Future Forward: The Next Twenty Years of Higher Education — from Blackboard with a variety of contributors

Excerpts:

As you read their reflections you’ll find several themes emerge over and over:

  • Our current system is unsustainable and ill-suited for a globally connected world that is constantly changing.
  • Colleges and universities will have to change their current business model to continue to thrive, boost revenue and drive enrollment.
  • The “sage on the stage” and the “doc in the box” aren’t sustainable; new technologies will allow faculty to shift their focus on the application of learning rather than the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Data and the ability to transform that data into action will be the new lifeblood of the institution.
  • Finally, the heart and soul of any institution are its people. Adopting new technologies is only a small piece of the puzzle; institutions must also work with faculty and staff to change institutional culture.

Some quotes are listed below.

 

“What’s more, next-generation digital learning environments must bridge the divide between the faculty-directed instructivist model our colleges and universities have always favored and the learner-centric constructivist paradigm their students have come to expect and the economy now demands.”

It will be at least 10 years before systems such as this become the standard rather than the exception. Yet to achieve this timeline, we will have to begin fostering a very different campus culture that embraces technology for its experiential value rather than its transactional expediency, while viewing education as a lifelong pursuit rather than a degree-driven activity.

Susan Aldridge

 

 

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing higher education right now?

A: I think it is a difficult time for decisionmakers to know how to move boldly forward. It’s almost funny, nobody’s doing five-year strategic plans anymore. We used to do ten-year plans, but now it’s “What’s our guiding set of principles and then let’s sort of generally go towards that.” I think it’s really hard to move an entire institution, to know how to keep it sustainable and serving your core student population. Trying to figure out how to keep moving forward is not as simple as it used to be when you hired faculty and they showed up in the classroom. It’s time for a whole new leadership model. I’m not sure what that is, but we have to start reimagining our organizations and our institutions and even our leadership.

Marie Cini

 

 

 

One of the things that is frustrating to me is the argument that online learning is just another modality. Online learning is much more than that. It’s arguably the most transformative development since the G.I. Bill and, before that, the establishment of land-grant universities. 

I don’t think we should underestimate the profound impact online education has had and will continue to have on higher education. It’s not just another modality; it’s an entirely new industry.

Robert Hansen

 

 

From DSC:
And I would add (to Robert’s quote above) that not since the printing press was invented close to 500 years ago have we seen such an enormously powerful invention as the Internet. To bypass the Internet and the online-based learning opportunities that it can deliver is to move into a risky, potentially dangerous future. If your institution is doing that, your institution’s days could be numbered. As we move into the future — where numerous societies throughout the globe will be full of artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, algorithms, business’ digital transformations, and more — your institutions’ credibility could easily be at stake in a new, increasingly impactful way. Parents and students will want to know that there’s a solid ROI for them. They will want to know that a particular college or university has the foundational/core competencies and skills to prepare the learner for the future that the learner will encounter.

 

 

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing higher education right now?

A: I think the biggest challenge is the stubborn refusal of institutions to acknowledge that the 20th century university paradigm no longer works, or at least it doesn’t work anymore for the majority of our institutions. I’m not speaking on behalf of our members, but I think it’s fair to say that institutions are still almost entirely faculty-centered and not market-driven. Faculty, like so many university leaders today who come from faculty ranks, are so often ill-equipped to compete in the Wild West that we’re seeing today, and it’s not their fault. They’re trained to be biologists and historians and philosophers and musicians and English professors, and in the past there was very little need to be entrepreneurial. What’s required of university leadership now looks very much like what’s required in the fastpaced world of private industry.

If you are tuition dependent and you haven’t figured out how to serve the adult market yet, you’re in trouble.

Robert Hansen

 

 

 

It’s not just enough to put something online for autodidacts who already have the time, energy, and prior skills to be able to learn on their own. You really need to figure out how to embed all the supports that a student will need to be successful, and I don’t know if we’ve cracked that yet.

Amy Laitinen

 

 

 

The other company is Amazon. Their recent purchase of Whole Foods really surprised everybody. Now you have a massive digital retailer that has made billions staying in the online world going backwards into brick-and-mortar. I think if you look at what you can do on Amazon now, who’s to say in three years or five years, you won’t say, “You know what, I want to take this class. I want to purchase it through Amazon,” and it’s done through Amazon with their own LMS? Who’s to say they’re not already working on it?

Justin Louder

 

 

 

 

We are focused on four at Laureate. Probably in an increasing order of excitement to me are game-based learning (or gamification), adaptive learning, augmented and virtual reality, and cognitive tutoring.

Darrell Luzzo

 

 

 

 

I would wave my hand and have people lose their fear of change and recognize that you can innovate and do new things and still stay true to the core mission and values. My hope is that we harness our collective energy to help our students succeed and become fully engaged citizens.

Felice Nudelman

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

In Memory: Seymour Papert — from media.mit.edu; with thanks to Mr. Joe Byerwalter for this resource

Excerpt:

Seymour Papert, whose ideas and inventions transformed how millions of children around the world create and learn, died Sunday, July 31, 2016 at his home in East Blue Hill, Maine. He was 88.

Papert’s career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children’s thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves. The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world. As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning.

 

Also see:

  • AI and Computer Learning Lion Seymour Papert Dies at 88 — from fortune.com by  Barb Darrow
    Excerpt:
    Seymour Papert, the MIT professor who helped blaze the trail for artificial intelligence and computer-aided education for children at a time when no one saw the potential for using these massive machines for such purposes, died Sunday at the age of 88 in East Blue Hill, Maine.

 

“In this particular art class they were all carving soap,” he continued, “but what each student carved came from wherever fancy is bred, and the project was not done and dropped but continued for many weeks. It allowed time to think, to dream, to gaze, to get a new idea and try it and drop it or persist, time to talk, to see other people’s work and their reaction to yours — not unlike mathematics as it is for the mathematician, but quite unlike math as it is in junior high school.”

.

  • Seymour Papert, 88, Dies; Saw Education’s Future in Computers — from nytimes.com by Glenn Rifkin
    Excerpt:
    Seymour Papert, a visionary educator and mathematician who well before the advent of the personal computer foresaw children using computers as instruments for learning and enhancing creativity, died on Sunday at his home in Blue Hill, Me. He was 88.

 

 

He added, “In the past, education adapted the mind to a very restricted set of available media; in the future, it will adapt media to serve the needs and tastes of each individual mind.”

 

 

 

From DSC:
Though the title of Ashley Coolman’s blog posting out at smartsparrow.com mentions technology in it, the article is largely not about technology at all — but rather about the benefits of active learning. That’s why I’m highlighting it here.


 

Enabling active learning through technology — from smartsparrow.com by Ashley Coolman

Excerpts:

To many, it seems as though any learning can be considered active. Is a student taking notes not actively engaged in a class, especially when compared to their peers sleeping or playing on their phones in the back of the room?

The problem here is that while the note-taking student may be engaging with the class and professor, they are not engaging with the material. When furiously scribbling notes, students are more focused on getting every word down rather than evaluating, understanding, and analyzing what it is they are writing. They have engaged with the lecture, but not the material being relayed — which is the most important part.

In a study on active learning called “Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom”, the researchers stated:

“Surprisingly, educators’ use of the term “active learning” has relied more on intuitive understanding than a common definition. Consequently, many faculty assert that all learning is inherently active and that students are therefore actively involved while listening to formal presentations in the classroom. Analysis of the research literature (Chickering and Camson 1987), however, suggests that students must do more than just listen: They must read, write, discuss, or be engaged in solving problems. Most important, to be actively involved, students must engage in such higher-order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.” (Bonwell and Eison 1991)

It is the degree and form by which students are actively engaging that matters. It is “learning by doing” that students really need.

 

Active learning is any learning activity in which the student INTERACTS or ENGAGES with the material, as opposed to passively taking in the information.

 

Furthermore, Cornell University found that research suggests learner attention starts to wane every 10–20 minutes during lectures. Incorporating active learning techniques a few times throughout class can encourage more engagement.*

*A side note from DSC:
A tool like
Socrative may come in useful here.

 

The blog posting from Smart Sparrow also linked to this resource:

Cornell-ActiveLearning-July2016

 

The problem is that lecture-based learning is not like filling a jug — you just don’t catch it all. Learning from lectures is more like holding out your hands and trying to keep the imparted knowledge from spilling through the cracks in this tidal wave of new information. Ultimately, students will catch some of the water, but most of it will be lost.

 

A side note from DSC to Calvin College faculty members:
If you doubt the immediately preceding quote, see if you can *fully* recall exactly what last Sunday’s sermon was about — including all examples, details, and wisdom that the preacher was trying to relay.

Ultimately, it’s about impact. What strongly impacts students stays with students — and isn’t that true for all of us?

 


 

Ashley lists the following resources re: active learning at the end of her posting:

  1. Using Active Learning Instructional Strategies to Create Excitement and Enhance Learning
  2. Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom
  3. Where’s the evidence that active learning works?
  4. How Does Active Learning Support Student Success?
  5. How To Retain 90% Of Everything You Learn

 


 

 

Connecting the education community with research on learning — from digitalpromise.org

Excerpt:

When designing a program or product, many education leaders and ed-tech developers want to start with the best knowledge available on how students learn. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Although thousands of academic articles are published every year, busy education leaders and product developers often don’t know where to start, or don’t have time to sift through and find studies that are relevant to their work. As pressure mounts for “evidence-based” practices and “research-based” products, many in the education community are frustrated, and want an easier way to find information that will help them deliver stronger programs and products — and results. We need better tools to help make research more accessible for everyday work in education.

The Digital Promise Research Map meets this need by connecting education leaders and product developers with research from thousands of articles in education and the learning sciences, along with easy-to-understand summaries on some of the most relevant findings in key research topics.

 

Also see:

DigitalPromise-ResearchMapJune2016

 

 

DigitalPromise-ChordView-June2016

 

DigitalPromise-NetworkView-June2016

 

DigitalPromise-NetworkView2-June2016

 

 

From DSC:
If you can clear up just short of an hour of your time, this piece from PBS entitled, “School Sleuth: The Case of the Wired Classroom” is very well done and worth your time.  It’s creative and objective; it offers us some solid research, some stories, and some examples of the positives and negatives of technology in the classroom. It weaves different modes of learning into the discussion — including blended learning, online learning, personalized learning and more. Though it aired back in October of 2015, I just found out about it.

Check it out if you can!

 

SchoolSleuth-WiredClassroom-Oct2015

 

 

 

Also see:

  • Schools push personalized learning to new heights — from edweek.org
    Excerpt:
    For most schools, reaching the next level of digitally driven, personalized learning is far from reality. Still, some schools are extending their digital reach in significant and sometimes groundbreaking ways, as the stories in this special report illustrate. They are making moves to integrate a variety of technologies to track how students learn and to use the resulting data to expand the use of hands-on, project-based learning. The goal is to build never-ending feedback loops that ultimately inform the development of curriculum and assessment. Plus, big data and analytics are gradually making their marks in K-12 education. This special report outlines the progress schools are making to use digital tools to personalize learning, but also raises the question: Are they reaching far enough?
    .
  • A Pedagogical Model for the use of iPads for Learning — from higheru.org

 

pedagogicalmodeliPads-dec2015

 

 

 

 

Brain Based Learning and Neuroscience – What the Research Says! — from willatworklearning.com by Will Thalheimer, PhD

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

The world of learning and development is on the cusp of change. One of the most promising—and prominent—paradigms comes from neuroscience. Go to any conference today in the workplace learning field and there are numerous sessions on neuroscience and brain-based learning. Vendors sing praises to neuroscience. Articles abound. Blog posts proliferate.

But where are we on the science? Have we gone too far? Is this us, the field of workplace learning, once again speeding headlong into a field of fad and fantasy? Or are we spot-on to see incredible promise in bringing neuroscience wisdom to bear on learning practice? In this article, I will describe where we are with neuroscience and learning—answering that question as it relates to this point in time—in January of 2016.

Taken together, these conclusions are balanced between the promise of neuroscience and the healthy skepticism of scientists. Note however, that when these researchers talk about the benefits of neuroscience for learning, they see neuroscience applications as happening in the future (perhaps the near future). They do NOT claim that neuroscience has already created a body of knowledge that is applicable to learning and education.

Conclusion
The field of workplace learning—and the wider education field—have fallen under the spell of neuroscience (aka brain-science) recommendations. Unfortunately, neuroscience has not yet created a body of proven recommendations. While offering great promise for the future, as of this writing—in January 2016—most learning professionals would be better off relying on proven learning recommendations from sources like Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel’s book Make It Stick; by Benedict Carey’s book How We Learn; and by Julie Dirksen’s book Design for How People Learn.

As learning professionals, we must be more skeptical of neuroscience claims. As research and real-world experience has shown, such claims can persuade us toward ineffective learning designs and unscrupulous vendors and consultants.

Our trade associations and industry thought leaders need to take a stand as well. Instead of promoting neuroscience claims, they ought to voice a healthy skepticism.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

The future belongs to the curious: How are we bringing curiosity into school? — from User Generated Education by Jackie Gerstein

Excerpt:

A recent research study found a connection between curiosity and deep learning:

The study revealed three major findings. First, as expected, when people were highly curious to find out the answer to a question, they were better at learning that information. More surprising, however, was that once their curiosity was aroused, they showed better learning of entirely unrelated information that they encountered but were not necessarily curious about. Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it. Second, the investigators found that when curiosity is stimulated, there is increased activity in the brain circuit related to reward.  Third, when curiosity motivated learning, there was increased activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important for forming new memories, as well as increased interactions between the hippocampus and the reward circuit. (How curiosity changes the brain to enhance learning)

 

 

 

From DSC:
Jackie’s posting reminded me of what Daniel Willingham asserts:  “Memory is the residue of thought.”  | “We remember what we think about.”

So to me, if you can’t get through the gate — get someone’s attention — you have zero chance of getting into their short-term memory, and thus zero chance to get into that person’s long-term memory.

Is-it-getting-harder-to-get-through-the-gate-2

 

Along these lines, if a student is curious about something, their motivation level increases and they actually THINK about something. (What a concept, right?!)

But the point here is that what a student thinks about now has a chance to make it into that student’s memories…thus, creating a variety of hooks on which to “hang future hats” (i.e., make cognitive connections in the future).

 

CognitiveHooks-Hats

 

 

Addendum on 11/24/15:

[Re: Emily Pilloton, founder and executive director of Project H Design] Her talk focused on three aspects of learning:

  • Seeking > Knowing. Pushing beyond your comfort zone is the way to challenge yourself. As mentioned above, Pilloton believes in experiential learning, in challenging students with big projects where they will learn new skills as needed to complete the project.
  • We > I. Teams and building trust in your teammates is critical. All of Pilloton’s projects are so big that no one person can complete them alone. By being forced to make decisions and learn to work as teams, group members realize that as a collective, they can achieve much more than they could individually.
  • Curiosity > Passion. Encouraging curiosity is more important than helping people find their passion. Pilloton argued that it is hard for many young people to know their passion. If we encourage curiosity and give students the opportunity to push the boundaries of what they think is possible, we provide them the opportunity to both build confidence and find their passion.
 

 

 

DanielSChristian-CognitiveHooks-LiberalArts-Oct-2015

 

Chapter 2 of the Daniel Willingham’s book entitled,  Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, lays out the best case for the liberal arts degree that I’ve ever seen or read about.

First of all, a description of the book:
Easy-to-apply, scientifically-based approaches for engaging students in the classroom
Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham focuses his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning. His book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn. It reveals-the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.

  • Nine, easy-to-understand principles with clear applications for the classroom
  • Includes surprising findings, such as that intelligence is malleable, and that you cannot develop “thinking skills” without facts
  • How an understanding of the brain’s workings can help teachers hone their teaching skills

 

From DSC:
Though more tangential to my main point here, I really appreciate Daniel’s bridging the worlds of research and teaching. He is knowledgeable about the relevant research that’s been done out there, and he uses that knowledge to inform his recommendations for how best to apply that research in the classroom. Often, it seems, these two worlds don’t get connected.  I also like how he models solid ways of teaching. For example, he knows that repetition helps, so he summarizes/repeats his main points throughout a chapter.

Speaking of chapters, here are some of my notes from chapter 2:

  • Factual knowledge must proceed skill. (p. 25)
  • We need factual knowledge before we can practice critical thinking or have the ability to analyze something (p. 25)
  • “Thinking well requires knowing facts, and that’s true not simply because you need something to think about. The very processes that teachers care about most — critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving – are intimately  intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory…” (p. 28)
  • Critical thinking processes are tied to background knowledge (p. 29)
  • Thinking skills and knowledge are bound together (p.29)
  • “The phenomenon of tying together separate pieces of information from the environment is called chunking. The advantage is obvious: you can keep more stuff in working memory if it can be chunked. The trick, however, is that chunking works only when you have applicable factual knowledge in long-term memory.” (p. 34)
  • “Thus, background knowledge allows chunking, which makes more room in working memory, which makes it easier to relate ideas, and therefore to comprehend.” (p.35)
  • “…we don’t take in new information in a vacuum. We interpret new things we read in light of other information we already have on the topic.”  (p. 36)
  • “Not only does background knowledge make you a better reader, but it also is necessary to be a good thinker.” (p.37)
  • “When it comes to knowledge, those who have more gain more.” (p. 42)
  • “When it comes to knowledge, the rich get richer. (p.45 )
  • “…having background knowledge in long-term memory makes it easier to acquire still more factual knowledge.” (p. 44)
  • “Knowledge…is a prerequisite for imagination.” (p.46)
  • “The cognitive processes that are most esteemed — logical thinking, problem solving, and the like — are intertwined with knowledge.” (pgs. 46-47)

 

From DSC:
So the saying that “you get what you pay for” again turns out to be true.  That is, you will likely pay more for a 4-year liberal arts degree than what you will pay for a 10-12 week bootcamp.  But if you go to a bootcamp and come out knowing only how to code using programming language XYZ, you have far fewer cognitive “hooks” on which to hang new hats (i.e., new information).

A liberal arts degree covers and provides a great deal of knowledge — and it builds upon that knowledge with higher order skills. Such a degree provides a broader foundation of knowledge that creates numerous hooks on which to hang new hats in the future. 

These reflections regarding foundational knowledge and having hooks to hang new information on (and make new connections with) reminds me of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Factual knowledge was the foundational layer of his original taxonomy:


Original

 

 

Revised

 

So it seems to me that the size/breadth of the foundational layer that’s been built from a liberal arts degree is far broader and deeper than a foundational layer obtained from attending a bootcamp.  The numerous number of cognitive hooks that it provides will help a sharp, hard-working graduate of a liberal arts program be able to not only understand the business at hand, but to practice creative thinking, to practice critical thinking, and to be able to innovate.

I’m not saying that a graduate of a bootcamp can’t do some of those things as well. (I also think that bootcamps can definitely have a place in our learning ecosystems.) But chances are that such a person has already built a broader foundation of remembering and understanding to draw upon.

 

What do you think, am I off base here or does this thinking accurately reflect
one of the areas in which a liberal arts degree is important and provides real, lasting value?

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian