Free, Mobile, Clouds and Other Innovation Topics

We can’t reform our way to the education our kids need for their future.  The gap between what they need and what our Bismarckian schools can produce is widening.  This is a problem of obsolesce not effort or intent (at least in most places).  Telling one teacher to differentiate instruction for 30 (or 150) students with no tools is silly.  Assuming that all kids will gain a year in 170 five-hour days is just as silly.
The good news is that change is coming—and fast.  It looks like 2009 will go down as the inflection point for mobile living.  Maybe 2012 will be the inflection point for mobile learning. There is a flood of talent and investment (philanthropic and return seeking) into the learning sector.  At the planning session for the ASU Education Innovation Summit, Michael Moe showed statistics that suggest that venture capital investments will double (deals and dollars) from 2009 to 2011.  There has already been $9 billion in mergers and acquisitions this year, more than double the activity of two years ago.  I’m sure the philanthropic figures show similar growth.
Reflecting on the big trends, I think customized learning will do the most to boost achievement.  Mining the flood of keystroke data, we’ll learn a great deal in the next few years about engagement and motivation.
The most important and challenging implication for schools in the coming years will be the shift from cohorts to competency.  Allowing students to move at their own pace challenges how we think about funding, staffing, and managing schools.  (See iNACOL reports on competency-based learning below.)
Two weeks ago I wrote about 7 things I’d include in an innovation conference (with a focus on secondary schools) including breakouts on motivation, matriculation, math—flipped and blended, more writing, and making the most of post-secondary choices.  Other topics that deserve consideration at an innovation conference include:

  • Free radicals: new business/sustainability models
  • P2P who?: certification of informal and peer-to-peer learning
  • Premium cable: bundling the new prep school experience
  • Cloud ecosystems: platforms and all that that implies
  • Mobile global: will the U.S. import low cost blends? (no, we don’t mean coffee)
  • Growing people: new PD strategies, new roles as learning professionals.
  • Big steps: public-private partnerships

As discussed yesterday, ASU is playing a leadership role in education innovation on campus and through convening.  The April summit will fill up fast, so sign up early.  In the mean time, tell us what you’re talking about.
For more on competency-based learning, see these iNACOL resources

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.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.