The Future of Learning and Teaching: It’s Time for ‘Audacious Goals’

In an impassioned call to action, Diana Rhoten kicked off the 2012 Digital Media and Learning conference by suggesting that education will never see its long-overdue renaissance without “audacious goals.” Senior vice president for strategy in the new Education Division of News Corp. and the conference chair, Rhoten spoke of the urgent need for researchers, practitioners, teachers, educators, technologists, as well as entrepreneurs and investors, to join together in the cause of a learning revolution. Without “audacious goals” and a diverse community willing to come together at this historic moment of convergence, most would-be education reformers will probably “die trying,” Rhoten said. Here are a few excerpts from the video (below) of her introductory remarks at DML2012:

There is still very little evidence of any major, successful, tech-enabled innovation or disruption, altering the structure in school of mainstream education, in my humble opinion. That change has been constrained less by the lack of technological innovation than it has been by the limits of our sociological imagination.

As someone who has helped to create the conditions that drive this kind of outside-in grassroots innovation, I have to say that I believe that for education innovation to ultimately benefit the majority of kids in this world, which is why I hope we are all here, it must eventually travel to the center of kids’ lives. And today, for the good or the bad — wherever you stand — schools continue to occupy the center of many children’s lives.

As long as we constrain ourselves to thinking about this notion of schooling as something that can only happen between 28 students and one teacher, within 1,500 square feet and from the hours of 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, then I don’t care what an entrepreneur or innovator from Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, or Silicon Roundabout develops, we will never fundamentally change the future of teaching and learning.

We need to reach these kids where they are, when they need it, and with whatever tools. This moment is more important than ever.

While there are fundamental differences between the older school-centered education technology and newer learner-centered digital learning perspectives, these communities need not be in conflict as they have been in the past. In fact, I believe they are complements to one another, and they are critical and necessary synergies of one another. I believe that the time for that ground shift is right now, right here, with the convergence of different communities and perspectives, coming together in this room.

In a world where DC-7s have given way to Dreamliners and telegrams to smartphones, don’t we owe it to our kids that schooling should give way to learning?

Banner image credit: DML Central http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmlcentral/6950214801/sizes/z/in/photostream/

James McMillan contributed to the production of the video for this post.