The need for more experimentation, innovation within higher education.
By Daniel Christian for the CHFE12 MOOC

Last week, I attended the 18th Annual Sloan Consortium on Online Learning in Orlando, FL (USA). After hearing Sebastian Thrun’s excellent keynote address, I was very troubled by a couple of questions that kept arising in my mind (which I’ll get to in a minute). It turns out that Sebastian had heard Sal Kahn at a TED talk a while back, where he learned of the impact that Sal was having and the pedagogy Sal was using.

Now bear in mind that Sal was not in education.  He was working in the financial services industry, putting together training-related items for his nephews/family members.

Then bear in mind that Sal Kahn has arguably had one of the most significant impacts on K-12 of any individual in recent decades – and even on institutions of higher education (in terms of professors investigating or starting to use the flipped/inverted classroom model).

Then bear in mind that Sebastian Thrun didn’t run his idea by anyone in Stanford’s administration! His email out to some folks started going viral, and within days the enrollment numbers were already in the thousands.  (And at that point he got asked to drop by his Admin’s offices! 🙂  I wonder what would have happened if Sebastian would have first asked Stanford’s leadership for permission…? It may never have occurred.)

Sebastian’s and Peter Norvig’s AI course went onto graduate 23,000 people (with an initial enrollment around 160,000). Then, there’s the related Coursera organization/endeavor — again, a business that needed to be created outside of the traditional institutions of higher education.

So, recapping things:

  • Sebastian didn’t run things by anyone in his administration
  • He ended up needing to create his own company – outside of traditional higher ed (Udacity)
  • He was significantly influenced by someone completely outside of  education
  • Coursera and Udacity operate outside the policies and procedures of traditional institutions of higher education

So, the following two questions arose in my mind last week:

  1. Why didn’t these innovations come from – or why weren’t they developed within – traditional institutions of K-12/higher education?
  2. Why did such influence have to occur – in great part – from outside of “the established systems”?

Any answer to these questions is troubling to me. But one plausible explanation involves leadership. Many of our leaders in higher education did not grow up with the Internet and with LANs, WANs, HTTP protocols, etc.  They didn’t grow up using the tools that today’s youth are using.

As such, they don’t always appreciate the power and potential of technology. I don’t mean to point fingers and play a blame game here. That’s not the point. The point is, leaders are people with finite gifts and abilities. Like all of us, they have been shaped by their experiences and they, too,  have their histories. They were moved into their positions of responsibility due to the needs of of the institutions at certain points in time. But the needs of those institutions have since changed.

The problem is, those in key leadership positions will either need to:

  • Quickly come to appreciate the disruptive, powerful impact that technologies can have (i.e. be sold on them) and strategize accordingly
    and/or
  • Find other positions (which most likely won’t be happening if normal self-preservation tendencies/principles of power continue to occur)

Blockbuster comes to mind as an organization that was once dominant, but disregarded the disruptive impact of technology and eventually had to declare bankruptcy. One can think of other examples from other industries as well (can’t we Kodak? Borders?).

Such reflections were reinforced when I read Selingo’s (2012) article from earlier today where he wrote, “It’s clear to me that the needed reforms for student financial-aid are unfortunately not going to come from higher education. Many financial-aid officials remain opposed to the model letter, as well as many other regulations.”

Like Selingo, I don’t see change coming from within the current system.  I hope that I’m sorely mistaken here, but from the pulse checking I’ve been doing, the conversation seems to be continuing to move away from traditional institutions of higher education (example here and another example here).  I hope that we can pick up the pace of experimentation within our organizations to find ways to lower the costs while still providing effective means of educating people.

Selingo, J.  (2012, October 15). In a Broken Student Aid System, Colleges Are Part of the Problem. In The Quick and the Ed. Retrieved from http://www.quickanded.com/2012/10/in-a-broken-student-aid-system-colleges-are-part-of-the-problem.html

Addendum/also see:

Sal Kahn and Eric Schmidt - at Google Talks -- October 2012

 

 

 

 

@GOOD Asks: How can we lower high school drop out rates?

#GOODasks

We’ve covered the drop out epidemic before. In the United States, a kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 1.2 million students. How can we lower this number?

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From DSC:
This is unbelievable! Again, I’m reminded of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion — spilling out valuable resources that are going untapped. What a waste of God-given gifts!

  • 40 million American adults did not complete high school.
  • The high school graduate, on average, earns $500,000 more in a lifetime as compared to an individual who did not complete high school.
  • Most high school dropouts (70%) have the intellectual ability to complete the courses needed for high school graduation.
  • Most high school dropouts do not feel a connection between high school courses and future employment.
  • 75% of high school dropouts stated that if they could relive the experience, they would have stayed in high school.
  • 81% of dropouts expressed a need for schooling that connected academics and employment.

 

Addendum 4/5/11:

 

 

Crowdsourcing chemistry -- April 2010 presentation at Google Tech Talk -- by Dr Matthew Todd, School of Chemistry, University of Sydney

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Google Tech Talk
April 6, 2010

ABSTRACT
Presented by Dr Matthew Todd, School of Chemistry, University of Sydney.

Science shaped itself in the founding days of learned societies: individuals or teams competed, in secret, with paper-based communication in subscription journals. Why are we all still doing science like this? The internet has had a major impact in our sharing of data by traditional means, but it has not yet radically changed the way we actually perform science.

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Here’s a list of the projects mentioned in the video:

Praziquantel is being used in the treatment of schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection spread by freshwater snails in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Gates Foundation is funding an operational research program – SCORE to control and eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases.

This operates out of Imperial College, London and is led by Professor Alan Fenwick OBE.

The Cathedral model is where a professor and students conduct funded research to develop a solution whereas the Bazaar model invites other people to collaborate in an Open source way to develop a solution. Firefox, Chrome, Wikipedia are all Bazaar models.

Open Science involves publishing in real time and letting people respond as they see fit and then collaborate in real time.

The UsefulChem Project led by the Jean Claude Bradley at Drexel University – aimed at producing molecules that will be used to treat malaria.  Bradley is a proponent of and practises Open Notebook Science.

Open Source Drug Discovery:  http://www.osdd.net/ – OSDD is a CSIR Team India Consortium with Global Partnership with a vision to provide affordable healthcare to the developing world.

Open WetWare:  http://openwetware.org/wiki/OpenWetWare:AboutOpenWetWare is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology & biological engineering.

The Open Dinosaur Project:  http://opendino.wordpress.com/ (founded to involve scientists and the public alike in developing a comprehensive database of dinosaur limb bone).

Chemspider:  http://www.chemspider.com/ChemSpider links together compound information across the web, providing free text and structure search access of millions of chemical structures.

Foldit is a revolutionary new computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research.

NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ – advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.

GenBankhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/ – is the NIH genetic sequence database, an annotated collection of all publicly available DNA sequences.

The Tropical Disease Initiative aims to apply an open-source collaborative approach to biological and medical research for tropical diseases.

The Synaptic Leap:  – Open Source Biomedical Research.

Stack Overflow allows you to post code and ask for help on a problem.

Chempedia is a free service for uniquely identifying and naming chemical substances.

CML (Chemical Markup Language) is an open standard for representing molecular and other chemical data.  It includes XML Schema, source code for working with CML data, and was devised by  Peter Murray-Rust who worked with Microsoft to develop a Chem Word Add-in enabling a Word document to be searched and the chemical information in it to be automatically annotated and extracted.  When you hover over a word, you get a structure and you can change the structure.

Chemicalize.org –   a public web resource developed by ChemAxon.

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London: Videos from the Learning Without Frontiers Festival now online

Learning Without Frontiers is a global platform for disruptive thinkers and practitioners from the education, digital media, technology and entertainment sectors who come together to explore how new disruptive technologies can drive radical efficiencies and improvements in learning whilst providing equality of access.

If you were unable to attend the recent LWF Festival of Learning & Technology in London we’re pleased to let you know that videos from the conference are now online for your personal or group viewing pleasure.  There are a number of ways to view these videos so just choose the one you prefer.

To view, comment & join the discussions you can visit the video pages on the LWF site here

Amongst the alternatives, they are available on the following platforms:

iTunes (download to your PC, iPad or iPhone)*

YouTube

Blip.TV

And for users of Apple TV simply search for the Learning Without Frontiers channel under podcasts.

*You can also search for Learning Without Frontiers in the iTunes store – they are FREE!

The Mayo Clinic of higher ed — from the WashingtonMonthly.com by Kevin Carey

In a competitive economy, many students need an education like this. Unfortunately, most people like Chelsea aren’t getting one. The small colleges that specialize in high-quality teaching tend to be exclusive and cripplingly expensive. Meanwhile, the public universities that educate most students are in crisis. Rocked by steep budget cuts, they’re increasing class sizes, cutting faculty salaries, and turning away tens of thousands of qualified students. Many of those universities offered a mediocre, impersonal education to begin with. Now they’re getting worse, and nobody seems to know how to stop the bleeding.

But here’s the thing about Chelsea: she isn’t enrolled at an ancient private liberal arts college or an exclusive, wealthy university. Her institution admitted its first undergraduates less than a year ago. And while nearly every other public university in America is retrenching, Chelsea’s university is expanding, under exactly the same financial conditions. What will the taxpayer cost of this expansion be? Nothing at all.

Lehmkuhle then struck up a partnership with the city’s biggest employer. Under the terms of an unusual agreement between UMR and Mayo, the clinic’s doctors and researchers guest-lecture in UMR health science classes. UMR students have access to research laboratories, a 10,000-square-foot medical simulation center complete with robotic surgical mannequins, and other facilities—including Mayo’s cadaver lab.

Lehmkuhle didn’t have enough money to pay for vice chairs, and he wanted professors from different disciplines to work together. The solution: no departments.

Lehmkuhle resolved this tension by making tenure at UMR contingent on three factors: teaching, research in the academic disciplines, and research about teaching. For UMR professors, applying their analytic powers to their own teaching practice would be a standard part of the job.

Chelsea’s school has an unremarkable-sounding name but a groundbreaking approach to education. She is a student at the University of Minnesota Rochester, a campus based on the idea that most of what we know about how a public university should operate is wrong, that it can be done better, for modest amounts of money, right away. States across the nation could solve many of their higher education problems by replicating this effort—if they can overcome the entrenched interests of existing colleges and their own failure of imagination.

America’s system of old universities has always done a good job of educating a small percentage of talented and well-off students. But the old system is ill-equipped for Jessica Gascoigne and Chelsea Griffin and hundreds of thousands of other students who need universities that are designed to help them in the way that UMR helps its students. For now, the University of Minnesota’s new Rochester campus is an interesting outlier. If more people can see the true potential of its newness, it will be much more.

waitingforsuperman.com

Waiting for Superman

Resource from Waiting for Superman: calling the education crisis — by Lars Hyland:

The people who brought us An Inconvenient Truth – raising awareness of the environmental challenges ahead of – have turned their attention to the US education system. The documentary ‘Waiting for “Superman”’ directed by Davis Guggenheim intends to pack some powerful punches about the state of the public school system while providing a call to action.

Below is a neat little animation that trails some of the desperate statistics underlying the problem that the film brings out…

From DSC:

Also relevant here is my posting entitled:
Unfortunately, the wastes continue — an analogy illustrating lost value/worth and a horrible cost to society

My vote? Allow students to pursue their passions.  Minimize what students *have to* take and if they have to take something, it better be relevant and highly used throughout their lifetimes. For example, do today’s students really need to take calculus? How many of us use calculus in our daily jobs? Seriously.

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KnowledgeWorks.org

Envisioning a World of Learning — from blog.futureofed.org by Katherine Prince

The launch of KnowledgeWorks’ new website has provided us with an occasion to articulate more precisely what we mean when we say that we want to transform education in the US from a world of schooling to a world of learning.  Here’s an extract from it describing what we envision:

A world of learning
The vision emerging from our study of the future doesn’t much resemble the industrial-era world of schooling most of us know. Instead, we foresee a world of learning where:

  • Education centers on the needs of learners, not those of institutions. Teaching is tailored to an individual student’s needs and abilities.
  • Learners take charge of their education. Students and families seek out information and experiences from an array of sources rather than depending on schools to direct their learning.
  • Children gain 21st-century knowledge and skills – how to make decisions, solve problems and create solutions – through hands-on experiences that cross subject areas and are connected to the real world.
  • Success is judged through a wide array of measures that account for different learning styles and assess capabilities and progress, not simply acquisition of knowledge.
  • All learners have easy access to technology and other tools that open doors to information and knowledge.
  • Learners are supported in all parts of their lives, with physical, emotional and social health being nurtured alongside intellectual growth.
  • Teachers are more than content specialists. The teaching profession diversifies to include such roles as learning coaches, classroom coordinators, cognitive specialists, resource managers and community liaisons.
  • Learning isn’t limited to a physical place or time of day, but is mobile and constant, with wireless technologies allowing learning anywhere and anytime.

educationeye.org.uk

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American Education in 2030 - from Stanford

Contents
Foreword …………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
Only if Past Trends Persist Is the Future Dismal ………………………………………… 2
Curriculum Then and Now …………………………………………………………………… 6
Classroom Teaching in 2030 ……………………………………………………………….. 11
Equality and Technology ……………………………………………………………………. 17
Time Spent on Learning ……………………………………………………………………… 24
Standards and Competitive Rigor ………………………………………………………… 30
An Evidence-Based World ………………………………………………………………….. 37
A New Education Federalism ……………………………………………………………… 45
Reinvented School Districts ……………………………………………………………….. 52
A New Politics of Education ……………………………………………………………….. 59
Vouchers Thrive ………………………………………………………………………………. 65
School Choice ………………………………………………………………………………….. 70
What Can Happen in Twenty Years? …………………………………………………….. 77
About the Authors ……………………………………………………………………………. 82
Koret Task Force on K–12 Education ……………………………………………………. 85

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edreformer.com

edreformer.com

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