Friday, June 06, 2008

Ideas for a "Future of Education" Project?

Because of my recent blog post on "Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education" (here and here) I have had the phrase "future of education" in my mind over the last couple of months. I was surprised to find that I was able to register the domains and .org, as both just happened to be expiring when I looked for them. I was then was able to obtain the next week, so it seemed like some divine destiny was at work.

I've been wondering what to do with the domain that would make a difference, and am opening this up for your ideas or feedback. Of course, I could start another Ning network with the name (or even convert the School 2.0 Ning site to but I have a feeling that there's a larger opportunity here.

What would you do with I'm looking for your brainstorm ideas. Without knowing what or how, I have a vision of helping to spark a larger dialog on the transformations taking place in learning and education. Maybe it could be a directory of open educational resources coming out of the read/write Web. Maybe it could be a multi-blogging platform to encourage discussions of both technology and pedagogy. Maybe it could be the foundation for a conference or conferences on education--or even the means of facilitating local "Lyceum"-like discussions on education. Maybe it could be a repository for student projects providing visions of education. Could it somehow be all of the above?

Got any ideas?


  1. The future of education... I like the idea of it being a little bit of everything ESPECIALLY the student showcase. Perhaps it could have a strand for mobile technologies in education.

    Your first two links need some fixing.

  2. Thanks, "nerd a." I agree on the mobile technologies as an issue. Got any ideas on what the larger project would look like? Is it a reference website? A social network? Is it a social movement? :)

  3. Anonymous6:41 PM

    I also really like the idea of a bit of everything and the idea of involving students with their ideas is great. They are the key to the success in education. It may start as a social network but I am sure that it will be a social movement.

  4. murcha: Yes, the great temptation for me is to start it as a social network... because I know it would be lively and the format would work well for good dialog... and because social networks are now in my blood... I do think it could scale into something of real value. But if the goal is some kind of action, is there something more effective that I am not thinking of?

  5. Steve I just listened to your episode on WOW 2.0 and you mentioned something about going beyond just the technology of education. I love the technology talk and links and suggestions. How can we use all these tools with teachers to talk about Guided Reading, do book studies, etc. My teachers arent' that tech savy yet but we could have virtual book study meetings to talk about a Literacy Stations book I just bought for all my teachers. Just trying to think it all through myself right now. Use illuminate, skype, wiziQ as the vehicle for other "workshops" than tech focused things. Teachers sitting in the comfort of their homes at night discussing ideas for next school year and collaborating rather than driving back up to school for a meeting. That is where I am with all of this right now.

  6. Melinda: thanks, you've expressed something that's been gnawing at me but that I didn't express. Yes, the technology is facilitating a re-examination of pedagogy and the opening up of new doors, and we'd want to have this discussion be informed by the available technologies, but be around all curricula and content.

    I am intrigued by my own personal desire/drive to help non-technical educators use these tools.

  7. Hi Steve,
    I think your Future ED site could be a think tank for educational policy. Wouldn't it be refreshing is REAL Teachers were asked to give input and ideas about public policy. Wouldn't it be amazing to get students and parents in on the discussion and leave the politicians out all together; except to take the ideas and build their educational policies around them. Imagine educational policies stemming from ideas from people who are the most knowledgeable about the subject (teachers) and those who are experiencing education (students) and those who have a vested interest (parents and society at large). Politicians may have been students ( but I think they forgot sometimes) and they may be parents, but I would venture to say they are not in touch with PUBLIC education. I would NOT like to see another internet social network. With Facebook and Myspace and AIM and other instant messaging and texting I think we have enough random social networking. If the site is a random network like those, you have not created anything new, but just added to the "junk in" technology. But a blog or site with a purpose...that would be unique. Just a thought :-D

  8. mmmh, it's tough to say... my crystal ball cannot see clearly...

    oh wait... i see it as a movement.

    Ultimately, I think we can all agree that it will end up as something we all couldn't predict. A movement would help propel us in the right direction and help bridge the gap to where technology is not an after thought in education. the beginning of a social network will get us there... i think!

  9. daydancer: the more I read what you wrote, the more I was nodding my head - until I got to the hesitation around the social network, since I've had such a good experience with the Ning networks I have built. I really do like the idea of teachers, students, and parents all participating, and we could either build the platform for dialog, or we could create a project which involves them. Building the platform for dialog wouldn't be hard; coming up with a project could have a more tangible outcome, but figuring out a project to do is hard!

    Mark: I'm with you... "I think!" But before I pull the trigger on a social network, I'm anxious to see if there's a great project out there waiting to be born that someone else has a vision for.

  10. Already some great guiding ideas / thoughts here - here's my take: start a wordpress blog and feature stories / pics / podcasts / vids of 'stuff' which illustrate the 'future of education'. Build up a editorial team and be fluid with it - let the actions guide the strategy (rather than the other way round - it's what we've been doing with

    Whatever is decided I'm sure it will be a success - good luck!


    MediaSnackers Founder

  11. Great domain and great questions. I've been thinking about this a lot since I read it.

    I hope that the future of education (in the broader sense, not in the sense of this web site) will be one of more access to higher quality education for everyone. In my mind, given the current state of things, OER is likely to have a lot to do with this. In much of the world, this is due to simple economics. In our more fortunate part of the world, this is due more to politics.

    What I'd like to see in a new web site/community is something more student-focused. (There are so many great policy-maker- and teacher-focused communities, but very little focused on kids.) This could be site where kids could go for formal or informal education, part built for them and part built by them. It could be part Classroom 2.0, part MIT OCW (but for kids), part Wikipedia, etc.

    I know there are a million issues related to kid-focused sites, but I'm just daydreaming!

  12. I am fortunate to have the opportunity at times to visit schools who are trying to embody what the future of education might look like. I recently posted about the Science Leadership Academy in Philly and CIS 339 in the Bronx. I think it would be great if your site could showcase schools trying to embody the future of education complete with posts/articles (giving leaders, students, teachers a voice), audio, and video of what the future of education could actually look like. If you could figure out how to do a Huffington-like blog where principals, educators, and students could contribute about the future of education, that would be fantastic too. There are a lot of great stories to be told and many of these leaders, teachers, students don't have a central place for them to be captured. In isolation many of us bloggers are doing so, but a central collection, categorized by future of ed tags, might serve a meaningful purpose.

    Lisa Nielsen
    -Sharing ideas about educating innovatively at

  13. Dear Steve,

    Thank you for sharing your visionary leadership. You have done an outstanding job of facilitating collaboration.

    Who really knows what lies in the future? The topic "The Future of Education" is so broad and vast it screams for a top ten list. Here is a off-the-top-of-my-head and not-in-any-particular-order list of what I would call ten seeds for the future:

    1. Serious games & Simulations (e.g. World Without Oil)
    2. Education without walls: Real-world international education with real-world consequences (e.g. Local, National and International competitions on real-world issues, global ed portals)
    3. Trendsetting organizations (e.g. TED, OLPC)
    4. Entrepreneurship Education
    5. Transformational educational technologies to watch
    6. Exemplary and trendsetting schools (e.g. McKinley High School)
    7. Organizations dedicated to transforming the educational enterprise (e.g. Essential schools, NREL, etc.)
    8. Tools for Personal productivity (e.g. GTD methodologies for teacher and teacher teams)
    9. Latest research in the application of the results of cognitive research on learning.


    10. How to use multimedia Web 2.0 tools

  14. Lots of great ideas here...brainstorming "out loud" allows for so many different opportunities to come out of one "little" term. I agree with many of the posts here.

    Daydreamer: I like the social movement aspect.

    Steve, I'm with you on the whole social network development. You've seen Classroom 2.0 grow and others.I've seen it firsthand with Schoolleadership.

    The ning platform allows for a lot of flexibility and can also allow an idea like Innovative Educator's (hi Lisa!), documentary type Future of Education stories to be showcased, discussed and commented on, while allowing groups to break out in discussion about policy (local and national), personal thoughts, community outreach, etc. There are few places that I can think of that showcase stories like that, except for maybe Edutopia, Discovery and the like. Your site would be more grassroots.
    As always thank you for inspiring...

  15. DK: I'm spoiled by Ning, which I think will do all that you are suggesting, and open it up a bit so more voices can be heard. Great ideas!

    Karen: Great reminder on the Open Educational Resources side. Your suggestion would take the site toward a more practical offering, which I'm not sure I'd even considered as one of the possibilities. Hmmm... You've got me thinking. Also: the future of education conference link is amazing. I've got to find out if they are going to do that again (seems it was June of 2007). I'd love to find a way to continue / support / extend that effort. Am I right in thinking that George Siemens was behind that effort?

    Lisa: You're not the only one who's mentioned a "Huffington-like" site, and I've been wondering about that. I have been thinking that the dialog needs to be open enough to bring in all the different voices that have something to say on this topic. This assumes that a "future of education" site has value just in being focused on this topic--is that a reasonable assumption? Would creating the platform for talking about the future of education provide something that is not available somewhere else? My tentative conclusion is that it would.

    Gregory: a great list that really sparked my imagination. Made the topic suddenly seem almost too broad for one site--when I have been worried about it being too focused. As I read it, I fell into my usual dilemma of social network (dialog) versus wiki (resource listing). I've never felt like I've don a good job bridging the two, even though both are needed ( and

    Blanca: I'm with you on the social networking stuff--I just have a feeling there needs to be an action-oriented component to this project, or some stated goal that the dialog leads toward. How would having the network and the "grassroots" discussion help--and in what tangible ways--that isn't already being done at places like Edutopia and Discovery?

  16. Great ideas posted by you, Steve, and several in the comments section.

    I love the idea of using this site as a way to involve those "not-techie" teachers. If we truly want to make a different, we must begin to appeal to those that are not already drawn to technology. That is not to say those of us that are drawn to technology should be ignored; however, we're going to be out there finding the new, cool tools anyways. To truly make the change, we've got to appeal to those teachers that are scared with technology. The site could almost be run like a "how-to" site. There could be pages where someone would go to get started. There could be pages of resources and links. There could be discussion boards and blogs to match the need with help and foster those important discussion. I think a place for writing needs to be there - articles posted about key pedogical information. I also think it's very important to have a section for student examples and teacher testimonies. Those "If I can do this, so can you!" type things. Those may help to make the experience less intimidating. I also think it's important to have an area for new stuff and taking it to the next level. This will help push the envelope. Those are my thoughts...

    I agree with DK - whatever you decide and put together will be a success and will benefit all those who use it as a resource and a place to change the face of education.

    Thanks for all you do for kids!

  17. I like what DK said.
    I envision something like a Drudge Report page (but prettier, of course) that can be an always updated repository of related news. Sections could include: tools and technology, policy, pedagogy, parenting students, etc. Creating it such that the average user could contribute articles would be awesome.

  18. Steve

    This is an interesting discussion, thanks for starting it. I think a future of education learning community could showcase innovation around the world. It has to be global, it has to be good, and it has to be 'real', in other words actually happening somewhere. Here in Qatar we are talking a lot about 'school of the future' 'classroom of the future' and pouring money in that direction...but what does this all mean within the historical constraints of a normal school with tired, overworked teachers, assessment priorities, and administrative fear that actually doing something new is disruptive?

    Here's an idea, invite ONE school from each country in the world to be part of the future of education collective...start a Ning....form a learning community...and start sharing ideas and practices. Then move on to designing and planning the ideal school for the 22nd century (that's how long this may take!)...or more realistically, how about a 2020 challenge, for all participants to design and plan a 'school', make it a competition, get sponsorship, promote possibilities, then find a government or private body somewhere who is willing to start this 'school'...tie it in with the OLPC initiative, link it with a phone company (re mobility and ubiquity), forge links with learning theorists who can come into the established community (one school from each country) to share new ideas for best models for learning, make links with the International Baccalaureate Organisation, and with other organisations that promote holistic education, actually do something as an output rather than just talk...foster creativity and it up to students at all levels....have a global think tank...the answers are out there somewhere...the future of education is out there somewhere already being played, we just need to find it by being pro-active...something you are very good at Steve. You know you have my full support what ever you decide to do with 'future of education'


  19. 21st century teacher: love the detailed description of what the site would be like. I'm just not sure, if the result is a site, how much to have it be formalized and organized/managed, and how much to make it like Classroom 2.0.

    aaron: I, too, want the average user to be able to participate. Even the less-than-average user (as far as tech skills go). At the same time, I sense the need to highlight strong voices, and feel conflicted because of the time that would take to oversee.

    Julie: I agree--I almost don't know how you could *not* have it be global, since so much of the discussion now *is* global. I wonder if you've seen my early review of "Disrupting Class" here, which I'm going to re-post to Tech+Learning tonight. I harbor some hope of parental involvement asking for the changes. Your idea about inviting specific schools sparks me, since I want this to be more than just starting another dialog. I think there has to be some kind of active participation element, like you said, some kind of "challenge" or "competition." I was thinking of a student video contest to showcase the future of education, and I really like your "design and plan" idea. I will say that a good sponsor would make this whole project a lot easier from a time perspective. I love this line: "the future of education is out there somewhere already being played," I really want to address this aspect--which I would describe as technology having opened some new doors and having re-opened some others around teaching and learning that may be facilitated by the technology, but have been done well by many others in many different ways.

    That leads me to two more thoughts. The first: I have seen many really great examples of education that seem to operate in isolated pockets, and which don't seem to get the publicity or attention that they deserve. I'd like whatever we do to allow them more abundant visibility. The second one is the need to respect the diversity of educational successes. I'm not interested in describing the one best way, but in helping different good ways to flower. Each of our four children is very different, and they learn differently.

  20. Anonymous1:56 PM

    Steve et. al.

    I read the post immediately when I saw it and since have been pondering the possibilities and keeping up with the comments (it truly is a great discussion).

    I'm hesitant to 2nd the notion to throw up a new site (though I have had these types of revelations as well and have always tried--and failed--to acquire the neato URLs).

    The issue I see is that we have no idea what the Future of Education is/holds yet. Everything these days seems to be in flux: we have a heavy emphasis at the state and government level on standards, our digital natives are restless, and still more teachers are working to figure out how the edupunk movement fits their needs and defines their lifestyle/professional work.

    Personally, I think the future of education will be driven by a higher (paramount) emphasis on student centered learning (imagine they just get access to a giant DB of all assignments and construct their own classrooms, own assignments, own learning contracts and IEPs); could the site be a place for students to store their personal portfolios?

    I (and most everyone else) have ideas about the future of education, but only time can tell to find out what that is.

    This is a really novel idea, simply because you're taking a leap of faith and throwing this out to the community to help decide. Thank you. I'm grateful to have a chance to be involved.

  21. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I'll add a thought our two...

    1) The "Future of Education" is not about web 2.0 tools. Instead, it is about personalizing education. Tools facilitate this. It would be a great undertaking to identify and validate models for self-directed, personalized learning within traditional school institutional structures. So, focus on the pedagogy first and the tools as supportive of that pedagogy.

    2) The Future of about a social network focused on mentoring pre-service and very early career teachers on becoming a force for change within traditional school structures.

  22. Joseph: Thanks for *getting* involved! I think others could creat sites for students to store their personal portfolios, and I'm pretty sure that's not something I have expertise in or would be good at! :) I definitely am thinking the site should be more geared toward helping facilitate discussion on the larger topics of what/why/how for education in a time of amazing change.

    Brunsell: 1) I agree, *AND* I also think that the tools of Web 2.0 are reshaping what's self-directed, personalized learning. I also think they are going to change what we perceive as traditional school institutional structures. But this is exactly the kind of interesting discussion I hope will take place at 2) Interesting idea, but you'd have to agree on what that change is! :)

  23. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Steve... I'm back for another comment. I was revisiting some "old" blog posts in order to pull together an online class on establishing personal learning networks (24 teachers - yay, I think). Anyway, I found this post-

    Perhaps the "Future of Education" could begin by a community discussion of big ideas (pedagogical, professional development, etc.) and then focus communities specifically around advancing knowledge in those areas.

  24. Anonymous7:04 PM

    As an idea for part of it, maybe a wiki for folks who have a handle on the the practical challenges involved (by technology type, implementation and regulatory jurisdiction) to help those of us who do not.

    Another wiki perhaps where teachers can talk about concrete experiences by grade-level, subject matter etc.

    Perhaps a social networking element for folks to begin building community -- and critical mass -- to work towards, for example, overcoming regulatory impediments, pushing these ideas into schools of education so that sooner rather than later every new teacher hits the hallways with these ideas in-tow.


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