Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem


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I used this slide deck when speaking with superintendents and other central office staff affiliated with the Mahoning County Educational Services Center. The five trends contained in KnowledgeWorks Forecast 3.0; democratized startup, high-fidelity living, de-institutionalized production, customizable value webs, and shareable cities, tells us that the future of education is radically personalized for each student. Think learning playlist similar to what we create on iTunes.

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  • Good morning everyone. My name is Jesse Moyer and I work with KnowledgeWorks in Cincinnati. We are a social enterprise committed to the sustainable improvement of the readiness of students for college and careers. We do this in three ways:Our on the ground work with our two high school subsidiaries (NTN and EDWorks) and the community work of StriveWorking with state and federal education leaders to craft a policy environment that promotes innovation and student achievementThe third strand of our work is what brings me here today and that is out strategic foresight work. We believe that in order to be effective in the here and now, you must be looking down that road at what is coming next. If you’re not, you’re perpetually behind as you’re always trying to catch up to what is already here.There a couple of things to keep in the back of your mind as we’re talking today. The first is, I’m not here to solve all the world problems. No matter how amazing of a speaker I am, I can’t change the fact that summer is almost over. I can’t add more money to your budgets, fix our broken Congress, and solve the contract negotiations. As I have no doubt you’ll discover over the next hour, I am a pretty dynamic guy but I need more than 60 minutes to solve all of the world’s, or at least our, problems.
  • The next thing to remember is that everything we’re going to talk about today is already happening…it might just not be happening here. As William Gibson said, “The Future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Things are changing out there and we need to do everything we can to prepare our students to deal with the future that’s coming. Don’t believe me? Here’s a couple of examples.My parents live in Minnesota. We get out to see them a couple of times a year and they come to Ohio a few weeks a year but for the most part we communicate via the phone or FaceTime. My two year old, who loves his grandma and grandpa, tries to show my parents what he’s playing with, no matter if we’re engaged in a simple phone call or using FaceTime. You see, for him, every phone call involves being able to see the person on the other end of the line. That’s his normal…what he’s grown up with. While you and I can still remember when phones had cords, he expects to ALWAYS see the people he’s talking to. That’s his reality…he sees the world different from you and I.Want an example that doesn’t involve a two year old? Take the NSA listening in on cell phone conversations. I’m guessing back in the 70’s and 80’s, there would have been riots in the street over such an egregious invasion of privacy by our Government. Now? The biggest news stories coming out of this are that someone actually leaked what the Government was doing. It seems like there is very little regard for what the Government is actually doing. People understand that institutions; whether it be the Government, companies, or someone else; is going to collect information on us. It’s the reality of the world we live and, while some might not be happy about it, most are willing to accept it as the price of doing business in a digital age.My point? Things are changing, their changing rapidly, and we all need to think hard about how education needs to change in order to best serve our students.
  • How many tweeters do we have in the audience today?As we’re moving through our discussion today, please feel free to tweet anything that strikes you as interesting, odd, or down-right crazy using the hashtag #futureofed. Periodically, we will post our Twitter stream up here for everyone to see.We will also use twitter and this hashtag to report out after each one of our small group discussions.
  • KnowledgeWorks has been in the future forecast business since 2006, when we released our Map of Future Forces Affecting Education. As a follow-up to that document, we released the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning in 2009. We partnered with the Institute for the Future; independent, non-profit research organization in Palo Alto, CA, to produce both of those future forecast. Earlier this year, we released the forecast you see in front of you, Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem.Being seven years out from the 2006 forecast, we’re seeing that the future that it called for is here. Here are some of the things from the first forecast that have evolved to reality:Googleletting people beyond developers sign up to test they’re glasses by paying $1500, justifying their use, and attending a launch event Media-rich learningNoodle, founded 2010, has, according to Mashable, has expanded the learning economy further any many of us could have imagined. According to Mashbale, Moodlecreated the very first search engine of its kind, devoted solely to navigating the vast sea of educational information available online. Noodle’s customized search engine helps students and their families to find resources for tutors, pre-K schooling options, guidance counselors, summer camps, MBA programs, and much more. Basically, this service is revolutionizing the way we search for and locate educational opportunities suited to our needs.The School of One provides deep personalizationby using a learning algorithm to create lesson plans that are unique to each student, based on what each student needs and when they need it.Lastly, a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (or VUCA for short) world is the new normal. You can take your pick as far as examples go: natural disasters, constrained government resources, uprisings in the Middle East.I say all this not to tout KnowledgeWorks’ success at predicting the future, although I do think it’s pretty cool, as much as I want to illustrate the rate of change since we released our first forecast in 2006. And, to the best of my knowledge, change isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
  • Before I jump into the content of the forecast, I want to give you a 30,000 foot overview.Amazon forever transformed how we buy things. iTunes revolutionized how we listen to music. ZipCar, the car sharing service that rents cars by the hour and on demand, is changing the way we get around.Recombinant Education tells us that education is facing the same kind of deep disruption and reconfiguration. The digital explosion will spark innovation after innovation , changing the way we think about learning itself, and the teachers and resources that support learning experiences. “School” as we know it will become unbundled. And, as a result, learners will have the opportunity to re-bundle learning in multiple possible recombinations to create a resilient learning ecosystem comprised of many innovations and solutions. Learners will put long-established systems and new pieces together in many different sequences to meet their needs.We expect to see learning resources and experiences fit together in a much more modular way than we are used to thinking of it, the way we now purchase individual songs more often than whole albums. Learners will develop what we might think of as individual learning playlists to meet their specific needs and goals. Some of these playlists will mainly or only involve a brick and mortar school. But the range of choices will go far beyond today’s spectrum of in-person, blended, or digital. The infographic in front of you provides some key insights into how this type of future of education might play out in a practical way. While the practical realities it suggests are fun to think about, today I want to focus on the content in the forecast and how we’re actually seeing that play out today.
  • The forecast contains five disruptions, or major societal shifts, that are reshaping the learning system and leading to the rebundling that I’ve been describing.I’ll give a brief overview of the five, including:Democratized Startup and Shareable Cities, driven by new sources of informationHigh-Fidelity Living, providing new tools for understanding learning and motivation and for personalizing learningDe-institutionalized Production, a new world for which we’re educating learners, with new ways of demonstrating learningAnd, finally, Customizable Value Webs, offering new flows of learning across the learning ecosystem
  • The first disruption we’ll dive into today is democratized start up. When I first began working with our second future forecast, back in 2009, it helped me to try to absorb the definition of a disruption in forecast-ese, then try to break it down in terms that are easily understandable to me. Given that experience, that’s what I am going to try to do today. When we talked about democratized start-up, we’re talking about the transformation of investment strategies being paired with more readily available start-up knowledge creating an explosion of disruptive social innovation. This means opportunities to become an entrepreneur will be everywhere and available to anyone. With new, open networks that allow anybody access to the start-up knowledge, funding, and the necessary connections to turn their ideas into useful products, anyone who has the ambition and drive to make economic and societal impact will be able to do just that.This is a pretty powerful concept when you think about the implications for economy and society. Basically, anyone who sees a problem and has the gumption to do something about it can. To me, that’s a pretty special concept.
  • Some signals, or early trends of how democratized start-up is playing out today are plentiful.The Lean Startup Movement created a manageable process for building a start-up business. The process, built around five principles, including “Validated Learning and “Build, measure, learn,” can now be broken down into achievable chunks. That’s quite a difference from the messy lore of starting a company that most of us think of when we think of entrepreneurship.Another signal involves organizations that match new companies with groups of people who can help further the development, through money or expertise, of their products. Once example is FoudnerDating Education, which matches edtech start-ups with educators who can provide feedback and advice on their work.Upstart is another example of a matchmaking network that brings new college graduates together with the right people who are able to provide them with the economic freedom to pursue what they’re passionate about.
  • As I think through the concept of democratized start-up and how we’re seeing this play out inside and outside the edu-sphere, question like, “How can we support administrators who want to infuse innovation into their schools or districts? How about support for innovative teachers?” keep coming to the forefront in my mind. Of course, with my interest in policy, I begin to think about what policy changes need to be implemented in order to enable greater innovation in our schools.
  • This next disruption involves big data flooding human sensemaking capacities and cognitive assistants and contextual feedback systems helping people manage interactions with the world around them.What does this mean? It means there is a huge opportunity to use big data to make decisions, but we’re going to need help making sense of the data overload that will result from the ever-expanding pool of information resulting from things like GPSs, cell phones, and our online activity. In education, we’ll be able to corral data about learners’ academic performance, and also data about their social and emotional needs, to match each learner with the particular learning experiences that will help them move forward. We’re looking at a new frontier of personalized learning but we’re going to need a lot of help to make sense of it all.Before we go further into High-Fidelity Living, I want to talk a little more about big data. Because it’s a term that’s thrown around a lot, I wanted to give a couple of statistics around just how much data we are producing as a society. These are from From The Human Face of Big Data:The average person today processes more data in a single day than a person in the 1500’s did in an entire lifetime.During the first day of a baby’s life, the amount of data generated by humanity is equivalent to 70 times the information contained in the Library of Congress.
  • As I said before, we’re going to need help managing the expanding infosphere. This help will be provided by social bots and cognitive prosthetics to help manage and extend our individual capacity to make sense of it all. We’re already changing how we manage information by using cognitive assistants. How? Just think about the fact the “Google” has become a verb. When I was in elementary and middle school, if I needed to do research I went to a library. By the time I graduated from college, my first stop was Google. As research is a huge part of my job now, sometimes I can’t tell you what I researched yesterday but I can find it using Google faster than I could recall it anyway.We’ll also see new tools for managing the information that we take in and the contributions that we make. For instance, the Web Ecology Project pitted teams against each other that programed bots to control user accounts on Twitter ito influence an unsuspecting cluster of 500 online users to do their bidding.We’re also developing an ever-deepening understanding of cognition and motivation. Of course this has implications for brain-based learning, but it takes it much further. Neurofocusmontiors brain waves, instead of language, to gain the insights of focus groups in relation to consumer products. Bottom line, we’re moving toward much more precise understanding of how people learn and how many kinds of factors influence learning.
  • With all this data, and the extended capacity to make sense of it all, comes a huge opportunity to use data to drive decision making. In education, we’ll be able to corral data about learners’ academic performance, and data about their social and emotional needs, to match each learner with the particular learning experiences that will help them move forward. With all this, we’re looking at a new frontier of personalized learning.Learning analytics and dashboards will help enable this radically personalized learning that reflects what we know of how people learn, as well as individual factors and experiences. For instance, Desire2Learnsuggests learning experiences for students and predicts performance based on past academic performanceand also social and emotional conditions. In another example, Rio Salado College, one of the nation’s fastest-growing public colleges, offers more than 500 relatively short online courses. Because most courses start every two weeks, students can set their own pace for learning. The college helps ensure their success by using analytics to determine within the first eight days of instruction, with seventy-percent certainty, whether a student is at risk of failing without interventions.All this data, and the technology to make sense of it, doesn’t come without tensions. We’re going to have to watch for inequities on all sides of the digital divide to make sure all students are able to take advantage of this. This certainly flips on it’s head how we’re used to thinking about inequity.
  • In addition to the equity issues, the idea of high-fidelity living raises questions about the kind of infrastructures schools and districts will need to personalize learning in this way, what kinds of professional development our learning agents will need to achieve this type of personalization, and what different learning agent roles will be needed to provide the kind of personalized education we’re talking about.
  • In addition to the equity issues, the idea of high-fidelity living raises questions about the kind of infrastructures schools and districts will need to personalize learning in this way, what kinds of professional development our learning agents will need to achieve this type of personalization, and what different learning agent roles will be needed to provide the kind of personalized education we’re talking about.
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  • Twitter slide
  • Our third disruption is de-institutionalized production. This means activities of all sorts will be increasingly independent of institutions as contributions become more ad-hoc, dynamic, and networked.The bottom line is this: the way we work will be radically different in the future. We’ll see full-time employment decline as organizations use distributed networks to find the individuals who have the knowledge and skills needed to complete the tasks at hand. As ad hoc employees in this talent cloud, we’ll need to manage our personal brands and focus continually on learning new skills to meet the ever-changing needs of those doing the hiring. The more we move toward this kind of continuous career readiness, and the more learning providers and learners use social networks and other collaborative tools to facilitate learning experiences, the more room there will be for new kinds of credentialing to take root. So think beyond diplomas and degrees to things like badges, stackable certificates, and do-it-yourself credentials.
  • Being more independent of institution will enable more and more organization of productive activity via social production networks. For example, the Hour Exchange Portland allows people to use their time to pay for health care. They have swapped over 150,000 hours of service for 25,000 of health care.It will also be, at least for some, enforced because of two shifts:One being increasingly ad hoc employment via a global talent cloud. When I think of the talent cloud, I think of the bullpen in baseball. In the bullpen, you have several pitchers that all play different roles. One guy for long-relief appearances. On guy who sets up for the closer. You have the closer. You have one guy whose sole job it is to get left-handed batters out. A group of players with different skills sets to be called on when the right situation arises to put their skills sets to use. This is the talent cloud. It is made up of computer programmers, accountants, event planners, etc. Organizations can call on other organizations who manage the talent cloud when they need a specific skill set in a specific situation. When the situation has passed, that person returns to the talent cloud. Just like when that pitcher gets the left-handed batter out, he returns to the bullpen.Another major shift will be towards more and more automation of routine tasks. There is a restaurant in China with no human workers. In order to remain relevant in the workforce, we are going to have to ensure that we get really good at those things computers can’t do.These shifts will radically change the skills that today’s learners need to succeed in a globally networked world. Learners will need to acquire skills in the actual activity of networking itself, across multiple media and platforms. Learners will also need to be able to manage their personal brand. Finally, continuous career readiness will be required to roll with ongoing changes in the employment landscape as we increasingly see the decline of full-time employment.
  • So how does this affect learning? We’re seeing the talent cloud come into play in the K-12 system in examples such as Presence Learning, which matches speech pathologists with districts with budget constraints for the specific amount of time needed to support their learners.In addition, credentialing will look completely different as we assemble various combinations of learning experiences and skill demonstrations across a lifetime. We’re seeing platforms emerge that enable learners to document what they’ve learned and can do. For example, Degreed helps people credential their education experiences from both accredited and non-accredited sources, adding it all up toward the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree. They put it in terms “jailbreaking your degree.” And they’ve recently added support of over 13,000 international universities to enable learners to do this using the best courses from around the globe.And some colleges and universities, such as Western Governor’s University, have been offering credit for mastery and life experience. Just this month, the University of Wisconsin gained accreditation for their UW Flexible Option, enabling learners to gain competency-based degrees without any class time, except for clinical or practicum work for certain degrees.
  • There is certainly a lot to think about for all of us here. What does college and career readiness mean in the future? How will a shift towards competency education impact schools and districts? And, again, what kind of support will learning agents need as new teaching roles come into play?
  • Innovative, open business models will leverage complex networks of assets and relationships to create ultra-customer-centric experiences across industries. That’s certainly a mouthful. It is also what the forecast says about customizable value webs.What this really means is that as more resources become available as part of the learning ecosystem, students and parents will be able to combine a portfolio of these educational options together to meet their exact learning needs. Doing so will become easier and more cost-effective as learning providers continue to create new business models and platforms for content delivery and skill development. Digital tools will help people create and manage their learning portfolios, but educators will also play a key role in helping people knit experiences together in meaningful ways.I see this disruption as being core to pulling seemingly disparate things together in order to meet learners’ needs. Building off what we’ve seen for some time now with open education resources and practices such as flipping classrooms, and more recently MOOC’s, we’ll have blockbuster quality learning resources that raise the question of what happens in any given learning experience. And there will be many ways of using them – and other learning assets – to create value and meet learners’ needs.As those ways become more obvious, learners will increasingly expect to find the perfect combination of learning experiences. And if they can’t find them, they just might create them on their own.
  • We’re seeing more learning platforms pop up all the time and more and more options for hyper-focused, or agile, “schools” to emerge.AtPlaymakers’ School, middle school students chart their own paths through the school year by building their own Adventure Maps; students learn through play, making, discovery and inquiry, and interest-driven design; these schools are funded by the Gates Foundation.Taking blended learning even further in the field of teacher preparation, CalStateTEACH, one of the California State University’s System-wide Teacher Preparation programs, blends a totally field-based course of preparation with web-based “class discussions,” with candidates never attending traditional college classes. Instead, they rely on on-site coaching and an online self-study format. Skillshare is a global learning community where you can learn real-world skills from real people. Who teaches Skillshare classes? Anyone with knowledge or a skill they want to share. What types of skills and knowledge are offered? Anything from design to crafting. People can attend classes online or in person.
  • The thing about customizable value webs is that they could look different for every learner. Some learners could chose to have a pretty traditional brick and mortar experience. Others could access the services of many learning agents via the talent cloud. Still others will create individualized combinations of experiences all along that spectrum. You might think of this in terms of each learner having a learning playlist, similar to the playlists we create on iTunes.This is a very simple example from a website called MentorMob. People can create, share, modify, and rate learning playlists. They can also share skills and get feedback. There’s also a version for educators called MentorMob University.Aristotle Circle provides a similar service, but at the learning provider level. It matches learners as young as kindergarten age with learning experiences that meet their needs.We’ll also need new kinds of infrastructure to help learners move seamlessly across learning experiences. Shared Learning Collaborative is a platform for enabling exchange of information across learning experiences; it’s basically a backbone for helping learners move among rich array of choices. This kind of digital brokering and mediation will be increasingly important in helping learners and their families make sense of their choices. It is important to remember that learning agents will also be key in guiding learners and their families through a broad range of choices, and some might specialize in doing so.
  • Given what we’ve just talked about, what services will be needed to deal with all of the new learning experiences and what can districts and schools do to add to the vast sea of new resources? There’s also the question of quality and ensuring that the experiences learners have access to will actually do that they say they will do.
  • Given what we’ve just talked about, what services will be needed to deal with all of the new learning experiences and what can districts and schools do to add to the vast sea of new resources? There’s also the question of quality and ensuring that the experiences learners have access to will actually do that they say they will do.
  • Shareable Cities is the last disruption we’ll talk about this morning. It also happens to be the one I find most difficult to understand. According to the forecast, next gen cities will drive social innovation, with urban infrastructure shaped by patterns of human connection and contribution. It took me a long time to understand what that really meant.With more and more people living in cities, cities – like all governments – find themselves increasingly challenged to meet their citizens’ needs. At the same time, a do-it-yourself maker culture is shifting how people collaborate to solve problems. Instead of waiting for cities to get things right, citizens will come together to fill the service gap. Using rich information about what’s happening in their cities, they’ll create solutions that reflect where people are and what they need. Cities that use this new source of creativity effectively have the potential to spur economic development and embed learning across the urban landscape. We’re talking a whole new level of community engagement with learning.
  • Some concrete examples include LIVE! Singapore, which uses an open platform gives the data back to the people who themselves generate it through their actions, allowing them to be more in sync with their environment as well as to taking decisions on the basis of information that reflect the actual state of their city.Shareable Cities is an online magazine and community blog that enables people to share project, tools, and approaches for collaborative problem solving and crowdsourcing to cities across the US.Y-PLAN engages young people as change agents and connect them with college mentors and adult allies to plan real changes in their schools and communities.We’ve talked a little about different roles that could emerge for learning agents this morning. Now, I want to show you a video that describes one of those roles.
  • Shareable Cities goes beyond what we typically think about when we think about the community becoming involved in education.For instance, Strive – one of our subsidiaries – works to build new civic infrastructures by bringing key education partners together to decide what the important measures for education are in their community then uses employs data-driven decision making to direct resources to what is working to improve those measure.The community learning resources map shows one idea of the kind of mapping that the community intelligence cartographer was describing could look.
  • Questions about shareable cities include how educators and communities might go about working together to blur the lines and schools and communities, what those civic infrastructures might look like, and how states can support this.
  • 10 minutes
  • Twitter slide
  • Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem

    1. 1. Jesse Moyer • @jessemoyer August 8, 2013
    2. 2. The Future… “The future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” William Gibson
    3. 3. Twitterverse #futureofed
    4. 4. The Map of Future Forces Is Here
    5. 5. Reinventing Education Disruptive (dis·rup·tive) Relating to, causing, or produced by disruption. Innovation (in·no·va·tion) The act of introducing something new.
    6. 6. Five Disruptions
    7. 7. Transformational Investment Strategies + Open Access to Startup Knowledge = Explosion of Disruptive Social Innovation
    8. 8. •What supports might administrators need in becoming innovation portfolio managers? •What policy changes might support and enable innovation? •What might help develop educators’ capacity for innovation?
    9. 9. Big Data + Cognitive Assistants + Contextual Feedback Systems = Precisely Targeted Interactions
    10. 10. •What infrastructures will schools and districts need to personalize instruction for all learners and connect with other learning providers? •What training will learning agents need to provide deep personalization that takes into account students’ social and emotional conditions? •What could help ensure equity in a high-fidelity world?
    11. 11. Conversation •What have you heard that intrigues you? •What do you want to know more about? •Where do you see opportunities for improving the way we prepare learners for the future?
    12. 12. Ad-Hoc, Dynamic, and Networked Contributions + Diverse, Specialized Talent = Increasing Independence from Institutions
    13. 13. •What will it mean to be college and career ready in a global talent cloud? •How could shifting to competency-based learning help today’s schools and districts become viable nodes in an expanded learning ecosystem? •What supports will new and existing educators need in order to create and prepare for a wider variety of learning agent roles?
    14. 14. Innovative, Open Business Models + Complex Networks of Assets and Relationships = Customer-Centric Experiences
    15. 15. •As learning experiences diversify, what new services will learners need? •How might today’s schools and districts begin brokering learning and resources across traditional boundaries? •How might we begin to identify appropriate quality measures for an increasingly complex array of learning providers?
    16. 16. Patterns of Human Connection and Contribution + Next Gen Cities = Social Innovation
    17. 17. •How might educators and communities find new ways of combining community-based and school-based learning experiences? •How might states enable access to a community’s best learning resources for all students? •What new models of civic infrastructure might help learners and communities thrive?
    18. 18. Conversation •What have you heard that intrigues you? •What do you want to know more about? •Where do you see opportunities for improving the way we prepare learners for the future?
    19. 19. Follow Contact Jesse Moyer