Highlights from Aspen Institute Education Congressional Senior Staffers Meeting

Here are the things that stood out to me most during the three day meeting. Sorry for the brain dump format.

Moorseville, NC moved graduation rates 68% to 90% since the move to devices and all digital content
Two professional development release days PER MONTH for faculty to skill up on digital and using data
Small group differentiated instruction, almost no whole-class instruction
Superintendent visits every classroom in the district multiple times each year, primarily to say thank you to the teachers.
Funding model – $1 / day / student ($200/year) pays for devices and content. Average cost for online content was $35/student across all subjects.

We have to avoid the “Kabuki” version of education reform, a kind of innovation theater in which everything changes except adult behavior.

429M in 2011 in pure VC is triple the amount spent in 2002. About 128 education companies received about $1B of VC money in the last 5 years.

When devices have battery life lasting 4 hours, but school lasts 6 hours, power infrastructure in “first world” schools is suddenly insufficient.

Pearson can scale its content and services, but has no accountability for student learning outcomes. A charter has accountability for outcomes but can’t scale. We need organizations that can scale and share accountability for outcomes.

We have learning scientists, but where are the learning engineers? The people who leverage and apply what we know from the science of learning to help learning happen? Political skills are equally important for these folks. (Why isn’t this instructional designers?)

Scaling in education involves adapting, not adopting.

Genetically modeified food as a model for revise/remix. How can we produce “hybrids” that can succeed under local conditions? Super high yield corn may grow well in Iowa, but die completely in Africa. A lower yield hybrid that can at least live and produce in Africa is required.

“Research should be defined as doing something where half of the people think that’s impossible. And half of them think …eehhhh, maybe that will work. Whenever there’s a breakthrough, a true breakthrough, you can go back and find a time period when the consensus was, well that’s nonsense. So what that means is that a true creative researcher must have confidence in nonsense.” – Burt Rutan