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Need help.

I often hear educators talking about “education needs to change” (I do it too). This is the case for the K-12, higher education, and corporate training/education markets. 

As a small research project, I’d like to ask people to answer the following questions (on their blog, in YouTube, Seesmic, or wherever – please post a link in the comments section below):

  1. Does education need to change?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?


  1. That’s an enormous question, George. I’ll see if I can give it the time and effort it deserves.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  2. I agree with Harold – may be a small project but that’s a big question! Much of my beliefs about what education needs to be are expressed in a video I created this summer:

    The part that’s most relevant to your third question is the statement that I want teachers who ask more questions than give answers. As both parents and educators, our children need us to coach and mentor – not try to control their learning.

    And we have to collaborate more to find the solutions:

    Thanks for pushing us to think big!

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  3. 1. Does education need to change?
    Certainly – it should move with the social change which is happening now. Archaic stuff should be long gone (even though it is still around. What I mean by this is the one to many, prof to students model which is so out of date…)
    2. Why or why not?
    It should change, because we want the happiest outcome for our children… If we give them anything at all, we should give them hope for the future… The only reason for not changing is because I realize that such a change to the actual structure of lecture rooms may ultimately be something that is not economically possible right now, but, if we have to avoid doing this until later, we may want to consider the online model, which doesn’t require massive theater-style seating and a physical presence of either the prof or the students. Also, we absolutely have to get buy-in from the admins of this world, who seek to lock everything down in order to “protect” the students. Although I think I will be very unpopular with admins for saying this, it is necessary, because i don’t think that with the correct security model, they have anything to fear, provided they do their job correctly.
    3. If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?
    Well – I have already described the online version. The physical model would need to be smaller, more compact, and would require the easy assembly of smaller, more integrated bodies of students in smaller-sized rooms which have an emphasis on the comfort of the people in there, with one or more professors, joining with the students and assisting them on a F2F or one-to-one basis, working with students who are further down or further up the learning scale, simultaneously.

    It may interest you to know George, that I have received lectures like this already, and not recently. So it is not a completely new idea. But it is one which should be worked on to make universal.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
  4. Big question – limited myself to 20 minutes of free-thinking, found on my blog post –

    Please feel free to critique, question and comment on my top-of-consciousness responses.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
  5. Rodd Lucier wrote:

    I’ve been engaging in dialogue with my PLN about these questions for the past few years and I’m still nowhere near completing my response!

    As I await the multiple choice version of the quiz, here is a hint at where I’m leaning: The working title of my yet unwritten book is “School Sucks… and What Teachers Can Do About It”

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  6. Jim Wenzloff wrote:

    I would be truly amazed if anyone answered no. If Congress thinks the big three should die due to bad practices, I wonder what they think of education. I’ll have to think before I post about it. I don’t think it should become one “thing.”

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  7. Rodd Lucier wrote:

    OK George, I took the challenge. Assuming I had to make an elevator pitch, I forced myself to make a brief argument and to summarize my few as succinctly as I could.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  8. Dianne Anderson wrote:

    This is such a large question. I do believe that education should change but I do not know how it can be accomplished with the strings of NCLB. I worry about the creativity of the students and the writing ability that is not there because of a lack of creativity.

    I think that education will have to be fun and project based in order to keep the students’ attention. They are so conditioned by television and video games that they tune out teachers who are talking and talking.

    This is a great question! Thanks for making me think tonight!

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  9. Ed Webb wrote:

    How could I not respond to “Need help”?

    Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  10. Hi Geore,
    I have tried to answer your questions in my blog:
    This is the first post in english in my blog (habitually it is only in spanish) and I’m not sure if my answers are interesting for you or not.
    But it has been a pleasure, try to find in my brain my best whishes for education…
    Thanks for the challenge!

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 1:55 am | Permalink
  11. Richard Hall wrote:

    dude – it’s back to the future for me – more Dewey, Illich and Friere:

    I know it seems lazy not to conflate/synthesise this for you, but there are bits at:

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 2:40 am | Permalink
  12. Pedro Freire wrote:

    1. Yes! Everything changes, why wouldn’t education change?
    2. Why?! Why not?!! If everything around it and about it is changing, why should education stand still? We’re in the middle of a cultural/social (r)evolution, a true paradigm shift. Education being a highly cultural/social activity is right in the midst of change…
    3. It’s not what is should become. It’s what it will become, because it’s changing and the driver it’s not our will, but our conscience. And it won’t stop until our conscience does so, so it will become different things at different moments, as has always been. For the moment, it’s moving from the Fordian model (production line style) to an individual-centric model. From “you can chose any color as long as its black” to pick what suits you and assemble as you go along (it doesn’t have to be a car in the end… ;-)
    But I guess you already know all of this…

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 4:53 am | Permalink
  13. 1. Does education need to change?
    2. Why or why not?
    3. If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?
    1. Does education need to change?
    Yes. It needs to change like other fields such as banking, medicine, trade etc that have changed due to the technological impact. Hence the reflections of technology must be realized in education industry too.

    2. Why or why not?

    Education involves three essential processes:
    • Teaching
    • Learning
    • Assessment
    The processes are not mutually exclusive as the performance of one influences others.
    Hence to ensure meaningful learning, teaching must be imparted in such a way it encourages just that and not rote learning. Since visual presentations make better impact and improved retention, one should resort to blended learning that includes videos, animations, simulations etc.

    When teaching is done effectively, should result in meaning learning establishing linkages between interrelated concepts, promoting utilization of higher order cognitive skills.

    Assessment must be designed to test the various cognitive sub domains of Bloom’s taxonomy instead of giving more importance to mere acquisition of knowledge.
    Thus to achieve the above mentioned things education should utilize technology wherever relevant.

    3. If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?
    Curriculum should be designed so that it is more activity based. Hence following programs can be included:
    • Project work
    • Cooperative learning
    • Collaborative learning (web 2.0 based)
    • Seminar
    • Field work
    • Other Activity based learning.
    These programs would ensure that creative, competitive, collaborative skills essential for survival of tomorrow are achieved by the students.

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 5:43 am | Permalink
  14. Nicola Avery wrote:

    Slightly veering off topic but don’t know if of interest to your research – for PodcampNYC earlier this year, they asked students from around the word to submit videos about their thoughts on future and use of media in education – Adam Broitman of Morpheus Media organised and we chatted quite a bit at the time about it ….he’s on twitter… (have tried to locate Podcamp link but it appears to now be broken)

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 6:52 am | Permalink
  15. Gary Lewis wrote:

    Hi George – I recently completed a slidecast called Imagining Tomorrow’s University that addresses the questions you raise. It’s available in 2 places:




    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 6:58 am | Permalink
  16. John Goodridge wrote:

    Here’s my 2c on this one. BTW I work as part of a consultancy supporting educational technologists.

    First up I can’t speak of education as if I’m looking at it in a test tube, separated from it. I am responsible for influencing the process of education so, most days someone will look at me and see the answer to their own question ‘what is education?’ I am part of education; education is part of me.


    1. Do I need to change?

    2. Why or why not?

    3. If I should change what should I become? What will learners see in me, in the future?

    In response to those questions:

    1. Yes. I should hold the forms of education as lightly as I hold it’s underlying values tightly

    2. Principally for the sake of those I’m responsible for influencing. But from a theoretical perspective because forms are always changing, but values never do. So I need to change forms to make better progress in that which I value. The widening gap between the consequence of a form and it’s value = degree of irrelevance.

    3 I want to become the following kind of person:

    A. I want to hold fast, as if my life depended upon it to the values education. I believe this to be ‘identifying the highest possible potential and future for those in the process of education (includes leader and led) and working to release it in service of the greater community. This highest future potential is always sensed ‘in between the lines of the educational experience’ – IMHO educators who care (most all of us) can by and large sense learner engagment, growth and passion, esp. if we are encouraged to look for it. Trouble is it’s difficult to express in numbers and grades. This is why the current policy fixation with objective outcomes and measurement is antithetical to finding the highest (and ironically most valuable) potential in the community. It suffocates this vital subjective dimension. But this is the current environment and thus I must hold to my values regardless.

    B. I want to be wholly open to forms that achieve the above value: no pet theories or technologies for me! If standing on my head is a form that discovers and develops the highest life possibility for those I influence then why should I not do it, for them?

    My goal is to encourage an environment where learners can experience as wide and as deep a possible a range of experiences to allow for the connections of meaning which are the signposts to their highest potential.

    Well, at least it’s a start.

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  17. Wendy wrote:

    Thank you for giving me an opportunity to clarify my thinking about how I want to change the way I educate. It’s only one small corner / piece of the puzzle. The way I see it, big changes start with individual action.

    Any feedback (from anyone) is welcome

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  18. Amy Hilbelink wrote:

    What a great set of questions. I had to stew on this a bit.

    Obviously “education” can take place anywhere, but if you are referring to a traditional classroom education I, as a mother and an educator, would say “YES” the system of education needs to change.
    We do very little today, the same way we did it 20 or 50 years ago, except in the classroom. For the most part, teachers lecture and students take notes and students take tests on what the instructor finds to be of value in the time period allotted.
    I support a more Constructivist approach to education at all levels. Students and instructors need to know how to “discover” some things on their own in order to internalize it. Education should be more daring. Instructors should try different things in the classroom or online. We’ve all seen plenty of page-turners in the online environment as well as in the traditional classroom.
    As for what education should “look” like- I feel that the look shouldn’t be prescriptive. Teaching History in K-12 should look different than a math course. So, sorry, but I can’t predict what it should look like, but I had fun thinking about it.
    Thanks for reading!

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  19. Jane Terpstra wrote:

    Good questions! I suppose every educator has a vision of the “ideal” education system. In my case, I do think that education needs to change, although perhaps not as radically as some may prescribe.

    I believe there is still value in exercising mental PROCESSES such as (1) recognition (letters of an alphabet, words), (2) basic calculation (adding, subtracting, multiplication, division), and (3) memorization (naming people/places/things, recitation), and structure (grammer, number systems such as binary). These require some spaced, repetitive practice, butI believe that such processes form the cornerstones for learning how to learn.

    Once these mental processing skills are attained, there should be more flexibility for learners and a departure from the mundane format of traditional education. At this point (likely different for each learner), learners should be set free to build their own knowledge and skills, learning on their own and from others using all materials available. With today’s youth, this would likely occur around Middle School ages in the U.S. (12-14).

    By High School ages in the U.S. (15-18) and beyond, I believe that students should still be able to come together for socialization; however, they should have much more flexibility to lead their learning. Schools should provide centers with experts and equipment (real or virtual) and allow the students to select where they spend their time and effort. I believe this same concept of centers with experts and equipment (real or virtual) would be viable for work settings as well.

    Thanks for asking…

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  20. Amal Linjawi wrote:

    These videos might help to answer some, if not all your questions?

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  21. Amal Linjawi wrote:

    I would also like to add this link to:

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  22. Ines Cambiasso wrote:

    I think it should. Mainly because motivation is central in learning and teachers are finding it more and more difficult to motivate students, especially when using the same old same old techniques and traditional methods. Besides the sense of urgency in school reform is apparent in many countries due to the speed in technological change and in the production of information.
    As for the third question my answer is tentative. I find it hard to predict what may happen in ten years’time. However, in the near future I can see a close collaboration between f2f and networked teaching and learning, since access to technology will be wider and more generalized. Though I would hypothesize that the greater the complexity of the systems the wider the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
    Ines Cambiasso

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  23. George,

    Sorry, I just can’t answer these questions; I can’t even answer the first one, “Does education need to change?” I keep on hitting other questions.

    Education where? Education in my town? Education in the US? Education in developed countries? Education in developing countries?

    Education for what purpose? Education to develop leaders? Education to develop workers, and what kink of workers, manual, semi-skilled, technical, knowledge workers? Education to develop citizens? Homemakers and parents? People better able to follow directions? People better able to solve problems? People better able to be creative? Express themselves?

    Changes to benefit whom? The ruling class? The most oppressed? The people with the strongest drives to succeed? The people who pay the most taxes?

    How do you pick who benefits most?

    Should education generally reflect the sum of the forces of each person, or should it be directed by a few people in power? Or should it be somewhere in between, and where?

    Is there even a monolithic thing called education?

    I’m just confused, sorry.

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  24. Clark Quinn wrote:

    George, Short answer, yes it has to change. The longer answer is a blog post here.

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  25. I think my presentation from Learning Technologies 2008, said it all:
    The Adult Educator: An Endangered Species

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  26. dwproctor wrote:

    George Siemens needed help and I responded.

    Friday, November 21, 2008 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  27. Alan Levine wrote:

    Went down a path of evolution/natural systems change (of which I likely super generalized a lot of science)

    Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 7:46 am | Permalink
  28. My thoughts on the matter are at George Needs Help

    Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  29. Jim Wenzloff wrote:

    I finally posted my answers on my blog at:

    Hope it is helpful,


    Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  30. Pete Reilly says it better than I can:

    “The curriculum is predetermined. The sequence of teaching is predetermined. The pedagogy is predetermined. The teachers are pre-selected, as are the textbooks, tools, activities, assignments, and homework. Most seating arrangements are pre-determined. Students rarely are part of any decision making body in the school including the school board, or tech planning, or textbook selection, or software selection. You name it, if it’s important to the overall learning environment, students aren’t involved.”

    Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink
  31. Saroj Jayasinghe wrote:

    Hi George
    Yes Education needs to change. Why should it change? Well because the whole medium of communication has changed. I really think our brains have changed too and will continue to change. The future kids will have differently hardwired brains. They are already multi-tasking, full of visual thinking and learning in living in virtual communities. Together with neuronal plasticity, we have to expect them to have differently wired networked brains too.
    Education should become more open, diverse and democratic. The institutions will merely form platforms. Platforms should make resources be freely available for the learners. They should enhance networking and exchange of ideas. Knowledge would be built by this community of learners (and continue) after the course too.

    Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  32. Mobbsey wrote:

    My response to these questions can be found –

    Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 7:43 am | Permalink
  33. DolorsCapdet wrote:

    I believe that this change began long ago and that the technological revolution only gives you the resources to increase their speed.

    Despite the fact that we are in full contrast, various indicators suggest that, for now, you are still not getting the expected results in terms of quality. So the question I would do is what we need to improve?

    For the first time in history, society calls on educators to prepare new generations for coping with the demands, not completely defined, of the society still in gestation.

    I think it is urgently address emerging social demands as:

    1. Recognize and accept, from all sectors, the methodological change.

    2. Resolving the curricular changes and diversifications
    (renewal of subjects ,…), on the basis of efficiency and quality.

    3. To equip the centers of the resources needed for teachers to be able to integrate the information potential of new sources of information into their work.

    4. Rethinking the training of teachers so that they can play different roles (of proximity and distance at the same time) in order to maintain the difficult balance derived from a different socialization.

    5. Starting a decisive political action to renew the image of the teacher and raise the quality of their performance.

    The open source movement to induce a significant conceptual shift, but no one forget that mass education is a powerful industry that must adapt to new narratives and metaphors before the change can be definitively established.

    Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  35. Nicola wrote:

    Hi, don’t know if fits with timescales, but please could we have another week / 10 days for this, 2 things in progress !

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 5:38 am | Permalink
  36. gsiemens wrote:

    Thanks for your responses!

    I’ll begin reviewing and compiling comments about mid-december. I’ll post thoughts on this site sometime in January…

    again, thanks for your help…and if you haven’t posted yet, but would like to, you still have time :)

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  37. Saudixpat wrote:

    Hi George,

    I have come across your name from colleagues in technology and in some of my research for a master’s course I am in. I am coming around to a new paradigm as how we interact changes and the tools we use to do so also change. This has been impacted at the same time by a global project I am involved in as well as reading Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat”. I look forward to your or anybody else’s response to my thoughts.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
  38. saudixpat wrote:

    Hi George,

    loved the questions. My answers have been shaped by some of my readings on my own, some projects and some courses I am taking presently. Enjoy my thoughts here at

    I hope some of you read and respond to them!

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  39. Jenny Mackness wrote:

    My brief thoughts are here:

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 3:05 am | Permalink
  40. Mary Rearick wrote:

    Education is always changing. Education takes place in dynamic social, political, cultural, and economic community contexts. Educational standards evolve from educated community (Illich). Educational development is reflected in sum total of the educational process over time. Educational development and educational progress interact in dynamic, nonlinear manner. Educational norms–norms of interaction and interpretation–also evolve as educated people interact and reconsider what is worth knowing, why, and how knowledge (domains, concepts, understanding, expertise, etc. is transmitted, constructed, or created. Educational science is the systematic description of what is. In my forty years as an educator, I have experienced and observed many traditions, transitions, and transformations in educational practice, and theorizing. I suppose as long as I breathe, I will experience, participate in educational theorizing and change educational settings and practices.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  41. George, I don’t know why you keep asking questions I’ve already answered on my blog. :) Maybe it’s because I just realized I forgot to tag my Paper #3 for #CCK08 so you may never have seen it. I hope you did! Anyway, it (and my answers to your questions):

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink
  42. j r boyd wrote:

    This is late, but I’m gonna plop my 2 cents worth:
    Does education need to change?
    Yes. Duh.

    Why or why not?
    A simple example should suffice: I have two kids in middle/high school and in both cases they are taking at least one class from a teacher who is either burnt out on their chosen career or unqualified to teach the subject. The result is that at just the prime moment in their lives that they could become engaged or inspired in a particular subject area, they are being disengaged by the apathy or the approach of the “educator”, or both. I suspect this is a common problem across the educational spectrum.

    If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?
    This has too many facets to give justice to all, so I will focus on one biggie. Education has to figure out a way to personalize the experience using all the tools in the box without pandering to all the superfluous (and that certainly varies by individual) or unrequited whims of the student, young or old. Teachers need to be using all these tools in an authentic manner, not just as district or administratively mandated bolt-ons to their curriculum. And to do that they need professional development that acknowledges change and provides them with the resources to make those experiences authentic for themselves before they migrate them into the classroom. If they cannot find the time, wherewithall and inspiration to master the subject and make the presentation of it engaging and authentic, they should be (not so) delicately prodded into a new career.
    A huge problem with education is what to do with educators when they have reached the end of their “duty cycle” – the common model is for them to become administrators or worse- to keep on teaching the way they have been teaching for decades, like a prisoner of war waiting to be freed while slowly starving.
    We need to find a model that values the experience and potential (which will vary) of these individuals and give them options that nonetheless gets them off of the front lines of teaching.
    I’ll stop there.
    Thanks for asking, George.

    Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  43. Nicola wrote:

    Hi, I asked the 12seconds team if they could make it a 12second challenge (slightly changed the wording), they were going to feature it last week but it hasn’t emerged yet (will find out), in the meantime have also asked via Yahoo Answers , some responses. Also hoping to send through link to an oovoo video chat I had with someone, but that might not be possible now, sorry.

    Monday, December 8, 2008 at 1:35 am | Permalink

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