Category Archives: future

You might know more about your future than you think

railroadWe’ve all seen those famous quotes used in ed tech presentations (I use a few myself) that highlight lack of vision in previous predictions. A few examples:

  • “By 2000, machines will be producing so much that everyone in the U.S. will, in effect, be independently wealthy.” – Time, 1966
  • “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” – Ken Olsen, President Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Yet, when I read books such as Where Good Ideas Come From or Blink or Decisive, I become more convinced that, given the right protocols and tools, we are actually better at anticipating our future than we might think. If we have a system for paying attention to current trends and for adding to our view of the world beyond our own narrow realities, we stand a chance of not only accurately predicting future trends, but preparing ourselves for success within that future world.

I will be presenting on how McREL used the scenario planning process to change how we thought about our work at this year’s TIE Leadership Academy on June 17 in Copper Mountain, CO. If you would like to learn more about the process and start your own planning, I hope you will join me!

In the meantime, here’s a quick video where I describe the basic tenets of the process.


Tired of the gloom and doom of education news?

We are!

Please join Dr. Ceri Dean and me tomorrow at 1:00 pm CDT as we look at the GOOD things that are happening in classrooms around the world every day: How Mobile Devices, Data Streams, & a Return to Authentic Learning Will Change Education.

We hope to see you there!

#mcrel #ascd13

Educon 2013

Just some early thoughts as we get started with Educon

I kept pondering what the difference was – what was the “secret to the sauce” as I listened to SLA students give their tours yesterday. Here are a couple of differences that I noticed in these students that I don’t often see when I’m touring schools, especially high schools:

  1. Pride in their school, their work, their teachers, and their community,
  2. Humility in that their destiny ultimately lies within them, not what a teacher does for them,
  3. Awareness of a world beyond high school and their excitement in the role they will soon play in that world (or in some cases, are already playing).
  4. Engagement in their own work. Not once did I see rows of bored teenagers listen to a grown-up lecture.

I kept thinking back to the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd graders I taught in my Montessori classroom and the 6th graders I saw them become. SLA would have been a very natural progression for them. They would have loved the independent study, the focus on community, and the leadership roles they are expected to play.

So good to see. My question – can we replicate this on a large scale?

Good Quotes from Elizabeth Merritt

JapaneseGardensMy last few posts have centered around my current thinking on the future of museums and the role they may play in evolving education models. This is probably my last post on the subject, but I wanted to capture some of the key points that Elizabeth Merritt, Founding Director of Center for the Future of Museums, made on Steve Hardagon’s webinar. The webinar is archived on his site and I highly recommend watching it if this topic interests you.

One point that I loved, and I hope to get the quote exactly right: “…we create systems where we develop a fear of failure. Unless people are unafraid to fail and understand the benefits of failure, we’re not going to have a truly innovative and creative society.” I can already imagine Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, and thousands of other scientists and inventors from our history applauding this statement.

She continues, “In museums, you don’t feel wrong or dumb…you just explore.

As a former Montessori teacher and now someone who sees great potential in a movement towards a more informal learning environment, this statement intrigues me. I think about how much I, as an adult, have learned when visiting some of the world’s greatest museums. There were no quizzes, no standards to follow, yet I took away knowledge and appreciation of art, history, politics, and design that could not have happened otherwise.

Finally, she said something that I have heard in earlier discussions with those who are concerned about the future of our National Parks. She remarked on the fact that many museums still only appeal to a small group of affluent, Caucasian audiences. This is concerning when we consider that, by 2040, we will likely be a minority-majority society. Museums, symphonies, the ballet, national parks, and other cultural organizations are currently  struggling to appeal to a broader, more diverse, younger audience. This will be an important trend to watch.

Good food for thought – and thank you, Steve, for hosting such an intriguing conversation.

(Photo: Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon taken September 2010)

Post on the Evolving Role of Museums in Education

Met NYCYesterday, I posted about Urban Advantage Denver, a cooperation between metro area schools and our local museums to foster interest in science for middle school students.

I also posted on McREL’s blog, expanding on how museums could play a dynamic role in the growing interest in informal education. Is the fact that museums are focusing on their future role in education a signal that we are moving towards the fourth scenario described in The Future of Schooling: Educating America in 2020? Head over to the McREL blog and let me know your thoughts.

(Photo from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, 2008)

How Denver’s Museums Are Addressing Urban Education

dmnsIt wasn’t until I read Elizabeth Merritt’s  piece on Museums and the Future of Education (PDF) that I learned of Urban Advantage Denver, a program designed to improve science literacy among middle school students. A cooperation between the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (pictured), Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, and several metro area school districts, the program provides resources to educators to engage students in critical thinking and authentic learning.

In an upcoming blog post (UPDATE – here), I will write more about how I think partnerships such as Urban Advantage signal a shift towards informal learning models for students and the role that local organizations – such as museums – can play in that shift.

The Future of Schooling: Educating America in 2020

The Future of SchoolingMy second book (as a co-author) came out this month and I’m so thrilled to finally have it in hand!

This book, unlike Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, allowed us to have a little more creative license as we imagined four possible scenarios of what education could look like in the year 2020. It was a fascinating process of identifying current trends (or “certainties”), then finding the two critical uncertainties that would most affect us as an organization. I think any school or district could benefit from this process. The book is intended for educators to imagine their role in all four of these scenarios and the book includes tools to help them do so.

For more information, visit Solution Tree’s website.