Next Gen Schools

Sarah Luchs posted her seven takeaways from “Designing Breakthrough School Models,” the summer institute in San Francisco where Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) convened the 30 of their grantees.

Here's my slightly revised version of her list.

Expect change. In fact, plan for it.
A key factor to succeeding in college (uh, and life) is persistence or what some call grit.
Self-directed learning requires skills, knowledge and a supporting culture that is radically different from the model of traditional schooling.

If you are working with traditionally under-served student populations and small-group work is one of your key instructional strategies
It takes time and thoughtful preparation to engage high-needs kids in new learning models. (Hint: Setting them out on their own in the name of self-directed learning doesn’t work.)
Let technology help your students master the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
You will not get 100% of what you intend; you may only get 30%. And even that will take three times longer than you think.  Accept this. Keep going.

To learn more about the 30 grantees who are planning new breakthrough school models, view their info pages at

Is There An Online Education Bubble and Might It Soon Burst?



According to an op-ed on FORBES, it will be online education that will be the next "bubble" to burst rather than traditional university learning. The latter is what has been predicted by many, including myself, since we entered the 21st century and especially in the past year or more as MOOCs have emerged.

That article by John Tamny is not another MOOCs-will-destroy-academia story and the author is not an education writer but one who writes about economics and politics.

He writes that "...when parents spend a fortune on their children’s schooling they’re not buying education; rather they’re buying the ‘right’ friends for them, the right contacts for the future, access to the right husbands and wives, not to mention buying their own (“Our son goes to Williams College”) status."

It might anger educators to read that "Kids go to college for the experience, not for what’s taught." Parents and kids are willing to pay Brown University $50,000 per year intuition. The author claims that the universities are not a bubble about to pop because they still open doors to opportunities and people are still willing and eager to attend and pay the price tag through loans. It's an investment.

Tamny's conclusion:

There’s no college-education ‘bubble’ forming simply because teens go to college with an eye on a fun four years, after which they hope the school they attend will open doors for a good job. Online education only offers learning that the markets don’t desire, and because it does, its presumed merits are greatly oversold. There’s your ‘bubble.’

What do you think?

Around the World, It's Not All About Facebook

FB China

In social media, Facebook dominates, but in 2012 (its ninth year), it lost users. It also hit the 1 billion monthly active user mark globally last year. The lost monthly active users dropped by 1.4 million which is a small but symbolic drop.

Other social networks also experienced a slowdown after a few years of steady expansion. 2012 was a time of leveling off. In America, it grew at about 7% rather than the 20 and 30% of previous years.

But outside the U.S., social media growth is quite different. In India, social media users grew by an estimated 51.7 %. China’s social media user base increased 19.9% and in Latin America it grew at a 16.3 percent clip. Russian use grew by about 11%.

You can find these statistics on several sites online, but I found them on sites like because these international users are of great interest to sites like Facebook. (Facebook is estimated to be the most popular social network in all but 10 countries around the world.)

wechatIn China, QQ, an instant messaging platform started in 1999 now claims it has about 800 million monthly active users, although it is more of a jumping off point to access other popular networking sites like WeChat.

WeChat (AKA Weixin) is a mobile platform for instant messaging and video calls with photo sharing and status updates and has 190 million monthly making is as big as Twitter there. Business brands like Starbucks, Nike and Durex are testing these networks for their advertising.

So, while Facebook is still on top, when you turn your gaze beyond our shores, there is competition.

And now there is heutagogy

Educators are pretty aware of the term pedagogy and frequently use and misuse it in conversations about their teaching. In K-12 education, all teachers have at least a general knowledge of educational theories and are required to attend professional development workshops on new techniques. But in higher education, many professors are willing to admit that they have little or no formal training on the art and science of teaching.

Pedagogy literally means "leading children." Most of the research in pedagogy by names like Piaget, Bruner and Vygotsky focus on teaching children.

Then, came andragogy, a much newer term coined to refer to the art/science of teaching adults. Originally used by Alexander Kapp in 1833, andragogy was developed into a theory of adult education by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and was popularized in the U.S. by American educator Malcolm Knowles. Andragogy addresses the theory that the methods used to teach children are often not the most effective ways of teaching adults. 

And now, heutagogy, a term coined by Stewart Hase of Southern Cross University and Chris Kenyon in Australia. It is the study of self-determined learning. In some ways, it is an expansion and reinterpretation of andragogy. Heutagogy's emphasis is on learning how to learn, double-loop learning, and true learner self-direction. One way to view it might be to say that while pedagogy and andragogy look at how we teach, heutagogy is concerned more with the learner.

For example, Chris Argyris has described double-loop learning in which an individual, organization or entity, having attempted to achieve a goal on different occasions, is able to modify the goal in the light of experience or possibly even reject the goal. More common in educational settings is single-loop learning (SLL) which is the repeated attempt at the same problem with no variation of method and without ever questioning the goal. 

The word heutagogy comes from several Greek words: heurista (to discover) and heuretikos (inventive) heuriskein (to find) and ago (to lead). Therefore, it is construed to mean "to lead to invention, discoveries, findings." Like andragogy, the research is based on learning strategies for mature learners.

The teacher/mentor/facilitator needs to enable learners to modify their learning in order to create new knowledge. I discovered the term only the past year as I explored MOOCs. Heutagogy fits well into the original approach to MOOCs which were very self-directed.

Heutagogy also seems to be related to the constructivism of Dewey, and approaches by Montessori and Kolb, although they were more concerned with children. In the taxonomy of Bloom, h
eutagogy is the highest order learning where problems are solved using heuristic problem solving, meta-cognitive knowledge, creativity, and originality.

click chart for orginal image

Image source & additional information at
and at (Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon - 2001)

Blackboard Moves Further Into MOOCs

Blackboard recently announced that 15 more colleges have signed up to use its services to offer MOOCs this summer and fall. According to, schools that are currently licensing Blackboard Learn will have access to the MOOC platform at no additional cost.

Blackboard had been allowing partners to use their CourseSites to run free unlimited MOOCs. Non-partnering schools and instructors can use CourseSites to create and manage MOOCs, but individual instructors cannot offer more than five MOOCs to students at once.

Blackboard says that they found schools were offering MOOCs because 1) they wanted to make educational content accessible to global students  2) to test programs in a safe environment  3) to market their services by giving students a firsthand look at how classes were run.

Blackboard announced that it plans to release an updated version of its Blackboard Learn LMS to include some features important to massive courses social learning capabilities, student engagement functions, rule-based learner identification, last name searches to filter through large numbers of students and automatic group creation.