10 building blocks for the future of schools

As Dean Shareski and I worked together on our new book, Different Schools for a Different World, (released this week!), he encouraged me to update my list of building blocks for the future of schools. Here’s the new list (now 10 items instead of 8):

  1. Project- and inquiry-based learning environments that emphasize greater student agency and active application of more cognitively-complex thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.
  2. Community projects, internships, digital simulations, and other problem- and project-based learning experiences that foster students’ ability to engage in authentic, real-world work.
  3. Competency-based education and standards-based grading efforts that shift the focus of assessment from seat time to learning mastery.
  4. 1:1 computing initiatives (and concurrent Internet bandwidth upgrades) that give students powerful digital learning devices and access to the world’s information, individuals, and organizations.
  5. The expansion of digital and online (and often open access) information resources that increase the availability of higher and deeper learning opportunities.
  6. Online communities of interest that supplement and augment more-traditional learning communities that are limited by geography and time.
  7. Adaptive software and data systems (and accompanying organizational models) that can facilitate greater individualization of learning content and pace.
  8. Alternative credentialing mechanisms that enable individuals to quickly reskill for and adapt to rapidly-evolving workforce needs and economic demands.
  9. Flexible scheduling that moves students away from 50-minute time chunks – and a prescribed number of hours and days in a prescribed location – and toward opportunities for students to learn longer, deeper, and in more places about important life skills and concepts.
  10. Redesigned learning spaces that accommodate flexible, student-centered grouping and learning tasks rather than classrooms that are dictated by instructor or janitorial needs.

What would you add or change?

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6 Responses to “10 building blocks for the future of schools”

  1. Love this!

  2. Sounds like the same building blocks for an effective school library program! School librarianss are definitely champions of this type of thinking and planning.

  3. Scott,

    Where are the people?? What about the people?

    I would suggest something should be stated about dynamic flexible multidisciplinary teams ready to serve as guides, mentors and facilitators, reinforcing strong communications, collaborative practices and norms and creativity through modeling those behaviors openly within the community.

  4. Dr. Gordon K. Dahlby Reply September 6, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I. Flexible scheduling is not sufficiently explored. It seems stuck in agrarian calendar times and mentalities when such a very few students live in such areas.
    Briefly: Time is the box still surrounding the thinking. It is an unforced error to assume communities cannot be availed to truly robust use of the full calendar and day. Flexible schedules need to allow different faculty schedules and contract days as much as it allows for students to have access to ‘school’ for more or fewer days and months and even years. As we know, many districts restrict acceleration and access to college early due to funding ties to the student being in the school building; a selfish view. Many districts treat summer school time as remediation, credit recovery; almost as a punishment versus a time of opportunity to engage the most valued asset of a district, the faculty, in what it does best…teach. Let’s take the barrier of time out of the discussions as an impediment to the possible.

    Would suggest you revisit this section with a more openness to the possible, despite 170 yrs of US traditions and fear of financial resources. Notice the feared term “year-round school’ was not used. That is an out of date term. Remember in your writing ‘school’ is oft synonymous with ‘learning opportunity,” and it should be available year round. This would truly be a future ready/thinking system.

    With respect.

  5. I would add that redesigned learning spaces are also NOT explored sufficiently. Addressing scheduling and learning spaces could drastically impact the educational world in a very positive way.

  6. I liked the community projects. I think it’s a good idea to get students involved in their community. This is great to get kids to see how the real world functions.

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