From DSC:
Regular readers of this blog will know that for years, I’ve made it one of my goals to try and raise awareness of the need for institutions of higher education to lower their tuitions! For example, Yohan Na and I designed the graphic below way back in 2009.

 

Daniel S. Christian: My concerns with just maintaining the status quo

 

Through those years, I cringed when I kept hearing various Boards say, “We only increased our tuition by ___ % — the lowest percentage increase in our state.” The direction was completely wrong! It needed to go down, not up. If you work in higher ed, I encourage you to find a way for that to happen at your own institution.

So I’m very pleased to report that the WMU-Thomas M. Cooley Law School — where I work — was able to reduce tuition by 21%!!! 

Don’t get me wrong, some tough decisions were made to pave the way for that to occur. But this will be the case no matter which institution of higher education that you look at. An institution will have to make some tough choices to reduce their tuition. But it HAS to occur. We can’t keep this upward trajectory going.

If we don’t change this trajectory, we will continue to put enormous gorillas (of debt) on our graduates’ backs! Such debt will take our graduates decades to pay off. 

We need to be aware of these invisible gorillas of debt. That is, our students move on…and we don’t see them. But their gorillas remain.

 



Addendum on 10/18/19:

Victoria Vuletich, the assistant dean at the Grand Rapids, Michigan campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan’s Legal Talk Network to discuss what the law school experience is like for the current generation of students. 



 

Kansas City high schools add real-world learning — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpt:

The good news is that more young people are graduating from high school than ever. The bad news? High school is often less relevant to them and their futures than ever.

The largest effort to make high school more valuable—to young people and their communities— is underway in the six-county two-state Kansas City metro area.

About 60 schools in 15 districts from Kansas and Missouri are spending this school year investigating ways they can make high school more valuable to young people by incorporating more real-world learning.

 

From DSC:
I know that by the end of his junior year, our son was so tired of having information crammed down his throat. He viewed so much of the content of his courses as irrelevant and unimportant. This year, he is immersed in what he wants to do — acting. And now he is soooooo much more motivated to learn and to grow now that he is able to pursue his passion.

 

 

 

‘The Dangers of Fluent Lectures’ — from insidehighered.com by Colleen Flaherty
A study says smooth-talking professors can lull students into thinking they’ve learned more than they actually have — potentially at the expense of active learning.

Excerpt:

The paper also provides important insight into why active learning hasn’t taken deeper root in academe, despite the many studies that have previously identified its effectiveness as compared to more passive approaches (namely the lecture). In a word: students. That is, while professors are often seen as the biggest impediments to innovative teaching, the study describes an “inherent student bias against active learning that can limit its effectiveness and may hinder the wide adoption of these methods.”

Compared with students in traditional lectures, students in active classes perceived that they learned less, while in reality they learned more. Students also rated the quality of instruction in passive lectures more highly, and expressed a preference to have “all of their physics classes taught this way,” despite their lower test scores.

In some ways, he said, “the study confirms what we have suspected anecdotally for a long time — that students feel more comfortable in a lecture environment and believe that they are learning more because of the expectations they have for a college learning environment.” But, in fact, he said, they’re “actually learning more in the environments where they are actively engaged in building knowledge about key concepts.”

 

From DSC:
The part about the students feeling more comfortable in a lecture environment and believing that they are learning more reminded me of this research/paper (which the graphics below reference and link to as well), where they mention the practices of highlighting and re-reading some text. Students feel like they are really learning the content more thoroughly when they are doing these things (and this is what I did in college as well). But the evidence shows that the utility of these methods is low. Instead, practice testing — which involves retrieval practice, as well as distributed practice and interleaved practice produce stronger results.

So what students feel and what’s actually occurring can be different…as Colleen’s article from insidehighered.com points out.

That said — and as the article asserted as well — is that some lecturing is fine to do:

At the same time, Eyler stressed that existing literature shows that some limited lecturing is “definitely OK,” as “students need to know content in order to engage in higher order thinking.”

 

 

Addendum on 9/14/19:

 

 

Podcast: Susan Patrick on Transforming Education Systems for Equitable High-Quality Learning — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark & Susan Patrick

Excerpts:

5 Global Trends

  1. Ensuring education systems are fit for purpose.
  2. Modernizing educator workforce and professional learning.
  3. Innovating education for equity, prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion.
  4. Aligning pathways from early childhood, K-12, college and workforce.
  5. Redesigning schools based on the learning sciences.
    In Fit for Purpose, Patrick and colleagues said, “A school redesign informed by learning sciences puts student success at its center. It incorporates youth development theory, culturally responsive teaching, and evidence-based approaches.” She added, “We must ensure we are designing for equity using research on how students learn best, youth development theory and evidence-based approaches.”


From DSC:

Below are the comments that I relayed back to Tom and Susan on Twitter:

“We need to keep asking– how do we design a system fit for the world we live in?” I thought that this was a great point from Susan. I would just add that not only do we need to look around at the current landscapes, but also what’s coming down the pike (i.e. the world that we will be living in). With the new pace of exponential change, our graduates will need to be able to pivot/adapt frequently and quickly.

Also, watching my wife’s experiences over the last few years, only one of the three school systems offered solid training and development. The other two school systems needed to pay much more attention to their onboarding and training programs. They needed to be far more supportive — working to establish a more team-oriented teaching and learning environment. While the corporate world can learn from the K-12 world often times, this is where the K-12 world could learn a lot to learn from the corporate world.

 

From DSC:
In reviewing some of the learning spaces I ran across out at inventionlandinstitute.com/innovation-labs

 

An example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

…I wondered…why can’t more learning spaces look like this!?!

 

Meet Anthony Johnson: Teacher of the Year. Rebel ‘Mayor.’ High School Dropout. — from edsurge.com by Kristin Leong

Excerpt:

Anthony’s classroom is as much an invitation to his students to take ownership of their learning as it is a rebellion against the education system that failed him when he was a student. In his book, “High School Dropout to Teacher of the Year,” Anthony’s complicated relationship to education comes through as the fuel behind his work. In explaining his motivations behind reinventing classroom learning, he says that his focus as a teacher is to provide students with learning experiences that are “radically different” from the ones he remembers.

 

From the description of his book:

What makes Anthony Johnson a gem is not the fact that he is an African American male, but that he cultivates and fosters a learning environment unlike any other seen in this country.

 

 

Choice -> Ownership -> Empowerment -> Deeper Learning — from AJ Juliani

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Students continue to fall into the same trap year after year with traditional schooling. They rarely have a chance to choose their learning path in school, and routinely treat school like a “job” instead of the most valuable learning experience they will ever have…

By the time students get to high school, over 83% are stressed out, [and] 67% say they are bored half the time, and many learn to “play the game of school” worrying about what will happen to them if they do not get a particular grade and get into a specific college.

What we end up with are students who are never given a chance to explore their own interests in school, who end up confused about what they want to do with their future because they continue to march down a path that has been chosen for them for 12 years. Many of these students end up getting jobs in fields they think are “safe” or “practical” but don’t have a personal connection or interest to the work they are doing.

 

Choice in what content our students consume, what activities they take on in and out of school, what assessments they take, and choice in their purpose for learning.

Choice drives student ownership of their learning, which kicks engagement into high-gear, and ultimately leads to learning that is intrinsic and powerful and deep.

 

From DSC:
Our son has become a game-player. He knows just what he needs to get that A. No more, nor less. He doesn’t care about learning. And he is tired of getting information crammed down his throat. Information he doesn’t care about…at all. Since 10th grade, he has become disengaged.

Next year (for his senior year of H.S.), he is heading to studying what he wants to study — acting. Although it will be very difficult, I think he will blossom. He will become fully engaged…because he’s doing what he chooses to do.

 

 

 

 

Belief in Learning Styles Myth May Be Detrimental — from apa.org
Many people believe learning styles predict academic and career success, study finds

Excerpts:

WASHINGTON — Many people, including educators, believe learning styles are set at birth and predict both academic and career success even though there is no scientific evidence to support this common myth, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Previous surveys in the United States and other industrialized countries across the world have shown that 80% to 95% of people believe in learning styles. It’s difficult to say how that myth became so widespread, Nancekivell said.

 

Also see:

  • Maybe They’re Born With It, or Maybe It’s Experience: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Learning Style Myth — from apa.org by Shaylene E. Nancekivell, Priti Shah, and Susan A. Gelman
    .
  • Learning Styles are NOT an Effective Guide for Learning Design — from debunker.club
    Excerpt:
    The strength of evidence against the use of learning styles is very strong. To put it simply, using learning styles to design or deploy learning is not likely to lead to improved learning effectiveness. While it may be true that learners have different learning preferences, those preference are not likely to be a good guide for learning. The bottom line is that when we design learning, there are far better heuristics to use than learning styles.
    .
  • Learning styles: Worth our time? — from Cathy Moore
    .
  • Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say — from psychologicalscience.org
    .
  • Learning Styles FAQ — by Daniel Willingham
    Excerpt:
    How can you not believe that that people learn differently? Isn’t it obvious?
    People do learn differently, but I think it is very important to say exactly how they learn differently, and focus our attention on those differences that really matter. If learning styles were obviously right it would be easy to observe evidence for them in experiments. Yet there is no supporting evidence. There are differences among kids that both seem obvious to us and for which evidence is easily obtained in experiments, e.g., that people differ in their interests, that students vary in how much they think of schoolwork as part of their identity (“I’m the kind of kid who works hard in school”) and that kids differ in what they already know at the start of a lesson. All three of these have sizable, easily observed effects on learning. I think that often when people believe that they observe obvious evidence for learning styles, they are mistaking it for ability.

 

From DSC:
While I’ve heard and read through the years that there isn’t support for learning styles — and I’ve come to adopt that perspective as well due to what I’ve read, such as the items listed above — I do think that each of us has our learning preferences (as the debunker club mentioned as well). That is, how we prefer to learn about a new subject:

  • Some people like to read the manual.
  • Others never pick up the manual…they prefer to use the trial and error / hands-on method.
  • Some people prefer to listen to audio books.
  • Others prefer to watch videos.
  • Others like to read about a new topic.
  • Others like to study in a very quiet place — while others prefer some background noise.
  • Some people love to learn in a 100% online-based mode…some people hate it, and that delivery method doesn’t work as well for them.

Along these lines…in my mind, offering learning in multiple media and in multiple ways maximizes the enjoyment of learning by a group of people. And now that we’re all into lifelong learning, the enjoyment of learning has notched waaay up in importance in my book. The more we enjoy learning, the more we enjoy life (and vice versa).

In fact, I’m getting closer to the point of putting enjoyment of learning over grades in terms of importance. Grades are a way to compare people/school systems/colleges/universities/etcetera…they are the currency of our current systems…and they are used to “incentivize” students. But such systems and methods often produce game players, not learners.

 

 

Cathedral Thinking – Designing for the Next Century — from tarunagoel.blogspot.com by Taruna Goel

Excerpts:

Cathedral thinking involves taking a leap and imagining the bigger picture and realizing that while it may seem that you are a small part, you play an important role in how that bigger picture will eventually emerge. It means realizing that your decisions today will lead to consequences in the future that you may or may not live to see but others will.
I think the concept has a key role to play in how we design for learning especially considering the future of work and the future of learning including multi generational learning in the context of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and other adaptive learning technologies.

With the cathedral thinking mindset, there are many questions that I am pondering about…

 

 

Bad bargain: Why we still ask kids to factor polynomials and how we fix it — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpt:

OK, we cut a bad deal 20 years ago and it’s time to fix it.

Kids are still factoring polynomials and that’s just dumb. Requiring every student to pass a course on regurgitated symbol manipulation (Algebra 2) is torturous for many students and why some dropout. It’s an inequitable barrier to college and careers.

“The tragedy of high school math,” said venture investor and education advocate Ted Dintersmith (who has a Ph.D. in math modeling), “is that less than 20% of adults ever use algebra. No adult in America still does integrals and derivatives by hand – the calculus that blocks so many from career paths. It remains in the curriculum because it’s easy to test, not important to learn.”

Math educator Dan Meyer told the We’re Doing It All Wrong Podcast that algebra 2 is “arcane gibberish…not useful knowledge”…

Now, rather than the plug and crank of symbol manipulation, we should be teaching computational thinking. As mathematician Conrad Wolfram said, we should be teaching math as if computers existed.

Rather than a separate symbol language, Wolfram argues, math should be taught as computational thinking and integrated across the curriculum. That starts with problem finding–spotting big tough problems worth working on. Next comes understanding the problems and valuables associated–that’s algebraic reasoning. But rather than focusing on computation (including factoring those nasty polynomials), students should be building data sets and using computers to do what they’re good at–calculations.

To fix the problem, states that require Algebra 2 should swap it out for a course in coding and computational thinking. Colleges and college entrance exams should drop Algebra 2 requirements. They should start by asking young people about their contributions to solving big problems.

 

From DSC:
This posting reminded me that, just the other day, I took the picture below…it’s outside a local mall. The annotated picture below gives you some of my thoughts on this ridiculous setup. 

 

Are some of our educational systems setup like this stop sign outside an abandoned, old store that's no longer being used?!

 

 

 

Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

Huge study finds professors’ attitudes affect students’ grades — and it’s doubly true for minority students. — from arstechnica.com by Scott Johnson

Excerpt:

Instead, the researchers think the data suggests that—in any number of small ways—instructors who think their students’ intelligence is fixed don’t keep their students as motivated, and perhaps don’t focus as much on teaching techniques that can encourage growth. And while this affects all students, it seems to have an extra impact on underrepresented minority students.

The good news, the researchers say, is that instructors can be persuaded to adopt more of a growth mindset in their teaching through a little education of their own. That small attitude adjustment could make them a more effective teacher, to the significant benefit of a large number of students.

 

Along these lines, also see:

 


 

 

 

Jennifer Gonzalez on the Aerodynamics of Exceptional Schools | SXSW EDU

 

 

Joint CS and Philosophy Initiative, Embedded EthiCS, Triples in Size to 12 Courses — from thecrimson.com by Ruth Hailu and Amy Jia

Excerpt:

The idea behind the Embedded EthiCS initiative arose three years ago after students in Grosz’s course, CS 108: “Intelligent Systems: Design and Ethical Challenges,” pushed for an increased emphasis on ethical reasoning within discussions surrounding technology, according to Grosz and Simmons. One student suggested Grosz reach out to Simmons, who also recognized the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to computer science.

“Not only are today’s students going to be designing technology in the future, but some of them are going to go into government and be working on regulation,” Simmons said. “They need to understand how [ethical issues] crop up, and they need to be able to identify them.”

 

 

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