Learning Edge- Observations

If innovations such as Khan Academy are Education 2.0, we really need to start a dialogue about our vision for Education 3.0

moving forward on #futureEd | digital digs

So what if we established different goals for education. What if a successful education was measured by the work students were able to accomplish, the skills they developed, and the activities they were able to undertake than by the information that they were able to retain? Maybe our pedagogies would be different. And maybe MOOCs would make less sense as an alternative. That doesn’t mean that social media and other digital technologies wouldn’t play an important role in learning. In fact I imagine they will. It just means that watching some videos, reading some material, and then taking a test on it wouldn’t seem like learning to us regardless of whether those things happened online or in a lecture hall.

moving forward on #futureEd | digital digs

In conversations I have with colleagues across the campus though, my sense is that there concern is often that they feel obligated to “cover” some large range of material. The curriculum is set up so really the only thing that you can do is info-dump. The problem is that the digital “solution” isn’t any better. It’s also an info-dump (plus let the students talk to each other in forums and figure the stuff out). The standard info-dump pedagogy is based on the same fantasy that imagines plugging something into your head and learning kung-fu in 30 seconds.

Udacity's Sebastian Thrun, Godfather Of Free Online Education, Changes Course | Fast Company | Business Innovation

Thrun realizes the future of education is not replicating what we currently do in classroom, as he says that is a “lousy product”:

"We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product," Thrun tells me. "It was a painful moment." Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.

Smarter Education- A Thesis on the Past & Future of Education

The Information Age of the 21st century has unleashed vast new opportunities as well as challenges. Globalization of the world wide labor pool has fundamentally changed the competitive landscape for the modern worker. However, we believe that education is still mired in 19th century practices that fail, on many levels, to address the needs of this new world. Our education institutions are still wedded to passive, lecture-based curriculum, printed textbooks and worksheets, memorization of facts followed by mandated testing, and struggle with inadequate teacher and learning based assessments.  We call this Education 1.0.


Early technology innovators have focused on accessibility or efficiency — online classes, software based learning aids, digital textbooks — and have created substantial value for their investors. We call this Education 2.0. Market values or acquisition prices have been significant for online innovators such as Apollo/University of Phoenix ($7b), Devry ($1b), Wireless Generation ($0.4b). A new wave of companies such as Coursera, Udacity, and Kahn Academy have attracted breathtaking audiences by offering lectures to a mass, underserved audience worldwide with virtually word-of-mouth advertising.

Today’s technology can move well beyond the first wave of innovators, ultimately transforming learning by re-envisioning and re-structuring the whole process. Disruptive technologies can change the way people learn — integrating curriculum into real-world pursuits that students care about; equipping teachers and mentors to tailor learning to individual strengths, interests, and needs; and better assessing an individual’s profile of talents and aptitudes. We are in the beginning stages of the journey from compulsory education to a new world in which students will be intrinsically motivated in an interest-based education model, what we call Education 3.0.  

We believe that the most innovative disruption and highest value creation opportunities will come from outside the entrenched interests of the existing system. Like in so many other industries, change comes from the outside in. The re-invention of learning and education although just beginning has definite problem areas and bottleneck issues that when solved will reap substantial value creation for the ultimate providers. As we move from an assembly line of one size fits all to a more individual centered education, a multitude of markets and segments   will require a much higher degree of personalization concerning learning outcomes, individual profiles based on those outcomes, and much more effectively tailored learning experiences that take into account the highly individualized needs of the specific learner. These represent three high impact areas to target for product and company formation and investment:

  • Smarter Experiences- Meaningful Experiences vs. Arbitrary Activities: We believe the future will have a much broader perspective on what defines “learning experiences”. Instead of sitting at desks listening to lectures, doing worksheets, and taking quizzes, people are learning by doing. We are going to see people learning through more authentic experiences that resemble  the cool stuff we adults get to do in the real world. Tomorrows liberal arts will not be the idealized seminar discussions  on the bucolic campus but will be where learners are immersed in real world projects like coding a mobile App, building a robot or starting a business  The learning needs to be “interest-based” and driven by real-world experiences.  Curriculum and educational offerings of the future will need to peak interest and grant the learner more choice and power over their own learning so that they are more personally motivated to do the hard work of competence building.
  • Smarter Pathways- Adaptive individualized learning: Future learning will be personalized and match recommended learning experiences with an individual’s profile of interests, skills and knowledge. We need web and mobile applications with adaptive recommendation engines, peer to peer social learning and scalable professional mentorship. 
  • Smarter Scorecards— New measurements for learning:. What makes an individual unique? There are numerous skills, character traits, and knowledge domains that comprise a learner. Most current educational practices such as report cards or standardized test scores capture only a narrow picture of who we are.  We need a new framework for learning outcomes based on 21st century needs and state-of-the-art cognitive research. Electronic portfolios will enable the creation of an individual’s specific profile across the new measurements for learning. They will help learners better track, manage, and represent their learning and level of competence. They will be critical for representing what one has learned and what one can do.   

Online Education Will Be the Next 'Bubble' To Pop, Not Traditional University Learning - Forbes

Interesting Forbes article on higher ed and MOOCs. The author astutely points out that college is not about what is learned but is about the status of the brand. What he does not realize is that new “Status Brands” will emerge to compete with the existing on campus status brands. Think the TechStars and Y Combinator brands vs. the traditional business school brands. Here is the money quote from the article:

"when parents spend a fortune on their children’s schooling they’re not buying education; rather they’re buying the ‘right’ friends for them, the right contacts for the future, access to the right husbands and wives, not to mention buying their own (“Our son goes to Williams College”) status."