How can we measure learning beyond just knowledge about academic content? KQED writer Katrina Schwartz ponders this provocative question. In her article, I was quoted as suggesting, “Ultimately what we want students to be able to do is solve problems they’ve never seen before." I feel this resonates with the idea of transfer that was explored in a recent National Research Council report. I do believe that when students are engaging in challenging projects in class or in an internship (or even in a conference deep dive about lobsters), what we should try to measure is their ability to apply what they have learned to solve non-routine, novel problems they will likely face later in life.
Last week the Teaching Channel launched the “Deeper Learning Video Series,” with more than 50 videos that depict teaching practice that prepare students for success in college, career and everyday life. Taken together, the videos capture practices from the Deeper Learning Network, which includes more than 500 schools across the country. The series includes a special introduction from expert-in-residence at Harvard University’s New Innovation Lab Tony Wagner, who said, “Deeper Learning captures the nuances, the ideas, and the energy behind an entire effort to fundamentally rethink the most important outcomes in education for the 21st century.” This unprecedented series also includes commentaries from Carol Dweck, Kathleen Cushman and Milton Chen, and tools for hosting your own screening in your school or educational community.
Katrina Schwartz from KQED’s MindShift has been participating in the Deeper Learning MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), and reports on her experience thus far. She writes that even though for years great teachers have individually been engaging in effective practices, now she feels there is a movement “to codify the different pieces that define the deeper learning approach, and to spread the knowledge from teacher to teacher, school to school” through the MOOC.
A new project (the Deeper Learning MOOC) gets underway today that all logic would suggest should not work. It is attempting to accomplish its apparent polar opposite, and to spread a set of practices through what appears to be their very antithesis.
Now, when you work at a foundation, you grow accustomed to coming face to face with the seemingly impossible, which often times seems drawn from science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes it’s the big, hairy, audacious goal that depicts a utopian vision of the future. Sometimes it’s when grantees manage to succeed along their quest even when battling insurmountable odds. Sometimes it’s what happens when you’re introduced as a grantmaker, and you suddenly discover your jokes are funnier, your comments more insightful, and that you are just so much better looking.
Today, I invite you to join me in witnessing what should be an utter impossibility of the “Star Trek” variety. And not just in the “boldly go where no one has gone before” way.
The Hewlett Foundation’s Education Program is focused on an initiative called Deeper Learning, which aims to ensure the education system graduates students prepared for success in college, career, civic, and everyday life. To do so, students will need to take everything they’ve learned, and then apply it to solve complex problems they’ve never seen before. And research suggests that students must therefore master core academic content, as well as have skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration and learning how to learn, and while doing so, maintain an adaptive (and academic) mindset about their abilities.
We searched for examples of school models that are focused on doing just this, and established the Deeper Learning Network, comprised by more than 500 public schools committed to helping students – especially those from communities of poverty and students of color – to develop these Deeper Learning competencies. Many are small schools, where educators personalize learning. They form connections to the real world through internships or community projects. And these schools find ways for teachers to have ample opportunities to work together to plan and collaborate.
Given their success, our big question is, how we can get these ideas to spread so all students benefit?