Aug 7, 2015

ISA Launches #edutrendingnow Campaign

This fall we are excited to launch a new campaign – #edutrendingnow – that we hope will reveal even more insight to those who value data-driven decision making.  ISA has always been interested in cultural shifts, societal inflection points, and educational trends.  Our research has historically identified major shifts and trends in the landscape of education and culture.  And, we have made it our business to share these trends with others through our white papers, presentations, and blog entries

What shifts are occurring in your curriculum planning?  How are you using technology to deliver education differently than just a few years ago?  What changes are you detecting in your student recruitment and retention analysis?  Are there changes in the demographic trends in your marketplace?  These are just some of the questions with which all independent schools and colleges are grappling during their summer analysis and year planning.

Here’s how #edutrendingnow works.  You can choose to do any of the following. 

Identify a major shift or trend that is happening right now in your school or college in one of five areas: learning and curriculum, marketing, enrollment management, demographics, or technology.  

Share that trend by posting it as a comment to this blog below.  Be sure to identify yourself, including name, title, and school or college.

Post that trend using the hashtag #edutrendingnow on your favorite mainstream social media.

Share a link to this blog post with other colleagues so that we may benefit from their collective wisdom. Click on the “share” button below this post.

Here’s what ISA will do with the content generated by #edutrendingnow.

Share and publish a new series of updated trends throughout the year.

Provide feedback and counsel on creative ways to address the trends identified.

Focus Ian’s keynote speaking engagements this year on the content generated, sharing new trends along the way.

Give institutional credit for the content generated.

We all seek to benefit from our collective wisdom.  Tell us what is #edutrendingnow by commenting below.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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  1. Gary Daynes on August 7, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Independent schools and colleges flourish in a certain set of community, economic, political, and moral conditions. Many of those conditions are under threat, at least where I am located in Eastern North Carolina. Independent schools and colleges have largely avoided explicit efforts to create and sustain the social conditions that support our flourishing. We are quiet in policy debates (as, for example, in the debates about whether community colleges should be free, or whether independent schools are inaccessible to the new demographic of school-goers). We tend not to get engaged in economic development, leaving that work to public institutions if it happens at all. And our curricula are more focused on developing "global citizens" than on students who are deeply committed to the places they live or will live.

    Since our futures and the futures of our communities are so tightly connected (after all, the vast majority of independent school and college students come from within 100 miles of the school they attend), I see independent schools and colleges becoming more active in building the conditions that sustain us. This means getting involved in the policy world–including municipal policy and policy debates that do not touch directly on education. And I see us committing to building our communities. For me, community-building is several steps beyond the community service we all practice. It is a purposeful effort to support and build local businesses, non-profits, and churches. It is an intentional turn towards developing a sense of place in our students. And it acknowledges that without these local efforts, the education sector will continue to be replaced by large, generic systems to our detriment and the detriment of the communities which sustain us.

    Dr. Gary Daynes
    Barton College
    Wilson, NC

  2. Lori Werth on August 25, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    My name is Dr. Lori Werth, Associate Professor and Chair of the Graduate Education Department at Northwest Nazarene University. Our private, liberal arts, Christian university is approximately 30 minutes away from Boise, Idaho and we serve undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. I am entering my 5th year teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. Prior my current role in academic affairs, I worked in Enrollment Management for over 12 years. Higher education is my passion! The students and parents whom we serve are extraordinary and regardless of the location and type of institution, academic success and student engagement are critical to the livelihood of a higher education community. Our students and landscape around us is drastically changing. I am teaching an undergraduate mathematics course that began yesterday with nearly 20 students. What is unique? The course is being taught entirely online and Khan Academy is the curriculum I am using for the majority of the course.

    The major shift I am noticing through my lens as a professor and administrator is the curriculum changes that are taking place in order to meet the needs of our diverse 21 century learners. My students this semester are your typical 17 – 18 year old student living on-campus but prefer to take their mathematics course online for convenience. In addition, I have a student who is pastoring a Hispanic Church in a rural community and is enthusiastically beginning their Bachelor’s degree. Several students are balancing work, family, and school. Yet another group is single parents working very hard to care for their children while simultaneously pursuing their degree. The expectations of our audience in higher education are changing and our medium for delivering education is changing rapidly. Our students expect high quality faculty who are engaged in the classroom but are also expecting technology to support and facilitate learning in a way that is challenging me as a professor and administrator. Self-paced learning in an academic environment that offers technology is an expectation from my students. Competition for quality and flexible education is fierce and our students want the very best when entering our classrooms each and every semester. My largest budget allocation for this academic year is professional development for faculty within my unit. I look forward to hearing from other professional about trends within your area of expertise.

    Until next time! –Lori Werth

  3. Dave Michelman on August 26, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Lots of educators and non-educators alike are talking about the need for innovation in education and schools. The refrain that modern day schools were designed to prepare students for the industrial age, which is past, and not the information age, which is now, is virtually deafening. One articulate description of schooling’s purpose in the 19th century is provided by Sugata Mitra. Listen to his TED talk about the need to create students who share the same basic skills so they were interchangeable bureaucrats to run the British Empire. (The rest of the talk is justifiably award winning as he illustrates what poor children with a computer can teach themselves.) In America, schools were designed to prepare students to run factories and to be able to participate in democracy.

    The major tenet underlying conventional education is that knowledge, which resided with the teacher, had to be transmitted to the ignorant student. Knowledge, as it was limited to the few, was the key to the kingdom of success. Hence if knowledge was successfully transmitted, schooling was successful. Think about how many school structures support that model. Classes are short as one can only absorb so much knowledge at a time. Subjects are kept separate as it is easier to learn facts in discrete packages. Standardized tests (and many other assessments) measure a student’s knowledge of a subject. School was successfully designed to pass along knowledge from a knower to a naïve student.

    As commentator after commentator remind us, knowledge is no longer scarce. Anyone with access to the internet, and that is pretty much everyone, has all available knowledge at their fingertips. As a result, schools can no longer be just knowledge conduits; instead, they must help students become wise. The infrastructure supporting wisdom is far different than the one supporting knowledge transfer. Wisdom requires time to think about the ramifications of an issue. Hence short departmental classes ought to be changed to interdisciplinary long explorations. Wisdom cannot be measured by a fill in the bubble assessment; hence those should no longer hold sway. In lots of ways, Duke School projects follow the above template allowing students to explore an issue from a multi-disciplinary perspective and for a long period of time–developing wisdom. One reason project culminations are so impressive is because students have had the space to develop some wisdom about their work.

    Another theme that is floating in the zeitgeist is that education is ripe for a disruptive change. In an economic and business sense, disruptive change is change that dramatically alters a business model. Two of the starkest recent examples include Uber and Airbnb. Both businesses ventured into worlds—taxis and hotels—that require large capital investments in inventory and personnel. Uber and Airbnb require neither and deliver the same product for substantially less, leaving the taxi and hotel industries under siege. The same type of change surrounded the introduction of the iPod which left CD’s and the stores that sold them in the ashbin of history.

    Such disruptive changes have been transpiring for a long time. Steven Johnson, in his fascinating book, How We Got to Now, talks about the history of cold. For a long time, Southerners cooled themselves with ice harvested from northern lakes and stored in southern ice houses. The most successful “cold merchants” had the best insulated ice houses. Then one day, someone invented the air conditioner and ice houses, even the best, were obsolete. For a very long time, the best “cold” strategy was to build a better ice house and then in an instant, ice houses were a very bad strategy.

    The question facing schools, including Duke School, today is are we at the “ice house improvement” stage or the air conditioner stage. Or put another way, do we continue to tweak our education model or do we look to make broader and more wide-ranging changes. It is certainly easier to conclude that we should make just incremental change and that schools will continue to look and behave pretty much like they have for the last 100 years. However, if you take seriously a seminal article written by Shoshana Zuboff in September 2010’s McKinsey Quarterly, schools, particularly private schools are ripe for disruption. Zuboff argues that industry is moving from mass production (the Model T was the first example) to “I-space” (the iPod was the first example). In the mass production model, manufacturers made a product that was basically static and consumers either accepted it or not. In “I-space” the consumer gets to tailor the product to her likes and interests. (Think about Airbnb again. Before Airbnb, I could pick between hotels giving me some limited choice; now I have almost an infinite number of configurations to meet my housing needs while traveling.)

    Zuboff further argues that businesses with the certain attributes, some which are listed below, are more likely to be disrupted:
    • The products or services offered are affordable to few and desired by many
    • Trust between you and your customer has been fractured
    • Your business model has high fixed costs
    • Your organizational structures can be replaced by flexible, responsive, low cost networks
    • Your end users have needs and desires you have not imagined and have no way to learn about.

    While I hope that trust is high between Duke School and its parents and students, many of the other attributes seem to apply to independent schools.

    If schools are ripe for disruption, what does Duke School need to do to be ready? The board and I expect to wrestle with this question throughout the year and I would love to hear from you.

    Should Duke School look to be more innovative? If so, what does the process look like? If not, why not? What changes does Duke School have to make to stay relevant in an increasingly fast paced world? What are you expecting from the school that you are not getting? What value is it delivering well?

    Feel free to email me directly or comment on the blog.

  4. Bill Diskin on September 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Trends matter.

    In so many areas of our lives — investing, fashion, entertainment, education — paying attention to trends can be the difference between being an industry leader or an industry follower. And while the cost of misreading a trend in fashion or commerce can result in the loss of millions of dollars, it’s harder to measure the stakes involved with overlooking the latest trends in education.

    Still, schools, teachers, and most importantly, students, are sure to benefit from the cataloging and tracking of trends in a variety of areas impacting teaching and learning. So, all of us at Cannon School applaud Ian Symmonds & Associates for establishing #edutrendingnow to help us keep a closer eye on what’s happening beyond our own campus.

    We look forward to learning together.

    Bill Diskin
    Director of Admission
    Cannon School
    Concord, NC

  5. Bill Diskin on September 30, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Reading the front page of the Oct. 2 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education can be unnerving for folks trying to attract new students to schools.

    Eric Hoover, in his article "Getting Inside the Mind of an Applicant," uncovers a trend among teenagers that will likely raise some eyebrows inside the communications and marketing departments of most colleges and, eventually, independent schools.

    Hoover introduces Lara Wyatt, a high school sophomore from South Carolina who — like many prospective students her age — demonstrates a healthy skepticism toward anything that makes it into a school’s official publications.

    "For starters, Ms. Wyatt doesn’t put much stock in websites," Hoover writes. "When she began her college search last
    summer, she turned to Tumblr, where photos of Wagner College impressed her. She scrolled through Twitter and Instagram, seeking glimpses of campus life from “actual students,” she says, not the ones who appear in videos produced by colleges. “They seem
    a bit fake, especially if they are smiling the whole time.”

    Instead, Hoover explains, Wyatt sought information about schools from more authentic sources.
    "Ms. Wyatt searched hashtags to see where students were having fun, where they were complaining about
    the food," Hoover explains. "She stumbled upon a series of YouTube videos by a student at Elon College that piqued her interest
    in the campus. ‘I was able to see what college was actually like for her,’ she says, ‘versus the videos all colleges make that say, "This place is awesome!"’"


    Bill Diskin
    Director of Admission
    Cannon School
    Concord, NC

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