What Constitutes ‘Rigour’ in Our 21st-Century Educational Systems?


Recently Michael Gove, the English Secretary of State for Education, announced the Government’s plans to “restore rigour and confidence to our examination system with the introduction of English Baccalaureate Certificates in English, maths, the sciences, history, geography and languages.” Modular assessment with the opportunity for student retakes is out, three-hour final examinations are back in. The number of top grades that are awarded will be limited. This approach is actually a toned-down version of Gove’s initial proposals which were leaked back in June. At the time both Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick

The Global One-Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown


John Seely Brown has been immersed in innovation and learning for the last three decades. As a visiting scholar and adviser to the provost at the University of Southern California, co-chair of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, former chief scientist at Xerox Corporation and director of its research center, PARC, he has deep expertise in radical innovation. Combine this with his strong interest in digital youth culture and digital media and the result is a message that will likely resonate with anyone working at the intersection of learning, technology and youth. In this video, which

Online Learning and Teaching Writing


For whatever reason, discussions of online education are in the air. Cathy Davidson frequently writes about the challenges facing our education system on this blog, and when a consortium of top universities combined to create an online course initiative, it seemed that online education had grown past its infancy as was ready for mainstream acceptance. That initiative, Coursera, has clearly excited the public, as it now boasts over one million students taking free online courses. Yet it has not been without its critics. Recently, Adam F. Falk has argued that solutions like Coursera offer students an incomplete education

Three Conversations for Parents: Navigating Networked Publics


Parenting is hard. Many parents find parenting in an era of social media to be confusing, in part because they must advise their children to make sense of spaces that they don’t understand themselves. It’s easy to be afraid of what’s new, but by focusing on technology, parents often lose track of the underlying social issues that their children are trying to navigate. In many ways, the advice that children need to negotiate networked publics parallels advice that parents have always given when their children encounter public spaces. To address online safety concerns, parents need to

The ‘Presence’ Project and the ‘Be Here Now’ Box: Digital Media and Family Attention


Enthusiasts and skeptics agree that digital media are attention magnets. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that one in six Americans admitted to bumping into someone or something while texting, and a video from a mall surveillance camera that showed a woman falling into a pool while she attended to the screen of her phone has been viewed four million times. Every professor in the world now faces students who no longer look at the professor, other students, their notepads or out the window, but gaze fixedly at their laptops. Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone

An Apologia for Copying


I was on a Google hangout with some friends the other day, and we were talking about the thisness and thatness of life. Conversations (as they always do) veered towards books we were reading and that started a torrent of recommendations and links, of books one should read, books one should absolutely read, and books that one should read or might as well just give up. The books were from different parts of the world. They were in different languages. If I had not been in this conversation with a bunch of people who are not

‘The Virtual Revolution’: Argentina


I recently returned to the UK from a trip to Argentina. I had been invited to speak about The Virtual Revolution, the television series I presented for BBC2 2010 by the OSDE Foundation, the community arm of the country’s largest health care provider. While there, I had the opportunity to learn a bit more about the country and what is motivating their technology industry. Like many around the world, the Argentinian government wants to increase their blanket of access. They currently boast a not insubstantial 54% internet access rate — an impressive figure given the size

Be.App: Towards Facilitating Curiosity


Many people are talking about (and creating) better ways to do public education. There are amazingly innovative ideas happening. However incredible, they aren’t currently equitable; they aren’t accessible to all. Imagine if rather than waiting to scale these ideas, we focus on scaling each individual. Imagine a quiet revolution where individual choice not only sustains but exponentiates a true democratic society (Dewey’s definition of public education). Imagine if the only thing standing in our way, is compulsion. Our findings have brought us to re-imagining the city as the school. Imagine all the money ($1.3 trillion on