3 Big Ideas

Traveling around DC today having interesting conversations about three emerging topics in learning:
1. As frequently mentioned here at EdReformer, content embedded assessment will be the most important learning development of the decade.  Mining the flood of keystroke data for information about motivation and persistence will yield the most important lessons of the decade.  Extracting these lessons will take new collaborations of researchers and data analysts from the casual game space.
2. Comprehensive and portable student learning profiles will sit in a social layer outside formal education so that 1)parents can  manage privacy protections, 2) variables including demographics and interests can be included, and 3) before/after school, tutoring, and summer providers can contribute and benefit from the profile.
3. Competence-based learning, (where students are promoted based on performance not time) as promoted by alternative schools, virtual schools, and credit-recovery programs will prove to be a key reform lever because it will:

  • break the classroom construct for staffing and scheduling and force institutions to deal with individual students
  • enable tiered team staffing with the right people doing the right job, regardless of where they are located
  • demonstrate that without seat time barriers and with engaging learning experiences most students can learn faster
  • money follows the student to the best learning option

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Jennifer Job tr

I think this is brilliant! Hospitals and the military have known for decades that triage is successful--we need it in education as well, matching the right people and resources to the right children. However, how do you overcome the socialization that age-based promotion has? I would think parents and students would worry about their students' not "keeping up". We had a huge backlash when we tried something similar at the last high school I taught--students tend to hold their "classes" pretty dear.

Derek Luebbe

I'm a HS Principal, and I think your 3 ideas are great. The idea of content - embedded assessment is going to be a trend that helps to finally link the motivation of gaming with some of the more traditional classroom content. Why can't World of Warcraft incorporate history and other subjects?
I'd like to suggest a site called simCEO (www.simceo.org) which asks students to create and run businesses in an environment (time / place) that is created by the teacher. The teacher also gets to throw in news (real or fictional) to make students apply knowledge and make decisions in a competitive, yet cooperative environment. Right now, it's linked to the National Economics Standards, but it doesn't take much of a leap for teachers to find learning applications in history, math, science, geography, graphic design, etc.
The key is that these types of learning environments START with the primary purpose of engaging students in a stimulating environment and the content is then added in a way that makes it stick.

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