October 17, 2021

Where do opportunities for innovation exist in education in the new decade?

Repost from our linkedin group…much more there join the group by clicking the linkedin button top right of website.

The tradition classroom is changing. People have ever increasing demands on their time. Finding new ways to deliver a traditional education is a growth area for innovation in education.

Textbooks are continuing (and need to continue) to move into electronic formats and to digital device usage by faculty and students–such as Kindle and Sony Reader or Kindle for PC, etc.

It appears as if both of you are in agreement that the mode of delivery is the key place for innovation. I definitely agree that the mode of deliver will be extremely important. However, I believe strongly that access is only the first phase of the education revolution and that a second phase will include a combination of access and quality in terms of the level and types of educational opportunities that are afforded using these new methods.I believe that the area of remediation for the large number of students who are currently not able to obtain a high school diploma holds promise. In addition, there will also be opportunities in regard to those who are seeking a post-secondary education but who do not have the necessary skills to do so. A third area that ties in to both your idea of service delivery and the idea of access to content is the need for providing new methods and also increased access to quality curriculum (at an affordable price) for those who are choosing to home school their children. Delivery methods in the form of on-line programming has already made more diverse resources available to parents. However, there is is need for these parents to receive more and better options for receiving a standardized curriculum that can ensure that they are meeting quality indicators as highlighted by colleges and universities.

All of this being said, I think that access to digital is one way to deliver content while improving quality. Delivery of textbooks using this medium will definitely save schools money, time and resources. However, if we can also deliver varied types of content in more updated and non-traditional ways using digital media then that takes it one step further. With this in mind, I believe that the digitizing of actual teaching in such a way as to tie in immediate feedback in the form of assessments is the next big wave. While I do believe that there is no replacement for a real life human being, the fact of the matter is that schools currently teach to the middle leaving many students fall behind. This lends itself to remediation as being the area where opportunity exists. After that we can begin to look at challenging those that are on the high end although I am noticing that these students are gaining greater access to distance learning courses offered by colleges and universities (and only time will tell if that fills this area of need). Regardless, we will need to think outside the box to provide digital teaching opportunities.

Any thoughts?

 

To add to my previous post, role playing programs, situational lessons, traditional curriculum and assessment that all respond to the needs of the learner all have possibilities under this umbrella. If there is an interactional component then it will work (think Wii). I also believe that distance education that enables students to solicit responses from a teacher and/or other students that are in another part of the globe (think Cisco commercials that ran repeatedly during the Championship Bowl game) all fit the bill of increasing opportunities for those who have traditionally fallen through the cracks or who are being home schooled. The combination of new and varied delivery methods (as you indicated) along with the ability to deliver increased levels of complex educational content is the key in my humble opinion.

 

 

I think the single greatest opportunity that exists is to totally rethink the whole structure of what education is about, the purpose of it, what it should involve, how it is delivered and what we expect as a society from it.

There are so many complaints from so many quarters and so much private equity money available, that a model could be designed, trialed and refined without all of the politics involved at so many different levels that could produce astounding results could be produced for the masses.

I would suggest that in many ways education as we know it, is an old an outdated model that needs to be completed redesigned and restructured and that changes that are being made are simply an attempt to patch up that old and outdated model.

An example of this must surely be that in the US, we have 52 States all with their own curriculum standards. To me this is crazy. Are kids in California so different to Kids in New York or Alaska? And what a huge waste of resources at a time when so many are complaining about shortage of funds.

Maybe it is time to think outside the square a little and ask if one person called a teacher, standing in front of 30 different kids, (each with their own motivations and personalities), in a place called a classroom, is as suitable as it was in the 1870’s or the 1930’s?

Would we have satelites circling the earth as the foundation of our communication systems if we had not attempted to look beyond the engines used to power a B17 bomber in 1944?

 

I could not agree with you more which begs the question, where do you see the reconstruction of education taking us and more importantly, what do you view as the starting point?

My goodness, how to answer those two questions in just a few lines?

Where do I see the reconstruction of education taking us?

How about a starting point being the adoption of a single nation-wide Knowledge Plan (which replaces Curriculum) with all learning material and content being distributed online using a central distribution point, where all content is provided using subtitled interactive video and available on-demand 24 hours a day so that students have access to use it irrespective of where they were – at home or in a form of communal area – and irrespective of race or socio-economic backgrounds. Such a system would also have great value for rehab and re-education centres such as those in the Federal prisons.

A system where as the child gets older, self-motivation is encouraged and rewarded, and entrepreneurial spirit is fostered. The new Knowledge Plan (which replaces Curriculum) would include many subjects and topics that are applicable to situations that the child is going to face in their daily lives. Buying a house, how to use a Credit Card repairing your car and how to apply for a passport or open a bank account are some of those subjects.

With such a system students are provided with the ability to learn at their own speed and thereby helped to reach their full potential. With such a system parents are provided with the means to take a more meaningful role in their child’s learning process. The necessity to attend a school 8 – 9 hours a day where they currently only really learn anything for maybe 2 – 3 hours, is reduced and possibly, for many students, becomes redundant.

A system such as this potentially opens the door to huge cost savings, a much more efficient implementation of resources and greater level of community involvement and responsibility. AND a better level of overall education!

And the starting point?

The starting point is a clean sheet of paper and 5 or 7 people of sufficient vision, entrepreneurial flair, knowledge and expertise (and not only academic expertise – business and technical expertise too) and whose opinion is of sufficient weight as to have influence those that provide the support to enable the completed plan to be implemented – in test mode – once it was completed.

Virtually all of the pieces of the puzzle are there now, they simply need to be put together in the right order free from self-interested political and academic influences.

 

A very idealistic and commendable discussion indeed. However, we cannot simply ignore the bureaucracies and politics that have had their hold on education since the beginning of civilization. Bureaucracies exist solely to perpetuate themselves. They can’t be ignored, they can’t be destroyed and rebuilt, and they adapt to change at glacier speed. Before we can discuss innovations in education, we need to discuss innovations in infiltrating and influencing the current gatekeepers. The truly successful education companies are able to do this and when they do, the money will follow.

 

As a former public school teacher and administrator who now works in the for-profit realm, I could not agree with you more. The bureaucracies that have existed since the industrial revolution are firmly in place and it will be the responsibility of the for-profit world to show the public school world how we can make their lives easier and better while at the same time increasing academic achievement (which is supposed to be their primary goal). I think that this is no different from how innovation in any industry usually takes place. To deny that these systems do not exist and/or to believe that we can simply tear it down is not only unrealistic but also leaves many qualified professionals in the dust. These are professionals that we will need for the future to take hold and to flourish within the context of the entrenched system. Once these folks see the value of innovation, they are going to be the ones to spread it and also help to adapt it for functional usage. Of course, there will always be those that will dig their heels in and refuse to change and then their is a large group that simply needs to be convinced and lead. However, there is yet a whole other group of educators that are waiting to be leaders in a new generation of change and educational innovation. We can not ignore the fact that this group is out there as well.

Our company is continuously working to develop “innovations in infiltrating and influencing current gatekeepers.” I could not agree with you more! This has been the best way for us to “get the word out” and grow. It also happens to be a great deal of fun.

 

Bureaucracies and politicking have existed for a long period of time and they do have their place, so please note that my suggestion leaves that top level of that in place. However as is being proven time and time again, it is the numerous layers of bureaucracy that do the damage, and in the situation with education (and many other areas) it means that it can take up to 2 years for a simple decision to be made.

Look at the number of huge corporate enterprises, that suffer from this problem, and once those layers are stripped down and a more effective and slim line decision making structure put in place, the company is then able to enter a whole new area of productivity. Is it not true that too many chiefs spoil……?

Secondly, you mentioned all those highly trained professionals that would be cast aside. I certainly did not suggest this. If I had not been restricted by the number of words that I was able to use in my post, I would have pointed out that the type of structure that I envisaged would leave those professionals free to be deployed in other areas where there skills could be much more effectively used. Is it not true that currently one of the problems that we have is that currently teachers simply do not have enough hours in a day to attend to the needs of the gifted and special needs kids, and those with reading disabilities and dyslexia? Would that not be a more rewarding and satisfying use of their “liberated” hours than fighting with 3 or 4 troublemakers in a class whose only intention it is to disrupt, and in doing so, hold all of the other children back.

Where would we have been when the inventor of the sail came along? Should we have turned around and said, “hey, great idea, but we cannot even consider using a sail because of all the oarsmen we would put out of work?” Of course not, the oarsmen became free to moving on towards becoming sail makers, sail designers, officers etc.

Having read your comments it was interesting to note, that no comments were offered in respect of further refining the ideas put forward in respect of centralized distribution of material and content, and the benefits that it could, and would bring. In fact would it not be fair to say that both of your replies focused on the negatives of the proposal rather than further refining the idea and looking how to further improve the benefits? I am often like this myself and I think that this is part of the problem we all face. When we start looking at multiple layers of bureaucracy and politicking (and the majority of those involved have this similar approach) it is exactly the reason why progress becomes a painfully slow and uphill battle.

In closing I would offer this argument. Look at virtually all of the new, creative and successful innovations that have come about in the last century. They have not come about by being developed by those huge corporations that have monolithic infrastructures that virally reward their staff for having 9 – 5 attitudes. The innovation has come from small quick companies or individuals that have developed a new idea or concept and that have then either prospered on their own, or have then been bought out be the large company. A perfect example is the oil companies. They have huge financial weight and resources at their disposal but have they come up with solutions for our dependency on oil? No of course not, they have their jobs to protect. Can you not see some similarities here?

The only difference between ideology and reality, is the person prepared to take the first step, to make that idealogy become a reality. The reason why so few take that first step is because it requires vision, belief and courage. All the qualities we should expect from our finest educators.

 

There is no part of your argument that I disagree with. However, I am not sure about centralization and I would probably need additional details before passing judgment. I am worried about centralization because on the surface it disempowers individuals and probably serves to recreate layers of bureaucracy. I see centralization as an incremental change to our current system that does not account for those that are falling in the cracks. I believe that education is far too complex to be put in to the same category as production line work.  However, from your argument above it appears as if you are against any type of centralization that is tied to those ends. So, perhaps I am not clear on your proposal or I am not familiar with the type of centralization that you propose.

I strongly believe in Jeffrey’s approach regarding the need to work from within to garner support and influence. I am of the belief that those who work in the system want to do good and got in to it to make a difference but that the current systems inability to provide for flexibility, out of the box thinking and time stifles all creativity and innovation (as evidenced by high turnover rates among teachers). However, if they are provided with the tools, the training and empowerment many teachers and administrators would be capable of much more. When I present Springboard to a Principal or Superintendant, their response is “what a great idea, I never thought of that,” or “I would have done that if I had the time and the resources.” Once we put it before them they tend to become firm supporters and work to help us to implement. So, the idea here is to make sure that we do not alienate those who will help us to get our ideas out. Additionally, I believe that there is a place for lead user innovation. Clearly, those that are working within the system can not only tell us what they need to perform but they also have a unique opportunity to develop innovation if they are given the opportunity to work with for-profit companies that come with the resources and experience necessary to bring a product to market.

The problem with centralization as I see it is that it puts a great deal of power in the hands of a few which may end up stifling innovation as opposed to promoting it. That being said, I would love to hear more about your idea to see if I am not thinking about it correctly.

 

This is one of the most compelling threads I have read about education in a long time. I thank all of you for your thoughts and I look forward to learning more of your views on these controversial topics.

After spending many years serving Wall Street companies, I made a dash to the world of education so I could spend more time with my family. I became a teacher and after one good experience and one awful experience, I returned to corporate America in the assessment publishing industry. I can matter-of-factly state that I now exist in what Nicholas describes as one of those “monolithic infrastructures that virtually reward their staff for having 9 – 5 attitudes.” It is a sad state of affairs, especially when one witnesses the bail-out of such monoliths as AIG where innovation and job creation has never really been its raison d’etre. How sad.

That being said, let me summarize what I believe many of you have already said and add my perspective from both the teaching world and the world of large, educational, monolithic corporations:

American education is in ruins and continues to fall behind our foreign competition.

This fact is a result of many attributes of our system:

-An archaic and unequal distribution of wealth mechanism for funding our schools.

-State inequalities that take us back to basic Adams-Jefferson debates of a democracy or republic. What’s wrong with $10,000 per student in Connecticut while Mississippi provides half that amount?

-Teacher unions with destructive power helping America to retain thousands of teachers detrimental to our kids’ educations with no interest or motivation to improve. At least we don’t have tenure in our monolithic corporations.

-Monolithic corporations that have no motivation or talent (internal management and processes) to innovate.

-School districts without the leadership necessary to create and foment change.

-Parents, products of the system, unable to motivate their children to take their studies more seriously with an epidemic ignorance of the societal importance of the maths and sciences.

-Industry innovators able to captivate a generation of video-game players with instructional methods that are as tantalizing as the state-of-the-art games.

-I won’t dwell on all the problems with our universities. I will just suggest that they do very little to improve on any of the problems listed above and certainly contribute to the mass exodus of our kids from the maths and sciences.

Change in America, as with all of the world’s leading societies on the back-end of their trajectories, has become evolutionary and not revolutionary. Watching our bureaucrats wrestle with our health-care crisis cannot provide a clearer magnification of how we handle our problems as a nation. Because of our financial crisis, education is currently low on the pecking order of national priorities. And given the failure of the sole Bush innovation, No Child Left Behind, it may be dozens of years before education becomes a priority. In the mean time, the competition for our kids will become greater and greater at a time that their own skills weaken dramatically.

My conclusion is that the innovations from both our technology and educational infrastructures will take much longer to have a real impact on the majority of kids than any of us can imagine. We have always had pockets of educational visionaries ready to create change. However, our bureaucracies and bureaucrats do indeed work to maintain their own situations and have virtually no positive impact on our learners. As our founding fathers asked themselves, how do we create a society that stays vital and relevant? Given the recent leadership in our country, its lack of focus on education and inability to create substantive change in so many problem areas of our society, it is hard to imagine that we will really try to fix the problem until the nation believes it is in an emergency state critical to its future.

 

 

The main areas of centralization that I was talking about was centralization of learning content distribution. So when it is time for a Biology lesson, the student turns on the PC and then simply selects the appropriate video to use that day and his learning period starts. That program or video runs from a centralized online distribution point in a country and irrespective of whether the student is in Los Angeles or New York, they is learning the subject matter at his own rate of learning. It does not taken thousands upon thousands of people called teachers all over the country to be doing exactly the same thing in thousands of locations all over the country. This is a totally ridiculous waste of labor and resources.

And this is the starting point. Why? Because it is now that you can assess how much of those resources can be redeployed to a more meaningful and effective purpose. Which by the way will lead to a much greater level of job satisfaction with each of those teachers – and in turn a much happier individual. One of the most ridiculous things at the present time is that we are training up people that want to make a difference in the world, and then we are turning them into a massive army of robots each doing the identical job at the same time, all over the country. And they are many areas yelling out either “hey, we don’t have enough teachers” or “we are not paying our teachers enough”. Well guess what? Here is the start of a solution. Streamline, re-deploy, assess, refine. Starting at the cutting edge all the way back up to the chief’s house at the top of the hill. And by the way, it’s not so different in the health and medicine field.

Jon, all of the many things you and I are discussing are symbolized by two interesting issues.

That first is that the closer you get to the top of the hill you get, there is a diminishing requirement to be qualified to actually do that job. Example: we hire sales staff that need university degrees, yet we appoint congressmen, senators and presidents based upon their skills as an orator.

The second is that we live in an age where we are being told that technology is enabling us to communicate better, but talking to someone does not mean they are listening and actually hearing what is being said! Try talking to someone for any length of time and then you realise they are not actually hearing what is being said, it’s only a matter of time before you give up and say “this is a waste of time”. The average person then walks away and says, “who cares anyway, I give up, I’m going to look after number one”. The next moment we have a society that really does not care about anything too much except themselves and their own lives. And what happens then? Everything from people being stepped over in the street to corruption and greed at the highest levels.

I am enjoying this discussion tremendously but I cannot buy in to the doom and gloom theory. This is because I have been in the field of education for 18 years (in the public setting, non-profit setting and now in for-profit) and I see a revolution taking place. Yes, we are at the very beginning but it is finally coming.

I view public education a lot like I view China. Traditionally, there has been very tight public control that spurned any opportunity for innovation due to the fact that public bureaucracy typically squelches innovation. However, as China has opened up we are seeing competition that is predicated upon competition which in turn serves to spur innovation. The same holds true for public education. We are just now beginning to see an opening up of this space so that public education is being challenged. Competition in the form of charter schools, private schools, and home schooling is spurring competition here too and it is leading to innovation.  In my opinion, this new age of competition will cause all involved to seek out more efficient ways for educating all of our students (to include those at both the top and the bottom of the curve). Additionally, it will no longer be acceptable for children to fall through the cracks because these students are customers too and as intense competition heats up, for-profits, non-profits and public schools will seek to gobble up any customer that they can get their hands on. Those that do it the best, meaning those that are more efficient and use technology to meet a wide variety of student needs will gain market share.

Nicholas, I do agree with your assertion that the public system is ruining teachers. However, in the long run, it will only be those systems that can use a blended approach (tech and teachers) and that can keep their teachers happy and engaged by developing happy, engaged students that will succeed. There is a great deal of data out there that indicates that happy teachers lead to higher levels of achievement for their students (Linda Darling Hammond out of Stanford comes to mind) and the folks that know this and act upon it while using a blended approach to education in my opinion will win.

There are a great many people who care about education out there. This is not like competition in the fast food industry, we are talking about children and children that have parents that care about them and their well being very deeply. It is well known that we are loosing ground and that our children are now competing with the rest of the world. This too has served and will continue to serve as a great catalyst for change. The point being that all of the things that Jon has mentioned are indeed creating a “crisis.” We are there and I see the intersection of better technology, an eroding public system and the development of competition in the educational space as signs that we are in the midst of change. For those of you who are more tuned in to actual trends than gut feelings, all you have to do is look at all of the players that are cropping up in the for-profit education sector. I have never seen anything like it in my lifetime which certainly suggests that we are still in infancy with this. However, all of this innovation will find its way to students which in turn will lead to the change that we all are seeking. After a time there certainly will be a shakeout where many who are here now will not be here tomorrow. However, by then the floodgates will have been opened and education will never be the same.

 

There is a Linked In group called “The White House” with the following posting directly from the administration. I think all of you participating in this thread would find the discourse of great interest. Just an fyi.

Race to the Top: The President announces $1.35 billion in the 2011 budget committed to reforming and strengthening America’s public schools

Today President Obama announced his plans to continue the “Race to the Top” program, requesting $1.35 billion for the program in his FY 2011 budget – a competition to incentivize success that has already generated an overwhelming response from states, with over 30 states expected to compete for first-round funding.

We want to hear from you. What are your question and comments?

*Tune in tomorrow at 11:30AM EST: Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes will be responding to questions in a live video chat at WhiteHouse.gov/Live

I attended and presented at the Race to the Top Assessments public hearing and input sessions. The panels are in the process of deciding how to issue the RFP and when and what to include in the requests and then how to read, score, award and follow-up with the proposals that are submitted and awarded. There is good information available on the US Dept of Ed’s website and posting of the presentations given to date.

 

There has been alot of discussion focused on National Core Content Standards and corresponding assessments; growth models to measure school accountability, research-based curriculum, programs and instructional strategies; states that encourage school choice and charter schools in their policies; teacher pay tied to performance and how to incentivize education systems; and PK-20 collaborations and transforming how US education is delivered; eliminating the high drop-out rate; increasing college enrollment and completion for all students; crisis in school leadership and what to do; equity; the crisis in Adolescent Literacy. The focus has been on the students.

My favorite paragraph in this discussion was when Nicholas said “I think the single greatest opportunity that exists is to totally rethink the whole structure of what education is about, the purpose of it, what it should involve, how it is delivered and what we expect as a society from it. “

What do we want from education? What’s it purpose? Those seem like the core questions we should be addressing before we talk about anything else.

My own sense is that most of us want a job and that’s a lot different than in the past when you could get a good job without much of an education and education was there to create citizens and shared values.

I wonder if the degree model is too general for the kind of specific skills people need today and if some kind of on demand model (again borrowing from Nicholas) where we get the education when we need it will be more appropriate.

I am a little scared by the prospect of a nationwide curriculum or knowledge plan both for the uniformity and the bureaucracy it would create. I have a softness for chaos and would like to see all sorts of curricula that people can choose from because they’re online.

I also don’t see how it helps to complain about teachers unions, bureaucrats or other players. My own experience in life is that the vast majority of people are trying to do the right thing and we actually make more progress trying to understand their perspective than we do criticizing them.

What do others think will be the role of education in the next decade? What do we want from it? What knowledge needs to be available and when?

 

Maybe a discussion on education needs to begin with the definition of “educate”. It is from the latin root educare or educarus and means “to rear or to lead”.Thoughts? Who or what are we “rearing or leading” and from what to what and for what purpose?

Teach or “to teach” is a transitive verb from Middle English and means to show. If we combine the definition of both educate and teach- then the discussion would begin with “the process of educating would be to rear or lead and demonstrate or show ?? then we get to the what and the purpose and the end or to what end?

 

I agree in terms of complaining, I always tell folks that I work with that if you are going to bring the complaints then you better also bring solutions. I do believe that competition in the education space will help us to sort this all out. Fifteen years ago there was 0 competition for public schools and now it is all over the place. Even in a stale economy, we are talking about growth for both for-profit k-12 and Higher ed. The type of discussion we are having is the result of the fact that we now have options which in and of itself is the catalyst for the educational revolution that we are currently experiencing. I am also with you in regard to the idea of centralization and I too like the idea of choice. The fact of the matter is that in an environment where competition exists and innovation is the rule, those products that are proven to work for the consumer will rise to the top and bring the quality of education along with it.

I would like to challenge the conversation a bit. Choice to do what? with what group to what end? Please help me understand better the terms that are being used in the discussion. I deeply believe in a free market economy and I promote competition and choice but I want to know what we are promoting – what does choice mean for those who “impart knowledge and rear and demonstrate” thanks.

I like the question, I do believe it is one that needs to be answered. The way that I see it is that choice can include any mode and type of education that the consumer is seeking on the K-12 or on the higher education level. The market demands that there are a variety of ways in which a student can access education and that the chosen method ensures that it leads to success in some type of post-secondary environment. In other words, the innovation in terms of the delivery of content will have to lead to a situation where the consumer does not fall through the cracks, receives the skills necessary to achieve their post-secondary goal (whatever that may be) and that they will not require remediation to achieve that goal.

Those that impart knowledge can still teach within the construct of a model that provides choice. There will still be a place for traditional methods (for some) and then there will be some consumers that desire an innovative approach. Besides teaching educators willl have the ability to be business owners and innovators. If anything, I see choice in the form of home based education, charter schools, on-line education, charter schools etc providing more choices for these educators. They can be the innovators, business owners, teachers and leaders within the context of a new model that is more “free market” in its approach. 

…and they also can work along side business leaders for the purpose of ensuring that educational outcomes are tied to fiscal accountability and sustainability (accidentally left that out).

 

I agree. My next question is for whom? I am not yet convinced that there is a place any longer in the K-12 market to continue with any form of the structure the way it has been designed and implemented in the past, with millions of students unable to access an education that helps them acquire the skills, knowledge and deep comprehension that is needed to compete based on global demands. I wonder if it isnt time to think, visualize and experiment with new education delivery designs. Most of the Charter Schools seem to follow a tradtional design and the traditional design isnt meeting the challenges posed by the shift in global knowledge demands, therefore, I ask the thinkers and innovators what would the new education design include? This leads me to ask what do children, students, young adults need to know and learn that will give them a strong knowledge foundation to succeed (academically and financially) based on 21st century demands. It is obvious that the students currently are not prepared. The institutions that exist today and have existed for the past 100 years no longer are relevant. It is not that they are “bad” but the form no longer follows the function. The form has to change to meet the function’s criteria and requirements. If we can identify what are the most important, urgent, necessary knowledge and skills students need to learn; it seems we can then visualize the form and then prepare the individuals who will engage the students to acquire the knowledge and skills to meet and exceed the required function (some would say goal- but it is overused). thoughts?

 

All children and students need to know and understand language- the form, structure, content and use of language and the beginning of philosophical constructs. This is just as important as reading and writing and spelling (full literacy). The foundation of language- well taught and understood is the pathway or bridge to comprehension. Second is math- all math in every form including logic and statistics for all students. Math includes computers, technology-use- attributes -discovery (not as remedial or supplemental) Third is Science- the art of discovery, organization, naming, ordering, research, experiments- hands on inquiry. I am sure others will want to add to this list. What I am outlining here is for students in any PK-12th grade setting no matter what form it takes- home, charter, computer-etc- socially interactive environments- 5- 6 days per week with content master highly trained, highly skilled and highly educated themselves in their specialty area. If we can imagine this type of knowledge transfer, we can think about the professionals needed to facilitate the process and then think about the amount of time it will take to effectively and efficiently support and facilitate this process. Finally we can consider education designs- what will this look like?

 

This is great to see more, obviously very qualified people, enjoying this discussion and wanting to get involved. Only trouble is I am working on trying to get a Business Plan updated and kept getting drawn back here with each new comment offered.

Kathleen, I don’t think you will find any objections with those definitions. But maybe we could simplify things down a bit, because what this is really all about is a group of people, of all different ages, that have some degree of desire to absorb knowledge of one kind or another, and what we are talking about is the best way to establish and provide what they need to satisfy their enquiring minds (lets call it the fountain of knowledge), and then to make sure that the fountain keeps flowing in the most efficient, self-sustaining and unpolluted way.

It’s a bit like taking a horse for a ride in the desert. After a while that horse is going to get thirsty and in most cases it has the ability to know which direction to go to find the waterhole. When you get to that waterhole, that horse is going to take a long cool drink, because it wants to….it knows it’s thirsty. And as long as the water is clean and not poisoned, it will keep drinking for as long as it needs to. Then it’s off till the next time it gets thirsty. And ol’ horsey certainly doesn’t need us to tell it when it’s thirsty, or whether the water is clean, or when to start or stop drinking.

And if you observe people, especially little ones, you’ll find they are no different. If you try and make them drink something that they don’t want or need, or try telling them when to stop and start, then it’s only a matter of time till you have problems. So in education, our responsibilities in their purest sense are all about ensuring that flow of water stays fresh and cool, clean and running strongly.

Okay there will always be one or two of the herd will be a little sickly and need special care and attention, so you attend to their needs, but they are not the ones you take for a ride in the desert in the first place. Similarly there are those stallions that are the natural leaders, and nothing we can do is going to determine which they are. And they will naturally seek out and find what they need to ensure they fulfil their role in the herd.

Once we appreciate this simple truth and apply this understanding to the society in which we live, then everything, including an understanding of our responsibilities, become a lot clearer, and more clearly defined.

Okay so this may be a little simplistic, but the general principles are no different. The single greatest difference is the quantities involved. And generally in the past where we have tried to cater for larger numbers we have embraced mass-production. But this is education we are talking about and there are aspects of mass-production that will certainly not work, but there are others that will. But replicating out the little schoolhouse on the prairie concept that worked in the 1800’s is not a concept that will work now.

And Brett, I certainly hope I didn’t pack my Doom and Gloom books in my schoolbag today, I would like to think that I am taking a realistic approach to seeing things how they are, knowing that at 53 years young, I have never touched another test tube since I left school, but at the same time my attorney seldom gets involved in the contracts and agreements I need, because I have taught myself how to do it – no, I was never taught the basics at school. I wish I had. 

Nicholas the analogy is great – I hope you get a chance to see the 2 I posted before I received your insights. We are saying the same thing and I think if we think about the knowledge base that children/students need, they will receive what they need early and then can decide later to pursue the test tube or the contracts. My point is that educators- us- can provide, offer, teach breadth and depth in both- we have 1) the students. 2) We know what they need to comprehend in a deep way 3) we can figure out how to deliver it 4)how to train others to teach the needed knowledge. thx

 

One other comment too.

While private schools may seemingly offer some solutions, they do not really provide the kind of solutions that will stand the test of time in their current format, simply because they do nothing to overcome the educational divide between those that can afford and those that cannot.

Unless of course the payment for each and every student comes from the government. And yes, I believe that this could be made to work.

As a capitalist myself I should be supporting the ethics and theory of private education. However I am also a realist, and I believe that private schools could be used as much to patch the old system, as to create the new. And that is something that we need to be wary of.

The more that I read, the more I like you. You certainly have us thinking on this post. I do agree with everything that you have said in your previous post. The only thing (and it appears as if it is always one thing) that I need clarity on is the “sick horse” analogy. I believe that there are many students out there that do not “fit” in to the traditional mold that we call the current education system. I think that there is a big market for those students that are failing in this system. These students are very “thirsty” and their thirst has not been quenched within the context of the current offerings. I wonder if these students are “the sick ones that need extra attention” or the “normal” ones that simply do not respond to traditional methods (and who could benefit from a dose of innovation).” With such a high drop out rate and the need for remediation when it comes to higher ed, I believe the latter. How about you? 

I could not agree with you more on your last post. I will sleep on your comment there and respond after giving it some more thought. Thanks for the insight! 

I think we are having a discussion on a new vision for education based on all the students in the US- no matter where they attend; we are discussing what they need to know in the age of knowledge pursuit, management, creativity, development, the ability to problem solve, establish new systems, new products, new services, The Age of Knowledge and Creativity. This is a new approach at least for “mass education” which is the most important- it creates the tipping point. We need to define what KNOWLEDGE CURRICULUM goes in this new education design. We have the who and the what- and can move to the how. I want to explore this for the sake of our children stuck in “failure institutions” we have tinkered long enough! What I think we can develop does not exist yet. I know we can make this a reality.

 

The very compelling aspect of this discussion is that we are becoming a group that very much sounds like we are using the same songbook, and that there are simply a few more verses that need to be added to the song we have chosen to share, simply because one person alone is not able to come up with an entire solution. In fact this is the first online discussion that I have taken part in where I have made a point to go back and thoroughly read each comment for fear I have missed anything. Too bad we don’t all live a little closer so that this discussion could be continued offline in front of refreshments, irrespective of whether your taste be for a cold wine or black coffee.

I’d like to go back a bit now and reintroduce this aspect of a singular Knowledge Bank (to replace that word Curriculum), and the online centralized distribution of the Knowledge Bank, so that we can put this into context with all of the more recent comments.

My suggestion about a single nationwide Knowledge Bank (or Curriculum) should not be considered a singular list of things that every student must learn. No, it simply forms the core and is made up of topics that are encompassed by the existing curriculum’s as we know them: Maths, Reading, Writing, History, Science, Geography, Social Sciences etc. Then add that a range of topics that are relevant to each student in their daily lives as they grow into adulthood. A third list encompassing family values, motivation and self-motivation, spiritual awareness, socialization, ethics and morality, enterprise and entrepreneurship. Fourth would be a list of topics of general interest and general knowledge topics and sports information. Finally is an insight into employment and career related interests.

Centralize this databank, deliver the information in interactive video format online providing the option of subtitles, larger than normal font size, and audio directed co-screen controls for use by the totally blind. Provided by the government and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the average student is not “commanded” to sit on any particular chair in any particular building to use it.

A feature of this system ties in the all of the Knowledge Bank information to entrepreneurship, enterprise, employment and careers so that at the click of a mouse, each student (or adult) is able to see a direct correlation between a career option that interests them, and the knowledge they need to be able to demonstrate a level of proficiency in, to enable them to viably pursue that career path or business interest. In essence, if they want it, this is what they have to get off their backside and do to get it. And how quickly they turn their dreams into a reality is entirely up to them.

Brett, you asked about the sickly horses in the herd. Well lets just say that these are the students that are either unable to respond to motivation or alternatively those that are disadvantaged in some way (physically, psychologically or socially), and need more than a chair, a computer screen and time. The proposal outlined above already more than caters for the gifted, so let’s look at those at the other end of the spectrum.

What I have outlined above, if implemented appropriately, liberates a huge number of very skilled teachers. They wanted to teach, they trained to teach. So redeploy them. Some to online support of the Knowledge Bank and those using it, and give them the option of working from home, and then another greater percentage to focus on those disadvantaged individuals that really do need a greater degree of support and assistance. No more kids (or adults) falling through the cracks.

There is also another huge area I would like to explore with you guys that concerns the huge amount of wastage of human and financial resources going on in for-profit companies in the eLearning space that could be overcome for their own, and everyone else’s benefits, but for now that is another story. 

Hi Nicholas, I agree with the term Knowledge Bank instead of Curriculum. I hesitated to use the word curriculum (implies too rigid an approach). I also agree with the additional areas that need to be included and the format you describe to deliver the knowledge themes aligned to “real world” careers. The online and video format could be part of the solution. Some students need “face time” we need to consider their preferred “ways of learning” especially younger students- Pk-3rd grade and their family challenges ie parents working. I think we can begin by identifying the areas of knowledge instruction that is age and grade appropriate and build on it -targeting all students. What do they need to know and when do they need to know it. .

I am in, love the idea, I see the ability to also use this as a remediation tool for those that are in college (on-line or otherwise) that do not have the skills necessary to succeed. If the skill bank is sequential in nature and enables students to pull up subject matter at their own pace then it should work. A good place to start as far as curriculum is concerned might be the Core Knowledge Curriculum. I think that you will find books by E.D. Hirsch (the founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation) to be very interesting along these lines. Most public schools have shunned the curriculum because it would constitute “change” but it has been embraced by a number of charter schools. Regardless, the idea of “core concepts” is something that I believe that you are alluding to in your email and might prove to be of interest. I do agree with both you and Kathleen in terms of the idea that some face time and interaction with other children will be required (we can not have school in isolation), if we want to promote social skill development, teamwork, leadership skill development etc. That being said, the idea of teachers working from home and operating via distance education is a good one.

There is a great deal to be fleshed out but I think that this is the foundation for a great model! 

I agree with distance learning to an extent. I have found that most children/students regardless of age dont effectively engage until they are older. I would like to consider a balanced approach. I dont have a specific or particular “face time” model in mind. I just think about so many inner city kids who cannot stay home- parents work. I also think about the basic knowledge and information that needs to be shared- learned- demonstrated etc to students in PK- 6th grade age range thoughts?

 

Core Knowledge Foundation Web Site.

http://coreknowledge.org/CK/index.htm

This is one idea and/or a jumping off point for developing of a system. They have a guide called the Core Knowledge Sequence which lists out what every child should know by grade (and of course in sequence). While it is certainly not the only thing out there, this curriculum is one of the few things out there that is getting real results regardless of socioeconomic status etc. Plus due to its sequential nature and the fact that it is simple to follow, it lends itself well to your idea. 

The term that is currently being used for the model that you are proposing (combination of face time and distance learning) is “blended teaching.” I agree with you in regard to the need for more than “one method.” However, I also believe that a blended model can be used within the context of a school building and/or a private tutoring center so that parents do not have to stay home with their children during work hours. There are many possible solutions here. 

I am completely against the idea of a centralized knowledge bank by any name.

Who decides what gets in and what doesn’t? It’s all very big brotherish to me. I am not in favor of approved and unapproved knowledge.

Whatever you think about our political system, be realistic and imagine how this centralized system would end up.

Education solutions that depend on gigantic new systems (and this is way bigger than even the department of education) are, at a fundamental level, the same as ever.

How about some opportunities that people in this linkedin group (or discussion) could actually make happen themselves. 

These are great ideas and strong potential solutions. I’m on board. How do we get started?

1.   May I in all humility attempt to address some of your comments because in many ways the limited number of words that can be used in any one post prevents any detailed reply about any one aspect. And I for one do not have the knowledge or expertise to provide all of the answers, simply to work with everyone else to develop a vision, maybe contribute in the identification of a starting point, and possibly even the design of a vehicle that may help to start the journey.

The only reason for a centralised Knowledge Bank is to eliminate the wastage of duplication. Why have twenty banks of servers operating to distribute information 24 hours a day, when one bank of servers will do the job.

Secondly, the very basic starting point would be to get all of the curriculum that is being used in every individual state in the US and compile it into one, eliminating every duplication. You would then have a very positive starting point for the first list because many experienced people worked over many years to developed those 52 State Curriculums, and this exercise is not about throwing out the Champagne with the bath water.

You asked who decides what goes in and what doesn’t. Well in this first list nobody does because that has already been done, this first step is simply to eliminate duplication. In the other lists it is pretty much common sense isn’t it. Everything that could be of use to a child or student to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. Would it include a copies of the Karma Sutra, Mein Kampf or the Dummies Guide to Pedophilia? Likely not. But only because if they want that information it is already widely available in bookshops and the internet anyway. This is not about another form of censorship, but hey, time is going to be a huge limiter on a project like this anyway, what purpose is served by worrying about the colour of the fingernails, when designing and inserting the heart is rather the priority.

Why would this system not include links to Wikipedia where so much work has been done already. And the search engines? Don’t get hung up about providing links to MSN (Bing) and Yahoo, but not Google just because they are working with the Chinese Government. I would not even be interested to sit in meetings that were going to focus on these sorts of issues because that is what we have now.

As far as Big Brother goes, my thirteen year old son would love to have a big brother. Okay I am introducing a slight element of humour here, but at the same time I am perfectly serious. The word Big Brother has developed so many negative connotations because it has been so misused. Look, there are some absolutely disgusting things that have been going on at Government level for a long time, but you don’t reject the idea of painting the bathroom blue, simply because the rest of the house need a repaint too – and originally that was painted blue as well? Every change for the better has to start somewhere. But before I move on if you want to find out about some positive aspects of a “Big Brotherish” type of system, go study Singapore. Millions of people in a very small confined space, with no natural resources. Yet they have one of the world’s leading economies and best socio-economic environments, everyone has a job, a place to live, a good education for everyone irregardless of the many races that live there, ready access to affordable healthcare for everyone and little or no crime. And guess what? Everyone has the choice as to how they choose to live each day, unless of course you intend to start a branch of the Mafia there? And sure, then they have something to say.

And finally you asked “How about some opportunities that people in this linkedin group (or discussion) could actually make happen themselves?” Well this is such an opportunity, and you have already started with the posts and comments you have made. You have your own fields of expertise that we don’t, and on that basis we need you and your contribution as well as your constructive criticisms. At the end of the day I am only Joe Average and I certainly don’t have all the answers. What I can do though is help breakdown one large problem into a series of many smaller ones, which then makes them easier to resolve one at a time. 

You have just asked the single most difficult question as far as I am concerned. “How do we get started?”

We have the vision – and so we have already started.

The next stage is documenting the vision – at least a basic outline of it. This is essential because it allows others to develop an understanding of the vision, as opposed to a misunderstanding of it. But more importantly, like a Business Plan, the compiling of such a document will outline the nuts and bolts required to implement a plan of action.

But here is the question? For me to be able to read or write anything, I need a bit of light to help me to see what I am reading and writing. In this particular situation the only light available is going to be coming from the other end of the tunnel. So to put this in very blunt terms, we can commit a lot of valuable time, energy and resources into this, but whose desk does the initial document land on to enable this to then proceed to the next step. I don’t have the influential contacts at the top in Washington that are going to ensure that what is designed and produced is not just going to fill up somebody’s “too hard basket” on their desk.

And the reason I bring this up is because I have just spent the last 3 years self-funding and actively involved in the conversion of 240 K12 CD-ROM titles for online delivery. I now have a significant library of online K12 video content and now need to concentrate on get some traction for the use of this content in the marketplace so as ensure the revenues are produced to continue.

So there is my commitment, but I need to also have an eye for the commercial realities of the situation. 

I would like to start with the statement- we have the vision. What is the vision- can we get the vision into a vision statement among us- 25 words or less. That to me is the place to start. Once we define the vision in a sentence we can begin to build from there. I am not sure, yet, we have any idea about Knowledge Bank or knowledge base until we define and decide based on our vision what we want children/students/ young adults to know (knowledge base) and be able to do. It would help if we could start here first. thanks

 

I forgot to add- form will follow function and funding will follow both. If we stick with this there are folks who are interested in education sectors and in funding sectors. I am asking us to NOT rehash what is out there, what has been done to date etc. I am asking us to start with what our children need to know ie comprehend to succeed in this new century. The old systems and possibly the rehashed knowledge may not be applicable- some of it may be. Again if we can start with a one sentence vision and what we want our children to know and by when? Thank you

I am very interested in hearing more about your CD Rom. I am very interested in the utilization of technology for the purpose of providing remediation to students who have fallen through the cracks. I am even more interested in any method that will support this situation not even presenting itself in the first place. Our company is dedicated to this mission and I would like to see if there is any synergy. Additionally, looking at your work might provide me with some insight into your idea of a “knowledge bank.” I want to reiterate that you may want to check in to the work of E.D. Hirsch as his premise is that there is a “core” knowledge that every student in the U.S. needs to be successful member of our society. He does not state that this is the only knowledge that is needed but rather that it represents a starting point and perhaps a minimal competency level. It may represent a “starting” point as I am sure that nobody has integrated it into the idea that you have presented. I am not suggesting that you limit the Knowledge Bank but simply that it needs a starting point. My guess is that it would not have an end point and that it would need to be updated continuously as new knowledge becomes available. I would like to add that it probably should include audio and video (where some items might contain one or the other and/or both).

 

You wanted 25 words or less…..difficult….. but I am sure others can improve on this:

We have a vision for a modernised educational methodology that utilizes resources already at our disposal, and todays technology, and will provide for this nation’s students in the years to come, irrespective of all age, colour, creeds or spiritual belief, with the ability to individually and often independantly, reach their fullest potential, leaving no child behind, and in a sustainable manner that will no longer continually strain our nations financial resources. 

Vision: all children will be educated to reach their highest potential through learning the new Core Fundamental Knowledge in affordable revolutionary technology based methodologies that promote sustained independence and individuality. (29 words a start)- please edit, change, revise – have fun! Kathleen

 

I just read this entire post and enjoyed watching all of the different ideas and personal histories/interests come together towards some common ideas. I have some questions.

Kathleen, before we create that vision statement, can you clearly define the market problem? It appears that you would like to create a business concept. However, if the market problem is defined as “education is broken,” the problem’s definition does not lend itself to a business solution.

Nicholas, how is your knowledge base different than Wikipedia’s? Wouldn’t creating a site like Wikipedia for students, utilizing Wikipedia’s methods and database, be the logical way to create such a centralized repository?

Also, please note that Americans, for the most part, unlike Singaporeans, abhor the concept of centralized anything. It’s a concept that dates back to the beginning of our country. State power versus national power is still hotly debated. Equally hot a topic is that of national educational standards. Give it 200 years and you might get a consensus leaning towards national standards.

Brett, how does Springboard create a difference for students? Who is the target and what is the methodology? How do you quantify results?

Robert, “How about some opportunities that people in this linkedin group (or discussion) could actually make happen themselves.” What have you learned from this discussion? Is there an underlying concept or vision? What’s yours? 

I do think it is a market problem. The high school drop out rate in the US for the past 10 years now hovers at 33% annually (in some student populations it is lower ie White and in som higher ie Hispanic- 35-45%. This directly translates into loss of income, earning power and GDP- I have the numbers in a report we wrote. If all students graduate within 4-5 years it increase the GDP by x % annually- can provide the numbers. I am not talking about remediation. I am talking about designing a new education model.based pm tje knowledge students need to enter the workforce and/or college -the design model for ed that currently exists is extinct and needs to be abandoned for a new model based on what students need to know.

 

I would also like to add that I think the discussion needs to begin with the knowledge and skills students need ie a knowledge base- all students- and I did articulate it above. I think we are still at that stage of the conversation. Some would like to jump to Core Knowledge- I’m not sure it is a place to start- it might be but I think it assumes that everyone in the discussion knows exactly what is offered in the Core Knowledge Curriculum and that it is what is needed by all children/students for 21st c skills. I am not sure it is and would like to go back and discuss it first. My next question is if we know who to educate (all) and what to show, teach. etc, we still need to decide the best form and format to deliver this type of knowledge to all students. I am still at this phase of the discussion. thank you

I will address your question at some point tomorrow when I am in my hotel in Sacramento and have some more time (I am very passionate about what I do and am more than happy to discuss). In regard to Kathleen’s comment though, I have no desire to jump to anything other than where the conversation will take us. I started this discussion truly to have a discussion and to have the type of brain share that is currently taking place. I have no stake in the Core Knowledge Curriculum other than I believe in the concept and I feel as if it was a direction that was consistent with the conversation. My only apprehension in regard to this is the sheer breadth of what it is we are talking about here. A clearinghouse for all educational concepts that are important is way to broad and a reconstruction of the current system will take some serious buy in from a great many stakeholders in order to take hold. Thomas Jefferson once said, “a little revolution every now and again is a good thing” and while I believe this to be the case, I am not so sure that the 5 or 6 folks on this post constitute a revolution. The ideas are very good and they make sense but we are far from a plan that can be disseminated. I happen to like the idea that Nicholas presents but I also believe that the internet alone is a warehouse for information. The problem that I see is that it is not organized in to any type of a sequence and it is not structured in such a way that it readily caters to learners who are auditory and visual in nature. Much like public school, it continues to be language based when it comes to learning. How to best organize such a vast amount of knowledge is one of the questions here. Kathleen, you may have misunderstood me in regard to my ideas surrounding Core Knowledge but there is no misunderstanding the idea that whatever you decide upon for a starting point for the infinite number of concepts that are out there one thing holds true, it must be steeped in data and research (and Core Knowledge is). Additionally, if you want to organize all of this “stuff” then you need a structure that is easy to follow (and Core Knowledge has that too). If you choose not to follow those two tenets then all you have is Wikipedia or the internet as a whole with no checks and balances regarding what represents “knowledge that is needed” vs that which is not. Finally, to believe that we are all going to buy in to the “one common way” is a pipe dream. There are as many interpretations of education and “what children need to know” as there are interpretations of the bible. Finding common ground is clearly going to take some compromise, that is if we are even looking for it. I agree with Nicholas’ idea but I am not sure yet that it can be accomplished for all. Which begs the answer as to whether or not it even has to? From a business stand point, we only need to garner a small percentage of those students who are being educated. I would love to think that everybody would jump on board and agree that it would be a lovely dream but that would take years and years of work (see Malcolm Gladwell the Tipping Point). Any attempt to cater to entire population is probably a pipe dream and is where our current system probably went wrong in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I want market share and I would love everybody to consider my view on education to be the correct one but the beauty of the entire system now (and where it differs from where we were 5 or 10 years ago) is that now there is competition and as long as we have that then the changes will happen. A good business plan would be great here but a panacea for all of educations woes is probably not going to come out of this board. I am all about the passion though. In other words, I agree with Nicholas’ comments regarding “the commercial realities” of the situation.

 

Thank you-I would like to clarify. when you think of the most important areas that children need to be taught (some of this is based on what we had to teach ourselves) please refer to my comment earlier in the discussion- language, reading, literacy, math, technology, logic, philosophy, science. It can be broken down into 4 main areas 1)language/literacy 2)mathematics 3) science 4) technology. I think it can be for all students (see Tipping Point) over time. If we agree that we will start smaller- think of all students-consider what they need to now (comprehend). We can begin to discuss the form it takes- the balanced learning environment? I would also like to add – it would help if we began looking at either grades or age levels Grades PK- 7th grade first or ages 4- 13 or 14- this would help expedite the process. Ages 4-14 in what kind of balanced learning environment? Define the information they need to learn and using what combo of formats? I do think this is doable and it can be timely and there are folks interested thanks

 

Thanks for your clarification, I agree that what you speak of is in fact doable and a good jumping off point. Probably a better jumping off point than the type of content to be integrated in to this type of a system. I like starting with the form as opposed to the content and I do believe that there will be a better opportunity for building agreement in this area.

 

Dr Prilik I also think we can look at the Core Knowledge Curriculum and see what is in it already that may lend itself to the 4 areas I outlined for children to comprehend. It we look at the knowledge and skills students need and the 4 areas Lang/lit, math, science, tech and see what they have and if we can pull from it fine. We dont need to redevelop something that has already been vetted. However, I didnt want to assume that the CK- Core Knowlege Curriculum in existence includes what students need to learn. I dont know that empirically-others might. I would like to see if there is interest in doing a comparison I may have a contact to start this new Knowledge curriculum -let me know if you are interested. thank you

 

I also am aware of a school structure similar to the one we are discussing. What I dont know is the curriculum they use. I can find out next week if you are interested. It is a Prk-6th grade inner city school – Harvard has been following them for several years- they have amazing success and teach what students need to understand and know. It did not have the balanced approach as we have described the last time

One of the benefits from living in a different time zone to you folks is that when I get the chance to get back to this discussion several posts have been added, and I have the benefit of getting an overall picture as to the direction discussion is taking. However the slight downside is that I see a whole list of points that I would love to comment on but despite my passion for this dialogue nobody is going to appreciate me boring them. So allow me to start like this.

I heard of this old chap once that came up with this theory that has since been widely acclaimed and people everywhere seem to know about this bloke and still like what he has to say. In fact if the Nobel Peace Prize had been invented then, it is likely he would have won that too. And the way I heard that it all came about was because it was a really hot day and he decided to take a break from work and go sit in the shade under a tree. Next thing you know an apple fell on his head, and it all started from there. The bottom line is that if an apple did it for that chap, why shouldn’t this discussion be a great starting place for us?

I’d also like to share with you something that somebody said to me a month or so ago during one of these “you have to think big to achieve big” type of conversations. It went something like “if you aim for the moon and fail, well at least you’ll end up in the stars”. I rather liked that and it seemed a little relevant to a couple of the concerns expressed earlier.

I get the feeling that the actual starting point may be muddying the water a little. In fact we’ve barely all shaken hands and we are starting to discuss issues that may be just one or two of the ingredients, when really we should be drawing a rough outline of the cake we want to bake.

To use an analogy, if you want to build the tallest and most technically advanced building in the world, and you gather together the four most successful architects in the world, I would be really disappointed if they sat down in the first meeting and started to discuss the type of furniture they intend to buy to go inside when it was finished. Instead it is likely the first meeting would be in a semi-social environment and a couple of table napkins were used to sketch out some rough ideas to get a general agreement as to the type of building they intend to design.

So personally I would feel comfortable contributing towards the rough outline or guide as a starting point. From there we refine it a bit to a skeleton, and after that we start to add some flesh on the bones. If we start getting to the point where we end up with something with three heads and six fingers on one handand ten on the other, we are going to see that something isn’t quite right, and it is not hard to stand back and correct things like that. But we need to be carefull that we don’t start off too deep in the forest that we cannot see the wood for the trees, because the next thing that happens is we disagree over which is a pine tree as opposed to an oak, when really all we needed anyway was a piece of wood.

So I’d suggest that by starting with a list of general headings that we all add to. In other words we’d all like to make a cake, so lets make a list of the ingredients. Anyway I’m going to come back to that.

What I’d now like to mention is that I really cannot see this “vision” becoming any sort of reality being developed in a 501c3 type of environment. It has to have commercial wings to some extent if it has any chance of flying. And it’s going to need a working model to establish it’s viability and credibility at some stage because nobody it going to even consider dumping or even renovating the old system, based on unproven theories.

So now we come to the interesting part. LinkedIn gives us the benefits of seeing the different commercial involvements (past and present) that each of us brings to the table. And to be honest I am already starting to develop a feel for how the current involvements, expertise and products/services that each of us has, can fit into where this whole thing could go. In fact I am looking at this “vision” as a jigsaw puzzle, and we already have a number of the pieces amongst ourselves.

So could I suggest that we start with the list mentioned above, and as we proceed we will start to see which pieces of the puzzle we already have amongst ourselves, and how they might fit together.

It is at that stage we will see which pieces are missing and then decide where we are going to find them. For your information I have a public company structure (currently trading) at my disposal and was looking at the potential for acquisitions and rollups in the education market over the next 12 – 18 months to enhance what we already have. So I am open to suggestions. It may be that this is the vehicle that could be used in a variety of ways to help achieve an end result.

I am going to wait to see what you all think before starting the list I have suggested.

 

 

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