you could autonomously select, a la carte, the specific channels that you want to view.

Well, I’ve wanted to do that.

Listening to NPR’s Planet MoneyEpisode 488: The Secret History of Your Cable Bill” on a recent morning walk, I started to wonder how traditional school is like cable or satellite TV. Will student learners always have to “buy the entire package” of this class of math and that class of science, this class of English and that class of social studies? Or will we soon see student learners able to individualize their school subscription bundles?

It’s happened in music. We no longer have to purchase the entire album or CD. We can just buy the particular song we want and create our own playlists. It’s happened in news and broadcast journalism, and we now have the ability to create personal news stations and narrowcast our own story collections.

And it’s going to happen in schools. Well, it IS happening around schools. Think Khan Academy. Think Coursera and Udacity (Hat tip to EdSurge). Think Mozilla OpenBadges project. Think Juliette LaMontagne’s Breaker. Think Seth Godin’s Krypton Community College. Think of the future mashup of those ideas and ventures!

It’s highly likely that my 9 and 6 year-old sons will be able to autonomously aggregate courses and experiences (with badges and endorsements like on LinkedIn) and bundle their own “College Degree,” which I hope will include some residential, face-to-face relationship building in a particular physical community, too. (I imagine that it will.) But who knows?!

Learners entering MIT, Stanford, etc., will more and more be able to enter with NUMEROUS courses from those institutions already IN their digital portfolios. Will our schools require the seat-time, residential equivalents of those MOOCs? Or will they we build on the increased capacity that’s already been built when the learners reach them us?

How are you thinking about the way we package and bundle “school” in an age where people can increasingly pull and self-package the content-and-experience streams that best work for them, their passions, their interests, and their needs (with mentorship, of course!)?