Author Archives: John W. Moravec, Ph.D.

Announcing Education Futures Review

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The hard truth is almost nobody reads research papers.

With over 100,000 scholarly journals across all fields (and growing), expanding bodies of information and knowledge, and high subscription costs, many journal articles fail to get noticed. One-in-three social sciences articles and 80% of articles in the humanities fail to get cited at all. We can only speculate as to how many people are actually looking at any of the articles.

And, we’re always busy. This is especially true for leaders and organizational decision makers. There is a lot of great research out there, but we have little time to filter through the noise to find that which is most relevant for innovating in education.

Let us help.

On February 15, 2016, we will launch Education Futures Review: A digest of essential research and news in education.

For the time being, subscriptions are offered for free at https://www2.educationfutures.com/review

Education Futures Review is curated by top experts for decision-makers and leaders in K-12 and higher education. The newsletter is distributed as a monthly email.

The newsletter covers “pre-K to grey” education news and research from around the world, with an approximately equal focus on both primary/secondary and tertiary education. Topical areas include: learning technologies, new approaches and concepts about learning, innovation in education, insightful research, and case studies for leaders, incorporating experiences from around the world.

The challenge decision-makers and other leaders face with academic research in education is that there is a LOT of it, and much of it is out of reach: ignored on library bookshelves, behind paywalls, or even written in ways that are not appealing to general readers. Education Futures Review cuts through these obstacles to provide an expert-curated and global perspective of the changing educational landscape. We intend to build this publication into essential weekly reading for every decision-maker and leader in education.

The publication’s target audiences are decision-makers and leaders in the education industry that either do not have the time to keep current on the latest research and ideas in learning or those that do not have the resources to access the hundreds of journals and news sources to keep current to lead with vision in their fields. These groups are particularly important to sponsors as they have the greatest influence on purchasing and resource allocation within their organizations.

Photo credit: Johann Dréo https://www.flickr.com/photos/nojhan/3392024746/

 

Manifesto 15: One year later

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Thank you!

One year ago, Manifesto 15 was released: a statement that inspired a conversation about principles for building positive education futures, grounded on the idea that we urgently need to evolve learning. This is a public declaration of a vision for better education futures. In the months since its release, it’s been read and discussed by thousands of people, signed by hundreds, featured in various media and conferences, and teams of volunteers around the world have translated it into 18 additional languages (plus a kids’ version and visual notes!) – and the movement continues to grow!

We are grateful for the interest in this project and the support we have received around the world. To help continue the conversation, we have drafted a handbook for leading change, which is available at the Manifesto 15 website.

This handbook presents some guidelines on how we can move forward, including hosting conversations, workshops, and starting local Manifesto 15 groups. The guide is an invitation to join us and build community, centered on trust and open dialogue, as we work to change the face of education. And, it contains some posters to help you get started with your own messaging.

The handbook is available for download at: http://www.manifesto15.org/handbook/Manifesto-15-handbook-Letter.pdf

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Please take Manifesto 15 as a starting point, and build in your own ideas and practices. Or, create and share your own sets of principles. The manifesto and the emerging movement is open for discussion, remixing, and sharing – and we encourage you to drive the conversation with your own networks.

If there’s any way that we can help with conversations in your own community, please do not hesitate to contact us: manifesto15@educationfutures.com.

Again, thank you for your support and work in facilitating this growing movement. We look forward to evolving learning with you in 2016 and beyond.

Happy New Year!

John Moravec
Principal author, Manifesto 15

Yes, we are changing the conversation around learning

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A remarkable thing happened to me in the Netherlands last month. I saw firsthand how we are making a real difference in transforming the conversation around learning. Beautifully enough, it was captured in a film, A journey into the unknown. I was lucky to attend the premiere:

This started with the “Invisible Learning Tour” that took place four years ago. Given the seed of an idea, three universities, two Sudbury schools, the Knowmads school in Amsterdam, and various other partners came together, using social media, to construct a two-day event. The purpose of the Invisible Learning Tour was to raise awareness for the need for innovation in education. We explored ideas, existing options, and new pathways for learning that is relevant for the 21st century.

The best part of the event was that students in the Communication and Multimedia Design program at NHL Hogeschool in Leeuwarden organized the entire kick-off event, which attracted 130 participants. We called for a real reboelje (Frisian for “rebellion”), and fought hard to continue the conversation over the years. We also had a lot of fun.

Now, four years later, the students are continuing the work, and continuing the conversation. The film, A journey into the unknown, contains conversations with many people that participated in the Invisible Learning Tour event.

NHL’s Michel van Galen high-fived me after the event: “We did it!” Indeed, we made a difference. A new generation is driving the conversation.

And, we will continue our work!

Thank you to Michel, Joke Lunsig, Guido Crolla, Jeroen v/d Bovenkamp, and everybody else who are taking the conversation to the next level!

Creative classrooms in Patagonia

I had the pleasure of visiting with the Ministry of Education in the Province of Chubut, Argentina for Aulas Creativas on February 27-28 this year. The program team recently published this excellent video, which outlines new perspectives for thinking about education.

When I released Manifesto 15 two months earlier, I had no idea that the message and the movement it is inspiring would grow so quickly, and attract so much international attention, especially in Patagonia. I am really touched that this work is helping to change the conversation and form new perspectives for evolving education in the province. For me, that’s the most rewarding part of my work.

In this brief visit, I enjoyed meeting the ministry and area teachers. I am grateful for the hospitality Ileana Farre and her husband, Ian Davie, extended to me during my visit. After hanging out with Ileana, Ian, and Gonzalo Frasca, I must say there is nothing better than good company and great food with dinosaurs, great views of the Southern Sky, and penguins!

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Building a manifesto for evolving learning

What? Why? And, for whom?

We separate kids by age and grade, we manage schools in a top-down style, we operate within industrial hours, and teachers hold absolute power and authority over students — these are part of a structure in education around the world that is not backed by research. We’ve assumed that if we don’t tell kids what to learn, they will not learn anything at all.

This is absurd!

We’ve lost touch with WHAT we are educating for, WHY we do it, and FOR WHOM this is all intended to benefit.

On January 1st of this year, I released a statement that started a conversation. It is about principles for building positive education futures by evolving learning. The document is called “Manifesto 15” – a public declaration of a vision for education futures. After I completed a draft, I invited others to join in reviewing, editing, and to also add their names as co-authors. We are a group of 33 scholars, teachers, artists, designers, thinkers, and medical doctors. In the last three months since its release, it’s been read and discussed by thousands of people; signed by many; and volunteers translated it into 18 languages!

What we have learned so far:

  1. “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed” (William Gibson in Gladstone, 1999). The field of education lags considerably behind most other industries largely from our tendency to look backward, but not forward. We teach the history of literature, for example, but not the future of writing. We teach historically important mathematical concepts, but do not engage in creating new maths needed to build the future. Moreover, everything “revolutionary” taking place in learning has already happened at different scales, in bits and pieces, at different places. The full impacts for ourselves and our organizations will be realized when we develop the courage to learn from each others’ experiences, and accept the risk and responsibility in applying a futures orientation in our praxis.
  2. 1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids. We need to redefine and build a clear understanding of what we are educating for, why we do it, and for whomour educational systems serve. Mainstream compulsory schooling is based on an outdated, 18th century model for creating citizens with the potential to become loyal, productive factory workers and bureaucrats. In the post-industrial era, this should no longer be the end goal of education. We need to support learners to become innovators, capable of leveraging their own imagination and creativity to realize new outcomes for society. We do this because today’s challenges cannot be solved through old thinking. And, we are all co-responsible for creating futures with positive outcomes that benefit all people in the world.
  3. Kids are people, too. All students must be treated and respected as human beings with recognized, universal human rights and responsibilities. This means students must have an active say in the choices regarding their learning, including how their schools are run, how and when they learn, and all other areas of everyday life. This is inclusion in a real sense. Students of all ages must be afforded liberties to pursue educational opportunities and approaches for learning that are appropriate for them, as long as their decisions do not infringe on the liberties of others to do the same (adapted from EUDEC, 2005).
  4. The thrill of jumping off a cliff by deciding to do so yourself is a high you will never have if someone else pushes you off of it. In other words, the top-down, teacher-student model of learning does not maximize learning as it devours curiosity and eliminates intrinsic motivation. We need to embrace flat, horizontalized, and distributed approaches to learning, including peer learning and peer teaching, and empower students to realize the authentic practice of these modes. Educators must create space to allow students to determine if, and when, to jump off the cliff. Failing is a natural part of learning where we can always try again. In a flat learning environment, the teacher’s role is to help make sure the learner makes a well-balanced decision. Failing is okay, but the creation of failures is not.
  5. Don’t value what we measure, measure what we value. In our obsession over testing, we have somehow allowed the OECD to become the “world’s ministry of education” through the PISA regime, and the cult of educational measurement is spreading throughout the world. At a national, state-to-state level, it is as if we are competing to be the best-looking kid in a humdrum family. Even worse, our schools are producing politicians and policy leaders that do not know how to interpret test scores. The best innovations are often killed the moment we start worrying about measurement. We need to put an end to compulsory testing and reinvest these resources into educational initiatives that create authentic value and opportunities for growth.
  6. If “technology” is the answer, what was the question? We seem to obsess over new technologies while having little understanding of what they’re for or how they can impact learning. Technologies are great for doing what we have been doing better, but using new technologies to do the same old stuff in the classroom is a lost opportunity. Black boards have been replaced by whiteboards and SMART Boards. Books have been replaced by iPads. This is like building a nuclear plant to power a horse cart. Yet, nothing has changed, and we still focus tremendous resources on these tools, and squander our opportunities to exploit their potential to transform what we learn and how we do it. By recreating practices of the past with technologies, schools focus more on managing hardware and software rather than developing students’ mindware and the purposive use of these tools.
  7. Digital skills are invisible, and so should technologies be in schools. Invisible learning is a recognition that most of the learning we do is “invisible” – that is, it is through informal, non-formal, and serendipitous experiences rather than through formal instruction (Cobo & Moravec, 2011). It takes into account the impact of technological advances to really enable the invisible spaces to emerge – but, like the spaces, the use of technologies is likewise invisible and fluid. If the challenge for our schools and governments is to create students that stand out in creativity and innovation, and not students that mindlessly memorize and repeat old ideas, any use of technologies for learning must enable these creative and innovative directions. Schools should not use computers to “do work” around preassigned parameters with prescribed outcomes; they should be used to help design and create products and learning outcomes that extend beyond the imagination of the curriculum. Rather than putting technology in the forefront and obscuring learning, make it invisible yet ambient, enabling learners to discover their own pathways for development with these tools.
  8. We cannot manage knowledge. When we talk about knowledge and innovation, we frequently commingle or confuse the concepts with data and information instead. Too often, we fool ourselves into thinking that we give kids knowledge, when we are just testing them for what information they can repeat. To be clear: Data are bits and pieces here and there, from which we combine into informationKnowledge is about taking information and creating meaning at a personal level. We innovate when we take action with what we know to create new value. Understanding this difference exposes one of the greatest problems facing school management and teaching: While we are good at managing information, we simply cannot manage the knowledge in students’ heads without degrading it back to information.
  9. “The network is the learning” (Siemens, 2007). The emerging pedagogy of this century isn’t carefully planned. Rather, it’s developed fluidly. Our traversals across networks are our pathways to learning, and as the network expands, so does our learning. In connectivist approaches to learning, we connect our individual knowledges together to create new understandings. We share our experiences, and create new (social) knowledge as a result. We must center on the ability of individuals to navigate this space and make connections on their own, discovering how their unique knowledge and talents can be contextualized to solve new problems.
  10. The future belongs to nerds, geeks, makers, dreamers, and knowmads. While not everybody will or should become an entrepreneur, those who do not develop entrepreneurial skills are at a great disadvantage. Our education systems should focus on the development of entreprenerds: individuals who leverage their specialized knowledge to dream, create, make, explore, learn and promote entrepreneurial, cultural, or social endeavors, taking risks and enjoying the process as much as the final outcome, without fearing the potential failures or mistakes that the journey includes.
  11. Break the rules, but understand why, clearly, first. Our school systems are built on cultures of obedience, enforced compliance, and complacency. The creativities of students, staff, and our institutions are inherently stultified. It is easier to be told what to think than to think ourselves. Openly asking questions, and building a metacognitive awareness of what we have created and what we would like to do about it, can best cure this institutionalized malaise. Only then can we engineer justified breaks from the system that challenge the status quo and have the potential to create real impact.
  12. We must and can build cultures of trust in our schools and communities. As long as our education systems continue to be based on fear, anxiety, and distrust, challenges to all of the above will continue. In the Minnevate! project (MASA, 2014), the researchers found that if educators are to build a collective capacity to transform education, we need engaged communities, and we also need to engage with the communities we serve. This requires a new theory of action, centered on trust, where students, schools, governments, businesses, parents, and communities may engage in collaborative initiatives to co-create new education futures.

(Read the full text and add your signature to Manifesto 15 here).

I’m thankful for the interest and success of this project; and, I traveled to TEDxUFM in Guatemala to share what I learned so far. In just a few months, we find ourselves driving a new global conversation on learning.

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Three months later, the conversation on evolving learning continues. Manifesto 15 is a set of principles, built for open discussion, remixing, and sharing.

And, here’s the best part: This is a conversation we all own.

Take this document as a starting point, building in your own ideas. Or create a new manifesto of your life. We learned that we can build a collective capacity to evolve learning, but this requires a tremendous amount of trust from all of us to realize our visions. And, we need to challenge the assumptions our learning systems are built on. We need to understand why, how, what, and for whom we are educating.

While we may not be able to predict the future with precision, we can at least set the vision for the type of potential futures we can create with others. And, from this, we can take meaningful action today. Manifesto 15 is not a mirror to the past, but it is a prism that takes a diverse spectrum of ideas and melds them into a coherent vision. We’ve set our vision.

Mahatma Gandhi is credited for teaching us: “Be the change you want to see.” Our invitation remains open to join us and build community, centered on trust and open dialogue, as we work to change the face of education – the absurdity ends now.

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Aprendamos: Course on digital entrepreneurship

While on assignment in Ecuador last April, Cristóbal Cobo and I met the production team of Fernando Fraschini & Lucio Heller, two Argentinians who have partnered to create educational programming for public access. One of their key projects is Aprendamos, which is a program for the Municipality of Guayaquil and Fundación Ecuador. Broadcasting every Saturday and Sunday morning at 7am, it engages viewers in distance learning opportunities that are also augmented with textbooks and call centers staffed with tutors.

After an initial interview and meeting in Guayaquil (see above video), we were invited to partner with them as advisors for a new series on digital entrepreneurship. Bringing together ideas from Invisible Learning, Knowmad Society, and also many national and international experiences, the course focuses on the future of work, and how we can learn from each other to co-create new futures – especially in areas of “new” entrepreneurship. In all, the project was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun – we couldn’t have worked with a better team!

The first episode aired last Saturday, starring the talented Angela Peñaherrera and Beatriz Miranda:

And, the second episode followed on Sunday:

With 18 more episodes lined up, watch us every Saturday and Sunday at 7am on your favorite channel in Ecuador!

More information: Follow Aprendamos on Facebook

Manifesto 15: Thirty days later

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30 days ago, on January 1st, I released Manifesto 15: a statement that started a conversation about principles for building positive education futures, grounded on the idea that we urgently need to evolve learning. This is a public declaration of a vision for education futures. In the past 30 days, it’s been read and discussed by thousands of people, signed by many, featured at a TEDx event in Guatemala, and teams of volunteers around the world have translated it into 11 languages (and visual notes!) – and more are on the way.

Manifesto 15 is posted online at http://manifesto15.org.

I’m thankful for the interest in this project and the support we have received around the world. I now seek your guidance on how we can best move forward.

Our message is based on the need to challenge the assumptions our learning systems are built on. We need to understand why, how, what, and for whom we are educating. The manifesto is intended to serve as a “snapshot” of what we’ve learned to date in regard to creating positive education futures. It’s not meant to pretend to have all the answers or the best ideas, but it’s an honest assessment of where we’ve been, and, through a statement of principles, illustrate where we would like to go. We present a global perspective that is about creating futures that we can all thrive in. It is decentered from any particular context, and is just as much North-South as it is South-North in orientation. We’re not pandering to anybody or any particular agenda. We just think that we can do better in education.

Here’s the best part: This is a conversation that we all own.

Please take the document as a starting point, and build in your own ideas and practices. Or, create and share your own sets of principles. The document is open for discussion, remixing, and sharing – and please do so with your own networks.

Our invitation remains open to join us and build community, centered on trust and open dialogue, as we work to change the face of education. If you would like to help us develop a plan for action that connects with the principles of Manifesto 15, or would like to explore how we can bring these ideas to your organization, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mahatma Gandhi taught us: “Be the change you want to see.” Let’s do it!

John Moravec, PhD
Founder, Education Futures

A manifesto for evolving learning

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2014 was a great year. Among my favorite activities, the Minnevate! project established a dialogue process to build an action agenda for educational leadership in Minnesota, we helped to build a 20-episode television series for Aprendendamos on digital entrepreneurship (to air in early 2015), and I got to talk at a conference in Peru built around the knowmads concept. And, my favorite, because it was so unexpected: Cristóbal Cobo and I appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine for our work in Aprendizaje Invisible. How cool is that?

After all this, it seemed it was time to re-center, and get back to basics. It’s too easy to get distracted and lose track of our principles and where we want to go with them. It was time to write a manifesto on what we’ve learned so far.

Read Manifesto 15 at manifesto15.org.

All of the manifestos that have inspired me are strongly associated with a date. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. Charter 77 emerged in January 1977. Dogme 95 was crafted in 1995. Also, as ideas transform and develop over time, Manifesto 15 represents a snapshot of our ideas, visions, and what we have learned to date on January 1, 2015. It serves as a reference point to help us understand how we’ve done so far, and what actions we need to do next.

I started writing Manifesto 15 a few days ago, and opened it for public edits, contributions, and comments via Google Docs as soon as the first draft was completed. I’m in awe of the global interest and letters of support this small initiative has generated, including offers to translate the document into local languages. Let’s see what conversations we can spark and what initiatives we can inspire.

Thank you, 2014. Onward, 2015!
jm