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Speaker: Simon Breakspear

While at ULearn11 keynote speaker Simon Breakspear (@simonbreakspear) spoke about the increased personalisation enabled by smart technologies. As a provocative speaker on educational futures and innovation, Simon has a refreshing view on personalisation as a way to increase standardised results, and he takes us through some examples and where this trend is heading.

Views 6,627
Date added: 11 Nov 2011
Duration: 10:07

Hi I’m Simon Breakspear, I am currently based at University of Cambridge working with a group of GATE scholars over there on the area of education system reform. But originally as you will tell by the accent, from Sydney Australia. I love that CORE actually devotes some time to talk about the future. We are so busy all the time getting through the latest requirements for standardisation and curriculum and other things, it is really hard as leaders to spend some time just thinking about the future, think about where we’re heading and what we need to do. And I think that one of the biggest mass shifts that I’m seeing around the world is a shift from what I  call mass standardisation to mass personalisation. 

The model we have adopted for the last 100 years has been very much about a factory paradigm, preparing people for the industrial revolution. And I think we are starting to shift and saying well how do we take on another type of paradigm? And how do we prepare people for a knowledge-based society? And personalisation is the only way forward. I mean it is funny, we talk lots and lots about lifting standardised test scores, a lot of my research is on PISA, the big international test scores. But the great paradox is that you only increase standardised test scores when you increase personalisation. So how do we get personalisation done? How do we make learning meaningful, learning come to students in a way that is really engaging and relevant for them? 

There are some cool examples happening around the world. Kunskapsskolan in Sweden have really started to think about having different types of learning spaces.  Some for direct instruction, some in groups and some just students working on their own. And there are models like this popping up around the world creating new types of learning spaces deeply about personalised learning and having individual learning plans. But you’ve got to be careful though. It is really hard to personalise for 30 students at a time. How do we do it? And I think here’s where technology is really going to give us the way to get across this limiting factor. So even though teachers can try to shape learning, what we’re seeing is places like the Khan Academy trying to work out how can we put as much information online so students can go and access it at their own time in their own place. To make sure they can go and personalise the learning themselves. 

The other thing we’re seeing with technology is not just putting things online for direct instruction but using the power of social media. That students could personalise the learning for themselves and for each other. Laterally without even the help of a teacher and having mass participation of students helping each other using online platforms. 

So where do I think it is heading? I think schools that are deeply personalised. Starting to shape the learning around what’s relevant, what’s authentically meaningful to young people. And leveraging the limits of staff through technology to make it happen. 

We spend all this time thinking about the future and sometimes to be honest, you go to great conferences, you hear fantastic speakers and they are talking about these great examples: charter schools in the US, innovative schools in Europe, other things going on. I can’t help but sometimes think that we come back to our own schools and think well isn’t it a shame that my school isn’t already like that one. And we’ve got to think about not just, sort of, futures thinking, what education might look like in the future, but also innovation processes that we could get going in our own place. I mean, how do we get innovation and futures starting to bubble up in our own places? And they say the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed. And so how do we start to bring some of those ideas into our own place? 

I think one of the big breakthroughs that would really support educators is to borrow from another discipline. Borrow from designers and think about design thinking. Being a little bit personal here I hope you don’t mind, but on the way in I actually asked if I could just pop off to the bathroom before we did this, and I noticed I was in a disabled toilet. And what’s amazing about a disabled toilet is it is totally designed around the user. You see those with certain difficulties, it’s not that they are unable to go to the bathroom on their own, they’re just not able to in the way that we currently design a cheap way to create a toilet. You walk into a disabled toilet what do you notice about the way the handles are made, what do you notice about the locks? It’s all user centred design. So too about something like a can opener. Have you been to a holiday home lately, you find the can opener, and you think what do I do with this old metal device, you can barely get it through the can. It’s not that there was a problem with your hands, it’s just that we designed something that was easy to produce on mass. It didn’t really meet our user needs. Industrial designers got around the problem and they thought who are the people who struggle the most, perhaps those with arthritis. How could we design learning for them, sorry how can we design the can opener for them, sorry. So that they could use it and we can all find now we very little effort at all, based on that design, we can all easily open cans.

Now let’s go over to the learning side that I jumped to a little bit too quickly. As you think about bringing innovation to your place in your school, the best thing to do is actually not just to start with what’s happening out there in the world of futures thinking, but what’s actually happening for your users. How are your students going? What are their needs? What are their motivations? What’s relevant for them? What’s aspirational for them? And that’s actually the very heart of the learning agenda. We think about what’s meaningful for them, we start to shape the learning around them. Because actually a lot of the students who are dropping out, some people are talking now about the ‘tail’ in New Zealand, for example, or in Australia as well. A group of students we just don’t seem to be able to improve. I actually don’t think it is a problem with them, It is a problem with our institutions not being willing to shape the learning around them. So just start up by bringing your staff together and talking about what you know about the needs and aspirations and motivations of your young people. And give yourself licence to innovate, to shape the learning around the learner rather than being stuck with the institutional norms you have been given. User centred design, a fantastic process, I think educators should borrow from industrial thinking, sorry industrial designers, to bring learning and make it more relevant for our young people. 

So one of the great things about user centred design is that it gives us a process to deeply personalise the learning. I’ve spent a bit of time now with leaders in the Northern Territory in Australia, and what you’ll find is that these leaders, working with often difficult circumstances, come and they say they way things are happening just isn’t working. And they start with a learning design problem. Perhaps enrolments of only 30% of kids turning up.  And they ask themselves what can we start to do to reshape the way this day is structured making learning more engaging? And what we find as teachers get around, and they’re given licence to change what they’re currently doing and shape what they’re currently doing, we are finding incredible gains in something like enrolment where kids are starting to think, this is a place I want to turn up to, this is a place that listens to my needs and this is a place that validates my community, my language, the other things that are meaningful for me. And so there is an example from the extremes if you like. And Charles Leadbetter, a real thought leader in this area will say, a lot of times in innovation we need to look to the extremes because the best ideas go from the margins to the mainstream. So that’s what it would look like in a school like that. But it doesn’t matter at all if you work in an urban environment, maybe with a high SES group. Again it is about coming and shaping the learning around those user needs and try to make sure it is relevant, and meaningful and authentic for them. 

If we are going to start innovating in our schools. I mean if we are going to stop just looking to the future about what the cool stuff is going on outside New Zealand, we have to actually look inwards and say how could we create the kind of cultures in our schools where educators believe in their own creative capacities and have licence to fail. Here’s the thing. So often in education we hear people saying things like education is too important to innovate with. Now what they’re really saying is we can’t risk sort of stuffing up things for our kids. But unfortunately we often have a tendency then to play it very safe, to keep giving the same old solutions, that when we’re all really obvious about it, actually aren’t developing great learning. And I think one of the things of leaders at all levels, when I say leaders I mean positional leaders, principals, all the way through to classroom leaders, people who are leading up through influence, need to give each other permission is, and that is to fail. I mean all great ideas failed a few times first. In the tech industry, in the venture capital industry, in the film industry, everyone knows most of the things that they do won’t quite work the first time. And one of the areas that we could really help each other and think about de-risking cultures in education so that we can try new things, is the idea of prototyping. Again when people are thinking about creating a prototype, they are not trying to come up with one big idea that they have got totally perfect that they bring into the world and spend lots of money on. Most of the time what they’re thinking is, okay this is where I think we want to go with the future schools so what’s a little bet we could make? What’s a little change we could do? Maybe over one lesson, maybe over a sequence of a week. And educators coming together and saying what have we learned from that prototype? What worked and what didn’t?

Now I’ll be honest, sometimes you’ll have a total stuff up. Remember the time you first tried to do inquiry based learning? What happened? Kids went crazy, AP walks, Assistant Principal walked into the room and said what’s going on here? And it wasn’t that inquiry based learning was a bad idea, we just needed new ways to set up learning so that it could be better than ever before. So to we actually need to be willing to have big stuff ups. And here’s the thing – I’d actually have a failure party once a term. I mean so often we say we will give carrots to successes and sticks to failures. I’m going to push it and say I think you really should give carrots to failures, people who are pushing out there, pushing the boundaries and getting lot of learning. In the tech sector they say fail forward, fail quickly to accelerate learning. And I think as we start to de-risk our cultures from failure, as we try prototyping, and as we actually celebrate the learning that comes from getting it wrong the first time, we will be in a very good position to start to create the kind of innovative examples in this place that others will look to and say, wow there’s the future of schools. 

 

Hi I’m Simon Breakspear, I am currently based at University of Cambridge working with a group of GATE scholars over there on the area of education system reform. But originally as you will tell by the accent, from Sydney Australia. I love that CORE actually devotes some time to talk about the future. We are so busy all the time getting through the latest requirements for standardisation and curriculum and other things, it is really hard as leaders to spend some time just thinking about the future, think about where we’re heading and what we need to do. And I think that one of the biggest mass shifts that I’m seeing around the world is a shift from what I  call mass standardisation to mass personalisation. 

The model we have adopted for the last 100 years has been very much about a factory paradigm, preparing people for the industrial revolution. And I think we are starting to shift and saying well how do we take on another type of paradigm? And how do we prepare people for a knowledge-based society? And personalisation is the only way forward. I mean it is funny, we talk lots and lots about lifting standardised test scores, a lot of my research is on PISA, the big international test scores. But the great paradox is that you only increase standardised test scores when you increase personalisation. So how do we get personalisation done? How do we make learning meaningful, learning come to students in a way that is really engaging and relevant for them? 

There are some cool examples happening around the world. Kunskapsskolan in Sweden have really started to think about having different types of learning spaces.  Some for direct instruction, some in groups and some just students working on their own. And there are models like this popping up around the world creating new types of learning spaces deeply about personalised learning and having individual learning plans. But you’ve got to be careful though. It is really hard to personalise for 30 students at a time. How do we do it? And I think here’s where technology is really going to give us the way to get across this limiting factor. So even though teachers can try to shape learning, what we’re seeing is places like the Khan Academy trying to work out how can we put as much information online so students can go and access it at their own time in their own place. To make sure they can go and personalise the learning themselves. 

The other thing we’re seeing with technology is not just putting things online for direct instruction but using the power of social media. That students could personalise the learning for themselves and for each other. Laterally without even the help of a teacher and having mass participation of students helping each other using online platforms. 

So where do I think it is heading? I think schools that are deeply personalised. Starting to shape the learning around what’s relevant, what’s authentically meaningful to young people. And leveraging the limits of staff through technology to make it happen. 

We spend all this time thinking about the future and sometimes to be honest, you go to great conferences, you hear fantastic speakers and they are talking about these great examples: charter schools in the US, innovative schools in Europe, other things going on. I can’t help but sometimes think that we come back to our own schools and think well isn’t it a shame that my school isn’t already like that one. And we’ve got to think about not just, sort of, futures thinking, what education might look like in the future, but also innovation processes that we could get going in our own place. I mean, how do we get innovation and futures starting to bubble up in our own places? And they say the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed. And so how do we start to bring some of those ideas into our own place? 

I think one of the big breakthroughs that would really support educators is to borrow from another discipline. Borrow from designers and think about design thinking. Being a little bit personal here I hope you don’t mind, but on the way in I actually asked if I could just pop off to the bathroom before we did this, and I noticed I was in a disabled toilet. And what’s amazing about a disabled toilet is it is totally designed around the user. You see those with certain difficulties, it’s not that they are unable to go to the bathroom on their own, they’re just not able to in the way that we currently design a cheap way to create a toilet. You walk into a disabled toilet what do you notice about the way the handles are made, what do you notice about the locks? It’s all user centred design. So too about something like a can opener. Have you been to a holiday home lately, you find the can opener, and you think what do I do with this old metal device, you can barely get it through the can. It’s not that there was a problem with your hands, it’s just that we designed something that was easy to produce on mass. It didn’t really meet our user needs. Industrial designers got around the problem and they thought who are the people who struggle the most, perhaps those with arthritis. How could we design learning for them, sorry how can we design the can opener for them, sorry. So that they could use it and we can all find now we very little effort at all, based on that design, we can all easily open cans.

Now let’s go over to the learning side that I jumped to a little bit too quickly. As you think about bringing innovation to your place in your school, the best thing to do is actually not just to start with what’s happening out there in the world of futures thinking, but what’s actually happening for your users. How are your students going? What are their needs? What are their motivations? What’s relevant for them? What’s aspirational for them? And that’s actually the very heart of the learning agenda. We think about what’s meaningful for them, we start to shape the learning around them. Because actually a lot of the students who are dropping out, some people are talking now about the ‘tail’ in New Zealand, for example, or in Australia as well. A group of students we just don’t seem to be able to improve. I actually don’t think it is a problem with them, It is a problem with our institutions not being willing to shape the learning around them. So just start up by bringing your staff together and talking about what you know about the needs and aspirations and motivations of your young people. And give yourself licence to innovate, to shape the learning around the learner rather than being stuck with the institutional norms you have been given. User centred design, a fantastic process, I think educators should borrow from industrial thinking, sorry industrial designers, to bring learning and make it more relevant for our young people. 

So one of the great things about user centred design is that it gives us a process to deeply personalise the learning. I’ve spent a bit of time now with leaders in the Northern Territory in Australia, and what you’ll find is that these leaders, working with often difficult circumstances, come and they say they way things are happening just isn’t working. And they start with a learning design problem. Perhaps enrolments of only 30% of kids turning up.  And they ask themselves what can we start to do to reshape the way this day is structured making learning more engaging? And what we find as teachers get around, and they’re given licence to change what they’re currently doing and shape what they’re currently doing, we are finding incredible gains in something like enrolment where kids are starting to think, this is a place I want to turn up to, this is a place that listens to my needs and this is a place that validates my community, my language, the other things that are meaningful for me. And so there is an example from the extremes if you like. And Charles Leadbetter, a real thought leader in this area will say, a lot of times in innovation we need to look to the extremes because the best ideas go from the margins to the mainstream. So that’s what it would look like in a school like that. But it doesn’t matter at all if you work in an urban environment, maybe with a high SES group. Again it is about coming and shaping the learning around those user needs and try to make sure it is relevant, and meaningful and authentic for them. 

If we are going to start innovating in our schools. I mean if we are going to stop just looking to the future about what the cool stuff is going on outside New Zealand, we have to actually look inwards and say how could we create the kind of cultures in our schools where educators believe in their own creative capacities and have licence to fail. Here’s the thing. So often in education we hear people saying things like education is too important to innovate with. Now what they’re really saying is we can’t risk sort of stuffing up things for our kids. But unfortunately we often have a tendency then to play it very safe, to keep giving the same old solutions, that when we’re all really obvious about it, actually aren’t developing great learning. And I think one of the things of leaders at all levels, when I say leaders I mean positional leaders, principals, all the way through to classroom leaders, people who are leading up through influence, need to give each other permission is, and that is to fail. I mean all great ideas failed a few times first. In the tech industry, in the venture capital industry, in the film industry, everyone knows most of the things that they do won’t quite work the first time. And one of the areas that we could really help each other and think about de-risking cultures in education so that we can try new things, is the idea of prototyping. Again when people are thinking about creating a prototype, they are not trying to come up with one big idea that they have got totally perfect that they bring into the world and spend lots of money on. Most of the time what they’re thinking is, okay this is where I think we want to go with the future schools so what’s a little bet we could make? What’s a little change we could do? Maybe over one lesson, maybe over a sequence of a week. And educators coming together and saying what have we learned from that prototype? What worked and what didn’t?

Now I’ll be honest, sometimes you’ll have a total stuff up. Remember the time you first tried to do inquiry based learning? What happened? Kids went crazy, AP walks, Assistant Principal walked into the room and said what’s going on here? And it wasn’t that inquiry based learning was a bad idea, we just needed new ways to set up learning so that it could be better than ever before. So to we actually need to be willing to have big stuff ups. And here’s the thing – I’d actually have a failure party once a term. I mean so often we say we will give carrots to successes and sticks to failures. I’m going to push it and say I think you really should give carrots to failures, people who are pushing out there, pushing the boundaries and getting lot of learning. In the tech sector they say fail forward, fail quickly to accelerate learning. And I think as we start to de-risk our cultures from failure, as we try prototyping, and as we actually celebrate the learning that comes from getting it wrong the first time, we will be in a very good position to start to create the kind of innovative examples in this place that others will look to and say, wow there’s the future of schools. 

 

Date added: 11/11/2011
Personalisation as the way forward
Date added: 11/11/2011

Personalisation as the way forward

While at ULearn11 keynote speaker Simon Breakspear (@simonbreakspear) spoke about the increased personalisation enabled by smart technologies. As a provocative speaker on educational futures and innovation, Simon has a refreshing view on personalisation as a way to increase standardised results, and he takes us through some examples and where this trend is heading.

Views 6,627 Date added: 02/10/2012

Personalisation as the way forward

Hi I’m Simon Breakspear, I am currently based at University of Cambridge working with a group of GATE scholars over there on the area of education system reform. But originally as you will tell by the accent, from Sydney Australia. I love that CORE actually devotes some time to talk about the future. We are so busy all the time getting through the latest requirements for standardisation and curriculum and other things, it is really hard as leaders to spend some time just thinking about the future, think about where we’re heading and what we need to do. And I think that one of the biggest mass shifts that I’m seeing around the world is a shift from what I  call mass standardisation to mass personalisation. 

The model we have adopted for the last 100 years has been very much about a factory paradigm, preparing people for the industrial revolution. And I think we are starting to shift and saying well how do we take on another type of paradigm? And how do we prepare people for a knowledge-based society? And personalisation is the only way forward. I mean it is funny, we talk lots and lots about lifting standardised test scores, a lot of my research is on PISA, the big international test scores. But the great paradox is that you only increase standardised test scores when you increase personalisation. So how do we get personalisation done? How do we make learning meaningful, learning come to students in a way that is really engaging and relevant for them? 

There are some cool examples happening around the world. Kunskapsskolan in Sweden have really started to think about having different types of learning spaces.  Some for direct instruction, some in groups and some just students working on their own. And there are models like this popping up around the world creating new types of learning spaces deeply about personalised learning and having individual learning plans. But you’ve got to be careful though. It is really hard to personalise for 30 students at a time. How do we do it? And I think here’s where technology is really going to give us the way to get across this limiting factor. So even though teachers can try to shape learning, what we’re seeing is places like the Khan Academy trying to work out how can we put as much information online so students can go and access it at their own time in their own place. To make sure they can go and personalise the learning themselves. 

The other thing we’re seeing with technology is not just putting things online for direct instruction but using the power of social media. That students could personalise the learning for themselves and for each other. Laterally without even the help of a teacher and having mass participation of students helping each other using online platforms. 

So where do I think it is heading? I think schools that are deeply personalised. Starting to shape the learning around what’s relevant, what’s authentically meaningful to young people. And leveraging the limits of staff through technology to make it happen. 

We spend all this time thinking about the future and sometimes to be honest, you go to great conferences, you hear fantastic speakers and they are talking about these great examples: charter schools in the US, innovative schools in Europe, other things going on. I can’t help but sometimes think that we come back to our own schools and think well isn’t it a shame that my school isn’t already like that one. And we’ve got to think about not just, sort of, futures thinking, what education might look like in the future, but also innovation processes that we could get going in our own place. I mean, how do we get innovation and futures starting to bubble up in our own places? And they say the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed. And so how do we start to bring some of those ideas into our own place? 

I think one of the big breakthroughs that would really support educators is to borrow from another discipline. Borrow from designers and think about design thinking. Being a little bit personal here I hope you don’t mind, but on the way in I actually asked if I could just pop off to the bathroom before we did this, and I noticed I was in a disabled toilet. And what’s amazing about a disabled toilet is it is totally designed around the user. You see those with certain difficulties, it’s not that they are unable to go to the bathroom on their own, they’re just not able to in the way that we currently design a cheap way to create a toilet. You walk into a disabled toilet what do you notice about the way the handles are made, what do you notice about the locks? It’s all user centred design. So too about something like a can opener. Have you been to a holiday home lately, you find the can opener, and you think what do I do with this old metal device, you can barely get it through the can. It’s not that there was a problem with your hands, it’s just that we designed something that was easy to produce on mass. It didn’t really meet our user needs. Industrial designers got around the problem and they thought who are the people who struggle the most, perhaps those with arthritis. How could we design learning for them, sorry how can we design the can opener for them, sorry. So that they could use it and we can all find now we very little effort at all, based on that design, we can all easily open cans.

Now let’s go over to the learning side that I jumped to a little bit too quickly. As you think about bringing innovation to your place in your school, the best thing to do is actually not just to start with what’s happening out there in the world of futures thinking, but what’s actually happening for your users. How are your students going? What are their needs? What are their motivations? What’s relevant for them? What’s aspirational for them? And that’s actually the very heart of the learning agenda. We think about what’s meaningful for them, we start to shape the learning around them. Because actually a lot of the students who are dropping out, some people are talking now about the ‘tail’ in New Zealand, for example, or in Australia as well. A group of students we just don’t seem to be able to improve. I actually don’t think it is a problem with them, It is a problem with our institutions not being willing to shape the learning around them. So just start up by bringing your staff together and talking about what you know about the needs and aspirations and motivations of your young people. And give yourself licence to innovate, to shape the learning around the learner rather than being stuck with the institutional norms you have been given. User centred design, a fantastic process, I think educators should borrow from industrial thinking, sorry industrial designers, to bring learning and make it more relevant for our young people. 

So one of the great things about user centred design is that it gives us a process to deeply personalise the learning. I’ve spent a bit of time now with leaders in the Northern Territory in Australia, and what you’ll find is that these leaders, working with often difficult circumstances, come and they say they way things are happening just isn’t working. And they start with a learning design problem. Perhaps enrolments of only 30% of kids turning up.  And they ask themselves what can we start to do to reshape the way this day is structured making learning more engaging? And what we find as teachers get around, and they’re given licence to change what they’re currently doing and shape what they’re currently doing, we are finding incredible gains in something like enrolment where kids are starting to think, this is a place I want to turn up to, this is a place that listens to my needs and this is a place that validates my community, my language, the other things that are meaningful for me. And so there is an example from the extremes if you like. And Charles Leadbetter, a real thought leader in this area will say, a lot of times in innovation we need to look to the extremes because the best ideas go from the margins to the mainstream. So that’s what it would look like in a school like that. But it doesn’t matter at all if you work in an urban environment, maybe with a high SES group. Again it is about coming and shaping the learning around those user needs and try to make sure it is relevant, and meaningful and authentic for them. 

If we are going to start innovating in our schools. I mean if we are going to stop just looking to the future about what the cool stuff is going on outside New Zealand, we have to actually look inwards and say how could we create the kind of cultures in our schools where educators believe in their own creative capacities and have licence to fail. Here’s the thing. So often in education we hear people saying things like education is too important to innovate with. Now what they’re really saying is we can’t risk sort of stuffing up things for our kids. But unfortunately we often have a tendency then to play it very safe, to keep giving the same old solutions, that when we’re all really obvious about it, actually aren’t developing great learning. And I think one of the things of leaders at all levels, when I say leaders I mean positional leaders, principals, all the way through to classroom leaders, people who are leading up through influence, need to give each other permission is, and that is to fail. I mean all great ideas failed a few times first. In the tech industry, in the venture capital industry, in the film industry, everyone knows most of the things that they do won’t quite work the first time. And one of the areas that we could really help each other and think about de-risking cultures in education so that we can try new things, is the idea of prototyping. Again when people are thinking about creating a prototype, they are not trying to come up with one big idea that they have got totally perfect that they bring into the world and spend lots of money on. Most of the time what they’re thinking is, okay this is where I think we want to go with the future schools so what’s a little bet we could make? What’s a little change we could do? Maybe over one lesson, maybe over a sequence of a week. And educators coming together and saying what have we learned from that prototype? What worked and what didn’t?

Now I’ll be honest, sometimes you’ll have a total stuff up. Remember the time you first tried to do inquiry based learning? What happened? Kids went crazy, AP walks, Assistant Principal walked into the room and said what’s going on here? And it wasn’t that inquiry based learning was a bad idea, we just needed new ways to set up learning so that it could be better than ever before. So to we actually need to be willing to have big stuff ups. And here’s the thing – I’d actually have a failure party once a term. I mean so often we say we will give carrots to successes and sticks to failures. I’m going to push it and say I think you really should give carrots to failures, people who are pushing out there, pushing the boundaries and getting lot of learning. In the tech sector they say fail forward, fail quickly to accelerate learning. And I think as we start to de-risk our cultures from failure, as we try prototyping, and as we actually celebrate the learning that comes from getting it wrong the first time, we will be in a very good position to start to create the kind of innovative examples in this place that others will look to and say, wow there’s the future of schools. 

 

Hi I’m Simon Breakspear, I am currently based at University of Cambridge working with a group of GATE scholars over there on the area of education system reform. But originally as you will tell by the accent, from Sydney Australia. I love that CORE actually devotes some time to talk about the future. We are so busy all the time getting through the latest requirements for standardisation and curriculum and other things, it is really hard as leaders to spend some time just thinking about the future, think about where we’re heading and what we need to do. And I think that one of the biggest mass shifts that I’m seeing around the world is a shift from what I  call mass standardisation to mass personalisation. 

The model we have adopted for the last 100 years has been very much about a factory paradigm, preparing people for the industrial revolution. And I think we are starting to shift and saying well how do we take on another type of paradigm? And how do we prepare people for a knowledge-based society? And personalisation is the only way forward. I mean it is funny, we talk lots and lots about lifting standardised test scores, a lot of my research is on PISA, the big international test scores. But the great paradox is that you only increase standardised test scores when you increase personalisation. So how do we get personalisation done? How do we make learning meaningful, learning come to students in a way that is really engaging and relevant for them? 

There are some cool examples happening around the world. Kunskapsskolan in Sweden have really started to think about having different types of learning spaces.  Some for direct instruction, some in groups and some just students working on their own. And there are models like this popping up around the world creating new types of learning spaces deeply about personalised learning and having individual learning plans. But you’ve got to be careful though. It is really hard to personalise for 30 students at a time. How do we do it? And I think here’s where technology is really going to give us the way to get across this limiting factor. So even though teachers can try to shape learning, what we’re seeing is places like the Khan Academy trying to work out how can we put as much information online so students can go and access it at their own time in their own place. To make sure they can go and personalise the learning themselves. 

The other thing we’re seeing with technology is not just putting things online for direct instruction but using the power of social media. That students could personalise the learning for themselves and for each other. Laterally without even the help of a teacher and having mass participation of students helping each other using online platforms. 

So where do I think it is heading? I think schools that are deeply personalised. Starting to shape the learning around what’s relevant, what’s authentically meaningful to young people. And leveraging the limits of staff through technology to make it happen. 

We spend all this time thinking about the future and sometimes to be honest, you go to great conferences, you hear fantastic speakers and they are talking about these great examples: charter schools in the US, innovative schools in Europe, other things going on. I can’t help but sometimes think that we come back to our own schools and think well isn’t it a shame that my school isn’t already like that one. And we’ve got to think about not just, sort of, futures thinking, what education might look like in the future, but also innovation processes that we could get going in our own place. I mean, how do we get innovation and futures starting to bubble up in our own places? And they say the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed. And so how do we start to bring some of those ideas into our own place? 

I think one of the big breakthroughs that would really support educators is to borrow from another discipline. Borrow from designers and think about design thinking. Being a little bit personal here I hope you don’t mind, but on the way in I actually asked if I could just pop off to the bathroom before we did this, and I noticed I was in a disabled toilet. And what’s amazing about a disabled toilet is it is totally designed around the user. You see those with certain difficulties, it’s not that they are unable to go to the bathroom on their own, they’re just not able to in the way that we currently design a cheap way to create a toilet. You walk into a disabled toilet what do you notice about the way the handles are made, what do you notice about the locks? It’s all user centred design. So too about something like a can opener. Have you been to a holiday home lately, you find the can opener, and you think what do I do with this old metal device, you can barely get it through the can. It’s not that there was a problem with your hands, it’s just that we designed something that was easy to produce on mass. It didn’t really meet our user needs. Industrial designers got around the problem and they thought who are the people who struggle the most, perhaps those with arthritis. How could we design learning for them, sorry how can we design the can opener for them, sorry. So that they could use it and we can all find now we very little effort at all, based on that design, we can all easily open cans.

Now let’s go over to the learning side that I jumped to a little bit too quickly. As you think about bringing innovation to your place in your school, the best thing to do is actually not just to start with what’s happening out there in the world of futures thinking, but what’s actually happening for your users. How are your students going? What are their needs? What are their motivations? What’s relevant for them? What’s aspirational for them? And that’s actually the very heart of the learning agenda. We think about what’s meaningful for them, we start to shape the learning around them. Because actually a lot of the students who are dropping out, some people are talking now about the ‘tail’ in New Zealand, for example, or in Australia as well. A group of students we just don’t seem to be able to improve. I actually don’t think it is a problem with them, It is a problem with our institutions not being willing to shape the learning around them. So just start up by bringing your staff together and talking about what you know about the needs and aspirations and motivations of your young people. And give yourself licence to innovate, to shape the learning around the learner rather than being stuck with the institutional norms you have been given. User centred design, a fantastic process, I think educators should borrow from industrial thinking, sorry industrial designers, to bring learning and make it more relevant for our young people. 

So one of the great things about user centred design is that it gives us a process to deeply personalise the learning. I’ve spent a bit of time now with leaders in the Northern Territory in Australia, and what you’ll find is that these leaders, working with often difficult circumstances, come and they say they way things are happening just isn’t working. And they start with a learning design problem. Perhaps enrolments of only 30% of kids turning up.  And they ask themselves what can we start to do to reshape the way this day is structured making learning more engaging? And what we find as teachers get around, and they’re given licence to change what they’re currently doing and shape what they’re currently doing, we are finding incredible gains in something like enrolment where kids are starting to think, this is a place I want to turn up to, this is a place that listens to my needs and this is a place that validates my community, my language, the other things that are meaningful for me. And so there is an example from the extremes if you like. And Charles Leadbetter, a real thought leader in this area will say, a lot of times in innovation we need to look to the extremes because the best ideas go from the margins to the mainstream. So that’s what it would look like in a school like that. But it doesn’t matter at all if you work in an urban environment, maybe with a high SES group. Again it is about coming and shaping the learning around those user needs and try to make sure it is relevant, and meaningful and authentic for them. 

If we are going to start innovating in our schools. I mean if we are going to stop just looking to the future about what the cool stuff is going on outside New Zealand, we have to actually look inwards and say how could we create the kind of cultures in our schools where educators believe in their own creative capacities and have licence to fail. Here’s the thing. So often in education we hear people saying things like education is too important to innovate with. Now what they’re really saying is we can’t risk sort of stuffing up things for our kids. But unfortunately we often have a tendency then to play it very safe, to keep giving the same old solutions, that when we’re all really obvious about it, actually aren’t developing great learning. And I think one of the things of leaders at all levels, when I say leaders I mean positional leaders, principals, all the way through to classroom leaders, people who are leading up through influence, need to give each other permission is, and that is to fail. I mean all great ideas failed a few times first. In the tech industry, in the venture capital industry, in the film industry, everyone knows most of the things that they do won’t quite work the first time. And one of the areas that we could really help each other and think about de-risking cultures in education so that we can try new things, is the idea of prototyping. Again when people are thinking about creating a prototype, they are not trying to come up with one big idea that they have got totally perfect that they bring into the world and spend lots of money on. Most of the time what they’re thinking is, okay this is where I think we want to go with the future schools so what’s a little bet we could make? What’s a little change we could do? Maybe over one lesson, maybe over a sequence of a week. And educators coming together and saying what have we learned from that prototype? What worked and what didn’t?

Now I’ll be honest, sometimes you’ll have a total stuff up. Remember the time you first tried to do inquiry based learning? What happened? Kids went crazy, AP walks, Assistant Principal walked into the room and said what’s going on here? And it wasn’t that inquiry based learning was a bad idea, we just needed new ways to set up learning so that it could be better than ever before. So to we actually need to be willing to have big stuff ups. And here’s the thing – I’d actually have a failure party once a term. I mean so often we say we will give carrots to successes and sticks to failures. I’m going to push it and say I think you really should give carrots to failures, people who are pushing out there, pushing the boundaries and getting lot of learning. In the tech sector they say fail forward, fail quickly to accelerate learning. And I think as we start to de-risk our cultures from failure, as we try prototyping, and as we actually celebrate the learning that comes from getting it wrong the first time, we will be in a very good position to start to create the kind of innovative examples in this place that others will look to and say, wow there’s the future of schools. 

 

Date added: 02/10/2012

Personalisation as the way forward

While at ULearn11 keynote speaker Simon Breakspear (@simonbreakspear) spoke about the increased personalisation enabled by smart technologies. As a provocative speaker on educational futures and innovation, Simon has a refreshing view on personalisation as a way to increase standardised results, and he takes us through some examples and where this trend is heading.

Views 6,627 Date added: 02/10/2012

Personalisation as the way forward

Hi I’m Simon Breakspear, I am currently based at University of Cambridge working with a group of GATE scholars over there on the area of education system reform. But originally as you will tell by the accent, from Sydney Australia. I love that CORE actually devotes some time to talk about the future. We are so busy all the time getting through the latest requirements for standardisation and curriculum and other things, it is really hard as leaders to spend some time just thinking about the future, think about where we’re heading and what we need to do. And I think that one of the biggest mass shifts that I’m seeing around the world is a shift from what I  call mass standardisation to mass personalisation. 

The model we have adopted for the last 100 years has been very much about a factory paradigm, preparing people for the industrial revolution. And I think we are starting to shift and saying well how do we take on another type of paradigm? And how do we prepare people for a knowledge-based society? And personalisation is the only way forward. I mean it is funny, we talk lots and lots about lifting standardised test scores, a lot of my research is on PISA, the big international test scores. But the great paradox is that you only increase standardised test scores when you increase personalisation. So how do we get personalisation done? How do we make learning meaningful, learning come to students in a way that is really engaging and relevant for them? 

There are some cool examples happening around the world. Kunskapsskolan in Sweden have really started to think about having different types of learning spaces.  Some for direct instruction, some in groups and some just students working on their own. And there are models like this popping up around the world creating new types of learning spaces deeply about personalised learning and having individual learning plans. But you’ve got to be careful though. It is really hard to personalise for 30 students at a time. How do we do it? And I think here’s where technology is really going to give us the way to get across this limiting factor. So even though teachers can try to shape learning, what we’re seeing is places like the Khan Academy trying to work out how can we put as much information online so students can go and access it at their own time in their own place. To make sure they can go and personalise the learning themselves. 

The other thing we’re seeing with technology is not just putting things online for direct instruction but using the power of social media. That students could personalise the learning for themselves and for each other. Laterally without even the help of a teacher and having mass participation of students helping each other using online platforms. 

So where do I think it is heading? I think schools that are deeply personalised. Starting to shape the learning around what’s relevant, what’s authentically meaningful to young people. And leveraging the limits of staff through technology to make it happen. 

We spend all this time thinking about the future and sometimes to be honest, you go to great conferences, you hear fantastic speakers and they are talking about these great examples: charter schools in the US, innovative schools in Europe, other things going on. I can’t help but sometimes think that we come back to our own schools and think well isn’t it a shame that my school isn’t already like that one. And we’ve got to think about not just, sort of, futures thinking, what education might look like in the future, but also innovation processes that we could get going in our own place. I mean, how do we get innovation and futures starting to bubble up in our own places? And they say the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed. And so how do we start to bring some of those ideas into our own place? 

I think one of the big breakthroughs that would really support educators is to borrow from another discipline. Borrow from designers and think about design thinking. Being a little bit personal here I hope you don’t mind, but on the way in I actually asked if I could just pop off to the bathroom before we did this, and I noticed I was in a disabled toilet. And what’s amazing about a disabled toilet is it is totally designed around the user. You see those with certain difficulties, it’s not that they are unable to go to the bathroom on their own, they’re just not able to in the way that we currently design a cheap way to create a toilet. You walk into a disabled toilet what do you notice about the way the handles are made, what do you notice about the locks? It’s all user centred design. So too about something like a can opener. Have you been to a holiday home lately, you find the can opener, and you think what do I do with this old metal device, you can barely get it through the can. It’s not that there was a problem with your hands, it’s just that we designed something that was easy to produce on mass. It didn’t really meet our user needs. Industrial designers got around the problem and they thought who are the people who struggle the most, perhaps those with arthritis. How could we design learning for them, sorry how can we design the can opener for them, sorry. So that they could use it and we can all find now we very little effort at all, based on that design, we can all easily open cans.

Now let’s go over to the learning side that I jumped to a little bit too quickly. As you think about bringing innovation to your place in your school, the best thing to do is actually not just to start with what’s happening out there in the world of futures thinking, but what’s actually happening for your users. How are your students going? What are their needs? What are their motivations? What’s relevant for them? What’s aspirational for them? And that’s actually the very heart of the learning agenda. We think about what’s meaningful for them, we start to shape the learning around them. Because actually a lot of the students who are dropping out, some people are talking now about the ‘tail’ in New Zealand, for example, or in Australia as well. A group of students we just don’t seem to be able to improve. I actually don’t think it is a problem with them, It is a problem with our institutions not being willing to shape the learning around them. So just start up by bringing your staff together and talking about what you know about the needs and aspirations and motivations of your young people. And give yourself licence to innovate, to shape the learning around the learner rather than being stuck with the institutional norms you have been given. User centred design, a fantastic process, I think educators should borrow from industrial thinking, sorry industrial designers, to bring learning and make it more relevant for our young people. 

So one of the great things about user centred design is that it gives us a process to deeply personalise the learning. I’ve spent a bit of time now with leaders in the Northern Territory in Australia, and what you’ll find is that these leaders, working with often difficult circumstances, come and they say they way things are happening just isn’t working. And they start with a learning design problem. Perhaps enrolments of only 30% of kids turning up.  And they ask themselves what can we start to do to reshape the way this day is structured making learning more engaging? And what we find as teachers get around, and they’re given licence to change what they’re currently doing and shape what they’re currently doing, we are finding incredible gains in something like enrolment where kids are starting to think, this is a place I want to turn up to, this is a place that listens to my needs and this is a place that validates my community, my language, the other things that are meaningful for me. And so there is an example from the extremes if you like. And Charles Leadbetter, a real thought leader in this area will say, a lot of times in innovation we need to look to the extremes because the best ideas go from the margins to the mainstream. So that’s what it would look like in a school like that. But it doesn’t matter at all if you work in an urban environment, maybe with a high SES group. Again it is about coming and shaping the learning around those user needs and try to make sure it is relevant, and meaningful and authentic for them. 

If we are going to start innovating in our schools. I mean if we are going to stop just looking to the future about what the cool stuff is going on outside New Zealand, we have to actually look inwards and say how could we create the kind of cultures in our schools where educators believe in their own creative capacities and have licence to fail. Here’s the thing. So often in education we hear people saying things like education is too important to innovate with. Now what they’re really saying is we can’t risk sort of stuffing up things for our kids. But unfortunately we often have a tendency then to play it very safe, to keep giving the same old solutions, that when we’re all really obvious about it, actually aren’t developing great learning. And I think one of the things of leaders at all levels, when I say leaders I mean positional leaders, principals, all the way through to classroom leaders, people who are leading up through influence, need to give each other permission is, and that is to fail. I mean all great ideas failed a few times first. In the tech industry, in the venture capital industry, in the film industry, everyone knows most of the things that they do won’t quite work the first time. And one of the areas that we could really help each other and think about de-risking cultures in education so that we can try new things, is the idea of prototyping. Again when people are thinking about creating a prototype, they are not trying to come up with one big idea that they have got totally perfect that they bring into the world and spend lots of money on. Most of the time what they’re thinking is, okay this is where I think we want to go with the future schools so what’s a little bet we could make? What’s a little change we could do? Maybe over one lesson, maybe over a sequence of a week. And educators coming together and saying what have we learned from that prototype? What worked and what didn’t?

Now I’ll be honest, sometimes you’ll have a total stuff up. Remember the time you first tried to do inquiry based learning? What happened? Kids went crazy, AP walks, Assistant Principal walked into the room and said what’s going on here? And it wasn’t that inquiry based learning was a bad idea, we just needed new ways to set up learning so that it could be better than ever before. So to we actually need to be willing to have big stuff ups. And here’s the thing – I’d actually have a failure party once a term. I mean so often we say we will give carrots to successes and sticks to failures. I’m going to push it and say I think you really should give carrots to failures, people who are pushing out there, pushing the boundaries and getting lot of learning. In the tech sector they say fail forward, fail quickly to accelerate learning. And I think as we start to de-risk our cultures from failure, as we try prototyping, and as we actually celebrate the learning that comes from getting it wrong the first time, we will be in a very good position to start to create the kind of innovative examples in this place that others will look to and say, wow there’s the future of schools. 

 

Hi I’m Simon Breakspear, I am currently based at University of Cambridge working with a group of GATE scholars over there on the area of education system reform. But originally as you will tell by the accent, from Sydney Australia. I love that CORE actually devotes some time to talk about the future. We are so busy all the time getting through the latest requirements for standardisation and curriculum and other things, it is really hard as leaders to spend some time just thinking about the future, think about where we’re heading and what we need to do. And I think that one of the biggest mass shifts that I’m seeing around the world is a shift from what I  call mass standardisation to mass personalisation. 

The model we have adopted for the last 100 years has been very much about a factory paradigm, preparing people for the industrial revolution. And I think we are starting to shift and saying well how do we take on another type of paradigm? And how do we prepare people for a knowledge-based society? And personalisation is the only way forward. I mean it is funny, we talk lots and lots about lifting standardised test scores, a lot of my research is on PISA, the big international test scores. But the great paradox is that you only increase standardised test scores when you increase personalisation. So how do we get personalisation done? How do we make learning meaningful, learning come to students in a way that is really engaging and relevant for them? 

There are some cool examples happening around the world. Kunskapsskolan in Sweden have really started to think about having different types of learning spaces.  Some for direct instruction, some in groups and some just students working on their own. And there are models like this popping up around the world creating new types of learning spaces deeply about personalised learning and having individual learning plans. But you’ve got to be careful though. It is really hard to personalise for 30 students at a time. How do we do it? And I think here’s where technology is really going to give us the way to get across this limiting factor. So even though teachers can try to shape learning, what we’re seeing is places like the Khan Academy trying to work out how can we put as much information online so students can go and access it at their own time in their own place. To make sure they can go and personalise the learning themselves. 

The other thing we’re seeing with technology is not just putting things online for direct instruction but using the power of social media. That students could personalise the learning for themselves and for each other. Laterally without even the help of a teacher and having mass participation of students helping each other using online platforms. 

So where do I think it is heading? I think schools that are deeply personalised. Starting to shape the learning around what’s relevant, what’s authentically meaningful to young people. And leveraging the limits of staff through technology to make it happen. 

We spend all this time thinking about the future and sometimes to be honest, you go to great conferences, you hear fantastic speakers and they are talking about these great examples: charter schools in the US, innovative schools in Europe, other things going on. I can’t help but sometimes think that we come back to our own schools and think well isn’t it a shame that my school isn’t already like that one. And we’ve got to think about not just, sort of, futures thinking, what education might look like in the future, but also innovation processes that we could get going in our own place. I mean, how do we get innovation and futures starting to bubble up in our own places? And they say the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed. And so how do we start to bring some of those ideas into our own place? 

I think one of the big breakthroughs that would really support educators is to borrow from another discipline. Borrow from designers and think about design thinking. Being a little bit personal here I hope you don’t mind, but on the way in I actually asked if I could just pop off to the bathroom before we did this, and I noticed I was in a disabled toilet. And what’s amazing about a disabled toilet is it is totally designed around the user. You see those with certain difficulties, it’s not that they are unable to go to the bathroom on their own, they’re just not able to in the way that we currently design a cheap way to create a toilet. You walk into a disabled toilet what do you notice about the way the handles are made, what do you notice about the locks? It’s all user centred design. So too about something like a can opener. Have you been to a holiday home lately, you find the can opener, and you think what do I do with this old metal device, you can barely get it through the can. It’s not that there was a problem with your hands, it’s just that we designed something that was easy to produce on mass. It didn’t really meet our user needs. Industrial designers got around the problem and they thought who are the people who struggle the most, perhaps those with arthritis. How could we design learning for them, sorry how can we design the can opener for them, sorry. So that they could use it and we can all find now we very little effort at all, based on that design, we can all easily open cans.

Now let’s go over to the learning side that I jumped to a little bit too quickly. As you think about bringing innovation to your place in your school, the best thing to do is actually not just to start with what’s happening out there in the world of futures thinking, but what’s actually happening for your users. How are your students going? What are their needs? What are their motivations? What’s relevant for them? What’s aspirational for them? And that’s actually the very heart of the learning agenda. We think about what’s meaningful for them, we start to shape the learning around them. Because actually a lot of the students who are dropping out, some people are talking now about the ‘tail’ in New Zealand, for example, or in Australia as well. A group of students we just don’t seem to be able to improve. I actually don’t think it is a problem with them, It is a problem with our institutions not being willing to shape the learning around them. So just start up by bringing your staff together and talking about what you know about the needs and aspirations and motivations of your young people. And give yourself licence to innovate, to shape the learning around the learner rather than being stuck with the institutional norms you have been given. User centred design, a fantastic process, I think educators should borrow from industrial thinking, sorry industrial designers, to bring learning and make it more relevant for our young people. 

So one of the great things about user centred design is that it gives us a process to deeply personalise the learning. I’ve spent a bit of time now with leaders in the Northern Territory in Australia, and what you’ll find is that these leaders, working with often difficult circumstances, come and they say they way things are happening just isn’t working. And they start with a learning design problem. Perhaps enrolments of only 30% of kids turning up.  And they ask themselves what can we start to do to reshape the way this day is structured making learning more engaging? And what we find as teachers get around, and they’re given licence to change what they’re currently doing and shape what they’re currently doing, we are finding incredible gains in something like enrolment where kids are starting to think, this is a place I want to turn up to, this is a place that listens to my needs and this is a place that validates my community, my language, the other things that are meaningful for me. And so there is an example from the extremes if you like. And Charles Leadbetter, a real thought leader in this area will say, a lot of times in innovation we need to look to the extremes because the best ideas go from the margins to the mainstream. So that’s what it would look like in a school like that. But it doesn’t matter at all if you work in an urban environment, maybe with a high SES group. Again it is about coming and shaping the learning around those user needs and try to make sure it is relevant, and meaningful and authentic for them. 

If we are going to start innovating in our schools. I mean if we are going to stop just looking to the future about what the cool stuff is going on outside New Zealand, we have to actually look inwards and say how could we create the kind of cultures in our schools where educators believe in their own creative capacities and have licence to fail. Here’s the thing. So often in education we hear people saying things like education is too important to innovate with. Now what they’re really saying is we can’t risk sort of stuffing up things for our kids. But unfortunately we often have a tendency then to play it very safe, to keep giving the same old solutions, that when we’re all really obvious about it, actually aren’t developing great learning. And I think one of the things of leaders at all levels, when I say leaders I mean positional leaders, principals, all the way through to classroom leaders, people who are leading up through influence, need to give each other permission is, and that is to fail. I mean all great ideas failed a few times first. In the tech industry, in the venture capital industry, in the film industry, everyone knows most of the things that they do won’t quite work the first time. And one of the areas that we could really help each other and think about de-risking cultures in education so that we can try new things, is the idea of prototyping. Again when people are thinking about creating a prototype, they are not trying to come up with one big idea that they have got totally perfect that they bring into the world and spend lots of money on. Most of the time what they’re thinking is, okay this is where I think we want to go with the future schools so what’s a little bet we could make? What’s a little change we could do? Maybe over one lesson, maybe over a sequence of a week. And educators coming together and saying what have we learned from that prototype? What worked and what didn’t?

Now I’ll be honest, sometimes you’ll have a total stuff up. Remember the time you first tried to do inquiry based learning? What happened? Kids went crazy, AP walks, Assistant Principal walked into the room and said what’s going on here? And it wasn’t that inquiry based learning was a bad idea, we just needed new ways to set up learning so that it could be better than ever before. So to we actually need to be willing to have big stuff ups. And here’s the thing – I’d actually have a failure party once a term. I mean so often we say we will give carrots to successes and sticks to failures. I’m going to push it and say I think you really should give carrots to failures, people who are pushing out there, pushing the boundaries and getting lot of learning. In the tech sector they say fail forward, fail quickly to accelerate learning. And I think as we start to de-risk our cultures from failure, as we try prototyping, and as we actually celebrate the learning that comes from getting it wrong the first time, we will be in a very good position to start to create the kind of innovative examples in this place that others will look to and say, wow there’s the future of schools. 

 

Date added: 02/10/2012

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