A New Initiative to Tackle Education’s Big Problems — from the74millioin.org by Andrew J. Rotherham
Rotherham: For all the rhetoric around ‘reimagining’ and ‘reinventing’ schooling, there’s precious little to show for it. There’s another way

Excerpt:

Instead, experts operate in silos to find solutions, reform and pandemic fatigue abound, and dysfunctional reactionary politics define various debates.

Beta by Bellwether, [which launched on 8/31/22], is a new initiative bringing viewpoint- and background-diverse experts together to tackle big problems and develop blueprints, strategies and tools that can help communities address structural educational problems. We’re building on our 12 years of work at Bellwether bridging policy and practice with a perspective that should be mundane but in this climate seems radical: the belief that the best ideas often lie between different perspectives and are strengthened through serious debate. No faction owns solutions, good ideas or virtue.

Bellwether Beta -- A New Initiative to Tackle Education’s Big Problems

Bellwether.org 

From DSC:
This is something to keep on your K-12 learning ecosystems radar.

Bellwether dot org -- something to keep on your K-12 learning ecosystems radar


Also see:

National Microschooling Center launches, proving ‘modern one-room schoolhouse’ is no flash-in-the-pandemic phenomenon — from reimaginedonline.org by Tom Jackson

Excerpt:

Writing for the Manhattan Institute, researcher Michael McShane lays out the framework and the appeal of microschools:

Neither homeschooling nor traditional schooling, [microschools] exist in a hard-to-classify space between formal and informal learning environments. They rose in popularity during the pandemic as families sought alternative educational options that could meet social-distancing recommendations.

But what they offer in terms of personalization, community building, schedules, calendars, and the delivery of instruction will have appeal long after Covid recedes.

Long-time education choice advocate Don Soifer concurs.

“For whatever reason, families are just rethinking the public education system,” he says. “The research is telling us now that microschooling serves 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 million learners as their primary form of education.”


Also see:


Learning Pods Are Here, Are You In? — from schoolchoiceweek.com by National School Choice Week Team

Excerpt:

If you’ve stumbled into an education conversation or joined a parent discussion group recently, you’ve surely heard of pods or micro-schools. As families grapple with a changing education environment, some hope to find the flexibility, safety, and community they desire in small, local learning arrangements called learning pods. Whether you have your heart set on joining a pod or just want to better understand education choices for your child, we’ve broken down all types of pandemic pods here.

 

From DSC:
An AI-backed platform will constantly search all job postings and present the most desired skills in the marketplace and then how to get those skills. The providers will be individuals, organizations, training providers, traditional institutions of higher education, vendors and more.

Depending upon what happens with blockchain — and if a much more energy-efficient/environmentally-friendly solution can be implemented — blockchain may be a part of that equation.

 

New Pathways: Experiencing Success In What’s Next — from Getting Smart

Excerpt:

Some of you were able to attend our official kick-off event yesterday (on 6/21/22), but for those who weren’t able to make it we wanted to let you know that our new campaign, New Pathways, has officially begun!. Over the next few years, and in partnership with ASA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stand Together and the Walton Foundation, we will be dedicated to tracking innovations in the following six pillars:

  1. Unbundled Learning
  2. Credentialed Learning
  3. Accelerated Pathways
  4. New Learning Models
  5. Support & Guidance
  6. Policies & Systems
We believe that when combined, these pillars enable learners to find success in what’s next in their professional lives, their personal lives and in their communities.

 

 


 

Reflections on “Do We Really Want Academic Permanent Records to Live Forever on Blockchain?” [Bohnke]

From DSC:
Christin Bohnke raises a great and timely question out at edsurge.com in her article entitled:
Do We Really Want Academic Permanent Records to Live Forever on Blockchain?

Christin does a wonderful job of addressing the possibilities — but also the challenges — of using blockchain for educational/learning-related applications. She makes a great point that the time to look at this carefully is now:

Yet as much as unchangeable education records offer new chances, they also create new challenges. Setting personal and academic information in stone may actually counter the mission of education to help people evolve over time. The time to assess the benefits and drawbacks of blockchain technology is right now, before adoption in schools and universities is widespread.

As Christin mentions, blockchain technology can be used to store more than formal certification data. It could also store such informal certification data such as “research experience, individual projects and skills, mentoring or online learning.”

The keeping of extensive records via blockchain certainly raises numerous questions. Below are a few that come to my mind:

  • Will this type of record-keeping help or hurt in terms of career development and moving to a different job?
  • Will — or should — CMS/LMS vendors enable this type of feature/service in their products?
  • Should credentials from the following sources be considered relevant?
    • Microlearning-based streams of content
    • Data from open courseware/courses
    • Learning that we do via our Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and social networks
    • Learning that we get from alternatives such as bootcamps, coding schools, etc.
  • Will the keeping of records impact the enjoyment of learning — or vice versa? Or will it depend upon the person?
  • Will there be more choice, more control — or less so?
  • To what (granular) level of competency-based education should we go? Or from project-based learning?
  • Could instructional designers access learners’ profiles to provide more personalized learning experiences?
  • …and I’m certain there are more questions than these.

All that said…

To me, the answers to these questions — and likely other questions as well — lie in:

  1. Giving a person a chance to learn, practice, and then demonstrate the required skills (regardless of the data the potential employer has access to)
    .
  2. Giving each user the right to own their own data — and to release it as they see fit. Each person should have the capability of managing their own information/data without having to have the skills of a software engineer or a database administrator. When something is written to a blockchain, there would be a field for who owns — and can administer — the data.

In the case of finding a good fit/job, a person could use a standardized interface to generate a URL that is sent out to a potential employer. That URL would be good for X days. The URL gives the potential employer the right to access whatever data has been made available to them. It could be full access, in which case the employer is able to run their own queries/searches on the data. Or the learner could restrict the potential employer’s reach to a more limited subset of data.

Visually, speaking:


Each learner can say who can access what data from their learner's profile


I still have a lot more thinking to do about this, but that’s where I’m at as of today. Have a good one all!


 

Amazon Boosts Upskilling Opportunities for Hourly Employees by Partnering with More Than 140 Universities and Colleges to Fully Fund Tuition — from press.aboutamazon.com

Excerpt:

  • Amazon employees in the U.S. will benefit from new Career Choice partnerships with Southern New Hampshire University, Colorado State University–Global, Western Governors University, National University, and numerous local universities
  • Amazon also partners with GEDWorks and Smart Horizons to provide employees with free high school completion and GED preparation, Voxy EnGen and goFLUENT to provide English language proficiency training, and Outlier to provide college preparation courses
  • New benefits are part of Amazon’s Career Choice program and move the company closer to meeting its Upskilling 2025 pledge—a $1.2 billion commitment to upskill more than 300,000 Amazon employees by 2025

Also see:

Amazon’s announcement is an eye-catching development in the yearslong effort across higher education to enroll more adult learners and increase the share of the U.S. population that has some education beyond high school. While the jury’s still out on whether tuition-benefit programs deliver on all their promises, as most are relatively new, they have become an increasingly popular offering for major corporations. Last fall, Amazon announced a $1.2 billion investment to expand its efforts.

Amazon employees will have choices. They can enroll at a local participating college and take a few courses en route to a certificate or credential, or they can enroll in a full associate- or bachelor’s-degree program

 

The Push-Pull of Leading Motivation Using Microlearning — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Robyn Defelice

Excerpt:

So, let’s pick up from there: You’re a learning leader in an organization that has aligned all these elements and is ready to see microlearning put to good use. So, what’s the obstacle in your path?

Maybe you’re stuck on using microlearning as a motivational tool for performance growth but are not sure if a formal or informal approach will have more appeal. Should you push or pull, as they ask. Let’s get you out of this tug-of-war and address how your L&D team can lead the way in motivating the learning audience for new performance gains by implementing a microlearning campaign (or two or three)!

Push (formal) vs pull (informal)

 

The Best Advice for New Teachers, in 5 Words or Less — from edweek.org by Hayley Hardison; though back from August, the words still (and will) ring true.

Excerpts:

Teachers just entering the profession are looking for advice on how to find their footing.

We put a call out on Twitter for experienced educators to share their best tips for new teachers, in five words or less. Here’s what they said.

Many people responding pointed to the importance of building strong relationships with students—and how critical that is for learning.

 

Planning for the Classroom of the Future — from campustechnology.com by Doug Smith
The right combination of technology and training will ensure your learning spaces can adapt to ever-changing modes of instruction. Here are key considerations for future-proofing classrooms, supporting faculty and surviving the next pandemic.

 

 

Why everybody’s hiring but nobody’s getting hired — from vox.com by Rani Molla and Emily Stewart; with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
America’s broken hiring system, explained.

Tim Brackney, president and COO of management consulting firm RGP, refers to the current situation as the “great mismatch.” That mismatch refers to a number of things, including desires, experience, and skills. And part of the reason is that the skills necessary for a given job are changing faster than ever, as companies more frequently adopt new software.

“Twenty years ago, if I had 10 years experience as a warehouse manager, the likelihood that my skills would be pretty relevant and it wouldn’t take me that long to get up to speed was pretty good,” Joseph Fuller, a management professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of a recent paper on the disconnect between employers and employees, said. “The shelf life of people’s skills for a lot of decent-paying jobs has been shortening.”

From DSC:
I also think those hiring don’t think people can reinvent themselves. Folks who hire someone (and/or the applicant tracking systems as play) always seem to look for an exact match. There is little vision and/or belief that someone can grow into a position, or to lead differently, or to go in a different but better direction. They reach for their cookie cutters and shove their imaginations and ability to think bigger aside.

Employers could help people by investing in their employees’ growth and development — even if it means they actively help an employee take a right turn. Such an employee could hopefully find a new fit within that organization — if they do, they would likely turn out to be fiercely loyal.

Even if it means offering an employee 1-2 courses a year that they want to learn about — NO STRINGS ATTACHED — the learning culture would get a huge boost!!! Peoples’ love/enjoyment of learning would grow. Morale would improve. People would feel valued.

Let me offer a personal example:

  • My old boss, Mr. Irving Charles Coleman Jr, let me take a Photoshop class while I was working in the IT Department at Kraft Foods’ headquarters. Kraft paid for it, even though it wasn’t directly related to my position at the time. That course ended up changing my life and my future direction. No kidding. Thank you Irv! You’re the best!
 
 

Michigan appeals to former teachers as districts face ‘dire’ shortage — from mlive.com by Kayla Miller

Kindergarten teacher Melissa Sanborn instructs students Kindergarten teacher Melissa Sanborn instructs students…Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 at Cook Elementary School in Grand Blanc. (Jake May | MLive.com) Jake May | MLive.com

Excerpt:

Looking ahead to August, Beecher Community School District is expecting to be short about a quarter of their needed teaching staff for the 2021-22 school year.

The Flint-area district is one of many schools across Michigan fighting to keep educators in classrooms amid a statewide teacher shortage. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is now appealing to former teachers to get recertified and back to work.

David Crim, spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association, said multiple factors are keeping people from pursuing teaching and forcing young teachers to leave the profession.

“There’s no respect for teachers, no respect for the profession and poor compensation,” Crim said. “We have the perfect storm.”

From DSC:
It feels like there are major changes occurring throughout the K-12 learning ecosystems out there. It will be interesting to see what shakes out from this period of disruption.

By the way, those with little respect for teachers clearly have never taught themselves. Teaching is a very difficult profession. You try providing personalized learning to 25-30+ students at a time. Once you begin to scratch the surface, you’re retiring. We need to continue to try to share our knowledge, learnings, effective pedagogies/research, growth, tools, contacts, and more to help the next generation of teachers, students, administrators, and leaders.

Personally, I would like to see teachers have far more agency themselves. Don’t straight jacket them so much with standardized testing every ___ weeks/months. And allow more choice and control for the students (where possible). And allow the damn trains to slow down and/or vary their pace — allow them to stop if necessary for a student or a group of students. 

K-12 education in America is a like a quickly moving train that stops for no one.

I don’t see real personalized learning occurring until more technologies get involved/integrated into the classrooms out there — things like learner preferences, cloud-based learner profiles, AI and more.

 

From DSC:
My wife recently told me about The Thrive Learning Center. Though we don’t have any of our kids there, it looks very interesting to me! They offer play, choice, agency, a learning community, a chance to pursue one’s interests, and more! I wish we had seen this several years ago. But maybe it will help someone else out there reenvision what learning could look and be like.


The Thrive Learning Center -- offering a student-centered learning community-- full of choice and agency.


 

Improving Digital Inclusion & Accessibility for Those With Learning Disabilities — from inclusionhub.com by Meredith Kreisa
Learning disabilities must be taken into account during the digital design process to ensure digital inclusion and accessibility for the community. This comprehensive guide outlines common learning disabilities, associated difficulties, accessibility barriers and best practices, and more.

“Learning shouldn’t be something only those without disabilities get to do,” explains Seren Davies, a full stack software engineer and accessibility advocate who is dyslexic. “It should be for everyone. By thinking about digital accessibility, we are making sure that everyone who wants to learn can.”

“Learning disability” is a broad term used to describe several specific diagnoses. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, nonverbal learning disorder, and oral/written language disorder and specific reading comprehension deficit are among the most prevalent.

An image of a barrier being torn down -- revealing a human mind behind it. This signifies the need to tear down any existing barriers that might hinder someone's learning experience.

 

More Employers Are Awarding Credentials. Is A Parallel Higher Education System Emerging? — from edsurge.com by Sean Gallagher and Holly Zanville

Excerpt:

As the acceptance of new types of credentials grows, a number of employers have become learning providers in their own right, in a way that could shake up the broader higher education landscape.

A growing number of companies have moved beyond training their own employees or providing tuition assistance programs to send staff members to higher education. Many of these employers are also developing their own curricula and rapidly expanding their publicly-facing credential offerings.

But the current boom in employer-issued credentials is different—and potentially transformational. Unlike the traditional IT certifications of decades past, these new credentials are less focused on proprietary technologies related to a given tech vendor, and are instead more focused on broadly applicable tech skill sets such as IT support, cloud computing and digital marketing.

 
 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian