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ChangeNOW Summit: New Models for Education

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How do you prepare students for careers that don’t exist yet?

Khan Lab School Executive Director Dominic Liechti spoke at the ChangeNOW Summit in Paris in September 2017. As part of the New Models for Education Innovators’ Roundtable, Liechti summarized how KLS prioritizes independencepersonalized learning, and project-based learning, explaining how these elements empower students to take ownership of their learning and prepare them for the jobs of the future.

According to the World Economic Forum, the employment landscape is changing as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Their Future of Jobs report projects that “technological, socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic developments and the interactions between them will generate new categories of jobs and occupations while partly or wholly displacing others.” Because of this, Liechti said, it is important to give students transferable skills which will make them successful in any future industry.

Although personalized learning is a hot topic in education, Liechti advises that it must be implemented carefully. “Personalization happens at our school predominately with the content, because it’s self-paced,” he said. He added that too much personalization can isolate students from each other: “That’s why we keep focusing during the project-based learning on teamwork and critical thinking as well as cognitive skills.”

Liechti explained that schools must help students become successful creators – not just consumers – to help them compete in the workplace. “It makes no sense just to memorize content. We need to apply context to make it meaningful and connect it to real-life issues.”

Students practice bringing context to content at KLS through immersive group projects which require them to go beyond memorization and “present in different modes in front of different audiences,” testing their public speaking and persuasion skills, said Liechti. According to Silicon Schools’ findings on personalized learning, “collaborative work also helps students navigate relationships and teaches students to work with many different types of people.”

Panelist François Taddei, founder of the Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, also stressed the value of human creativity and critical thinking at a time when machines are predicted to replace many jobs. “Machines can learn, but they cannot understand or question the basics of what they’ve heard,” he said.

ChangeNOW Summit 2017 Station F in Paris, the venue of ChangeNOW Summit 2017 KLS Executive Director Dominic Liechti at ChangeNOW Summit 2017 Inside ChangeNOW Summit 2017 "Meet the innovations that change the world"

The ChangeNOW Summit was held in late September with the aim of sparking action around topics such as education, renewable energy, biodiversity, healthcare, and more. Other attendees included representatives from Techfugees, which uses technology to address refugee crises, and The Sea Cleaners, which creates ocean vessels to collect plastic waste. The event was designed to encourage networking between people with similar passions and to give individuals an opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors.

The Summit took place at Station F, the largest startup campus in the world, and over 2,000 attendees from various backgrounds and nationalities were present on September 29 & 30. “Experiencing and understanding the real impact of these solutions is key to boost their adoption by the many,” said Santiago Lefebvre, founder of ChangeNOW. “We want to show that these projects are viable alternatives, led by skilled and mission-driven entrepreneurs with a proven business model.”

« Nous souhaitons mettre en avant les solutions car c’est en les voyant, en comprenant leur impact positif et en les testant que nous pourrons accélérer leur adoption, déclare Santiago Lefebvre, fondateur et co-organisateur de ChangeNOW. Nous voulons aussi montrer que ces projets sont des alternatives viables, et que derrière, il y a des entrepreneurs compétents dont l’intérêt dépasse le simple objectif de performance. »


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