A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry — from nytimes.com by Kyle Spencer

Excerpt:

Moheeb is part of a new program that is challenging the way teachers and students think about academic accomplishments, and his school is one of hundreds that have done away with traditional letter grades inside their classrooms. At M.S. 442, students are encouraged to focus instead on mastering a set of grade-level skills, like writing a scientific hypothesis or identifying themes in a story, moving to the next set of skills when they have demonstrated that they are ready. In these schools, there is no such thing as a C or a D for a lazily written term paper. There is no failing. The only goal is to learn the material, sooner or later.

For struggling students, there is ample time to practice until they get it. For those who grasp concepts quickly, there is the opportunity to swiftly move ahead. The strategy looks different from classroom to classroom, as does the material that students must master. But in general, students work at their own pace through worksheets, online lessons and in small group discussions with teachers. They get frequent updates on skills they have learned and those they need to acquire.

Mastery-based learning, also known as proficiency-based or competency-based learning, is taking hold across the country. Vermont and Maine have passed laws requiring school districts to phase in the system. New Hampshire is adopting it, too, and piloting a statewide method of assessment that would replace most standardized tests. Ten school districts in Illinois, including Chicago’s, are testing the approach. In 2015, the Idaho State Legislature approved 19 incubator programs to explore the practice.

More than 40 schools in New York City — home to the largest school district in the country, with 1.1 million students — have adopted the program. But what makes that unusual is that schools using the method are doing so voluntarily, as part of a grass-roots movement.

 

 

 

Five lessons for libraries looking to innovate in the 21st Century — from knightfoundation.org by Laura Sue Wilansky

Excerpt:

In June, Knight Foundation sent a cohort of U.S. librarians from institutions around the country to the Next Library Conference, an annual gathering held in Aarhus, Denmark that brings together library leaders from around the world to discuss innovative programs, services and ideas in the field. 20 U.S. librarians from 11 cities joined hundreds of colleagues who attended the conference from around the globe, from China to Kenya to the Caribbean.

The goal was to spread best practices in library innovation, while helping their capacity to meet new digital age demands. The initiative is part of Knight’s larger work to help libraries better serve 21st century information needs. We believe libraries are essential to addressing information challenges and creating opportunities for communities to engage with information, new ideas and each other. The conference was an opportunity to connect U.S. libraries in order to share practices and approaches being used to attract new patrons around the world, as well as gather insights from them that can help to further inform our strategy.

Here are some of the lessons the librarians brought home…

 

 

“We need to focus intently on making our buildings locations for experimentation, innovation, education, recreation and relaxation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Starter Kit for Instructional Designers — from edsurge.com by Amy Ahearn

Excerpts:

2016 report funded by the Gates Foundation found that in the U.S. alone, there are 13,000 instructional designers. Yet, when I graduated from college in 2008, I didn’t know this field existed. Surely a lot has changed!

Instructional design is experiencing a renaissance. As online course platforms proliferate, institutions of all shapes and sizes realize that they’ll need to translate content into digital forms. Designing online learning experiences is essential to training employees, mobilizing customers, serving students, building marketing channels, and sustaining business models.

The field has deep roots in distance education, human computer interaction, and visual design. But I’ve come to believe that contemporary instructional design sits at the intersection of three core disciplines: learning science, human-centered design, and digital marketing. It requires a deep respect for the pedagogical practices that teachers have honed for decades, balanced with fluency in today’s digital tools.

Below are some of the lessons and resources that I wish I knew of when I first went on the job market—a combination of the academic texts you read in school along with practical tools that have been essential to practicing instructional design in the real world. This is not a complete or evergreen list, but hopefully it’s a helpful start.

 

So You Want to Be an Instructional Designer? — from edsurge.com by Marguerite McNeal

Excerpt:

Good listener. People person. Lifelong learner. Sound like you? No, we’re not trying to arrange a first date. These are some common traits of people with successful careers in a booming job market: instructional design.

Colleges, K-12 schools and companies increasingly turn to instructional designers to help them improve the quality of teaching in in-person, online or blended-learning environments.

 

 

 

Getting students ready for the gig economy — from gettingsmart.com by Emily Liebtag

Excerpt:

1) Finding a Passion and Making an Impact
Exploring passions, interests and causes that matter should be a part of every student’s education. Projects or several short-term gigs are a great way to help students reveal (or discover) their personal passions and to facilitate their interest explorations (all while still covering core content and standards). There are many students who already have opportunities to explore their passions during the regular school day through projects and are thriving as a result.

We’ve seen students at High Tech High create business plans and sell self-designed t-shirts, students at Thrive Public Schools engage in projects around kindness and empathy in their communities, and students at One Stone work with clients on advertising and marketing gigs, exploring their passions one project at a time.

Need ideas? Engage students in projects around the Sustainable Development Goals, snag an idea from the the PBL Q & A blog or simply ask students what they are curious about exploring in their community.

 

 

Amazon relaunches Inspire after a year of re-tooling — from edscoop.com/ by Emily Tate
The content repository offers tens of thousands of downloadable educational resources. The “upload and share” feature is expected to follow soon.

Excerpts:

More than a year after Amazon debuted — and then suddenly retracted — its free library of open educational resources, Amazon Inspire is back.

The content repository — seen by many as Amazon’s first major attempt to edge into the competitive education technology space that tech giants like Google and Microsoft now comfortably occupy — was quietly reintroduced to educators on Monday [7/17/17] as a way to store and find tens of thousands of downloadable educational materials that teachers can use in their classrooms.

Over the last year, groups across the country have been working with Amazon to vet digital content to ensure it complies with state standards, quality indicators and, perhaps most importantly, intellectual property and copyright laws.

Similarly, if you want to teach a lesson on Romeo and Juliet, for example, you could search Inspire by grade, subject, content format and standards to begin pulling “ingredients,” or resources, off the shelves and putting them in your “grocery cart,” or your collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robots and AI are going to make social inequality even worse, says new report — from theverge.com by
Rich people are going to find it easier to adapt to automation

Excerpt:

Most economists agree that advances in robotics and AI over the next few decades are likely to lead to significant job losses. But what’s less often considered is how these changes could also impact social mobility. A new report from UK charity Sutton Trust explains the danger, noting that unless governments take action, the next wave of automation will dramatically increase inequality within societies, further entrenching the divide between rich and poor.

The are a number of reasons for this, say the report’s authors, including the ability of richer individuals to re-train for new jobs; the rising importance of “soft skills” like communication and confidence; and the reduction in the number of jobs used as “stepping stones” into professional industries.

For example, the demand for paralegals and similar professions is likely to be reduced over the coming years as artificial intelligence is trained to handle more administrative tasks. In the UK more than 350,000 paralegals, payroll managers, and bookkeepers could lose their jobs if automated systems can do the same work.

 

Re-training for new jobs will also become a crucial skill, and it’s individuals from wealthier backgrounds that are more able to do so, says the report. This can already be seen in the disparity in terms of post-graduate education, with individuals in the UK with working class or poorer backgrounds far less likely to re-train after university.

 

 

From DSC:
I can’t emphasize this enough. There are dangerous, tumultuous times ahead if we can’t figure out ways to help ALL people within the workforce reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, and conveniently. Re-skilling/up-skilling ourselves is becoming increasingly important. And I’m not just talking about highly-educated people. I’m talking about people whose jobs are going to be disappearing in the near future — especially people whose stepping stones into brighter futures are going to wake up to a very different world. A very harsh world.

That’s why I’m so passionate about helping to develop a next generation learning platform. Higher education, as an industry, has some time left to figure out their part/contribution out in this new world. But the window of time could be closing, as another window of opportunity / era could be opening up for “the next Amazon.com of higher education.”

It’s up to current, traditional institutions of higher education as to how much they want to be a part of the solution. Some of the questions each institution ought to be asking are:

  1. Given our institutions mission/vision, what landscapes should we be pulse-checking?
  2. Do we have faculty/staff/members of administration looking at those landscapes that are highly applicable to our students and to their futures? How, specifically, are the insights from those employees fed into the strategic plans of our institution?
  3. What are some possible scenarios as a result of these changing landscapes? What would our response(s) be for each scenario?
  4. Are there obstacles from us innovating and being able to respond to the shifting landscapes, especially within the workforce?
  5. How do we remove those obstacles?
  6. On a scale of 0 (we don’t innovate at all) to 10 (highly innovative), where is our culture today? Where do we hope to be 5 years from now? How do we get there?

…and there are many other questions no doubt. But I don’t think we’re looking into the future nearly enough to see the massive needs — and real issues — ahead of us.

 

 

The report, which was carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and published this Wednesday [7/12/17], looks specifically at the UK, where it says some 15 million jobs are at risk of automation. But the Sutton Trust says its findings are also relevant to other developed nations, particularly the US, where social mobility is a major problem.

 

 

 

 

Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers calls for states to help students, their families, and employers unpack the meaning of postsecondary credentials and assess their value in the labor market.

Excerpt:

If students are investing more to go to college, they need to have answers to basic questions about the value of postsecondary education. They need better information to make decisions that have lifelong economic consequences.

Getting a college education is one of the biggest investments people will make in their lives, but the growing complexity of today’s economy makes it difficult for higher education to deliver efficiency and consistent quality. Today’s economy is more intricate than those of decades past.

 

From this press release:

It’s Time to Fix Higher Education’s Tower of Babel, Says Georgetown University Report
The lack of transparency around college and careers leads to costly, uninformed decisions

(Washington, D.C., July 11, 2017) — A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center), Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers, calls for states to help students, their families, and employers unpack the meaning of postsecondary credentials and assess their value in the labor market.

Back when a high school-educated worker could find a good job with decent wages, the question was simply whether or not to go to college. That is no longer the case in today’s economy, which requires at least some college to enter the middle class. The study finds that:

  • The number of postsecondary programs of study more than quintupled between 1985 and 2010 — from 410 to 2,260;
  • The number of colleges and universities more than doubled from 1,850 to 4,720 between 1950 and 2014; and
  • The number of occupations grew from 270 in 1950 to 840 in 2010.

The variety of postsecondary credentials, providers, and online delivery mechanisms has also multiplied rapidly in recent years, underscoring the need for common, measurable outcomes.

College graduates are also showing buyer’s remorse. While they are generally happy with their decision to attend college, more than half would choose a different major, go to a different college, or pursue a different postsecondary credential if they had a chance.

The Georgetown study points out that the lack of information drives the higher education market toward mediocrity. The report argues that postsecondary education and training needs to be more closely aligned to careers to better equip learners and workers with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy and close the skills gap.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for students to make the right decisions. Since 1980, tuition and fees at public four year colleges and universities have grown 19 times faster than family incomes. Students and families want — and need — to know the value they are getting for their investment.

 

 



Also see:

  • Trumping toward college transparency — from linkedin.com by Anthony Carnevale
    The perfect storm is gathering around the need to increase transparency around college and careers. And in accordance with how public policy generally comes about, it might just happen. 


 

 

 

Video: 4 FAQs about Watson as tutor — from er.educause.edu by Satya Nitta

Excerpt:

How is IBM using Watson’s intelligent tutoring system? So we are attempting to mimic the best practices of human tutoring. The gold standard will always remain one on one human to human tutoring. The whole idea here is an intelligent tutoring system as a computing system that works autonomously with learners, so there is no human intervention. It’s basically pretending to be the teacher itself and it’s working with the learner. What we’re attempting to do is we’re attempting to basically put conversational systems, systems that understand human conversation and dialogue, and we’re trying to build a system that, in a very natural way, interacts with people through conversation. The system basically has the ability to ask questions, to answer questions, to know who you are and where you are in your learning journey, what you’re struggling with, what you’re strong on and it will personalize its pedagogy to you.

There’s a natural language understanding system and a machine learning system that’s trying to figure out where you are in your learning journey and what the appropriate intervention is for you. The natural language system enables this interaction that’s very rich and conversation-based, where you can basically have a human-like conversation with it and, to a large extent, it will try to understand and to retrieve the right things for you. Again the most important thing is that we will set the expectations appropriately and we have appropriate exit criteria for when the system doesn’t actually understand what you’re trying to do.

 

 

 
 
 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian