Recap of Day 1 of the Global Education Conference

Day one of the Global Education Conference 2015 was thought provoking and featured a number of interesting discussions – both on the dais and off. For me, i was looking forward to the first and last sessions, on Credentialing 2.0 (I did a recap of this session previously)and Edupreneurship respectively, and they did not disappoint.  One big take away is that I need to read Professor Bob Schwartz’s study on the Swiss system of vocational education.  Also, the lunch session, titled “A Conversation About Educational Access, Opportunity& Leadership” and the session on the Vergara case were also very interesting and thought provoking.

The conference this year  seems much heavier on the academic side than in years past, and that is a welcome evolution – I hope more conference will draw from the faculty expertise – on both theory and practice — in future ed tech and ed policy discussions.  Its a welcome view and creates a fun dynamic when paired with the “edupreneurs” typically featured at the conference.

There seems to be a bit of a consensus that the flipped classroom is what works best.  This was apparent during the lunch session.  For example, Edith Cooper (Global Head of Human Capital Management, Goldman Sachs), discussed how Goldman trains employees through online programs and offers experts in the topic to do 1-on-1 coaching and further instruction.  On the same panel, Jim Ryan (Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education), offered that the best use of class time is not imparting information through the lectures, but rather applying the information learned previously through project-based learning.  Michael D. Smith (Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University) offered similar comments.

Surprisingly the same theme came up at the Edupreneurship panel.  Chip Paucek of 2U explained how the MBA program at UNC has a ground based element — that he did not originally support) – but which have proved very popular.  Even more interesting, Aaron Skonnard of Pluralsight talked about how users of the online program have physically gotten together with other users to form groups to study and work though problems.  Maybe flipped/hybrid learning is not not only supported by Goldman and the educators at Harvard, but people may intuitively be creating such environments.

The session on Vergara v. State of California was also a highlight. For those that don’t know, Vergara is a case that successfully challenged the tenure and teacher rights laws in California.  Suffice to say, the laws in California make firing a tenured teacher for performance based reasons extraordinarily difficult,  The lawyers involved in the case presented a summary of their arguments, and a panel of two of the expert witnesses involved in the case, together with former U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary James Shelton, discussed the implications of the case.  While I can’t say there were any resolutions of these issues, it was useful hearing the arguments – and we all should be watching the case as it winds its way through the appellate system

In all, its been a great start to the conference.