There are lots of big ideas floating around the rarified Aspen air in the summertime.  I’m speaking with a group of thought leaders today about the future of learning.  The specific focus of investigation today is, “can we shift a portion of the time young people spend  on entertainment/media to productive learning activities?”

I like this question because it is bold but bounded.  It is central to reverse the dumbing of America which lacks the universal academic press of more academically successful countries and emerging economies.

Shifting a quarter of young people’s media time to productive activity could amount to a 50% increase in productive learning time for some students—a super cost effective extended day/year strategy.

Here’s three potential answers to the ‘time shift’ question:

1) Quasi-compulsory edutainment.  It’s hard to compete with the graphic engagement of World of Warcraft and Halo, but with a bit of encouragement from parents, a portion of student time can be shifted to almost as interesting and far more productive online activities.  Developers have to walk a fine line—enough educational value for mom, enough entertainment for junior.   Early phone/tab app sales indicate that developers are finding the zone.

2) Flipped classroom playlist.  As Chris Sturgis described in an edReformer blog, it’s increasingly possible for teachers to push content delivery to guided homework allowing classroom time to be spend problem solving and working in teams.  Read the Flipped Classroom series from Bergman and Sams.

3) Blended CBOs.  Next week, I’m attending The After School Corporation meeting titled Where the Kids Are: Digital Learning In & Out of School Time.  Between community based organizations (CBOs), schools, and mobile tech, we should be able to invent new ways to extend the learning day/year  in affordable and scalable ways.


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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.



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