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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Four Highlights from the Reimagining Education Summit

Bob Lenz

Founder and Chief of Innovation, Envision Education, Oakland CA

How would you reimagine education? Last week, I attended a Reimagining Education Summit with innovators from multiple sectors (K-12 education, tech, higher education, government, youth development, makers, and more) sponsored by the US Department of Education and the MacArthur Foundation dedicated to exploring this question.

The first day was spent getting grounded in the context of our rapidly changing world and the need to reimagine and redesign education by listening to innovators, thought leaders, teachers, students, and practitioners in the field (like me and my work at Envision Education). We explored how we can connect the education movements of Connected Learning, Digital Learning and Deeper Learning building on the ways they are already connected so we can begin evolving education.

Here are a few highlights:

1. Ignite Passion for Learning

Jim Shelton, deputy secretary of Education for Innovation, framed the two days by challenging us to consider how were imagine education since young people today need to be prepared for jobs that we cannot imagine right now. He pressed us to consider how we reimagine education to meet the rising demand for people who can learn new things quickly and solve problems in our fast changing world and finally, he wondered, "What if we could get kids excited about the things they need to learn so they are as passionate about that learning as they are for things they are interested in right now?"

2. Design for Constant Change

John Seely Brown (JSB), Senior Fellow, Annenberg Center for Communication, proposed that we have entered into the age of constant change -- previously innovations followed more of an "S" curve, i.e., after a spike in productivity the rate of innovation levels out, to a graph of innovation that looks like a hockey stick -- one change leads quickly to another. JSB believes that we need to begin to cultivate -- not teach -- dispositions to manage and leverage this change; for example, curiosity, resiliency and agency with empathy. JSB laid out a equilateral triangle for moving towards reimagining education that balances homo sapien or humans that know with homo faber or humans that make with homo luden or humans that play. JSB challenged us to make time for play as play is the space of invention and innovation.

3. Reach Beyond School

I sat on a panel with founder of Digital Youth Network Nichole Pinkard and Mark Surman, Executive Director of Mozilla Foundation. Led by our moderator director of MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito, we discussed Connected Learning, the Open Badges Initiative, and how school assessment practices can inspire redesigned educational experiences for kids in school and outside school. We challenged the audience and each other to think beyond school when thinking about reimagining education.

The second day, we broke into 15 small multi-sector, crowd sourced, design teams and began to truly reimagine education! At the end of the day, the group had produced several intriguing and potentially powerful ideas. The group that I joined outlined the concept of a new Common Application for College Admissions.

4. Linked Badges Replace Grades, Test Scores

The Common App 2.0 will link learning artifacts and portfolios that demonstrate mastery of knowledge, technical skills, dispositions and deeper learning outcomes with badges issued by respected institutions. These linked badges will be used by colleges to admit students to their institutions as opposed to the reliance on grades and SAT/ACT scores with the current Common App. Of course, this concept has a long way to go to become a reality but our group is energized to follow up. In addition, MacArthur Foundation promises to keep the spirit of innovation and collaboration alive with various forms of follow up. One way they plan to promote knowing, making and playing is with the Summer of Making and Connecting.

I encourage you to investigate the links in this post and discover inspiring educational innovators and innovations. Also, in the comment section, please share your own ideas for reimagining education. It's summer -- let's think big.

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