On January 23rd Be Social Change & the Centre for Social Innovation came together to host the opening event in a three-part series on The Future of Education. This first event looked at New Models for 21st Century Learning through a higher education lens with panelists from General Assembly, Skillshare, Enstitute, and Project Breaker.
To start the evening’s discussion, Eli Malinsky (Executive Director, CSI) asked the audience to think about a memorable learning experience we had that took place outside of the traditional classroom setting. We broke up into small teams of 5-6 for a few minutes and each person shared the first thing that came to mind. Common threads that came up within the groups included: Experiential learning; Personal responsibility; Learning from failure; Poetic moments; Experiencing the global nature of life; Culture shock or going outside our comfort zones; Choosing what we learn, rather than it being chosen for us; Learning by doing; Adventure.
After our break out groups, we came back together to listen and learn from our panelists–each representing an organization that has developed a creative new platform for learning. The panel was facilitated by Allie Mahler (Co-Founder of Be Social Change) who invited each panelist to share their vision, experiences, and outlook for the future of higher education, and the role that their organizations play within it.
The panelists included education enthusiasts, Juliette LaMontagne (Founder, Project Breaker), Brad Hargreaves (Founding Partner, General Assembly), Shaila Ittycheria (Co-Founder, Enstitute), and Abigail Besdin (Head of Education Team, Skillshare).
From the panel discussion and Q&A some of the notable concepts that came up were:
- A Liberal Arts education from a university means something very different now than it did ten years ago. It is no longer a direct path to getting a job, buying a house, and living the American dream — students must seek out the learning opportunities that will propel them in their own right direction.
-The internet is a pummeling, decentralizing force. Many other industries have been decentralized. The focus is now turning to education.
-A new economy is demanding new skills. We must build a system that prepares the workforce with a robust set of assets so they are well equipped for the dynamic workplace. We need to articulate a set of performance outcomes and allow students to build relevant portfolios for their work.
-Solutions to the above have to be practical for students and teachers. The entire process needs to be different. Education should happen out in the field, connecting with people, rather than being solely classroom-based.
-Liberal Arts can remain a core part of the American Education ecosystem, but needs the complement of skills training. College has its place, and we can’t see training for the deep technical sciences like medicine and biology being handled outside the University institution, yet. But college isn’t the answer for the masses.
-From the Q&A: What are the new metrics we can use to show that these new forms of education get results? Panelists Answer: Jobs! Prove that these new systems train people with the skills they need to get jobs, and that it works. It does. For example, of those who have studied with General Assembly, 80% have gone on to get hired using the skills they have learned.
There are many things in society that call out for change, and education is one factor in an array of complex, multifaceted issues. Significant change, and acceptance of that change in society, will certainly take time. Yet there are practical solutions emerging that can help us as we face today and tomorrow’s education and skills training needs.
We have already seen from the questions during the panel discussion, and the comments on our Meetup page after the event, that many of you have concerns and ideas on the matter of the Future of Education. There is much more to delve into regarding such a significant subject, and we look forward to continuing this discussion with you on The Future of Education with a focus on K-12 learning on February 27th (more details to come). In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment here, in our Google group, Facebook page, or Meetup. We look forward to engaging in this discussion with each of you.
More Information on the Panelists:
Shaila Ittycheria , Enstitute
About: Enstitute is reintroducing a project-based and apprenticeship-style learning model
Connect: @Shaila @Enstitute
Juliette LaMontagne, Project Breaker
About: Breaker is a project-based model focused on design-process learning & social innovation
Latest: Breaker is recruiting students and teachers for their June Challenge & Breaker 2.0. Learn more and apply here.
Brad Hargreaves, General Assembly
About: GA is a global network of campuses providing education in technology, business, & design
Connect: @GA @bhargreaves
Latest: General Assembly has come out with several new courses, many of which are online. Check them out here: http://generalassemb.ly/education?
Abigail Besdin, Skillshare
About: Skillshare is a global learning community encouraging anyone to learn and teach skills
Latest: Check out Skillshare’s new classes for this year: http://www.skillshare.com/newyear
**Special thank you’s to Jessica Epstein (@JessicaEpstein1) for writing and contributing to this post, Christine Coen (@CisforCrisCo) for her amazing photographs of the event (Make sure to check out her website here: http://cisforcrisco.500px.com/#/0), & Allie Mahler for editing this post!*****See more photos from the event here ***