From DSC:
It will be interesting to watch the pre-K-12 learning ecosystems out there, especially if the exodus from traditional school systems gathers momentum — both student *AND* teacher-wise.


‘Alternative to school:’ Las Vegas has self-directed learning center — from reviewjournal.com by Julie Wootton-Greener

Excerpt:

It’s part of a movement called “microschooling.” The trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly, while Clark County School District campuses operated under a year of distance education until in-person classes resumed in spring 2021.

Southern Nevada is home to more than 20 microschools, which are “multifamily learning arrangements,” said Don Soifer, president of Nevada Action for School Options and a former board member for the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority.

Most are operating with children who are considered homeschooled, he said, while some are small private schools.
.

Showing up in our homeschools — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

What do you want your kids to think about homeschooling? What do you want their homeschooling experience to be? Choose how you want that to look and then work on it, set an intention for the day or for the week and show up that way.

Take a deep breath. When things get difficult, respond with peace, not anger.

Notice little things, be curious about what’s going on in your homeschool, and then find ways to make it look the way you want it to look.

I share more in depth strategies all about making this intentionality happen in today’s episode of the podcast.
.

A Guide to Rethinking Education After Pandemic — from edsurge.com by Michael Staton

Excerpt:

During the pandemic, there were those who rose to the occasion—innovators who forged a new path, students who learned more than they knew they could, teachers who felt unbound by convention, administrators who mobilized bureaucracies known for inertia and parents who saw first-hand that another world is possible. There were many individuals and organizations who knew it was a once in a millennium moment to rethink what has been, to experiment with what could be, to create an upgraded education model and a better school experience.

Michael Horn’s new book, “From Reopen to Reinvent: (Re)Creating School for Every Child,” highlights key organizations and individuals who seized the moment—some because they were prepared; some because they were lucky enough to have a quirky vision which suddenly made sense to try during pandemic lockdown; some because they were forced to adapt and had no other choice. From those, Horn sheds light to help others learn a brighter path forward.
.

Pandemic “Learning Loss” Actually Reveals More About Schooling Than Learning — from fee.org by Kerry McDonald
The alleged “learning loss” now being exposed is more reflective of the nature of forced schooling rather than how children actually learn. 

As we know from research on unschoolers and others who learn in self-directed education settings, non-coercive, interest-driven learning tends to be deep and authentic. When learning is individually-initiated and unforced, it is not a chore. It is absorbed and retained with enthusiasm because it is tied to personal passions and goals.

 

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:
Below are some reflections based on an article entitled, Understanding learning transfer through Archwell Academies. It’s from chieflearningofficer.com and was written by Erin Donovan and Keith Keating.

Excerpt:

To capitalize on learning transfer and extend learning beyond traditional training periods, practitioners have established capability academies. According to Josh Bersin, capability academies are the evolution of traditional training and self-directed learning. Bersin posited:

Capability academies are business-driven, collaborative learning environments that facilitate learning retention. . . . Going beyond rote lessons, capability academies help companies prepare for transformation by helping employees develop complex skills and providing guidance on how to apply them in the context of the business.

The core concept of capability academies rests on the importance of collaboration between the trainers and the business. The intention is to provide learners with practice of conceptual understanding and comparative scenarios in the context and environment where they will ultimately apply their skills. Capability academies focus on providing training distinctly aligning with learners’ job responsibilities.

From DSC:
First of all, I have a lot of respect for the people that this article mentions, such as Josh Bersin and Will Thalheimer. So this article caught me eye.

It seems to me that the corporate world is asking for institutions of traditional higher education to deliver such “capability academies.” But that makes me wonder, could this even be done? Surely there aren’t enough resources to develop/deliver/maintain so many environments and contexts, right? It took Archwell, a global mortgage services outsourcing provider, an entire year to systematically design and develop such customized capability academies — just for their clients’ businesses. 

The article goes on:

The core concept of capability academies rests on the importance of collaboration between the trainers and the business. The intention is to provide learners with practice of conceptual understanding and comparative scenarios in the context and environment where they will ultimately apply their skills. Capability academies focus on providing training distinctly aligning with learners’ job responsibilities.

Context. Skills. Acquiring knowledge. Being able to apply that knowledge in a particular environment. Wow…that’s a lot to ask institutions of traditional higher education to deliver. And given the current setup, it’s simply not going to happen. Faculty members’ plates are already jammed-packed. They don’t have time to go out and collaborate with each business in their area (even with more sabbaticals…I don’t see it happening).

I’m sure many at community colleges could chime in here and would likely say that that’s exactly what they are doing. But I highly doubt that they are constantly delivering this type of customized offering for all of the businesses in each major city in their area.

I can hear those in corporate training programs saying that that’s what they are doing for their own business. But they don’t provide it for other businesses in their area.

So, what would it take for higher education to develop/offer such “capability academies?” Is it even possible?

We continue to struggle to design the ultimate learning ecosystem(s) — one(s) whereby we can provide personalized learning experiences for each person and business. We need to continue to practice design thinking here, as we seek to provide valuable, relevant/up-to-date, and cradle-to-grave learning experiences.

The problem is, the pace of change has changed. Institutions of traditional higher education can’t keep up. And frankly, neither can most businesses out there.

I keep wondering if a next-generation learning platform — backed up by AI but delivered with human expertise — will play a role in the future. The platform would offer products and services from teams of individuals — and/or from communities of practices — who can provide customized, up-to-date training materials and the learning transfers that this article discusses.

But such a platform would have to offer socially-based learning experiences and opportunities for accountability. Specific learning goals and learning cohorts help keep one on track and moving forward.

 

From DSC:
Below are several observations re: our learning ecosystems — and some ideas on how we can continue to improve them.


It takes years to build up the knowledge and skills in order to be a solid teacher, faculty member, instructional designer, and/or trainer. It takes a lot of studying to effectively research how the brain works and how we learn. Then we retire…and the knowledge is often lost or not passed along. And the wheel gets reinvented all over again. And again. And again.

Along these lines — and though we’re making progress in this area — too often we separate the research from the practical application of that research. So we have folks working primarily in learning science, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and related fields. But their research doesn’t always get practically applied within our learning spaces. We have researchers…and then we have practitioners. So I greatly appreciate the likes of Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain out at RetrievalPractice.org, Daniel Willingham, Eva Keiffenheim, The Learning Scientists, James Lang, and several others who bridge this gap.

We need to take more of the research from learning science and apply it in our learning spaces.

Perhaps more researchers, faculty members, teachers, trainers, instructional designers, principals, provosts, etc. could blog or be active out on social media.

***

Along these lines, we need to spend more time helping people know how best to study and to learn.
If that type of thing is ever to be learned, it seems like it’s often learned or discussed in the mid- to later years of one’s life…often after one’s primary and secondary days are long gone.

Instead, we should consider putting these easy-to-understand posters from the Learning Scientists in every K-12 school, college, and university in the nation — or something like them.

***

To provide the most effective engaging learning experiences, we should consider using more team-based approaches. As appropriate, that could include the students themselves.

***

We put way too much emphasis on grades — which produces gameplayers who seek only to do the minimum amount of work necessary to get the A’s.  Doing so creates systems whereby learning is not the goal — getting a 4.0+ is.

***
As we are now required to be lifelong learners, our quality of life as a whole goes waaaay up if we actually enjoy learning.  Many people discover later in life that they like to learn…they just didn’t like school. Perhaps we could place greater emphasis within K-16 on whether students enjoyed their learning experiences or not. And if not, what might have made that topic more enjoyable to them? Or what other topics would they like to dive into (that weren’t’ on the original learning menu)?

This could also apply in the corporate training/L&D space as well. Such efforts could go a long way in helping establish stronger learning cultures.

***

We don’t provide enough choice to our students. We need to do a better job of turning over more control to them in their learning journey. We turn students off to learning because we try to cram information that they don’t care about down their throats. So then we have to use the currency of grades to force them into doing the work that they could care less about doing. Their experience with learning/school can easily get soured.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

We need to be more responsive with our curricula. And we need to explain how the information we’re trying to relay is relevant in the real world and will be relevant in their futures.

***

So those are some ideas that I wanted to relay. Thanks for your time and for your shared interests here!

 

From DSC:
The resource below (from The Chronicle of Higher Education) is one of the best, most useful articles I’ve read in a long time. It’s full of innovative and/or powerful ideas. I like the part about seeking to give students “more voice, more choice, more control.”

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 


 

5 No-Cost or Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Campus — from chronicle.com by Richard J. Light and Allison Jegla
Change doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s often sparked by a simple suggestion and a leader willing to give it a try.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

No. 1: Reward innovative teaching. Lynne Schofield, a professor of statistics at Swarthmore College, has fundamentally changed the way her students learn basic and intermediate statistics. She lectures and assigns problem sets but she also teams up with local Philadelphia organizations such as food banks and blood-donation centers to give students an opportunity to solve real-world problems using their classroom knowledge. The organizations benefit from data and analysis that they may not have had time or bandwidth to collect themselves, and the students see the practical application of what they might ordinarily have perceived as a dry subject.

No. 2: Solicit ideas from students.
They met with a dean and proposed a public event called, “10 Big Ideas, 10 Professors, 10 Minutes Each.”

When the dean agreed, the students took the lead on selecting and inviting professors to each present the “most exciting new idea” in their academic field, in less than 10 minutes.

 


 

 

From DSC:
After seeing the item below, I thought, “Hmmm…traditional institutions of higher education better look out if alternatives continue to gain momentum.” Perhaps it’s wise to double down on efforts to gather feedback from students, families, parents, businesses, and other stakeholders in the workplace regarding what they want and need — vs. what the faculty members of institution ABC want to teach.


A Third of U.S. College Students Consider Withdrawing — from news.gallup.com by Stephanie Marken

Excerpt:

Editor’s Note: The research below was conducted in partnership between the Lumina Foundation and Gallup.

About a third (32%) of currently enrolled students pursuing a bachelor’s degree report they have considered withdrawing from their program for a semester or more in the past six months. A slightly higher percentage of students pursuing their associate degree, 41%, report they have considered stopping out in the past six months. These are similar to 2020 levels when 33% of bachelor’s degree students reported they had considered stopping out and 38% of associate degree students said the same.

 

The rise of alternative credentials in hiring — from shrm.org; with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
Increasingly, U.S. workers are turning to alternative credentials as a way to enhance and demonstrate skills and work readiness. But can certifications, badges and apprenticeships stand in for traditional education and work experience when seeking a new job?

Excerpts:

Alternative credentials can be defined as any microcredential, industry or professional certification, acknowledgment of apprenticeship (registered or nonregistered), or badging that indicates one’s competencies and skills within a particular field. Alternative credentials do not include traditional academic degrees or required occupational licensures.

However, one potential barrier to employers’ wider recognition of alternative credentials is actually a technical one. Automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) frequently don’t pick up on them, because often there is still no standard approach to collecting this information as systems do for traditional education and work experience. Only one-third of HR professionals whose organizations use automated prescreening say this prescreening even recognizes alternative credentials. Such inconsistency offers a clear direction for both HR and the providers of applicant screening tools to improve the ways alternative credentials are captured in the application process.

 

2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report | Teaching and Learning Edition

 

2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report | Teaching and Learning Edition — from library.educause.edu

Sections include:

  • Trends: Scanning the Horizon
  • Key Technologies & Practices
  • Scenarios
  • Implications: What Do We Do Now?

 Also relevant/see:

 


Also relevant/see:

2022 Educause Horizon Report Suggests Change Is Here to Stay; No Return to ‘Normal’ — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

If the COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of unprecedented change in higher education — characterized by rapid pivots to remote work and learning and an explosion in the use of technology across the institution — the future is about reframing those changes into long-term realities, according to the 2022 Educause Horizon Report Teaching and Learning Edition, released this week. Colleges and universities are shifting their mindsets to “reflect an evolution from short-term ’emergency’ or ‘reactive’ modes of offering education during extraordinary circumstances to making strategic and sustainable investments in a future that will be very much unlike our past,” the report suggested.

6 Technologies and Practices Impacting the Future of Higher Education — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

 

The Digital versus Brick-and-Mortar Balancing Game — from educause.edu

Excerpt:

The blended campus required after two years of upheaval calls for out-of-the box thinking about what to keep and what to discard from both digital and physical work and learning spaces. Technology leaders face critical decisions regarding workplace culture, physical classroom design, and traditional campus spaces.

Making the move from fully in-person instruction to a learning environment that also accommodates remote students (and remote faculty) requires rethinking and redesigning physical learning spaces to provide an equitable experience for all learners. Technology leaders will need to overcome sizable obstacles to create inclusive classrooms that enable faculty and students to reap the many benefits of hybrid [hyflex] learning.

Also see some of the other most urgent issues in higher education here:

The EDUCAUSE showcase series spotlights the most urgent issues in higher education.

 

Trade Schools Vs. Traditional College: What You Should Know — from forbes.com by Robert Farrington

Excerpt:

We all know that a college education is usually worth the financial cost, but what about attending trade school instead? Unfortunately, many adults with influence over high schoolers never take the time to ask this important question.

I’m not only talking about school guidance counselors and other educators, but I’m also talking about parents themselves. For far too many parents with kids in their junior or senior years of school, the stigma surrounding having a child skip four-year college would just be too much to bear.

Have you tried to hire a contractor lately? How about an electrician? If you have, you probably already know these jobs are in high demand.

These are just some of the reasons to consider trade school, but there are others. And if you have your child’s best interest in mind, you will at least hear me out.

 

Beyond traditional learning programs — from chieflearningofficer.com by Gorana Sandric
To prepare for Industry 4.0 and a diverse, shrinking workforce, we need to open the door of meaningful learning to everyone.

Excerpt:

Hybrid learning creates an ecosystem of various stakeholders and methods that produce a desired outcome. This type of ecosystem is vivid, playful and allure, and therefore capable of transforming attention into intention to learn, grow and reach the maximum potential. Starting with the end in mind (SPP), building blocks of engagement with stakeholders into multifaceted L&D programs delivers a learning experience that is diverse, engaging and inclusive.

 

Shorter Training, Better Skills: Three Predictions For The Future Of Career And Technical Education — from forbes.com by Jeremy Wheaton; with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource

But in the face of an entrenched and growing skills gap, young people are increasingly questioning the status quo and looking for shorter, less expensive, more direct-to-career options.

Excerpts:

Here [is the first of] three predictions for how the rest of the 2020s will continue to be defined by career education:

  1. The four-year degree will no longer be seen as the default postsecondary education option.
 

EDUCAUSE 2022 Top 10 IT Issues — from educause.edu

EDUCAUSE's 2022 Top 10 IT Issues

 

EDUCAUSE's 2022 Top 10 IT Issues

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The EDUCAUSE 2022 Top 10 IT Issues take an optimistic view of how technology can help create the higher education we deserve —through a shared transformational vision and strategy for the institution, a recognition of the need to place student success at the center, and a sustainable business model that redefines “the campus.”

See the 2022 Top 10 IT Issues

Almost two years into a global pandemic, it’s clear the higher education we knew will never return and now we can focus on getting the higher education we deserve.

 


From DSC:
I’m assuming that the we in the we deserve (as highlighted above) includes the students, as *the students* are the ones who most need for things to change.

That said, I’m doubtful such profound change will occur within higher education as it stands today. The existing cultures may prevent such significant and necessary change from occurring — and higher ed isn’t used to dealing with the current exponential pace of change that we’re experiencing. Plus, the downward spirals that many institutions are in don’t always allow for the new investments, programs, and/or experiments to occur. But who knows? When institutions of traditional higher education have their backs pressed up against the walls, perhaps such institutions and the people within them will be forced to change. There are innovative individuals and institutions out there. (I’m just not sure how much they’ve been listened to in many cases.)

To help students truly succeed means to change one’s core products/services — one’s story. But higher ed loves to play around the edges…rarely letting the core products/services get touched. 

To me, student success includes having students pay far less and, while still getting a solid liberal arts education/foundation, can get solid jobs immediately upon graduation. At least that’s my hope as we head into 2022. 

But what student success looks like may be different in the future.

Perhaps in 5 years, we will have moved much more towards a lifelong learning situation. Individuals may have joined a global, next-generation learning platform whereby one teaches for X minutes of the day, and learns for Y minutes of that same day. AI-based dashboards let people know which skills are in high demand, and then offer a menu of choices for how to acquire those skills.

A couple of lasts comments:

  • Being data-driven won’t save an institution. Vision might. But being data-driven has its limits.
  • The digital transformations being talked about within institutions of traditional higher education may be too little, too late. This conversation should have taken place a decade or more ago. (I think I just heard an “Amen!” from some folks who used to work at Blockbuster. They didn’t think a transformation was necessary either….but they learned their lesson the hard way. We should have learned from their situation…a long time ago. And I’m sure that you can think of other examples as well.)

 

Why Aren’t Professors Taught to Teach? — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Professors are experts in their subject matters but many have limited training in actually teaching their students.

Excerpt:

“A lot of faculty are just modeling their instruction after the instruction they’ve received as an undergraduate or graduate student,” says Tanya Joosten, senior scientist and director of digital learning at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the lead of the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements.

As a perpetually short-on-time adjunct professor, I understand those who worry about mandatory training and required course reviews, but Pelletier stresses that she’s advocating for a more organic shift and that a top-down approach isn’t best. “That’s not as collaborative and generative as really just embracing that we have these two different kinds of experts, one type of expert is an expert in their subject, and the other expert is an expert in teaching and learning,” she says. More attention is needed to meld these two kinds of expertise. 

From DSC:
It’s not just that colleges and universities are big business — if you have any remaining doubts about that perspective, take a moment to look at this new, interactive database to see what I mean. But it’s also that this type of business often rewards research, not teaching. And yet the students over the last several decades have continued to pay ever-increasing prices for skilled researchers, instead of increasingly skilled teachers. 

Healthcare and higher education face similar challenges and transformations -- costs continue to soar

Image from Inside Higher Ed

 

Would people put up with this with other types of purchases? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want to…would you?  Would we like to pay for something that we aren’t getting — like paying for all the extra options on a new car, but not getting them?

What goes around, comes around.
But by allowing this to have occurred, a backlash against the value of higher education has been building for years now. In many learners’ minds, they are questioning whether it’s worth taking on (potentially) decades’ worth of debt. At a minimum, the higher the price of obtaining degrees and/or other credentials becomes, the less Return on Investment (ROI) is realized by the learners (i.e., the purchasers of these goods and services). So while getting a degree is often still worth it, the ROI is going down.
And this doesn’t address how relevant/up-to-date the educations are that these learners are receiving, which the employers out there will take issue with.

From an Instructional Designer’s perspective, it isn’t just time that’s the issue here. There continues to exist a tiered hierarchy within higher education. Faculty see themselves as more knowledgeable because they are teaching and because they are the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). But they are not expert teachers. Many full-time faculty members don’t listen to people who are knowledgeable in the learning science world, and they often don’t value that expertise. (This can be true of administrators as well.) But when a fellow faculty member (i.e., their “true peer” from their perspective) suggests the same idea that Instructional Designers have been recommending for years, they suddenly open their eyes and ears to see and hear this seemingly new, wonderful approach.

Some possible scenarios
Thus, a wave has been building against traditional institutions of higher education — readers of this blog will have picked up on this years ago. Once alternatives significantly hit the radar — ones that get the learners solid, good-paying jobs — there could be a mass exodus out of what we think of as traditional higher education. At least that’s one potential scenario.

For example, if a next-generation learning platform comes along that offers teams and individuals the ability to deliver lifelong learning at 50% or more off the price of an average degree, then be on the lookout for massive change. If professors and/or teams of specialists — those who are skilled in instructional design and teaching —  can go directly to their learners — it could be an interesting world indeed. (Outschool is like this, by the way.) In that scenario, below are two potential methods of providing what accreditation agencies used to provide:

  • Obtaining the skills and competencies being requested from the workplace to “pass the tests” (whatever those assessments turn out to be)
  • Voting a course up or down (i.e., providing crowd-sourced rating systems)

Other possible scenarios
Another scenario is that traditional institutions of higher education really kick their innovation efforts into high gear. They reward teaching. They develop less expensive methods of obtaining degrees. They truly begin delivering more cost-effective means of obtaining lifelong learning and development “channels” for educating people.

And there are other possible scenarios, some of which I could think of and many I would likely miss. But to even ask the solid and highly-relevant question as plainly stated in the article above — Why Aren’t Professors Taught to Teach? — that is something that must be dealt with. Those organizations that use a team-based approach are likely to be able to better answer and address that question.

 

2022 Top 10 IT Issues -- from Educause

2022 Top 10 IT Issues

 

From DSC:
Time will tell which institutions have the prerequisite culture of innovation that will help reinvent themselves, stay relevant, and survive. 

And for people (who have worked in higher education for years) who don’t like to see learners as customers…well…when those learners are often paying $100,000-$250,000 or more for a four-year degree, those folks don’t have much say or credibility any longer. The price increases that they never stepped in to stop from occurring have forever changed the learning ecosystems within higher education. The idea of supporting  the perspective that says:

Well, we’re proud (and content) that our institution will have the lowest price increase in X (where X is a city, state,  or geographic region)
or
We’re proud that our institution will have the lowest price increase within our group of similar/comparative institutions.

…well, that type of perspective hasn’t cut it for years now. But the danger of that status quo perspective is only becoming apparent to many now that one’s very survival is at stake.


Addendum/also see:


 

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian