Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in Our Schools

For the next two days, I’m at the 15th annual Education Innovation: 21st Century School Libraries symposium, aka, Summer Institute for School Librarians at Emporia State University in Emporia, KS.

The first speaker this morning is Dr. Milton Chen, Author (Education Nation) and Senior Fellow, The George Lucas Education Foundation (Edutopia). [Follow Edutopia on Twitter]


Edit: I think these are close to the same slides he used:

Early mentioned links

MacArthur Foundation: Digital Media & Learning

YOUMedia at Chicago Public Library

IMLS + MacArthur Foundation grants for Learning Labs

“Imagine an ‘education nation,’ a learning society where education of children and adults is the highest national priority, on par with a strong economy, high employment, and national security. A nation is only good as its educational system.” –Milton Chen

Even more important:

An educational system is only as good as its informational system. 21st Century school librarians are the managers of that system. And school leaders for “deeper, authentic learning.” –Milton Chen

Authentic learning, not artificial learning on projects that don’t exist in the real world.

Importance of universal early childhood education. Policymakers should be leading in this.

The U.S. an Education Nation?

  • of 50 1st grade students behind in reading, 44 still behind in 4th grade
  • A HS student drops out every 26 seconds, 6,000 each day (Tough Choices or Tough TImes, 2006)
  • CA students 1 year behind U.S. average, 2-3 years behind best states (NAEP…)
  • Closing the gap could contribute $2 trillion per year in GDP (McKinsey & Co., 2010)

“The New Australia: Most Advanced Educational System in the World?”

Broadband. 1:1 programs….

Redesigning a New Educational System: Schools Can’t Do It Alone

Chen’s Dream: A “ladder of learning” from pre-K thru “gray” blending formal and informal learning thru schools, universities, media, museums, libraries, companies, churches, youth group,s parks, and more. Schools and universities are only part of this model.

A way of getting adults involved back in the education process. Community school. Kids go out into the community to learn.

National Park Service. When you look at the federal agencies, it’s the most respected agency. It’s becoming more of an educational agency.

Ducks image. Can’t see it, but ducks paddle furiously under the surface, which is what educators are doing through the summer, quietly innovating from the bottom up, professional development on their own, etc.

  • Innovation: The Key to an Education Nation
  • A “Must Do,” Not Just “Nice to Know”
  • Internet Time: Google 13 Years Old, YouTube 6 Years
  • Every Minute, 24 Hours of New YouTube Video

Edutopia website shows how to do projects step by step. Publishes PD ideas. Has discussion groups.

Lots of times we look at people who are accomplished, and think they’re geniuses from early childhood. George Lucas had no idea what he wanted to be/do. Not best student. It shouldn’t take a car accident and a friend suggesting he go to USC for him to figure out what he wanted to do in life, but that’s what happened.He ended up at USC to study photography (which at the time the film school wasn’t what it is today; back then people directly apprenticed with film companies). He loved photography studies, and the rest is history.

Lucas understands kids today, that different things turn them onto learning. One size education doesn’t fit all.

Paul Park Ranger: the Mystery of the MIssing Ducks

Lucas likes to have learning through questions, mysteries, project-based learning, working with other students.

TEDTalks: Short and to the point, better than long and winded.

Opening up, liberating information.

Every medium ever created, we can use for expressing knowledge. Why isn’t education taking advantage of that? Text. Images. Audio, Video. Music. Getting cheaper and cheaper to access and do.

The Key to Educational INnovation? It’s Simple School Life=Real Life

“From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in the school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside the school…within the school itself while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply in daily life what he is learning at school.” John Dewey, The School and Society lecture, University of Chicago, 1899

First Peoples Project video (2002) [related to the iEARN project]

Great resource for globalizing education.

Ability of kids to connect with their peers across the globe is priceless, through videoconferencing and other ways

Can share information so much quicker day than ever before.

Some of the projects mentioned from the Edutopia website:

A lot of the documentation on innovation that Edutopia is tracking, they are also trying to document the research, including that from the US Dept. of Education.

Policymakers. Maine Governor. Started the Maine 1:1 project with. Took a few years to gain traction, but he did — and people were supportive of it because of the results. Great education governor.

Project-Based Learning in Maine

“Laptops are equity tools.” “Oh cool” factor. Sense of wonder — generates questions — leads to new knowledge.


Comments from the video

How to make laptops more than $2,000 pencil? to become transformative tool?

Sense of ownership. Creators. Inventors. Changing the way learning and teaching happens. Teacher does less talking and the students do more finding. They learn more through the finding. “More interesting to find out things yourself than reading it in the book.” Seeing the whole picture.

Just have what the kids do in schools be like real life. Be like scientists in the field, thanks to technology. Kids assembling images and sounds, writing reports, and compiling CDs to show what they’ve learned.

Schools that Work project

The Story of FIlms curriculum

Project Website

Available for free for middle school teachers across the country. Meets core curriculum standards for visual learning.

Films chosen:

  • The day the earth stood still.
  • To Kill a Mockinbird
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washigton.

Chosen before the movies comes from perspective of kids. Different historical periods. Deal with social issues. Shows kids how movies are made. Lighting. Acting. Music. Foreshadowing,

Illusion were difficult for students to grasp in literature. Easier to understand through the screen for them.

Students are coming into classes mentioning these terms watching other films. Owning their learning.

Digital Generation Project


Quotes from video: “Technology should improve our lives, not take away from their lives.” Engage students in them becoming teachers. Presenting. Kids teaching kids. Cross-age tutoring. “Learning how to learn” “Being comfortable about any type of technology”

His Six Leading Edges (skipped over all but #4 will try to when the link is posted.

#1: The Edge of Our Thinking: Ending the Education Wars

#2: Curriculum & Assement

  • Social/Emotional Learning
  • Globalizing the Curriculum
  • Bilingual Education for All
  • Linked Learning/Multiple Pathways: ConnectEd California

#3: Technology

#4: The Time/Place Edge

#5: The Teaching Co-Edge: Co-Teaching

  • Parents as Co-Educators
  • Linking Home & School
  • Experts as Co-Educators: Rangers, Scientists, Historians, Architects, Writers, Artists

#6: The Greatest Edge: Today’s Youth

Wasting money by paying for two systems: paper-based and digital systems.

Fighting a constant battle: Make videos about what you’re doing. Edutopia can share them. Send them links.

What’s your definition of a great school? Make it short & measurable!

Do the kids run in at the same rate they run out

Will finish updating this post after the slides are posted and I can get more information into the notes!