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 And even if we redesign an education system for the world as it is right now, it will be partially outdated by the time our first graders reach high school.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.


References

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.

8 Comments

  1. beckyslothower

    This is a test to see if the comments come through to view and share. Great blog you two super star authors!

    Reply
  2. jakethompson

    It is so refreshing to see that the Edupreneur Academy, is weaving together the information that research has been pointing towards for the last couple decades. The blog mentions Khan academy – here’s a link to a series of videos about how schools are implementing khan academy in classes:

    https://www.khanacademy.org/talks-and-interviews/schools-using-khan-academy?ref=resume_learning

    Also, I highly recommend Sal Khan’s book: “One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined”

    Reply
  3. melissayarbrough

    I find the shift from Bloom’s Taxonomy very interesting. I believe higher order thinking is more engaging and may be the only way to help some students attain more basic skills they are missing.
    Students as creators! Long time coming but a welcome paradigm shift!

    Reply
  4. clsnyder-renfro

    1. Big ideas are changing how we think and act.
    The boat has sailed and been out on the water for some time now. I have deep concerns in particular for high education and the rate at which is changing – a snail’s pace. There are students in elementary and mid-high schools that can use technology that professors are not using…they are still talking, talking, talking. They should have college students creating, collaborating and problem solving. I try to teach my mid-high students every piece of technology applications that I can find and show them how to create. No matter what I share with them it will keep changing. This is why it is important for them to learn, so they can adapt, learn, unlearn and relearn often. The new learning environment must meet the needs of the student who is the customer. I come from industry and look at my classroom as a business, student as customer and their success as gross profit.

    2. Professional development opportunities abound.
    I must say, I was pretty jazzed when this course was shared with me. I am constantly taking courses online that I can start and stop at my leisure and of course are free:). Coursera is great and I am still amazed how many people do not know about it. I was a conference recently and the keynote was from ATT. He said the shelf life of a Master degree is maybe 3-4 years. They are not looking for continuing education in degrees anymore, but instead with specific and current learning connected to the fields their employees are in available from places like Coursera. They pay employees accordingly. I also have taken courses on KQED, Edmodo, conferences and more. In this day and age everyone needs to be learning something new every day. No exceptions. Everyone must grow.

    3. Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators.
    When I was around 12 or so I saw the movie “Auntie Mame” with Rosalind Russell and the “Mame” with Lucille Ball. I was taken my the way the house was run and the young boy learned in what I have since discovered as a Montessori type education. I loved it. My siblings and I grew up exploring and learning. It impacted me so much that I have reflected on it throughout my life.
    I think we live in a Bloomin’ loop of learning now. My mission statement is to engage learners (upper Bloom’s) then they will want to be enlightened (lower and middle Bloom’s) and then they will become effective (upper Bloom’s) members of society. I really like the “SOLE”man:) resource. Seriously…I really like it. My favorite part is “Tips for handling Challenges”. I will be using it.

    Reply
  5. aliseday1965

    I wholeheartedly agree the times are changing. However, It appears to be so difficult for the majority of the public schools to change in a significant way. How do we become a catalyst for positive change in that space or is it possible?

    Reply
  6. panchoo

    Learning models are not linear but are fluid and interactive. Learners can and do move from critical thinking and analysis to recalling information. I am very impressed and encouraged by our district’s new leadership team who has introduced a multiple role “triple track” agenda where we engage as learners, contributors, and designers. This is a modern and relevant view of education and its participants.

    Reply
  7. Caitriona Harris

    With the shift of students being cultivated as creators rather than consumers, possibilities are endless.

    Reply
  8. Brittany Couch

    This is a great piece that in my opinion that highlights principles that stand to create a complete paradigm shift in education from the bottom through adult education.

    1. Big ideas are changing behavior. Solving the education crisis will come and is starting to spring forth through the cross pollination of industries and people various fields and walks including those not steeped in education. This mimics what we see on a global scale, that to solve the world’s complex issues, it will take everyone putting their heads together. Game theory may impact education, healthcare innovation may change urban planning and it goes on and on. A lab and engineering approach to innovation will keep and sustain energy around innovations that work and discarding that in education which serves no purpose and is not backed with research.

    2. With abundant educational opportunities, any and everyone has an opportunity to develop expertise and contribute to the education field. Professional development is what sets pioneers apart from the pack, which in turn allows for others from outside of the education field to enter in with an innovators mindset.

    3. Viewing students as creators is actually not a new idea but one now that because of research and outcomes can be marked as an approach with real results that is also progressive in thought. The heart of the Montessori method is at the heart of this approach of self organized learning. Today we see how self organized learning environments, project based learning, expeditionary based learning coupled with technology and unconventional environments can allow students to catapult their own learning and success with minimal direction from adults.

    Reply

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