Networks, Peer Progressives, School 3.0, and Future Perfect #IDreamASchool #School3pt0

Imagine a web of collaboration.

A growing number of us have started to think that the core principles that govern the design of the Net could be applied to solve different kinds of problems.

The world is full of problems that can be solved with peer networks.

– from Steven Johnson’s video on Future Perfect


School 3.0 is likely to look more like the peer networks that Steven Johnson describes in his video summary of his book Future Perfect. By even using the word “school,” however, I imagine that I have unintentionally conjured up old movies in certain readers’ minds. But when I say “school,” I actually mean something newly designed and significantly different.

  • School 3.0 has “students” working on a curriculum composed of, or at least more balanced toward, real-world challenges and problem-finding-problem-solving.
  • School 3.0 creates partnerships among 1) student-learners and faculty-facilitators, 2) businesses, and 3) non-profit, social-innovation organizations and NGOs, and potentially 4) governments. In fact, this could be the “peer network” of the future…the future that I believe Johnson is describing. By linking, yoking, and amassing such networks, we could achieve the social equivalent of Newton’s F=ma.
  • School 3.0 utilizes peer networking to amplify the group-smart of the “school,” newly defined with a broader understanding, and it flattens the industrial-age hierarchies and silos that tend to separate context and power.


Many thanks to Jonathan Martin for reviewing Steven Johnson’s book Future Perfect. I have not yet read the book, but thanks to my network of co-learners and co-leaders, I have been linked to the possibilities exposed by my peer progressives.

Related posts on It’s About Learning:



Lessons on #creativity in 1 min, 20 sec. (and then some, if you want to study awhile)

For those schools who really want to bake creativity into their core being…weave it into much of what they do…breathe it in like air as a taken for grantedness some day, then they better dig into, unpack, and implement the stuff mentioned just in this 1 min, 20 sec.

And it wouldn’t hurt to re-imagine, re-solve, and re-purpose school according to many of these lessons…

TED Radio Hour:

And don’t forget GRIT!

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3) Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?

On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26, Bo Adams and Jill Gough facilitated a ten-hour workshop on PBL at The Center for Teaching Summer Institute (#CFTSI12 on Twitter). With this post (see below the bulleted list), we are hoping to encourage and support the most important part of any conference or institute for professional learning – the “taking-things-back-to-school-to-enhance-learning” part.

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)

CHALLENGE: Many believe that this is actually the best part of the meal. The #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL is complete, but the fun, decadent portion has just begun. As we all know, peak learning tends toward project-based experiences, and students long remember the sweetness of the projects that they taste and savor. Additionally, Steven Johnson advocates for coffeehouse environments that create the conditions for great conversations and colliding hunches. So…let’s feed our sweet tooth and share in those magical after-diner-coffee conversations. When (not if!) you implement PBL with your student learners, share the plates and cups with the entire table – POST your writing, resources, insights, and struggles regarding your PBL implementations. If you have a blog, please consider cross-posting to Synergy2Learn as a contributing author. If you don’t have a blog of your own, we still invite you to post to our collective-wisdom site for PBL – Synergy2Learn.

  1. When you are ready to share and contribute, email Jill and Bo, and we will set you up as “contributors” to the Synergy2Learn PBL blog.
  2. After you are set up as a contributing author, you can keep on posting about your pursuits and accomplishments with PBL.
  3. Even if you did not physically participate in the #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL, this offer still applies!


Coming Soon…

Amazing stories of PBL experiments, implementations, and accomplishments from our #CFTSI12 participants and blog readers (hopefully!)…

[Cross-posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing and Synergy2Learn]

Thinking like a child – it may be exactly what we adults need! #21C

So, I just watched a newly posted TED talk by Alison Gopnik: What do babies think?

Throughout the talk, I was fascinated by the experimentation that she implemented in order to test her hypotheses about baby cognition. Looking at the totality of her results, Gopnik posits that babies can decipher what others are thinking, that babies think more like a lantern than a spotlight, and that babies naturally experiment and hypothesize and prototype to test their understanding of the world.

Listening to Gopnik, I found connection with her talk and Tom Wujec’s Marshmallow Challenge – the key to building better things is experimenting, failing, and prototyping improvements. It turns out that kindergarteners are really quite good at this reiterative learning.

Additionally, I was reminded of Steven Johnson’s The Innovator’s Cookbook, in which he encourages us to “get a little lost” and “play each other’s instruments.” By placing ourselves in novel situations, we can deliberately disorient ourselves and return to our “baby brains.” When we are young, we are all artists, inventors, astronauts, and aliens! Unfortunately, too many of us unlearn these perceptions about ourselves.

We have a great many transitions and transformations to make in school and the ways in which school is structured. I believe our world demands us to re-imagine “school.” Just today, one of the student-learners in Synergy 8 posted this pondering on our group Posterous:

How much in school has changed since the 1800’s?

Posted by  josephka to Synergy-8-2011-12-S1
Even with computers and smart boards not much has changed since the 19th centruy, but why not? the world has changed so much. People don’t have tha same jobs that they would have had 200 years ago. Maybe the system should be changed.

Another Synergy 8 team member commented back:

sumterf just commented on the post “How much in school has changed since the 1800’s?” on Synergy-8-2011-12-S1

I think if someone came to the future from the 1800s, they would recognize that our science, math, english, and language classes are school, but they probably would not recognize Synergy class as school.

And even if you don’t believe that school could stand a makeover, then perhaps you could allow that school should at least be re-examined…re-explored. To stand still is to grow stagnant and to ignore current research and learning from emerging best practices. Let’s employ the scientific method to our own structure…let’s play with ideas and possibilities like a child plays and integrates imagination with future possibility for reality. Let’s tap the butterflys that are our children and learn to flutter from their capacities and potential for creation and reiterative examination of enhancing prototypes. Let’s DO DIFFERENT…to discover and improve our current attempts.

Here’s to playing, to thinking more like a lantern, to trying another’s instrument, to disorienting ourselves, to wanting to know what others might be thinking. Here’s to not yet knowing that math, science, English, and history will be taught separately and from the vantage point of a individual desk and chair.

It’s not about convenience nor convention. It’s about learning!