So it was my great honor to serve on the 2010 K-12 Horizon Project Advisory Board this year, and “our” report was released a couple of days ago. If you want another piece to add to your “compelling case for change” argument, it’s worthy of your consideration. Obviously, I’m hoping you’ll read the whole thing, but I wanted to pick out some of the pieces that I find particularly thought-provoking.

I’ve used parts of past “key trends” listed in the report in my presentations, and some of this year’s are continuations of year’s past. But there are two parts of this year’s trends that I want to highlight:

• There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study. More and more, the notion of the school as the seat of educational practice is changing as learners avail themselves of learning opportunities from other sources. There is a tremendous opportunity for schools to work hand-in-hand with alternate sources, to examine traditional approaches, and to reevaluate the content and experiences they are able to offer. [Italics mine]

• The way we think of learning environments is changing. Traditionally, a learning environment has been a physical space, but the idea of what constitutes a learning environment is changing. The “spaces” where students learn are becoming more community-driven, interdisciplinary, and supported by technologies that engage virtual communication and collaboration. This changing concept of the learning environment has clear implications for schools.

Both of these speak directly to the concepts that Leadbetter and Wong wrote about in the Cisco report I highlighted yesterday. These “radically new ways” of thinking about learning, while no where near mainstream, are unquestionably starting to bubble up, and as more and more people begin to step back from  the seemingly intractable equation that learning=schools, there will be more and more pressure on the system to change. And all of this makes me believe even more that sooner rather than later, we will see families with access and the means to do so opting out more and more from the traditional school structure.

The other piece of the report that I found most enlightening is the section on game-based learning. I’m not a gamer by any stretch (though I love RealRacingHD on my iPad…not a lot of real learning going on there, I know), but more and more I’m trying to get my head around the implications. One part of the narrative here that has me thinking deals with the ways in which we can seamlessly integrate educational content with game play:

What makes MMO games especially compelling and effective is the variety of sub-games or paths of engagement that are available to players — there are social aspects, large and small goals to work towards, often an interesting back story that sets the context, and more. Players dedicate enormous amounts of time on task pursuing the goals of these games. The problem that needs to be solved, and which is being tackled on many fronts today, is that of embedding educational content in such a way that it becomes a natural part of playing the game.

It’s just another way that we are starting to “radically” rethink learning, and I for one continue to find it a totally engaging conversation to follow. Hope you’ll join in.