The 3rd Narrative of School Reform with Will Richardson

will richardson“It’s no longer about what WE want students to do. We need to ask ourselves ‘How do we support kids in what THEY want to do?'”

Will Richardson is a parent of two teen-agers, and has spent the last dozen years developing an international reputation as a leading thinker and writer about the intersection of social online learning networks and education. Will has authored four books, most recently Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere (Kindle Single)
– which was published by TED books and based on his most recent TEDx talk in Melbourne, Australia.

“We need to do inquiry based, student centered, technology rich learning in an effort to prepare kids to go out into the real world so they can continually learn, connect and create with other people.”


Noteworthy moments you should pay attention to:

4:05 – A teacher’s role will be more difficult in the short term due to limitations from the idea of “Doing school better”. However, this is a very exciting moment for learning. It’s a time to use technology for both teachers and students to develop new learning patterns.

6:40 – We’re looking at the wrong measures in school!

7:20 – Teachers need to become more connected learners. 2 big questions that should be addressed: “How do you connect to other people?” and “How do you create with computer?”. There’s a lot of emphasis here on learning how to join the right communities, and provide value to these learning communities.

9:45 – Twitter is your launching pad for this movement towards connected learning.

10:05 – Jackie discusses her point of view on teacher agency. There are a lot of choices out there, but also a lot of restrictions. What can teachers do? Stand up for your freedom as an educator, and become a connected learner!

10:50 – According to Will these are some good, hard questions that you should ask of your communities so you can make your own classroom better.

14:03 – The third narrative of school reform: Focus on “How do we support kids in what they want to do? We learn by doing things that we care about, and that we want to learn more about… We need to do inquiry based, student centered, technology rich learning in an effort to prepare kids to go out into the real world so they can continually learn and continually connect and create with other people.”

Mentions of Technology

– Twitter 

– and

You can reach Will Richardson on Twitter @willrich45 and on his website.
Here is Will’s TedX Talk in Australia

Education Quote of the Day – Maria Montessori


“Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.

The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference.” – Maria Montessori

Read more here


Lose the Pen

Create Monetize-Graphic

Note: This piece was originally released on EdTechDigest.

If I tell you there’s a practical problem with education content, you might think: “Ah yes, another piece about the price of textbooks and the tyranny of MOOCs.” You’re not wrong. But these are only symptoms of a larger, digital revolution that’s taking place in education today.

As the industry pivots to digital, innovators and educators are changing the way we think about course materials altogether. How do faculty decide what materials to use to teach their students? With rampant accessibility to information online, who has the best textbooks and materials for my students? How do I know the information I’m giving them is actually useful?

Print isn’t the whole problem

When Seth Godin, legend of marketing and business disruption complains, people listen. A rant on textbooks is expected from any student, but Seth’s clearly defines the problems and why the market is ripe for disruption. Here’s my takeaway of his three main problems:

Price – No brainer; just plain too expensive.

Effectiveness – Students rarely rave about a captivating textbook.

Utility – While education is dynamic, textbooks are static, heirlooms of a pre-digital world.

His article (read it here), written almost four years ago, holds true to this day. The textbook industry has such a stronghold on the market that materials have become fairly stagnant. And as Big Publishers scramble to provide students with digital solutions, they manage only to put lipstick on a pig and leave much to be desired. What the vast majority of publishers call digital content today is a basic scan, a Frankenstein digital copy of a pre-digital relic. Albeit cheaper, this option is sold under a veil of greater utility, with little variety. This will not be a successful business model for our big publishing companies down the road.  As the vast treasures of the Internet’s free content spoil students, companies in the education publishing field must adapt to survive.

The latest push of edtech products is addressing Seth’s three main points head on. This means not only providing low-cost, high(-er) value solutions to all corners of the world, but partnering with educators to bring education content up to 21st-century standards. So what will surface when the clock strikes and textbooks are forever a thing of the past like the once omnipresent Encyclopedia Britannica? I don’t know. But as a recent grad, tech geek and entrepreneur — I can venture a guess.

Customizable Course Content

In due revolutionary process, the opportunity to innovate has opened the education publishing industry wide open. Over the last 20 years, many teachers and professors have turned away from traditional textbooks, and instead have begun creating custom content in the form of course readers. Already, a variety of companies like Boundless and Flatworld Knowledge aim to provide affordable and new-age replacements to current course materials, helping educators handpick the right material for the right course. You can create content with video and audio, link it to OER (Open Education Resources, more on those soon), and have it delivered to any person, on any device, anywhere in the world! If I sound excited, it’s because I am! We’re not talking about MOOCs here, because not everyone wants to take an online course. We are talking about the evolution of course materials for your classroom.

Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Apple, co-founder of Garage Ventures, and award-winning author, predicted the end of traditional publishers — and the time has come for education publishers as well. The latest tools allow for social interaction and collaboration, while providing a platform for research, note taking and essay writing. Naturally, custom course content will continue to proliferate, and as more educators learn to leverage technology, any product that facilitates this type of educational value will likely grow.

Another likely future alluded to by Guy Kawasaki is — dare I even mention it? Self-publishing. You know exactly what your students need for your course and, if your students need it, then somebody else’s students need it, too! Not only will this encourage collaboration between educators, but there is a glaring market opportunity as well. Self-publishing reduces publishing fees and gives educators the tools to make relevant and engaging course materials that students desperately need.

Course Content in Real-Time

So in an effort to find a solution in Seth Godin’s rants, and make Guy Kawasaki’s dream come true, I urge you to go out there and explore the possibilities. Once you’ve explored, don’t hesitate to create or re-create content for your students. You can make education content dynamic and reflexive. What we are witnessing is the textbook transforming from static page to real-time education tool.

The tools are available and the market is still in its seed stages. For innovators, this means your opportunity to get picked up by millions of students worldwide is very real. Just keep your prices low, your quality high, and crowds will follow, we like to say. The final challenge is the educator’s onus — teachers and professors need to feel compelled to customize these materials with interactive features, add videos, edit materials when they see fit, and encourage students to try something new. Ultimately, that’s a better model for education content, and from where I’m coming, I support that model.

Let me know what you think on Twitter @SievaKozinsky


Introducing: StudySoup’s Flipped Classroom Week

Although seemingly static, the education industry is constantly adopting new classroom models.

In the 19th century, America’s first classrooms operated with a degree of prudence that reflected the country’s fledgling government and limited resources – locally-sourced wood for the schoolhouse, teachers hired from the clergy, and bookshelves comprised of whatever was available. As the population largely lived in rural areas, schools were a direct responsibility of their local community. By the 21st century, however, the scope of American public schools had dramatically expanded: centralized government regulation, teachers competing for jobs, and textbooks from around the world.

Today, education is experiencing yet another transformation: the digital age.

Before starting StudySoup, I was intimately aware of the the impact that technology was having on the classroom, with the increasing popularity of Powerpoint presentations, course information stored online, and of course, students using computers in class. But despite these incremental changes, no single advent had fully remodeled the modern classroom to adequately fit this generation of students. Then I discovered the Flipped Classroom model. (See infographic below)

StudySoup strives to keep you ahead of the curve with tools to build a virtual classroom to perfectly complement your course and provide awesome functionality for your students. We’re excited to share with you that teachers around the US are now using StudySoup to carry out the Flipped Classroom for their students.

Where does StudySoup come in? Teachers and professors need a delivery vehicle for lectures, readings, and homework. We provide a complete delivery platform for your materials. In addition, we’re helping facilitate the next expansion of education: teachers can sell their courses through the Education Marketplace and earn additional compensation for their work. We believe in simple site functionality so you’re not wasting time fiddling with technology – you’re using it to your advantage. It takes just 2 minutes to upload your videos, text, and presentations.

With a virtual classroom that works on your terms, you have more classroom time to discuss concepts, answer questions, and engage students in a much more personal and attentive manner.

Take a look at this awesome infographic, courtesy of our friends at Knewton Learning.
Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Note: This is the 1st entry in StudySoup’s Flipped Classroom Week. Stay tuned for next week’s updates!