February 18, 2019 | Comment

Designing 2030: The Concord Consortium’s Big Dreams for the Future of Education

Categories: Digital Learning, Educational Practice

The Concord Consortium’s new initiative is setting its sights on the future of education. Designing 2030 is galvanizing plans to revolutionize STEM teaching and learning with the goal of reaching more students with open data and educational technology.

At the inaugural Designing 2030 two-day summit in May 2018, the Concord Consortium convened 30 STEM education professionals, leaders of informal education institutions, scientists, entrepreneurs, curriculum developers, K-12 educational software programmers, teachers, and learning scientists at Dynamicland, an experimental community computing space in Oakland, California. And in January 2019, 23 learning scientists, curriculum designers, youth media and open data researchers, citizen science specialists, and data literacy advocates gathered for a day and a half for Designing 2030: Thinking & Doing with Data in Palo Alto, California, to think specifically about teaching and learning in a data-rich world.

At both summits, the goal was to apply current and future technologies in unique ways, generate new collaborations, and leverage the power of open data and open educational resources in order to bring STEM learning experiences to a broader, more diverse group of learners and engage all learners in data-rich experiences.

At the first meeting, Concord Consortium President and CEO Chad Dorsey and Executive Vice President Sherry Hsi engaged participants in exercises designed to help dream big. Participants sketched ideas and created blueprints for action. The meeting also included presentations, technology demonstrations, and open discussion around the following framing question:

How can technology transform the way we teach and learn science and broaden participation by more learners?

Invited speakers ignited new ideas about the future of teaching and learning. Technology visionary and creator of Dynamicland, Bret Victor, described a future of computing in which people work together shoulder to shoulder with physical materials, having agency to change the things they create—in sharp contrast to highly independent, isolated users of apps developed by others.

Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito championed the need to design educational systems that serve the interest and needs of learners and to reconsider the notion that “kids move through a pipeline from school to the workforce.” She described the web of relationships, opportunities, pathways, and interests that can serve as learner supports over many years. Jeremy Roschelle, executive director of learning sciences research at Digital Promise, also emphasized the idea that education should be less about learning new things and more about collaboration and building new relationships that connect ideas in productive ways.

Adam Tobin, CEO of Chabot Space & Science Center, re-envisioned the role of museums and science centers as critical educational hubs to support an integrated STEM learning ecosystem. Colin Dixon, research associate at the Concord Consortium, urged educators to create space for surprises and to rethink what counts as “technology” in light of young people’s imaginations and maker-oriented opportunities.

Judi Fusco, senior research scientist of STEM teaching and learning at Digital Promise, spoke of the importance of teachers, mentors, and coaches to support students, and the role of teachers and others in the community as key propagators of educational research to be put to use in the classroom. Finally, Britte Cheng, assessment researcher formerly at SRI International, described both the need to design educational implementations for equity and justice and the need to design against stereotypes and bias.

Building on the momentum from the first Designing 2030 summit, Designing 2030: Thinking & Doing with Data brought together several participants from the first summit, as well as invited experts in data science, data literacy, and citizen science to envision and anticipate the next steps in designing learning experiences where students think, interact, and take action with data.

Education professionals attending Designing 2030 summit Data scientists, data literacy advocates, youth media researchers, citizen science specialists, and more gathered at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in January 2019 at the Designing 2030: Thinking & Doing with Data Summit. Photo: 2019, The Concord Consortium. Used with permission.

Leaders from the Concord Consortium, BSCS Science Learning, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, TERC, National Geographic Education, Nexmap, Public Lab, iNaturalist, YR Media, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and others dove deep to answer the questions:

What kinds of experiences should school-aged learners have with data? What must be done now and anticipated in the future in order to make these experiences possible?

To begin to answer these questions, participants engaged with software demos, including CODAP, FieldScope, VitalSigns, OpenData Open Minds, iNaturalist, and open-source Internet of Things (IoT) hardware sensors from the InSPECT project. Colin Dixon facilitated a conversation around data as a medium, data as making, and the afterlife of data, including “data violence.”

Chad Dorsey gave an impassioned lightning talk, making the call to the field to form a Messy Data Coalition and arguing for “messy data” both as a pedagogical context for developing future data fluency and as a reality of the future world. Shannon Dosenmagen from Public Labs shared her inspirational story of how the BP oil spill of 2010 prompted her to organize communities to participate in environmental monitoring and activism using low-cost DIY tools and technologies to collect and share data. Lissa Soep from YR Media (formerly Youth Radio) described social media contexts for youth learning and empowerment in data-driven storytelling and for understanding technologies like AI. She argued that teaching students fluency with data, coding, and computational thinking should be for critical computational imagination, a term she and her colleague Clifford Lee together coined.

The Designing 2030 initiative will continue to facilitate deep conversations and connections to build synergies across different groups and organizations. Platforms that support open data, interoperability, and educational technologies can support young learners to engage in meaningful STEM learning experiences and grow into informed community participants and stewards of the future.

Funding for the Designing 2030 and Designing 2030: Thinking & Doing with Data summits was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The Concord Consortium is a nonprofit research and development organization located in Concord, MA, and Emeryville, CA, dedicated to transforming education through technology.


Guest post by: Sherry Hsi, Executive Vice President of the Concord Consortium