We found this great blog post by KnowledgeWorks CEO Chad Wick at National Journal and are running it again here. It’s a good reminder that technology is pushing our education system to change the way it participates in the same communities its learners participate in and that entrepreneurs need to support ways to partner with learners every step of their learning lives.

The blog posts of my colleagues about last week’s i3 awards run the gamut, from saying the awards appropriately funded innovation, to saying the awards poured more money into what looks like traditional, proven education strategies.

In some way or another, these commentators and many others have been talking for a long time, trying to define what education innovation looks like and how to integrate it into the mainstream. That is important and in fact we need to create a whole new lexicon that would allow us to move away from using old words and meanings to describe a learner-centered system.

But while all the rhetoric and wrangling goes on, the world of learning isn’t going wait for us to come to some agreement about what it will look like. Parents who don’t like the antiquated way their kids are taught “permutations and combinations” are not bothering to contact the school; they are already going to YouTube for multiple and expert approaches to this and virtually all other kinds of content.

We’ve all seen and probably experienced the change from showing up at the doctor’s office and accepting the proverbial “take an aspirin and go to bed” prescription, to aggressively taking direct ownership of our health. We just don’t depend on the system anymore — we guide our care directly. Why do we think we would not ultimately seek to guide our own learning as well? It’s arrogant to assume that people are just going to wait until the “elites” figure this out.

To borrow a term used by the Army War College, in many ways, this isn’t the world in which we grew up. It is a VUCA world, meaning it is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and our kids will be challenged in many new and unpredictable ways. It is essential that the new education system is equipped to meet the changes that are inevitably headed our way like a tsunami.

That’s one of the reasons KnowledgeWorks partnered with the Institute for the Future a few years back to create two ground-breaking education forecasts.

First, we launched the 2006-2016 Map of Future Forces Affecting Education. Later, we built upon the Map and extended our research with the2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning. These tools don’t predict the future of education. They do, however, provide guidance on the future based on key drivers of change that will shape our lives and emphasize the importance of powerful learning.

They show a future where learning will be mobile and constant as technology proliferates, where cradle-to-career partnerships become more important to support learners in all segments of their lives, and where learners must be able to think critically and work collaboratively to solve complex problems.

So while we talk about it, the tsunami is rolling toward us.

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