Juliette LaMontagne

Founder & CEO, Breaker


This conversation is closed.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of learning models that exist outside of traditional educational institutions?

With the growing number of alternative learning pathways and opportunities to better serve the needs of individual students, what's working best? And what can we learn from the failures and tensions? Where and how have the models in the margins effectively disrupted the status quo?

I'll add to the conversation my current initiative, Breaker - driving alternative learning and social innovation by mobilizing interdisciplinary teams of young creative collaborators to design product solutions to global challenges.

This Live Conversation will start on Feb. 15, 2012, 1:00pm EST/ 10:00am PST

  • Feb 15 2012: I think just like different teachers teach different ways, so goes the system of education. We all learn things different ways. Some can grasp concepts by reading then doing, others by doing making a mistake and then understanding why that mistake occurred thus learning that way. I think classroom teaching is good for general overall topic discussions and presentations. However, I feel with so many flavors of learning, how can we judge a child by not grasping onto a concept or lesson taught in a way that's not suited to their comprehension style? I have a 7 year old, and I find that children love the concept of learning on computers, but most of their state and district comprehension tests occur with paper and pencil. We've found that the concepts are learned, but presenting what they have learned in a different format affects their outcome. (Translation: Kids are learning by computer, but testing is done with pencil and paper over the same thing but they are failing because the question and testing is presented differently.) Same thing occured when kids had to count using money. On paper, they could do math with drawn images of money and make change. But if you gave them real money and asked them do the same thing, they freak out because the presentation is different. I'd like to hear other people's thoughts. Hopefully, I'm not off topic here.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: there are wonderful learning pedagogies practised in India, here we should see how Vigyan Ashram is working towards learning by doing and thus encouraging enterprise driven learning.
    This i believe will help in building more resourceful, entrepreneurial, responsible individuals
    here is the link: http://www.vigyanashram.com/
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: By doing what? Are you trying to attempt this sort of pedagogy?:

      ‎"Students should be made to grapple with the material and receive authentic and explicit practice in thinking like an expert. Faculty would need to provide timely and specific feedback, and move beyond lectures in which students can sit passively receiving information... We assume that telling people things without asking them to actively process them results in learning."
      - Carl Wieman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

      If so, how?
    • Feb 15 2012: I agree. We try to recruit people with a basic level of competency but who learn quickly and pay them a basic salary, in trade they get hands on learning doing research contracts. This provides an alternative to student debt and gives the student a better starting point for future opportunities.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Thanks for the link Ravi. I'm learning more about it now. I feel we have some similar thinkings. Check out www.theremixproject.ca when you get a chance.
  • Feb 15 2012: TED talks educate me, im dylexic 17, and learn more from an 18 minuite talk than i can all day at college taking notes.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Completely agree with this!

      Would you agree that we learn a lot more from respectable people than those who teach us how to get degrees so we can teach?

      nice one sophie.
    • Feb 15 2012: Hi Sophie:

      My son is dyslexic, dysgraphic, and other dys's. We just moved to Vancouver BC to attend the Eaton Arrowsmith school which uses cognitive exercises to create processing capabilities. Check out their web site. The program goes through high school, and there is an adult program, too.

      And to your point about the extraordinary educational value of TED, absolutely! It sounds like you are a strong auditory and narrative learner, which are great assets. Best of luck to you.
    • Feb 15 2012: The very format of TED nearly demands this to be true.
      The presenters are experts in their field and they have a very limited time to project their idea's on to their audience.

      I think the TED format could structure a school all on it's own
      (similar and complementary to something like the khan academy)
  • Feb 15 2012: What are your thoughts on Montessori Education? My kids go to a Montessori School and the education tools and philosophy seem to me to be far superior to ANYTHING I've looked at. These kids learn to LOVE education, learn self-discipline and are self discovering. My kids love school and Montessori allows kids to fully explore subjects with teaching methods that use all the senses. It is experiential learning, not teaching to a test or memorization. Kids can go way ahead of their class level if they desire and at a young age are responsible for planning their work day and sticking to their own schedules. I've seen nothing else out there that prepares kids for the creative and social problem solving this world demands. I hear educators on radio, etc. struggling to come up with curriculum and new teaching methods to address problems in education. Montessori has been around for years and I never hear them speak of it.
  • Feb 15 2012: Schools cannot function without parents participating in the education process at home. I don't think parents can rely on a system or teacher to educate their child. It is "in addition to". The general expecation seems to be that you send your child to be educated and yourparticipation is limited. On theother hand, there is so much money wrapped up in education, I don't think participation outside of the normisterribly encouraged.
  • Feb 15 2012: I see, it's an online chat! I am a homeschooling mom with a 4th grader and a 1st grader. Definitely what I have learned is that I can tailor what we are learning to my kids' strengths and weaknesses. I was appalled at the (limited) amount of math my son was doing when he was in 1st grade in the public schools--it helped me see why the U.S. lags behind other nations in this area (and this was in a very strong public school district!)
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: How will you attempt to teach your son those things that you're not an expert on? (i.e. Chemistry, Physics, Biology... maybe you are an expert in all of these subjects though!)
      • Feb 15 2012: I've found that encouraging the child to read anything and everything can be one approach, and finding friends with expertise in other fields is another method. I'd also like to say, though, that not every subject has to be "taught" or has to be taught at an early age. Many of these subjects can be picked up during the high school age, or in college, with no detriment to the student.
      • Feb 15 2012: I dont think one needs lot of knowledge to teach a 1st grader through 5-6 grade...
        • Feb 15 2012: What a great opportunity to learn with them!
      • Feb 15 2012: If you have a public library nearby, you certainly have access to more than enough information. Plus, if the child learns how to find information themselves, the parent not only does not need to know every fact themselves, but can actually learn from the child and learn with the child! For instance, librarians, encyclopediae and dictionaries, reference books, the children's non-fiction section, etc.
      • Feb 15 2012: The Basics of chemistry (for example) can be taught through cooking, Physics by dropping a ball, etc. To live a healthy life you wouldn't need to know more then that unless it's relevant to you're interests/work.
        As it stands now, most school systems burden the students to learn skills that
        a) they have no interest in
        b) will never use

        while many specialized subjects will b required over time, finding the experts to teach them will be more effective because at that point the student will desire to learn more, rather then having something irrelevant (to their life and planned projection) shoved down their throat.

        maybe someone knows the real number, but I understand somewhere >50% of graduates work in a field completely unrelated to their field of study. this is a waste to time and resources, no to mention the mockery of the system it suggests.
      • Feb 15 2012: You can listen to an interview with Barb Lundgren (bottom right), who speaks on homeschooling/unschooling her three children. Might answer your questions a bit: http://www.rethinkingeverything.net/#!__about-barb
      • Feb 15 2012: I'm just taking it a year at a time, and I'm not assuming that homeschooling is the best solution for all my kids--we'll just see how it goes! But my friends who do homeschool through high school have found effective alternatives in subject matters such as the sciences--community or local colleges that welcome homeschoolers, etc. There are definitely ways to do it if you are committed for the long haul. I also love that we can spend time focusing on areas of special interest, such as my fiction-writing son who churns out thousands of words every day. I don't think he would have the freedom or time to dabble in these interests as a public school student. There are inherent strengths and weaknesses of all these educational models and every child is different; I think the key is not to just assume that public school is the best for everyone, all the time.
      • Feb 15 2012: There are experts that can be called upon to help a parent educate their own child. There are also charter schools that provide such expert help. While the parent is responsible for the core education of the child, the school is there as a back-up resource. A parent can teach their child if they are committed enough.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: We have been home schooling for a few years as well. We also love being able to tailor our children's education to focus on their strengths and passions, while recognizing weakness in certain areas and individual learning preferences. Instead of wasting hours on busy work, we are able to maximize the use of our time the children spend. We can keep them engaged and challenged and push them in areas we feel they need it. We can control the pace - accelerating or pausing as needed.

      As far as teaching them advanced subjects, there are many options out there available to the home school community. Private tutors or home school hybrid programs are just two options. The latter becoming more and more popular every year. Also, some private schools allow home school students to attend classes in the higher grades.

      All that said, home school isn't the right solution for everyone. However, it has been most advantageous for our family. We take it very seriously. We aren't a family that sets school on cruise control and call running errands a "class".
    • Feb 15 2012: Post-secondary education (aka taking college classes while still a highschooler) is a great option for some - and the classes count toward college later, too.
  • Feb 15 2012: What I find works best (I teach junior college Sociology/Psychology) is challenging the students to rethink common assumptions, and then discussions which integrate course themes and real world events. It seems clear that students learn what they need to learn and what they want to learn...
    ... what they need is to pass the class.
    ... what they want is what feeds their innate curiosity about themselves and the world.

    So I make what they need to pass the class a development and expression of curiosity about the way they think and the way they view the world.
    • Feb 15 2012: Right, challenge the assumptions. If you ask them what they can do with a paper clip, they should be asking you how big is the paper clip and what is it made out of vs. defining 5 or 10 things that can be done based on learned constraints.
      • Feb 15 2012: As a teacher who is just starting off her career with younger children, at what age can we start nurturing this concept of exploration and curiosity in a classroom without misleading or misguiding them?
        • Feb 15 2012: I don't think there is an age that you have to wait for. Explanation and curiosity is what will lead them to be passionate about learning. I would imagine that you personally would need to find the right balance for your situation, but why not nurture as much as you can as often as you can?
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: David - good point - this is divergent thinking isn't it - the chance to explore and create rather than jump through hoops and climb ladders....
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Very well said. I definitely dig your perspective and methodology.
  • Feb 15 2012: I apologize for coming into the conversation late, however, I believe I can direct many of you toward a valuable resource. Tufts Unversity Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development have been studying these issues for some time now. Most recently they have released results of a study funded by the National 4-H Council which are highly informative and provide traditional education and other youth development efforts plenty to learn. http://ase.tufts.edu/iaryd/researchPositive4H.htm

    The “Big Three” features of effective youth-serving programs are:
    ■ Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults.
    ■ Activities that build important life skills( and lead to mastery in some areas)
    ■ Opportunities for youth to use these life skills as both participants and as leaders in valued community activities.

    Few educational opportunities provide even these three features. The sooner they do, the better off we'll be.
  • Feb 15 2012: If we treat our children's education as life education, our focus changes from teaching them the information to simply pass tests to teaching them how to excel in life. A 14-year old who is studying animal husbandry to become a vet, a 12-year old who is studying building and carpentry to become a general contractor, or a 15-year old who studies avionics in order to fly for a missionary organization, or a 16-year old who is graduating from college with his Associates so that he can go to a university for pre-med en route to becoming a sports chiropractor... These are the results, not barely-literate children who are more interested in partying and getting drunk than getting ahead in life.
  • Feb 15 2012: Slightly off topic but I think there are two things we need before we can achieve what I believe to be the purpose of this question: to develop a better, new, educational system.

    Firstly, we need to know what is the aim of an education. Knowledge? Human-qualities? Experience? Intelligence? and what balance of these skills?

    Secondly, we need a place to amalgamate all these innovative educational models and test them against that basic metric of skills.

    When we have those two we can look at what aspects of which models deliver what results and by taking the best of all models we can deliver a new, evolved educational system.

    Just an idea worth spreading.

    p.s. Thanks for the brilliant conversation idea.
    • Feb 15 2012: can education make someone more intelligent?

      That may be true at early developmental ages, but I seriously doubt it's true at higher ed.

      I see many companies that require higher ed degrees in fields and jobs that don't need or benefit from more knowledge. Add to that the fact that higher ed is going to be teaching stale information, and it becomes even less valuable.

      I think there's a lot of percepetion out there that college makes people smarter, and forcing employees to go to college will improve the workforce. But if you're getting the same employees, 4 years later than you would've, is it work the huge price tag?

      A lot of higher ed is not directly relevant to basic job skills that one learns on the job. Of course that's not true for fields that require lots of CONTENT knowledge, but is probably true for many jobs that require intellegence and creative thinking.

      I think some people (and our economy) would be better served to start work earlier, and then with context and real tangible problems (and potential solutions) in mind, take some higher education in a directed way.
  • Feb 15 2012: I am a computer science student at Stanford where recently there has been a lot of excitement about automated, online education in the style of Khan Academy with the formation of Udacity and Coursera. Many of the professors teaching this style of class now make the online video segments the primary source of material for the course and try to instead have a few interactive sessions throughout the quarter. I've had two classes in this format so far and, while I found the videos very well done (i.e. they cover the material incredibly efficiently), I think it would have been difficult to keep up with the material if I didn't also have a real community of students that I was participating in the class with.

    Do you think these online classes can address the individual needs of large groups of students? Do you think students will feel invested in classes they take in this format? To what extent do you think these models will replace traditional models of education?
    • Feb 15 2012: dont you think that education is more than just knowledge? from my point of view this models cant replace traditional models because the human relationship, the mentoring and human contact are main variables when you are trying to teach a student
      • Feb 15 2012: Yea, I suppose I was driving more at: do you think this kind of mentoring and contact can be effectively achieved using these new models? For example, if students have a mentor, but only can communicate with that mentor through an online interface will they be missing out on a lot of what traditional education offers?
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: I think part of the problem with traditional models is the barriers to building a mentoring/teaching relationship with one's teachers because the trad'l model is a one-size-fits-all let's force feed these kids knowledge all day and see which one's retain it.

        It produces average students. But the system is built on averages. And bell curves. Creating bell curves. That's all IQ tests and any standardized tests are! I say let's break the bell curve!
        • Feb 15 2012: I mostly agree, but it raises a new question, what happens with local development plans? and regional strategies and national policies? they all need at least some basic standard knowledges
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: I am a student on Human Computer interaction and are currently working on a project that deals with collaboration and the game-ification of education. I would love to get your perspective on how education. Specifically:

    Can game technology be used to make the system of education more fun, engaging, and valuable?
    How would such a “gameful” classroom be structured?

    If you want to participate in our discussion, here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/rit-edu

    How do we begin to implement this new system? What would the 1, 5, and 10 year plans be for creating a new, more engaging system of education?

    Thank you,
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: game-based learning is a rapidly expanding market in the UK - take a look at I am Learning www.iamlearning.com - real potential with handheld devices too and development of screen technologies.....
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: Franco, that is a great lecture on gamification of education.. I will definitely use this in our research.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Gaming is a great example of learning that has disrupted the mainstream. There are dangers here, for sure. But if we're going to create indiv learning environments online, they should use the principles of game design.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: yes, lots of focus on immersive game play.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: Everyone says gaming is great for education, but WHY!? I have my own theories, largely informed by psychology and a recent New Media Workshop I attended on "Gaming and Theories of Play."
      • Feb 15 2012: Here is one online educational website that I at Borderless Educations, built for a company. We can deliver thousands of those and tailor them with your own brand or content. www.berewarding.com

        This platform is what we offer, where you learn in a fun way, share what you know so others can teach, and we pay you each time you learn.

        Right now we are scaling up to have thousands of classrooms, which will all share a database so you can "tap into" current knowledge. Be sure to contact me if you'd like an online classroom for your students, kids, or programs.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: I think that the link provided by Franco Phang provides some great examples on how gaming can be used to increase engagement by students. Engagement, or lack thereof, being the greatest cause of student school failure in the current educational paradigm, in my opinion
      • Feb 15 2012: I agree. Our biggest challenge is driving acceptance and adoption, and a 'target achievement' and 'level' based design, using some aspects of game design theory would be fantastic. We've been working on developing some models here at University18 (an indian online university initiative that works with about 6000 student worldwide), and have realized that driving self study using this approach works!
        So when you say 'individual learning environment' Juliette, I get THAT!
        Personally i'd like to build in interactivity into the system, rather than depend upon the 'crowd' to provide it.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: I think gaming is just one aspect of education - like anything else we offer as educators - it is just one of the tools we can employ. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer then every problem is going to look like a nail. Teachers should be given the freedom to use their expertise and professional judgement to draw the best out of students and lead them towards a lifelong passion for learning. Having a variety of tools available to achieve this is heading towards nirvana......
      • Feb 15 2012: There is something to be said for focusing on how they want to learn vs how we decide they should be learning. How do we capitalize on nature and not subsume it?
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: If anyone wants to participate in our discussion, here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/rit-edu. Your perspectives would be greatly appreaciated. :)
    • Feb 15 2012: Hi, currently Borderless Educations operates a "game" like learning platform which is free and open for others to use to teach and or learn. Is this something you're interested in? We also reward education gamers with points which are converted to $ for scholarships, books, fundraisers.
    • Feb 15 2012: I think this concept was solidified when the first "Little Professor" Texas Instrument calculator came out.

      What the "gaming" concept provides is the a sense of (level) accomplishment instead of just a letter grade. I think the Leap Pad and other electronics companies have seen vast improvement when learning is turned into a video game. I'm concerned about the bastardization of it when it's tied into corporate characters (such as Disney and Pokemon, etc..). However, it's a catch-22, it's those character that allow the child to be open to learning and using that particular video game because of the cartoon character affiliation. That is what worries me a bit. But if it's Micky, Piccachu, Batman, or any character, if it does a better job teach my kids math, science, literature, or english, then i could care less about the presentation as long as the goal of learning is achieved.
    • Feb 15 2012: I'm honestly not sold on the idea of learning via computer. I think some children - and adults - do better with real interaction, demonstrations, and hands-on learning. That said, making it less dry is certainly the way to go.
      • Feb 15 2012: The fact that almost every job today involves using a computer, it has become a necessity for students to learn how to use them, to learn how to learn using them....don't you think so too?
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Would point out that gaming doesn't need to be a digital experience to be effective.

      http://thegameofvillage.org/ shows the utility applying math and social studies in a real-time/non-virtual game environment.
    • Feb 15 2012: Gaming can definitely make learning more fun. Without a doubt.

      The real question however should be whether gaming can be used to teach long-term qualities such as being able to make yourself learn at a job when it would be no longer "fun".

      One must remember games are extrinsic motivators and they may or may not teach students qualities such as grit and perseverance.
  • Feb 15 2012: If you are interessted in the testimonial of an grownup Unschooler, that is my story and my job to tell about it.
    André Stern
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: i am more and more interested in exploring ways in which to bring learning closer to the life of the individual participant in a community of other learners. There are ways using web 2.0, u-learning and MOOCs etc that could tap more into the life of the learner. For example, being at home and discovering mould on a wall I could, (if I wanted to!) ask this to be a "project" within a MOOC and I research about mould and know more about science etc. This "project" ould be shared and contributed to and I would ultimately draw some conclusions (more questions!) about this and would have learned to learn in something that is part of my own everyday life experience - and possibly all done on a mobile phone!

    it would cover any assessment criteria and contribute to others learning too...

    apologise for the mould on the wall idea, maybe its a poor metaphor for condensation and education....
  • Feb 15 2012: I would love to see self directed learning centers pop up all over the place.

    the students can learn from online teachers (solo or in class setting) from a variety of different places, participate in both 'real live' and streaming debates, and collaborate with other self directed students to allow both the simple and require socialization, while still being exposed to unconsidered ideas.

    Boxing yourself into a certain way of seeing things I feel is a real issue with home based education, but public self directed learning centers would allow both the self direction and un-thought-of injections of talent.
  • Feb 15 2012: At Eaton Arrowsmith School in Vancouver BC children not served by traditional educational environments (those labeled as gifted, dyslexic, dyscalculiac, etc) use cognitive exercises to build new neurological capacity. Norman Doidge, in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, devoted a chapter to Barbara Arrowsmith and her methods.

    Neuroscience, particularly with the advent of the FMRI, is providing unassailable evidence of how the brain learns and how the brain can change. Would that current educational models were as plastic as our brains.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Yes, but I think there's a real danger to always looking through this lens... You lose sight of the student, the person in front of you, when you're always talking about their brain.

      That said, the brain has so much plasticity and flexibility, and that's exactly what education needs too!
  • Feb 15 2012: Newer and more prevalent technologies such as mobile phones are providing an interesting source of educational tools outside of classrooms making learning more inclusive, especially in emerging markets where often traditional learning is not as accessible. Projects such as the BBC WST Janala in Bangladesh have reached millions of people helping them to learn English.
  • Feb 15 2012: Hi Everyone! I work at university in Guatemala and we have a lot of challenges . One of them is about the alternative models and methodologies to improve learning and I very excitingo to know what are the lessons learned related to this topic
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: I'm pretty sure we are supposed to be having the conversation amongst ourselves. The topic is just presented and hosted by Juliette. So let's talk! Already so many brilliant minds in here.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: A story: a young woman recently contacted me. She'd taken a year off from college to create her own self-directed year of learning and asked if I would serve as her advisor. Her "syllabus" was filled with travel, books, and on-line engagements. My first bit of advice to her was to use the International Studies Schools Network's Global Leadership Performance Outcomes as a guiding document. Framing her experiences as a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates her mastery of these global leadership characteristics gives potential employers an accessible means of interpreting a wide range of inputs and their value.
    • Feb 15 2012: Eventually she could go here: http://www.saylor.org/ And later here: http://mitx.mit.edu/

      These initiatives are bringing curators from higher education to the massive open learning repositories now available.
      This structure will allow for credibility through certification. Eventually I will be able to collect certificates in the same way I take courses at a traditional institution.
      Advantages: cost, more freedom of choice in what to learn and when
      Disadvantages: less credibility, lack of social learning and group learning- critical to any education
    • Feb 15 2012: I have a comment related to creating "portfolios" as a means of documenting work.

      I'm in my fourth year at Hampshire College in Massachusetts (www.hampshire.edu). Among the many non-traditional elements of Hampshire's educational structure (eg, written evaluations instead of grades, individualized concentrations instead of majors), the one that stands out strongest to me is our unique "credit" system. After each year, students meet with their academic advisors (who are professors in the student's field of interest) and go through the portfolio of work the student compiled. This portfolio can include anything. For me, my portfolios have included essays I had written with professors' comments, professors' written evaluations from each class I had taken, a personal retrospective, posters I had designed for offices and student groups, documentation of internships held over the summer, work I completed as a leader of student groups, and independent projects I carried out while abroad. Instead of passing students because they've taken classes that earn them a certain number of credits, professors deem students eligible to continue based on a wide variety of work that the student has done both inside and outside the classroom. This encourages students to pursue and devote time to whatever they are interested in learning. Hampshire believes that students learn best when they're learning about things they're passionate about.

      I devoted so much time and energy to helping to organze TEDxHampshireCollege last fall because (1) I was passionate about it and (2) because I knew it would be recognized by my advisors as a relevant and important element of my education.

      There's lots about Hampshire that I think make it a unique and special place. This is just an example.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: It OK to discuss which models etc. but what is more important is the space given to formative assessment in any one of these models. For example, in a MOOC, Blended or traditional classroom setting formative assessment (assessment for learning) is still the most valuable space for (life-long) learning to happen.

    Formative assessment holds within all aspects of motivation, pace, peer group work etc - the very essence of developing the love of and how to learn.

    Whatever model is designed at any stage or context, formative assessment is the key, as the very use of it helps us know how to develop new models of learning, or new communities of pedagogy.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: are these based on assessment tasks? What does it look like? portfolio work?
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: summative assessment criteria does cast its dark shadow over the process yes, and this is the framework in which a group of educators would be as pedagogically creative as possible to reach these goals. However, summative assessment happens every week, two weeks or 6 months for example., whereas formative assessment is the in-the-moment assessment by a teacher so that the learning taking place can be properly paced, thrown-out(!) re-grouped, etc. Dylan Wiliam (and Black) has done much work in the past 10 years on this. Its very inspiring to know ore about (assessment FOR learning than assessment OF learning) however, to do probably brings into question how creative or resourceful an individual teacher/learner/community can be.

        A portfolio of work is awesome where the learner has gained a good push into doing/solving a problem. but ultimately this portfolio succumbs to an assessment OF learning. All of the above is based on what I see as a traditional setting for learning.

        With new spaces online, or blended, seem not to consider such change of learning pace, motivation ALL OF LEARNING (where formative assessment is the catalyst) in their models. Its a if no-one has stopped to ask where learning happens in the Y-generation (or Alpha!) and where learning actually is - its in the very moment of discovery, as an immersed experience, closed to the life value of that individual facilitated by an educator or a team of educators who share the learning experience. Who do not know the "answers" and change the framework of learning based on the learning taking place at that moment.

        It should happen faster than any app can do it :)
  • Feb 15 2012: I was homeschooled all my life, using a semi-structured, semi-unschooled method. I am currently a successful graduate student, so I'd like to say that alternate methods can certainly work for some people.
    • Feb 15 2012: What was it like for you to enroll in higher education? And have to deal with grades, curriculums, lectures etc?
      • Feb 15 2012: I'm not Sally, but I homeschool my kids and my husband who is in grad school equates homeschooling (the way we are doing it, anyway) with college style education -- more self-directed, mastery learning, goal oriented, etc. I'm confident they'll have much less shock adapting when they go on to higher ed. One kid is planning on being a doctor with Doctors without Borders, one a research scientist, and one undecided as of yet. She's two. She's got time ;-)
  • Feb 15 2012: I can only see questions- no answers.
  • Feb 15 2012: As a parent who unschools/ homeschools I am curious what you think about child directed learning in which reading and math are not tackled till the child asks or starts the work on those subject by themselves?
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: I believe Amanda that there needs to be a balance in communication between an individual child, children in a group and with an educator. It seems as what you describe is a rule that governs learning. This in my mind is unbalanced because of learning should be a shared experience, so therefore questions should be from all angles/parties (trying to avoid the terms sides here!).
      • Feb 15 2012: You cannot use social conditioning and expect to develop a real sense of self and independence. This is absolutely necessary! Our greatest thinkers were against the norm.
    • Feb 15 2012: I'm all for child directed learning, but that doesn't mean that it is child dictated. The parent still has the authority to introduce new topics. Also, since when is reading a "subject"? I think that reading can be very fun, and encouraging the child by reading to them and by making library visits will mean that the child may grow to enjoy reading on their own... and then they will have access to all sorts of information. As for mathematics, I did not formally do any math workbooks until I was 10 or 11. I went through a phase where I hated math (I was a teenager) but my parents insisted I keep doing it... And I'm now a math tutor at the college level. So I would say, don't worry too much. Guidance and encouragement, and lots of fun books, were the solution that worked for me.
    • Feb 15 2012: I do think, however, that kids will often avoid areas that are difficult or challenging for them.

      Providing incentives for them to work those areas can help them to find a way to overcome challenges.

      Kids simply do not have the maturity to understand at aged 8 that these skills will be necessary in adulthood and that they should do it. We, as adults can see that, and it is our responsibility to help them.
    • Feb 15 2012: My child learns in this way. She will tackle a subject until she is "satiated" and then moves on to the next subject. She allows herself to be guided in her studies by her teachers/parents but for her own education, she studies one subject or time period until she feels she has enough or her questions have been answered.

      I love the depth that she puts into her studies. It definitely gives her more than a "surface" understanding of her subject. But I'm also grateful that she would allow others to guide her studies so that she is well rounded. She doesn't have as much depth in those subjects that she hasn't chosen but her education is adequate to the need.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: Interested to hear the answers to Trevor's questions. I also would love to hear about Breaker when the time is right in the conversation. (hi!)
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: What educational paradigms are these models based on? I'm the Admissions Director of a new brain-based school in Westport, CT, and recently graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Psychological & Brain Sciences. We're applying the latest psychology and neuroscience in the classroom.
    • Feb 15 2012: Hi Trevor:

      Can you tell me more about your brain-based program? My son is currently attending Eaton Arrowsmith (affiliated with Arrowsmith Toronto) in Vancouver BC.

      Thank you. Please feel free to reply offline.

      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: Hi Colleen!

        I tried to send you a message via TED's internal e-mail service, but it wouldn't go through! I would love to carry on this conversation with you. My e-mail is trevor.g.king@gmail.com.

        I hope to hear from you!
    • Feb 15 2012: What is it about? "brain-based school"
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: Let me give you an example... A recent WSJ article highlighted that teens' reward centers (their accumbens) is more active than other age groups and more easily stimulated by the presence of peers.

        This can help explain the power of peer pressure.

        And it explains why traditional high schools are largely producing homogeneous classes of students that conform to the status quo.
    • Feb 15 2012: @Trever, that sounds Incredible!
      I wanted to ask, how and how often are you studying an individual student's brain and what sorts of metrics does the data you gather measure? Is this data then used to personalize a child's learning? Or is it being used to improve the Brain-based school environment itself?
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: We assess students at the beginning and end of each term, or, if warranted, more frequently. We measure multiple intelligences and some self-constructs that we believe are valuable or useful. The main data we publish to the public are score increases for standardized tests. We have the highest average increase of an ed. company for the SAT (avg. increase of 340 points) and ACT (avg. increase of 9 points).

        I would love to have access to an fMRI machine or any tool meant to measure some brain metric, but that doesn't quite fit into our budget just yet... :) I, personally, would LOVE for someone to come in and measure the plasticity of our students' brains and how that changes.

        The data is used to personalize a child's learning (a staple of our school is our ability to personalize and customize curriculums according to students' interests, strengths, and passions), thus creating a dynamic curriculum that's adaptable to the individual student. Our research and development department also performs analysis on aggregate samples of students.

        But the most useful feedback is the immediate and individualized feedback our students receive one-on-one from our teachers, all graduates of top ten colleges.
  • Feb 15 2012: I am very curious to see what people think. Has this conversation started?
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: I'm wondering that myself!
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Hey Trevor and Rebecca, you're in the Live Conversation now. Maybe you need to refresh the page to see the other comments?

      Welcome and remember to provide your answers to the question!
  • Feb 15 2012: If we look at historical trends, any model of the economy based strictly on human labor will not be succesful in the future. This is not to say that there won't be an element of physical labor in many people's jobs, but the any production process that can be broken down to static tasks (e.g. tasks that do not change over time), will continue to be automated.

    We can see our economy moving to be focused on a few key areas that machines/computers are not going to infringe on in the near future: Social interaction between people, creativity/problem solving and systems/general maintenance and managment.

    Key leadership positions within business/finance and government will still be focused on how best to maximize returns on resources, and acedemia will stil be focused on analysis and interpretation.

    There are probably a few other areas that people would want to include, but we have to accept that our current educational paradigm is not engaging students adequately enough paricularly in areas of decision making, applied analysis and creativity.

    I think one of the greatest challenges facing society in education is to come to grips with how to keep students from becoming bored. Hopefully that is changing.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: It is a balance. Some children respond very well to learning through games, and I would say that in the case of game of village it does actually teach the process of problem solving and interpersonal communications~ in general not things that turn up in a standardized test. But valuable nonetheless.
  • Feb 15 2012: As a Design and Technology teacher I am all for learning through experiment and modelling. This however is an extremely expensive subject and the current cost cutting in UK education limits my ability to encourage this creative and adventurous form of teaching and learning.
  • Feb 15 2012: I think that contemporary education is too weak on the field of emotions. If the real aim of the education system is to create strong and healthy, open-minded and dinamic people, we NEED to improve "emotional skills", just as we are educated to mathematical logic, scientific method and, in some lucky cases, to the perception of Beauty. When a person has a clear and mature perception of the world, gained through his strong rational abilities and his highly developed emotional skills, he is really able to live a full life, for him/herself and for others. And I think this is the most important thing.
    I believe that there are many good methods of education, and I believe that each one of those methods teaches directly or indirectly almost all of these things: love, compassion, beauty, joy of living, and to go deep in understanding the world. If is there a method that doesn't teach these things, it is not an education method.
  • Feb 15 2012: I believe there is tremendous value in non traditional education, but I also know that standardized testing - high quality, higher order thinking skills included testing, when results are published, holds everyone to a high standard. I have worked in two complete opposite situations, and without the testing, the school / system was not functioning nearly as well, and it shows in international rankings. Not all assessment and evaluation is equal - apples and oranges...

    I am all for alternative approaches, but they need to match the child / adult and their learning style. Some students need to learn much more hands on than schools typically are. They aren't dumb at all. They simply learn differently.

    We shortchange them when we expect all to learn the same way, AND especially when we accommodate. It's like killing with kindness to me. Shouldn't everyone have access to decent math, reading, and writing skills?
  • Feb 15 2012: When thinking about the non-traditional forms of education there are a lot of things to consider. Each student and family needs to determine what is best for the student. The traditional brick and mortar school has never been the best choice for all students. Just in the last 20+ years have families decided to make sure all kids are enrolled in the option that is best for them. When you put a child in a classroom, you automatically place limitations on what will be covered and allowed. Some traditional teachers are really amazing and can offer a classroom with very few limitations to learning and success, but not every child can function or find success in even the best environment.

    Schools by 2014 will be teaching common core standards, hopefully based on life application (project based learning, problem based learning). When you think you about what we want our students to learn, none of us would like to think that the state standards are our goal. We all want our kids to be productive members of society. Face it, the standards are bare minimum. So for the question of what qualifies as success, it should be looking at life problems/situations/projects and being able to formulate a plan to solve the issue at hand using the base level skills outlined in the standards. The hope is that creativity, invention, analysis, mediation, and evaluation will win out for the student.

    Without educational options we continue to confine kids to the limits traditional education places on both teachers and students.
  • Feb 15 2012: I believe that is vital to introduce in the education system new tools, new ways to teach, but I believe that homeschooling is not the answer. Kids need to socialize, to interact with other people other than their parents, How do you solve this?
    • Feb 15 2012: Homeschoolers do socialize. They have other homeschoolers in homeschool groups, but also participate in things like Scouting, church and community groups, art lessons, music lessons, community theater, etc. There are plenty of opportunities! This also means that the child can find people with similar interests. Help the child find community interest groups (like garden clubs, for instance) and they will have a varied peer group of people with all levels of knowledge and of all ages. This is a very healthy social interaction, and may also lead the child to find mentor figures in subject areas where the parent has less expertise.
    • Feb 15 2012: Kids can find socialization options is many places, Scouts, 4-H, club or Y sports, church, and neighborhood gatherings. Just because they do not go to a brick and mortar school does not mean that you keep them in a bubble away from all other students and adults.
    • Feb 15 2012: As someone who was homeschooled for 14 years I never ran into a problem with socialization. It's actually pretty funny to me that it's still an argument against homeschooling. I think that most home schooling parents feel a lot of pressure to insure that their children are social and have opportunities to play sports, have group outings, etc. The socialization argument was one of the most popular positions against homeschooling back when I was first starting in 1986! And from what I've seen in the NYT and elsewhere, it's still the main argument. Sure there are homeschooled kids that are awkward, but there are also public schooled kids that are awkward. Letting a few ill-adjusted products define this educational method is about as fair as allowing drug-addicted teens to stand as the model products of the public school system. All systems have flaws but I think they could each learn from one another and become stronger.
  • Feb 15 2012: My other question is wondering if catering to an easier path to learning teaches passivity? I'm not saying to ignore different people's strengths and weaknesses, but I question something like gaming being really effective instead of just encouraging passivity. Part of being successful in life is being able to fail and recover from that.
  • Feb 15 2012: Not to be an smart ass, but I think you should first try to define "traditional education" and do some research on how many "traditional schools" are there to see if that definition is fit or not, since many schools try to be innovative and to break the mold, and it has been so commonplace since the 90s that it could almost be defined as a new tradition on itself.
  • Feb 15 2012: There is no question that students can not grow beyond the foundations established in elementary school and built upon through life. Foundations in at least 10 disciplines that are interdisciplinary, comprehensive and fact-based are required for every student. Learning styles vary, but foundation education is essential. Those trying to kill comprehensive education and privatize schools for profit are destroying one of the best educational systems in the world.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: Hi Juliette,

    I'm currently enrolled in an arts college. I think there are benefits of the show and tell method of doing things and having other follow in your footsteps. I find it easy to learn like that. More of the self-research aspects of teaching instructors expect students to figure out are harder concepts that seem to make students go crazy. I think what works best is having a projector, to really be able to describe the process, and have the students follow along. I feel like reading criteria like workbook assignments are becoming more traditional in comparison to online research and digital homework.

    Thanks for reading,
  • Feb 15 2012: There is a strong need for innovation in schools and across education in general. I'm very concerned that schools do not meet the current needs of students who must be able to function in a world that is so very different from the one we've all grown up in. There are many constraints on both teaching and learning that ultimately take away from the true potential of students. Technology is a powerful tool that is rarely harnessed but even more importantly is the lack of focus on creative pursuits and real-world challenges. The ideal school for me would include several opportunities for play across the grade-levels, collaboration between similar and diverse ages of peers, community service, focus on solidifying basic skills, environmental connections and the Arts. The "Knowledge Economy" requires a different skill-set and we must enable individuals to be prepared for this. Through our company, IngeniousEd., we are hoping to find other visionaries and investors who want to put these ideas into reality! Traditional education had its time and now we must be creative and forward-thinking in our approach to both teaching and learning in the 21st century.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: My question has more to do with higher learning eligibility when you've home schooled. I am currently homeschooling and am concerned that if my daughter wants to attend a university, that she will not be able to. I feel that she has been better served in this option than any public school she's attended and is getting a much better education and is able to really focus on her strengths. I am concerned that her choices are limited. Can you comment on how higher education views home school? And what are her options?
    • Feb 15 2012: This depends on the college/university. My experience is that many colleges are willing to take a portfolio instead of a transcript. You may also consider working with a correspondence or charter school for the last few years of highschool to get the diploma.
      My siblings and I took the second route, but some of my younger sisters are taking the first route. The number of schools willing to take portfolios is going up and up - so contact the schools she's interested in, and see what their policies are! I never felt limited in my choices, and I never went to school until college. I'm now about to graduate with a master's degree (it worked for me) - so I have no doubt that she can succeed.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: Thank you, Sally. I home schooled my son as well but he went straight into the military. I am glad to know that her options aren't as limited as I thought.
        • Feb 15 2012: Hi Lisa,

          I was homeschooled in the '80s and '90s and had no trouble applying to universities then and it's only become easier as more people choose this option. Just keep detailed records and you'll be fine!
          It also helps to take some standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, and AP exams.
          All the best!
  • Feb 15 2012: would like to join
  • Feb 15 2012: Do you know of any schools that are currently using Peter Senge''s approach - Scools That Learn and the idea of systems thinking? We are researching on this topic currently and any best practice would be useful for out topic. Thanks!
  • Feb 15 2012: It seems to me that more learning can happen when a student has a burning interest and passion in a topic.

    A theoretical model would be:
    Students find topics on which they are passionate and /or wish to learn more.
    They research the topic on their own or guided by a teacher / mentor. (Researching the research that is available, making critical thinking judgements, summarizing condensing.etc)

    Then the students could share their research / findings and teach each other what they had learned.

    If there were a way to measure / grade this, I would think it would be based around acheivments. i.e. a student has done 40 hours worth of research, written a term paper... etc. Sort of like badges.

    That way a student could pick the subject (unlike in a traditional curriculum), but still gain the skills they are there to learn. And they could rack up hours of science, math, english, literature... content when subjects strike them as being relevant to them. That seems to be when really good efficient learning can happen, when a student is self motivated.
    • Feb 15 2012: I agree that self-motivation is a great way to learn, and that research is a great way to do it... that's how I've learned most of my life. But I would caution about the hours/term papers/etc. I had to count hours for a while when I was high-school aged, and it didn't feel like a reward. It felt like button counting. I'm sure that depends on the student, and how they are personally motivated, though. If this is within the usual school setting, though, and this is letting them break the mold a bit - buttons or no, go for it!
  • Feb 15 2012: I believe the current learning system is most certainly outdated. It is out of context, out of contact with the needs and interests of children (and parents) and is not viable on the long run as it has a low capacity of creating versatile, creative human beings. The sole reason for its standing in place is its economical efficiency (we must admit that literacy has greatly increased in the recent period of history). It however shows its limits even in this area, as mr. Sugata Mitra proved, especially in very poor areas. Some friends and I have started developing an organisation that will create learning programs for 6-10 yrs. old children in the shape of interactive, hands-on workshops for kids. We plan to discretely blend the academic curricula in workshops centered around building-construction-architecture. We seek the greatest degree of activity involving all the children senses, movement, thinking and intuitive learning. We find great inspiration in the words of people such as Sir Ken Robinson or Sugata Mitra as well as Maria Montessori. We have started with a repetitive workshop in which children build a realistic house. We were fascinated with the degree of interest and involvement of the children when they are in a situation of learning new things using their entire being. Would be greatly interested in knowing people involved in such projects or that have the background and interest of developing such programs.
  • Feb 15 2012: Here's a list of books that can help anyone on to a better vision of life:

    Families and how to survive them - Robin Skynner - John Cleese (healthy psychology)
    Life and how to survive them - Robin Skynner - John Cleese (healthy psychology)
    Summerhil School - A.S. Neill (non-traditional school, many lessons to be learned here)
    Brain Rules - John Medina (how the brain truly learns, and why classrooms are so outdated, and homework too)

    And basically any book that challenges your assumptions. I know certain sources can be frowned upon among certain people, but still, I would highly recommend everyone watches at least once the three Zeitgeist Movies, or if you don't like them for any reason, at least watch Doug Mallette's talk about a resource based economy in youtube, one that he recently gave in Oslo. It's important to evolve our thinking, not just worry if our child is going to pass an exam, where I also think that grades are absolutely ridiculous, but without judgment, it's just the truth. You either know something or not, you can't put a number on knowledge. And knowledge is not equal to applying knowledge correctly. You can read and pass with flying colors exams about disassembling an engine, but when you actually do it, will you know how to deal with a broken stud in an aluminum casing? Theory and experience must go hand in hand.
  • Feb 15 2012: What do people think of the mind/body connection and that passive learning without practical application is not as effective? I suppose it depends on the child, but I believe it's important to engageboth the mind and the body in learning. I would like to see more technical classes or with a technical aspect, rather than just memorization and unpracticed theory.
  • Feb 15 2012: Regarding vocational schooling, there are problems with youth who do not study what they are interested in, they just study to have a secondary school. Teachers are often not competent in the field and thus don't provide kids with a real nput into it. Companies don't want to cooperate with the schools as the students are not competent. Seems like a dead circle!
    i believe if there was a more competitive environment when a group of companies were competing among each other to get the best kids from the best school, while group of the same number of schools compete on geting placement for kids in the best companies, there would be eventually a place for every school in companies for students to get n internship and all, schools and companies would do better to be better. Kids would see a goal and teachers would be better monitored, as well as instructors in the companies, which would lead to more effective education and practical studying which makes sense.

    just an idea, would like to hear some comments.
  • Feb 15 2012: Present day education system is about dissemination of a homogeneous and repetitive information to students within classrooms. Instead of promoting curiosity and encouraging insights, fixed syllabi and the necessity to do well in exams, restricts the boundaries of insights. this is the most unfortunate part of our education system. ancient universities were about curiosities. today the need for skills for jobs has drawn a parallel connection between the degree and pay scale, without promoting innovations and ideas. such a system of education first of all and most dangerously does not allow us to question our own social system in existence.
  • Feb 15 2012: True education doesn't take place in a classroom where students are taught a specific set of standards that allows them to achieve a grade, but in the real world, where they learn how to apply whatever skills they have and are required to adapt to a work setting where they are expected to produce something. What that something is is irrelevant. Achieving higher altruistic goals, self-enlightenment, and a sense of fulfillment are products of self-esteem that really begins with a person's sense of worth gained in earlier family or peer settings. While we cannot construct an ideal world, we can create educational opportunities where ideas from all people can spring forth and take us to higher levels of understanding. What we have now is an outdated caste system that rewards wealth and equates success to materialistic achievement.
  • Feb 15 2012: Underneath it all, how do we create value in their minds when they have themselves convinced they "don't need this stuff"?
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: My problem with most government sponsored educational facilities is the that they go for an average ... often a low average and don't seem to have the best tools or the awareness that these kids are wired differently than they were and that they have to upgrade their skills and work outside of the box ... which I am not sure they are allowed to do...
    My youngest is in 6th grade in a public school (in Israel) and I am basically happy with the level and with her teacher this year... what i am not happy about is the class size... 36 kids... and the low grade of some of the specialized teachers...
    Last year I took her for the year to Toronto and paid for a private school and only 16 children in a classroom... it was an incredible experience for her and she was blessed with a truly gifted teacher... but not in all subjects...
    It is important today for children to be made aware of the infinite possibilities and talents that they have before them... and there are plenty of after school classes (at least in my neighborhood) where they can get a taste of astronomy, ballet, film, capoeira, electronics, sculpting.... etc. etc. to spark something within them...
    but when you need them to choose outfits (even at age 3)... my suggestion... 3 options max... otherwise you will never get them to school on time...
  • Feb 15 2012: What I believe would be the most beneficial educational system to humankind is a free for all teaching system similar to Khan academy. The major challenge would be to translate it to most languages and dialects. But the information could be created once (so there's no redundancy) by the best people in their fields, with enough examples and real life applications so anyone willing to could learn. And this could include topics from kindergarten right up to Phds. Tutors could be arranged online, and I'm certain many would volunteer, while others could be paid a fee. But with forums and comments in websites nowadays, almost any problem is solved.

    I believe the fear parents have about children if they homeschool them or put them into a self-taught system like Kahn is that children won't study or learn enough. The truth about humans is that they will be self-motivated to learn whatever interests them, and this usually doesn't fit into just one job or "employment". Humans are muti-faceted creatures, that may be interested in things as diverse as space engineering and cooking. The fear most humans have nowadays is also about "employment", because our present mentality is that you have to study to get a job, instead of maybe doing something on your own, or have an occupation that's not "respected". So another crucial step in education is to parents! Really, we think it's our children who need to learn so much, but in reality it's grown-ups who have to unlearn much falsehoods absorbed while growing.

    This point is especially important, because no matter how well "educated" a child is, he or she can be the best rocket scientist in the world, but if the educational system and its society hasn't taught him how to develop a healthy psychology due to poor psychology of his or her elders and teachers and society in general.

    To finish, sadly, the way we can advance is if we all become life long learners, both parents and children, but the example must be set by parents.
  • Feb 15 2012: I've been reading a lot lately about how technology has literally re-wired the pathways inside of a kid's brain. They simply don't process information the same way we did growing up (I'm 52). I assume they mean that metaphorically, but maybe not. I run a Sunday school program for 190 kids. We have no leverage with these kids at all (meaning no grades, report cards, suspensions, etc). I am always looking for better ways to engage their minds in the sheer pleasure of learning. It seems to me that working in small groups and having small group discussions works the best. I'm anxious to see what people here have to say.
  • Feb 15 2012: The greatest tensions/barriers are getting those who make education decisions, teachers, principals, or education ministers on board to use the program and often times, they are busy keeping the status quo.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: For the masses yes. Bureaucracy is always a bane, never a boon.

      But I think the greatest barriers are actually convincing the parents that some alternative options are superior, and that their child won't miss out on any part of the growing up American tradition by not going to a conventional school.
  • Feb 15 2012: Currently, as an education entrepreneur I find that my online technology platform, by Borderless Educations, where students can learn and be rewarded each time they learn working effectively to teach, asses, and make it fun. Plus, it is free and students don't only learn, but they are earning money while they are learning.
  • Feb 15 2012: Hello,

    I have a learning center and have been working with kids in Central WA with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and other learning disabilities for over ten years.

    You can find my free report on Parenting the ADD child here: www.focalpointwenatchee.com.

    I have lots of simple tips for parents on dealing with bouncy and distractible kids in education.

    I developed a method to teach the math facts visually -- fast, effective, long-term results.

    The question is -- how do you get a new method out in the education world? Hard to find answers to that.

    Meliesa Hawley
    FocalPoint Educational Services
  • Feb 15 2012: This free Telesummit is about supporting parents and educators who are searching for the best possible education for “their “children, and thereby challenging some basic assumptions
    of our traditional Schools Systems. I've listened to most of the interviews so far this season, and find them very interesting and inspiring, both for teachers and unschooling/homeschooling parents: http://whattheexpertsknow.com/
  • Feb 15 2012: For me it is all about using some emerging big data techniques to analyse and adapt content and delivery to the learner as they are engaging in learning. Obviously this would work easier if learning from an electronic device. If they are stuck on a problem that segment could concertina out, taking that user through more slowly to ensure they grasp all the key content. A quick learner can zip through sections they find easier to reach the hard stuff quicker. Data gathered on student hesitation/sticking points can then be filtered back into the content and delivery for other users. I think this is the core idea of Alleyoop. Perhaps works easier in a more "traditional" learning environment where a subject has a syllabus etc. but I don't see why I can't be more bottom-up in the long-run.
  • Feb 15 2012: Ms/Mrs Juliette, in order to answer your question you have to understand "traditional" educational institutions which are very different in the US and my country of educational institutions: Finland. Finland supplies the same basic education to all it's citizens but has to demand a higher taxation for it! No matter of skin color, family names nor wealth! If You are referring to the US educational system and it's general competitiveness today:
    • Feb 15 2012: Finland is a great model to follow. I've read a lot on Pasi Sahlberg recently and have been very impressed.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: I posted a great article about Finland's school system from The Atlantic to my school's (Andover College Prep) Facebook Fan Page. I'll repost it here:

      ‎"In recent years Finnish students have been turning in some of the highest test scores in the world...Compared with the stereotype of the East Asian model -- long hours of exhaustive cramming and rote memorization -- Finland's success is especially intriguing because Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in more creative play."

    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: I don't think Finland's model would work in America though because I think we value liberty over equality.
  • Feb 15 2012: I think that nonprofits and volunteer based organizations are excellent institutions for educating people. In addition to teaching communication skills, various nonprofits teach specialization in their field. For example, I gained much of my theater arts education through building at a local regional theater and while I was not paid, I was rewarded with credits for my resume and skills for the future. I think this would also work with Animal Shelters, human rights organizations, and charities. People learn how to communicate about topics that interest them and work with people from very diverse backgrounds in order to reach goals together. I think that this is a very realistic learning model that is underrated. As far as downfalls go, sometimes the time spent volunteering is time that interferes with work schedules and it becomes a challenge to decide when money needs to be earned and when time is worth sacrificing.

    This is my first time joining in a conversation on here so I just thought I would share what has been a valuable learning institution for me.
  • Feb 15 2012: @Trevor King - I would love to know the results of your applying psychology and neuroscience in the classroom. That sounds like a very good place to start. I'm not an academic nor do I have any expertise on the subject matter. I am, however, very passionate about this. It seems to me that we definitely need to treat the classroom (and each class of students) as an ongoing science project to fashion the learning experience around the individual students and the current zeitgeist of the moment we live in. It seems to me that the classroom should engage the students through real-world simulationed, self-paced, student-structured (or co-structured) learning environments that focus on critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and constantly challenging the status quo. We need to move away from teaching obedience and rote learning. It seems to me that you get local businesses, community organizations, and parents more involved in a holistic experience. Figuring out the needs of the globe and country each year and adapting them into the learning experience would contribute to keeping the learning experience relevant and fresh. I'm just aimlessly throwing things out here. I also think that the majority of homework could be done in school so the kids could have time at home to engage in family and community. It has also been proven that kids perform better in their studies when studying in groups. So extend the school day a bit for homework and projects. I think there are a lot of ideas out there that could really produce results. You have to do something to not only engage these students but to attract talented teachers to the profession. So it has to be fun and kinetic. The other thing I would be interested in knowing what a child's brain is capable of learning at younger ages. I have read that a child's curiosity to learn demands more than the Dick and Jane we teach them in first grade. Perhaps math, science, and languages much earlier.
  • Feb 15 2012: Because of the lack of definition my assumption is our focus is on learning in the formative years, or grade school and before. The only structure Children need in order to experience real learning is safety and tools. By safety I mean a safe environment where there basic needs are cared for food, water, shelter, as well as a degree of comfort etc. By tools I mean unlimited access to information and a means to process that information via critical-thinking and a strong sense of literacy. At that point you offer suggestions and allow children to learn, to investigate the world around, unhampered. Limited direction can be offered. If for example we are focusing on critical thinking and the child ends up on computer programing the relationship between the two is the idea of logic. To highlight this relationship and its importance and allowing the child to further investigate it, this is where real learning takes place.
  • Feb 15 2012: I think the best alternative learning models must have some structure. They must be properly framed before hand and debriefed afterwards. The student must learn some self-reflection skills so they are properly equipped to learn how to learn.
  • Feb 15 2012: I work for a small technology company but we're often referred to as the "Univeristy of Desert Star". It seems to me that for people who are fast learners the best route is to accept a low paying job at a technology company where "the sky is the limit" and upward mobility is limited by your skills. These days someone with little experience can teach themselves how to develop software, design circuit boards, and build products. What they need is a framework for direction that pays for their supplies by having them work on real world projects and gives them enough money to stay alive while they build experience. The DIY movement is lowering the entry barriers all around us to engineering fields.
  • Feb 15 2012: Hi Juliette,

    I´m online learning enthusiast and online teacher (Czech Republic) and I ´m using virtual classroom to deliver our online courses (projects EU). We are implementing these online tools and innovations for teachers.
    We are just creating and working on methodology in our conditions.. So, i am focused on synchronnous online learning and webinars...It is so new for everyone here and we are just at the start of long run to implement these fine tools in our schools, cause ICT is ready for this and connectivity is good these days. In Czech republic, there is only one czech producer of the virtual classroom and its comparable with modern virtual classroms like Webex, BlackBoard, Wiziq, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, Citrix,...So, we´ve got ONIF (online information) now in version 4.0. Its powerful tool for webinars and online collaboration, main advantage is native language (Czech) and non instalation acces as student. Its hard to implement in schools, easily in the companies and SME. Sometimes I think that people felt behind somewhere in the asynchronnous times of the elearning (online learning) and we just need to become acclimatized. ;) So this is just my local view, aimed to new real-time tools and their implementing to build up effective communication, collaboration and education...We just have to work hard to gain these aims and spread these forms of internet contact among educational community...(sorry for my language) Jakub Novotný
  • Feb 15 2012: How do non-traditional models of education fit within John Meyer’s theory of education as an institution? He says, “Education is a central element in the table of organization of society, constructing competencies and helping create professions and professionals.” I think the non traditional education model starts to change society, or, wait!, has society started to change education? Thoughts?
  • Feb 15 2012: Nearly my entire education was in some non-traditional format. Aside from perhaps working too well (snark), there is no reason to continue the rows-n-columns, wrote learning that was developed for the "Buggy Whip" Generation. But I'll tell you what...If I had an 18-year-old I'd tell him/her to apprentice into a trade. Honestly, it's either that, restaurants, or some form of glorified data entry.
  • Feb 15 2012: I think the job interview must be reevaluated. There is one and only one thing they should evaluate: the capacity of learning. If you can learn and understand things on your own, it won't matter if you are an expert or a begineer.
    • Feb 15 2012: that very idea help push me to be entrepreneurial.

      The last job I help was with a very large corporation. Every single interview for promotion I attended resulted in the exact same result:
      a) the interviewers hated me
      b) the HR dept. didn't want to give me the job
      c) my current managers stepped up and accepted responsibility for the promotion
      d) I got the position and out preformed everyone around me.
      (wash rinse repeat)

      I fully agree, the method used for interviewing is highly flawed.
  • Feb 15 2012: Another problem I've found it when I would work with agencies. Since I got involved with web design two years into when the web went live I knew how to design web sites with a text editor, but then software companies started making software that would help people be able to design sites without knowing the html tagged language and so if I didn't know the software I couldn't get the job which was stupid since I was more skilled and had more to offer than those who only knew the particular program. If the program they were working with didn't do a particular function they were stuck or had to find a way to work around it where I could go in and just edit the html directly; it was VERY frustrating.
  • Feb 15 2012: how can individual be encourage for entrepreneurship ventures.. now a day hardly any one take risk and want a secure job.
  • Feb 15 2012: When I was in high school I participated in program that was like a mini-Peace Corps. They gave students training in leadership, cross-cultural skills, and community organizing, and sent us to Latin America. It is called Amigos de las Americas. (www.amigoslink.org) I lived with a poor family in rural Mexico one summer and Nicaragua another summer. It changed my perspective and my life in a way that traditional education never could have.

    Now I work for a nonprofit called 3 Day Startup (www.3daystartup.org) that has the mission of giving university students a more practical education in entrepreneurship. We partner with universities to provide a sort of laboratory where students from different disciplines can collaborate. They come in with ideas and skills and we create an environment where they can "lean by doing" also called experiential learning. I am planning one of these programs in NYC in April, and I would like to invite you, Juliette LaMontagne, to come observe it in action. (nyc.3daystartup.org for more info)
    • Feb 15 2012: I definitely agree on educating through giving responsibility to students. This agency on startups makes it very easy and it is great to make young people experience that their ideas are possible to be realised or transformed by help other young people.

      In europe, there isYouth initiative, it is an EU commision activity under Youth in action where young people can submit their ideas and plans and get money on making it real. I did it Couple years ago and it provided me with a great opportunity and a life experience. Young people just need to see a goal in the what they are doing!
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Thank you! Love to!
  • Feb 15 2012: I am a father to a 16 month old, and I can not but distrust present education system. I think education systems world over stagnated couple of decades ago and nothing has been done since. In places like India, where I hail from, children are over burdened by the system and it does not help them grow intellectually a bit. Wondering if there is alternative method apart from home schooling that could help me!
    • Feb 15 2012: You might do some research on charter schools which is sometimes a good option but I really think this is why there are so many parents that are home schooling. You might also look into setting up a small group of home schooling parents as it might make it easier for all if the whole burden was spread out; a sort of the sum of the whole becomes greater than it's parts. Best of luck to you.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: As a teacher and a summer camp director and having had experience with homeschooling as well I strongly feel that there is immense benefit in learning outside the traditional classroom model. Our provincial government (BC, Canada) has just tabled a new educational plan that seems to focus on individual learning and much of that computer-based. Where is the time for experiencing and learning in nature? There is a claim for individualized learning and yet they are planning to increase standardized testing. I for one am leaving the traditional classroom to create more opportunities to learn outside, in community, in family, and at a rhythm that doesn't conform to what I like to call the 'anthill-treadmill' model.
  • Feb 15 2012: Hi everyone! I am a senior at St. Mary's College of Maryland, and I have a question for Juliette LaMontagne: what is Breaker and how does your organization accomplish its educational goals?
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: There are other management programs that are taking place here, which are enterprise driven.
    the focus is on building an individual in the two years of management education.
    Students start their own organisation when they are doing their management education, and learn concepts of management while building the organisation. Our startup is a result of this exercise and this methodology of learning.
    More about the pedagogy : http://www.nitie.edu/option=com_content&task=view&id=782&Itemid=423&lang=en

    i dont want to advertise hence not posting the startup link here
  • Feb 15 2012: I am currently studying adult education and there are some really innovative learning styles... I would encourage people to start thinking about how these typical adult learning techniques could be applied to children.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: I delivered online lessons to sick children in the UK - benefits for them were obvious - there was a link to other people (albeit anonymously) and a contact with education. The downside was obvious - no facetime, no body language and slightly limited in hands on education....teaching back in the classroom now and enjoying seeing the lightbulbs come on....
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Now there is the skype option where there is facetime...
      I recently saw a video from the Baycrest facility in Toronto that is pioneering telemedicine vid/chats that connect these medical centers with communities in Northern Canada for diagnostic and educational purposes... quite awesome...
      and also teleconferencing between Baycrest and a geriatric mental health facility in Israel...
      so we can save some carbon footprints and not fly all the time...
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: indeed Skype has many benefits - I recently brought an expert on cancer medicines into the classroom via skype and have delivered guest appearances to university students via skype - wonderful. There are times however for more vulnerable children that anonymity is beneficial for their own protection. Works both ways....
  • Feb 15 2012: How can these learning models outside of traditional educational institutions be applied for adults in the corporate environments?
  • Feb 15 2012: I've done both and what I can tell you is that no matter how good you are at something if you don't have a college degree there are companies that won't hire you. College doesn't guarantee a good employee. I've had companies like Arthur Andersen who would only hire me to work as a contractor (they loved my work) but wouldn't hire me as an employee because I didn't have a college degree; the stupid thing is that I was doing web design work for them and there was no degree in web design back then in the early days of the web.
    • Feb 15 2012: Four names: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison. They wouldn't have been hired by Arthur Andersen either. Don't settle keeping looking, there are companies that will hire you.
      • Feb 15 2012: totally agree with you on these names and that they didn't have degrees. But don't forget that one, Bill Gates, had tremendous social capital backing him. He came from highly educated parents and a fantastically well appointed high school computer program, even back then. I think those things greatly contributed to his success - which most people do not have.
        And no, these folks wouldn't be hired by Arthur Andersen, but none of them would have wanted to be either. The key is to find what you want to do and look at your path, (and background) and line things up to help get you there. In some fields a degree is key, (whether because of training or just because of tradittion). in others, not so much.
      • Feb 15 2012: Thanks. I didn't settle and I worked remotely both nationally and internationally, but at times I found this frustrating to just plain downright silly. I even did work for one of the VPs of Arthur Andersen, a blow your socks off presentation that even impressed a fellow VP but that was just their naive policy. I just hope this is something that is waning in the work place and that the quality of work and individual can deliver is becoming more of a priority than a degree.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: From what I've experienced of the start-up scene in NYC, at least, the degree is waning in importance.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: I'm trying to work out what is the best educational option for my 4-year-old daughter. We are military and about to move to either Washington D.C. or Virginia Beach. I don't even know if Homeschooling will ever be an option for us, and I don't know how it differs from state to state. She was born in California. We currently reside in New York, and eventually Virginia this fall. Once there it looks like we'll be staying put. The military has mentioned "military schools". I'm apprehensive about the public school system. Then there's homeschooling co-ops. And some of my friends have chosen Waldorf. Do you have to have an education degree to homeschool? How do homeschooling co-ops work? Is that a viable alternative to public schools?
    • Feb 15 2012: You do not have to have an education degree. My parents are both well educated, but neither had an "education degree" and neither taught me, and I'm about to graduate successfully from graduate school (homeschooled all my life!).
      The regulations do vary by state, so do some research. Also, the school districts like to have a lot of information, but this is not necessarily required. Local homeschool listservs or co-ops can help you research this and other alternatives.
      Homeschool groups, listservs, and the like can also be a great resource about different ways to homeschool and different approaches to take.
    • Feb 15 2012: Hi Maia. I home-schooled my daughter for 4.5 years. It is an awesome alternative to public school. We homeschooled our daughter in California. They had a charter school that was under the umbrella of the public school system so we were able to choose her curriculum and taught her the core subjects at home. If she wanted to take art, music, science fair type projects, etc, we would take her to the campus and she would be able to do those projects at the school. We would meet with a credentialed teacher once a month to review what we were going to do for the month and how well we had met our previous month's goals. We would also submit samples of homework assignments, our attendance records and grades. Those were all entered into her cum folder and kept as a permanent part of her record.

      Charter schools are also a great alternative to the public system. Through research, you can find what the charter emphasizes and then find one that fits your child's needs/personality. My daughter attended the last 2 years of her high school experience in a liberal arts/leadership charter high school that has molded her into a fine young woman. Many of charter schools are under the auspices of the public system but they seem to have more flexibility and you have more input.

      I have been profoundly grateful for both of these experiences for I had put my daughter in a traditional public school and she was lost and so unhappy. They both challenged her to the extent that she needed and yet both encouraged her and nurtured her. All of her needs were met--not just the academia.

      You asked about having a degree to homeschool. That is generally not required. Co-ops are a fun way of finding adequate curriculum and also a fun way for the kids to get together and learn in the same way. They are kind of like classes--only smaler in size.

      Good luck in finding the school that is the best fit for your child!

      Catherine Kelsey
    • Feb 15 2012: Maia: We have friends who are in the Air Force who homeschool their kids. They are a wonderful family and their kids do great! Don't let the fact that you're in the military prevent you from homeschooling your children. When you move, the school moves with you. :)
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Some states are tougher than others to HS in. CAlifornia and NY are really difficult: loads of paperwork to provide to the state. My state, Texas, is very easy~ no real burden and we could be doing the bare minimum (we don't). In my city, Austin, the HS Community is very connected via the internet. My daughter and I found lots of like-minded individuals to co-op with. I certainly didn't feel up to the language arts portion of her education, but was happy to trade for science and math (more my speed). Waldorf is a type of pedagogy: you might explore Enki (sp?) if you are looking in to cooping using Steiner inspired curriculum. Good luck!
      • Feb 15 2012: Colorado and Nebraska are pretty easy, too. Colorado requires testing every two years, and that's about it. Nebraska requires a submitted "curriculum" at the beginning of the year and it has to have a health-based class included.
    • Feb 15 2012: On Waldorf homeschooling, check this out: http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/ and the founder of the site, Dr. Kytka Hilmar-Jezek, who homeschools/unschools her three children, very inspirational speaker. Her 19 year old son, Zack Jezek, is a 'proof' of her unschooling success. You can also listen to in depth radio interviews with both of them on http://whattheexpertsknow.com/ (as well as other visionary educators)
    • Feb 15 2012: I know several military families that homeschool. Check in with the local school system as soon as you can. They can tell you what to do. For military families, homeschooling can provide stability the kids wouldn't otherwise have.
  • Feb 15 2012: oh, there is no audio or visual? It's just a chat conversation (like I am doing right now?)
  • Comment deleted

  • Feb 15 2012: I hope you mention what to do with lower social classes. Because i think they feel too much the need of material things that they forget about solving much more global problems. And how to inspired them for being potentials collaborators.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: For an alternative method of education you might look at growing up with your parents. Consistent figures are priceless in the upbringing of children - perhaps there is a way to replicate the same consistency through school? A disadvantage of this would be that kids would be stuck with the same teacher for a number of years, although I feel the bonds made would summon a large amount of respect, understanding and overall efficient learning.


    • Feb 15 2012: Does it matter if they are "stuck" with the same teacher for all of their life? It would be a disadvantage if that teacher was poor, but if it's a parent, they will always strive to improve. A bigger disadvantage of "batch schooling" is that there is very little or no continuity of knowing your students long enough to understand their learning style to inspire them to keep learning. At 45 years of age, I can only say that two of the 18 years that I went to school included 2 teachers that had a real impact on me by inspiring me and empowering me. The rest didn't.
  • Feb 15 2012: Yes, how do I listen to this - there is no join button - can someone pls guide me (or us, there are others!)
  • Feb 15 2012: With the courses that I have been involved in, the lack of availability to resources online is the largest problem with alternative education.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: This seems counterintuitive... I would argue there are far too many resources available online. The problem is not that we're lacking information/resources, but that we're overloaded with them.

      Perhaps the problem is the availability of reliable and quality resources that you don't have to pay for/subscribe to?
  • Feb 15 2012: As a new to homeschooling parent, I'm struggling with re-defining the success paradigms. I feel like I'm compelled to define him by the state set standards even though his successes are beyond what can be tested.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Are you obliged to meet those standards? Do you have to submit reports? If not then I would loosely use them as developmental guidelines (or look at other country guidelines - I've found that New Zealand has an amazing education system - and use that as a 'measuring stick' if you will. ) But keep in mind that children who are not funneled through the system will learn at their own pace. Some may read very early on or not bother with reading until later. I think there's a balance between apathy or lack of effort and being in tune with the child himself. Celebrate the successes and if you don't have to hold yourself accountable to the system then I would work on what your own goals are for your child. Best of luck!
    • Feb 15 2012: We've been homeschooling since day 1, and our oldest is 14. Success for the homeschooling parent is more defined by what, how and why did your child(ren) learn rather than how MUCH did they learn in the classroom. Today's schools loosely follow a Greco-Roman methodology of teaching (one teacher for many students; all students at the same level). Unfortunately, they have deviated from its intent to where we now "teach to pass the test" rather than "teach to learn". That is our country's educational downfall. Each year, we fall further behind the leading countries in education.

      Homeschooling allows children to learn at their own pace, and each topic at a different pace. Our oldest excels in reading and grammar, but is average in math. Our 12yo son excels in math, but is average in reading. Homeschooling also allows to change when something isn't working for one child midway through the school year, rather than a teacher needing to stick to the curriculum stated at the beginning of the year.

      The state standards need to be drastically redefined. The "no child left behind" act is a joke. Both of these things don't take into account children's learning abilities, lack of desire due to outside influences, or the variances in learning or physical activity needs between girls and boys. We have more kids (usually boys) on Ridalin (and other drugs) for ADD/ADHD than any other time in history because they are not allowed to get enough exercise and physical activity, but are forced to "sit down and shut up" and therefore the brain chemicals don't allow them to have the same concentration levels as those kids (boys) that get a greater level of activity. We have video games and computers that don't allow for activity (Wii barely counts) and foods that exacerbate the situation (for a number of reasons) causing obesity, depression and a host of other conditions.

      So, how does a HS parent truly define success? Happy, educated children who love to learn.
    • Feb 15 2012: The state standards have to be met but having the flexibility to teach them your way is one of the benefits of homeschooling. For example, a child has to know how to read, write, and do math. Your state probably has standards to measure that. But to teach a child to read, you can use all kinds of different imaginative approaches. Instead of using the method of repeatedly spelling the same word, you can let them spell it by making the letters in play dough, take them outside and let them tromp the letters in the dirt or the snow---those kinds of things. They are still learning but in their own way.

      Good luck! It is definitely worth the effort!
    • Feb 15 2012: There's a book called "how to get your child off the refrigerator and onto learning"

      It's excellent.

      Games and play-time are excellent educational methods. There is a homeschool curriculum called "Moving Beyond the Page" that is activity-based. I loved it.

      Also, you can download my free report on parenting the bouncy or distractible child at www.focalpointwenatchee.com. Lots of tips for how to set up your classroom and do things without the traditional standard-based way of thinking.
    • Feb 15 2012: Also, look into exactly what your state laws are. For instance, where I'm from, you can choose to have your child do a standardized test once a year, or you can choose to have a teacher evaluate a portfolio. This second option is much more flexible: the teacher can be a friend or someone you find through a homeschool network, and the portfolio can include what you did that year: museum programs, concert tickets, drawings the child did, any notebooks or workbooks, a piano demonstration, paper models of castles... whatever the child has been into. Then the teacher signs a form which, if you do the minimum required, basically just says that the "child is learning according to their ability"! Which is really all you can ask.
    • Feb 15 2012: Oh, and John Holt is a great author to read about how to learn unconventionally.
  • Feb 15 2012: how do I listen to this?
  • Feb 15 2012: This is my first time on a live conversation and it appears that it's a text discussion.....is that accurate?
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: Yes, they are all text discussions. You can start by providing your thoughts on the question at hand.
      • Feb 15 2012: 45 minutes is too short... Hardly time to engage in conversation, too busy reading the questions!
  • Feb 15 2012: Not quite sure how to join! Just by submitting a comment?
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: I would totally agree with that. What comes into question is the initial reasons for exams...making sure students are not falling through the cracks or coasting by under the radar. To make sure they are learning and retaining information.

      Of course what children need to retain, how they learn, what kind of skills they need to survive and thrive in the world have evolved and is evolving still. So I agree, the old systems of grading and examination are out of date. But what is their evolution? and how do we localize the practice and evaluation to a level where it honestly engages with the individual but at the same time doesn't take an Orwellian infrastructure to maintain? I think the "continuous assessment of pupils/students practical work in the classroom" is definitely wiser but there is something in me that still feels benchmarks of some sort are needed as well.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: What benchmarks have you found effective in assessing the success of what happens outside of your classroom, Gavin? When your kids are in their partner sites?
        • thumb
          Feb 15 2012: What we do is a 6-month follow up where we do check-ins and get intermittent assessments back from the partner site but also, importantly, from the student regarding the partner site and their experiences there as well.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: i wonder where my post went on formative assessment - someone deleted it :/

        i agree with you gavin but benhmarks...not sure about that. i mean can there ever be a benchmark on personality? ..the same personality that lands you that job (or other opportunity) even if you have same credentials as the other thousand applicants/participants. but i think we both agree on formative assessment creates the right space immersive love of learning.

        Juliette, a PLE, (sometimes wiki contributions) is a good way to "measure" learners. outside of the circle of a curriculum. Infact, the circle should not be drawn int he first place! :)
        • thumb
          Feb 15 2012: There can never be a benchmark on personality. Of course, I agree, who knows what will work for one person or not work for another.

          As an educator who is also an employer tho, I can't just depend on personality for the majority of the things I need accomplished. Personality can get you in doors but skills, the ability to learn and the ability to make deadlines is what keeps you in that door and making yourself at home.

          I see way too many kids coast by and even do alright based on personality until life hits them dead in the face.
        • Feb 15 2012: I believe you can benchmark personality. A lot of research in the positive psychology domain including APA president Marti Seligman are coming out to do this.
      • Feb 15 2012: Gavin, I agree that continuous and ongoing assessment is needed in a classroom. If we are looking for benchmarks, well what are we trying to assess and reach towards when we give our students feedback. If we take a child centred approach than the 'benchmark' should be based on an individual basis. We need to teach students how to self assess and set goals for themselves. Teaching students how to self regulate their learning will make the learning experience that much more meaningful.
        • thumb
          Feb 15 2012: Agreed. That's exactly the methodology we use at www.theremixproject.ca. It's a 6-month self-directed program with project leaders and industry mentors provided. We don't have any testing or examinations but rather "living plans" that we work from that evolve and grow as we do. The plans are generated by the young person with some in-put, support and critical thinking from the project leader at the beginning of the 6-month term after a week spent getting to know each other better.
    • Feb 15 2012: Of course they are. This only tells you that someone is great at passing tests. What happens when someone is the next DaVinci but is dyslexic and can't perform that well? Marginalize them and let them get a job that waste's their elemental talents?
    • Feb 15 2012: yes and no. Certainly there needs to be a shift towards measuring / assessing the skills that are valuable. Information and facts can be found online. If you can find a fact online, understand the complete context, completely and utterly verify its truth in less time than someone who memorized / learned it, then the ability to seek knowledge would be more valuable than the skill to remember facts.

      I'm in the IT field, and there are many examples where higher level skills (troubleshooting, envisioning a network / Active Directory / database design) simply cannot be applied without a solid background and knowledge of the underlying components.

      These creative / innovative skills are more talent based, but cannot function on their own.

      Knowledge of content is a pre-requisite for being able to apply higher level critical thinking skills. You can't ignore the content completely, but certainly more emphasis needs to be put on reaching higher levels of understanding like analysis and creative thinking.

      I guess, to sum up, mastery of the content should not be the end of the learning, but the point at which the real, important learning can actually begin
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: content can be delivered or content can be uncovered. It's the latter empowers the learner.
        • thumb
          Feb 15 2012: i agree with this about discovery in this non-delivered sense. wonder (love of learning) should be supported, and as you earlier mentioned Juliette on game play is one way to provide an interdisciplinary, risk-taking learning space.

          but formative assessment has very thin research background in this context of game play/design for learning...i am always trying to find it and network for it!
        • Feb 15 2012: And in "the real world" no one delivers content to you
    • Feb 15 2012: Garth:

      I think the larger issue is that the education systems we have now have their roots in social science. Neuroscience is providing overwhelming data that contradicts the current educational one-size-fits-all paradigm. We are losing enormous potential societal contributions at the ends of the spectrum.
    • Feb 15 2012: and, of course the actual time spent "measuring", especically in terms of standardized testing, is time that is not spent on learning.
      • thumb
        Feb 15 2012: what's exciting to me about customized learning environments online is that - if constructed well - they're effective, yes. But as important, they're efficient! If a student can demonstrate mastery in a few weeks as opposed to a semester, you have huge swaths of time that can be spent doing hands-on, high-touch project work. That's an opportunity.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: our memories are context-dependent---which is why new studies recommend students should diversify their study spaces

      testing is the best tool for learning, actually... i'd like to give you the link now but i don't wanna waste these 30 minutes! check out wash u.'s studies on it though
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: This just tweeted from @willrich45 "High Tech High commons area. pic.twitter.com/igYi0NDE"
    HTH is one of the best Project Based Learning (PBL) models I know. How far is its reach? Has their internal teacher training program enabled their model to scale? Anyone know?
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2012: This seems to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome when seeking out investors in the educational sector... Convincing them that a service (and not a product) can be scaled and distributed in order to ensure big returns.

      But I think it's hard to distinguish those things that can be standardized and algorized and put on a tech platform. Are there components of teaching that technology can't touch? Like immediate feedback via facial expressions?
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: I'm sorta expecting to see a 'live' conversation somewhere in a window? Don't see anything yet!
  • Feb 15 2012: How do I get involved in this conversation?
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2012: How do these models differ from traditional educational institutions?