Three Reasons Why These are Exciting Times for Edupreneurs
Ed Harris and Katherine Curry
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land…
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
Bob Dylan, 1962
Dylan’s lyrics are even more true today than they were in the ‘60s. Demographic, technological, and economic forces are transforming institutions and human interaction at an unprecedented pace. We think these are exciting times for imaginative edupreneurs, and below are three reasons why.
1. Big ideas are changing how we think and act. In our consumer society, we all fall victim to planned obsolescence. Soon, your car will need repair, and your new mobile phone will be archaic. While the marketplace of “stuff” is subject to entropy, the marketplace of ideas is not. Innovation sparks more innovation, and this cycle has significant implications for edupreneurs. Olin College of Engineering President and fellow edupreneur, Dr. Richard Miller, posits that the educational requirements of the 21st century are very different than the requirements of the 19th century. He explains:
The world that our education system was designed for no longer exists. And even if we redesign an education system for the world as it is right now, it will be partially outdated by the time our first graders reach high school. So the answer is to redesign the curriculum, with this unavoidable state of change in mind, and train students to be adaptable and versatile.
2. Professional development opportunities abound. Not long ago, professional development was an annual “event” led by an alleged expert. However, this traditional “sage-on-the-stage” notion is gradually dissipating and being replaced by more comprehensive approaches that consider adult learning differences and context-specific experiences. Moreover, many educators are now taking ownership of their continuing career growth and finding pertinent online resources, self-directed learning venues, and innovative professional learning communities. Today’s professional development is slowly evolving into a maturation process driven by a commitment to the vocation of (or calling to) education.
Educational providers like Lynda.com, Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy offer superior online education either absolutely free or at a nominal cost. Non-profit companies such as +Acumen specialize in entrepreneurial learning. Of course, the best place for edupreneurial learning is through our Edupreneur Academy, which contain MOOCs, face-to-face instruction, and networking opportunities.
3. Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators. Many educational institutions are developing physical and virtual spaces where students collaborate and integrate product-centered activities as part of their learning. One study reports that the shift from “students as consumers” to “students as creators” is progressing rapidly.1
These shifts challenge existing learning models. For instance, Bloom’s Taxonomy theorizes that learners cannot reach higher order learning activities until the lower-level thinking skills are addressed. Today, many argue that instead of a linear progression, Bloom’s stages are much more fluid and interactive, and higher order skills are sometimes put at the beginning, rather than at the end, of lessons.2
Sugata Mitra’s work with Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) is one example of this shift. In SOLEs, students create study groups, learn, and cultivate knowledge with little teacher support. In Mitra’s experiments, children actually taught themselves basic computer skills and English. Rather than spoon-feeding information to the students, it is better to ask engaging, provocative questions, and allow them to be self-directed in working out the answers.3
The above are only three reasons we agree with Dylan that “the times, they are a-changing.” Major challenges of twenty-first-century education include adjusting to these changes as well as shaping the cultural landscape to improve human interaction and learning. To us, these are exciting times. We are interested in what you think.
1See the NMC Horizon Report 2014 – Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators at https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/HR2014.pdf
2Readers can learn more about this challenge in reading the ideas of two international teachers and bloggers:
(1) Canadian teacher Shelly Wright – http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/05/flip-this-blooms-taxonomy-should-start-with-creating/ and
(2) Kenyan teacher Gioko Maina – http://dailyedventures.com/index.php/2015/02/18/anthony-giok/
3Michał Paradowski (July–August 2014). “Classrooms in the clouds or castles in the air”. Voices. No. 239. International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL). pp. 8–10 – via academia.edu.