Equitable, Communal, Learner-Centered Ecosystems With Bobbi Macdonald

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Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guest for this episode is Bobbi Macdonald. Bobbi is an education innovator and pioneer. Her work focuses on catalyzing transformation and building capacity. She co-creates with high performing communities dedicated to equity, liberation, and love.

In this ‘community-focused’ conversation, Bobbi and I discuss

00:00 › Start

4:50 › What Exactly Is A Global Perspective—and what does that look like right now, in terms of different cultures and countries Bobbi has been working and collaborating with?

6:22 › Bobbi Provides Her Vision for what an equitable community-based, learner-centered ecosystem makes available for childrens, families and communities; and some of the constraints for parents or teachers that struggle with letting go with the traditional structures we have in place

16:00 › Bobbi Talks The Tension between the need of resources, abundance and stability, and the need for adaptability, iteration and  personalization, specifically in the context of her research

26:13 › We Discuss The Challenges other than financial resources that are typical, and barriers to getting community based learning going; and how rare it is for a community to take the time to reflect and share together

42:05 › Bobbi Discusses The Help she provides to communities to find shared value systems within larger contexts.


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This is the eLearn podcast. If you’re passionate about the future of learning, you’re in the right place. The expert guests on this show provide insights into the latest strategies, practices,

and technologies for creating killer online learning outcomes. My name’s Ladek, and I’m your host from Open LMS. The eLearn podcast is sponsored by eLearn Magazine,

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a company leveraging open -source software to deliver effective, customized, and engaging learning experiences for schools, universities, companies, and governments around the world since 2005.

Learn more at Open LMS .net Hello everyone, my name’s Ladek, and my guest for this episode is Bobbi McDonald. Bobbi is an education innovator and pioneer.

Her work focuses on catalyzing transformation and building capacity. She co -creates with high -performing communities dedicated to equity, liberation, and love. In this community -focused conversation,

Bobbi and I discuss what exactly is a global perspective and what does that look like right now in terms of different cultures and countries that Bobbi has been working with and collaborating with.

Bobbi then provides her vision for what an equitable community -based learner -centered ecosystem makes available for children, families, and communities, and some of the constraints for parents or teachers that struggle with letting go of the traditional structures that we currently have in place around the world.

Bobbi then talks about the tension between the need of resource abundance and stability and the need for adaptation, iteration, and personalization, specifically in the context of her research that she’s been doing over the past several years.

We then discuss what, other than financial resources, are some of the typical challenges and barriers to getting community -based learning going and how rare it is for a community to take the time to reflect and share together.

Finally, Bobbi discusses how she helps communities find shared value systems within larger contexts and what that can mean for their future. And remember, we’re a community. this podcast live so that we can interact with you,

our listeners, in real time. So if you’d like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn or Facebook or on YouTube, just come over to eLearnmagazine .com and subscribe. Now, I give you Bobbi McDonald.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the eLearn podcast. As you have heard now, multiple times. My name is Ladek and I work for a company called Open LMS right up here. But this show is not about me.

This show is about the person who is on the screen with me right now who I’m very excited to meet and get to know better and actually have this talk around this future of what learning could look like.

Bobbi McDonald, how are you today? I’m doing great. Thanks for having me, Ladek. Yeah, it’s my pleasure. Where do we find you sitting in the world today? It looks sunny. It looks nice.

Yeah, it’s very sunny here. I’m in a little sun porch. And I am in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Oh, nice. That’s very nice. Excellent.

You are with an organization called Education Reimagined, which is obviously a perfect title for what we’re going to be discussing here. Tell us about what that organization is,

what it does, where you sit in it, and kind of the work that you do. Sure. Education Reimagined is a nonprofit that was founded by bringing together a diverse group of people with a wide range of beliefs about education.

And it was started as a thought experiment. And they brought folks together around a table and said, “Let’s just put down for one minute the things that divide us and really talk about learning and what we really believe about how people learn.” And then from there,

it grew into over like 18 months, this vision of education, which was at the heart of it, you know, learner agency at the very heart, and then socially embedded that we learn in community,

personalized, relevant, contextualized like it matters who you are what your story is that’s where you begin and then open walled you know the community is the playground for learning so education to imagine then like became an organization that decided well let’s catalyze that and share that and also find folks who are already doing that work and so they became a catalyst organization and built a community and really work

together with folks on the ground to say what do we really mean by learner -centered education those things

just talking about for the folks who are already really doing it what’s true what do we need to think about what’s important and so that’s how it was founded and that’s the work they’ve been doing and now we’ve really moved forward my title is Senior Partner for Ecosystems Growth and Advancement you know it sounds

wonderful doesn’t it? I was going to say that’s I just love that and that’s great and so um and so what they found is that if you wanted to make those components really come true in order to deliver it you need to have an an ecosystem a different kind of approach to how we would organize and credential and think about learning together and so um what we’ve been doing is now looking through that lens of the

ecosystem with folks um and so that’s who the organization is and I can talk more about the work but it’s it’s an amazing um it’s amazing to be in the position to talk to so many people around the country and the world who want to think and care passionately about really centering education on seeing every child as powerful capable you know loving and as a as an important participant in society in community I love it

no I absolutely that was my first question was, do you get to get outside sort of the bubble of the United States? And, you know, is this truly like a global perspective?

And what does that look like right now in terms of the different cultures and countries that you’re touching and discussing and talking about, talking with? I want to say we really are focused on the USA.

We’re right here. But what we can’t help but to be connected with folks around the globe because the idea of approaching education through this lens of community based learning,

you know, developing an ecosystem really is all around the world right now. And there’s great folks working on it. And I think the reason for that,

there’s probably a lot of different reasons. But one of the reasons is that education becomes the backbone infrastructure to something much more than just academics.

We thought about children’s career pathways, for example. But this idea of the ecosystem, of having it be community based and to have a strong network of folks,

like it does something else. It’s a bigger idea of what it could be. And I cannot wait to get super meadow with you about this as well.

But what I love is when you propose this to me, pardon me, about to lose my voice here. When you propose this to me,

you know, your question was, ultimately, what would equitable community based learned censored ecosystems make available for children’s families and communities? I want to start there.

But paint me the vision of what, you know, either when you go out and talk to a new community or you have somebody come into your pipeline that’s interested in having this discussion.

And I’d love to hear both the elevator pitch as well as sort of the deeper conversation around that. Like, how do you get somebody hooked on this to be like, “Yeah, I want to learn more”? You know what?

I think what we should do, Ladek, is actually just take a moment and clear the space for that vision. What we have is,

and I’m a long -term early childhood educator, I had a chance to co -create and design a network of schools in Baltimore City, and for 25 years,

we raised our children there, our kids went through the schools, and those schools were embedded in the community in a certain way. The City Neighbors is the name of the schools,

but part of my role at that time as executive director of City Neighbors was to hold the system at bay so that we could operate the way we really wanted to.

Hi there. I’m sorry to break into the show right now, but if you’re enjoying this show, if you are challenged, if you’re inspired, if you’re learning something, if you think that you’re going to be able to get something out of this to put into your practice, do me a quick favor.

Pause right now and just hit subscribe on your podcast player right now. It doesn’t matter which one, just hit subscribe because that way it’ll make sure that you never miss an episode in the future. Thanks. Now,

back to the show. The system being the traditional education system, the government regulator, that kind of thing. Yeah. Yeah. The traditions we were in, the context we were in,

the regulations were all kind of designed for efficiency, designed like in that industrial kind of model. So if we can, that’s what I mean by clearing the space.

Just for a second, let’s put that down and just say like, how could we really do it if we really started with children’s interests and stories and who they were and then said now,

well, kind of system would we need that would really allow us to operate that way. I worked with so many teachers over the years, amazing, amazing teachers,

and they had constraints that they were working within like including the way we scheduled time like 45 minute blocks, you know. And if I asked a group of teachers like if you could really let go of that constraint and spend your time with the kids and be able to follow their interests and help navigate learning journeys,

what could you imagine? That’s the kind of conversations we’ve been having around the country with different communities. And so I guess what I’m saying is when we clear the space,

first of all, we have to like recognize that we’re in a system that was designed for another era. We’re in the midst of stepping into this new era of a different kind of information, a different kind of economy that values different characteristics of learners.

And so now how would we organize it? What kind of system do we need? Like allow yourself to imagine that. I love it. Okay, that is a wonderful point to start.

I need to try to like I need to put on my suit of someone who lives in Chicago or lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Just to make sure that we can have a conversation. I really want to pull this out and draw this out because as anybody who’s listened to this podcast before knows, I’ve had the privilege of living around the world.

And so my kids do have this kind of designed educational experience. So my question to you is, if I’m that parent in a suburb of Las Vegas,

what are those constraints that, or a teacher, I guess both, what are those constraints that I’m feeling every day, usually? And you just mentioned one sort of like the The the the manufactured,

you know time piece where it’s like, hey, you know, we’ve got to have these seven here’s the you know Here’s the seven subjects going to teach every day Like could you like give me like what are the top four five things that people struggle with to let go in this in this first part of the conversation?

you know What we’ve heard from parents and what parents have reported and with other folks who have barely been listening and you can see evidence of this too is That they really do want A customized approach like that every we know now through learning science that every learner is different that people learn in different ways That kids have different ways of thriving.

Well parents want that for their children and they you know, you have three kids I have four kids however many you have each one of them is different And it couldn’t get more obvious as they as they get older,

right? Yeah, uh, you know During the pandemic when parents self -organized into different kinds of learning pods and groups um, some of those were really exciting to people but um in a report by Serpy the center for reinventing public education They also um reported that The problem of those self -organizing pods were that parents couldn’t rely on them like they didn’t have the reliability and the trust of a system and Um,

so they they need that parents need to have reliability and a system They need to be able to individualize for their child and then one other thing we hear a lot is you know,

I I would like to be part of it. I’d like to be engaged. I don’t know Exactly what that how you know There’s a lot of studies or people who have been exploring family engagement or parent engagement um And I think the idea of creating an ecosystem offers new pathways for for um bringing that kind of engagement um individualized instruction for kids and a system that you could rely on and trust.

So I hope this isn’t a curveball question already, you know, five minutes into our conversation here. But again, just only because I’m lucky enough to have experiences from other parts of the world,

what you described sounds like something that some of our friends have described in, especially like Northern Europe, like Scandinavian countries. We definitely experienced those pieces in Thailand when we lived there.

Now, granted, it was a very privileged international private system, right? So you definitely had to be able to get access to that. So it wasn’t a public system, but definitely like Scandinavian public systems.

Yes. Are there other places in the world where you could point someone right now and be like, that’s what we’re talking about? Like, do you have that opportunity or no?

You know, the thing that’s really amazing is America is so diverse. You know,

that’s what we’re founded on, the idea of bringing us all together. And that can be our greatest strength. Right?

So we could point to other places in the world where this kind of ecosystems, these kind of ecosystems are growing. But I’d rather talk about some places here.

Where they are growing. And I can’t point to one and say, that’s it. That’s a full demonstration. I’d like to say what we need to do is create some full demonstrations in order to make this come to life for more children.

The challenge that we have is we can look around and find school models, programs, like out of school time coordinators,

cities of learning, we can find examples where people are working collectively. collectively to create great learning experiences for kids or to connect them with mentors and internships,

to follow their interests, to create a portfolio for each child, to empower kids, to know who they are, what their gifts are and how to contribute them to the world.

For example, Big Picture Learning. That is an amazing organization. It’s been around 25 years. So they have been iterating all this time, founded on the idea of knowing each child,

putting them in small groupings. They call it advisory. We would call a home base where they’re really known and they stay together over years. So they’ve got that thing of it matters that kids are known.

It matters that they belong to a group and that socially embedded, socially constructed knowledge and leaving to learn and learning to leave, like sending them out into the community,

finding the mentors. Big Picture Learning is a great homegrown example. They have schools all over the place worldwide that have been founded on these ideals and they’ve been doing it.

But it’s not yet a demonstration of a public school system that knows how to do that. I love this. What we’re describing here is the tension that every parent has and every system has of,

and you’ve already mentioned it two minutes ago, where it’s the tension between the need for resource abundance and stability at the same time, but also the ability for adaptability and iteration and individualization,

personalization. Incredibly complex tension there. What are you discovering in your research,

in your conversations about, but here’s the thing. we know it’s possible. We have these things in our life, and I would maybe, I don’t know, let me leave the horse here, where it’s like,

I’m a parent, I’ve got these kids that are this age right here, and I can already hear other parents being like, my kids go to school, I can’t have a third job, you know what I mean? I’ve got my family,

I’ve got my job, we’ve got some extra cricketers that we do, and then I can’t also be a full participant in this system too, like I need you to, I need to depend on you, right?

So let me offer you that, wasn’t really a question, just sort of an observation there, like tell me about that. I think you’re really are naming some of the tensions,

and you know, in the past three years, during the pandemic, I interviewed like 110 people, like finding people who wanted to think and talk about this,

which was an interesting time to be interviewing people. And then we created a working group, and we like dove into what would it look like to have a system like this? And since then,

we’ve also launched a cohort of folks who are, have pieces of that, who are doing that work of growing that kind of community. But we’re,

what we have for public education is a system based on these older principles. What we don’t have is a model or a demonstration of a system built on the kind of principles we’re talking about,

a living system, a system that’s telling a new story. And that’s why we call it an ecosystem, because of the life of it, you know, that there’s a dynamism to it, there’s a fluidity to it.

The part that you pointed out that I think is really important is like, what would the components be? If it’s every man for themselves, that, that, you know, a lot of times,

you know, some families navigate the current system by, by pulling together before care, they have the school, whatever that offers, after clubs,

clubs after school care Summer camps, right families do this all the time and the the families who are well off Have the luxury of like having a very wide array of choices of what they can put together for their kids Yeah,

resources. Yeah, yeah, sure resources always make the problem seem doable, right? Anyway, right? well, the problem is then If you don’t have those resources your kids don’t have access to that and so this is the idea of creating community based learner -centered ecosystems is to create a public school system that makes that kind of amazing,

you know series of experiences available to all kids every kid so One thing that we thought of as we were doing this work and meeting with different people and And launching the cohort and learning from sites on the ground is we kind of identified the components like the home base or advisory That everyone would belong to that and then learning hubs are places where you go to learn and that are designed for your

learning And you know, you could think of it like a great early childhood classroom is like a learning hub Sure, you would have those depending on ages. You could have those depending on interests You know,

they could be makerspaces a learning hub could be at a museum. It could be at libraries It could be in the community and different folks would have access to that and and belong to those as well Okay,

and then you have field sites, which is, you know places where you do internships and mentorships Those are businesses that have another mission, but they’d like to Integrate youth into their work as you know to offer to make that connection to offer to develop the next workforce They could have a lot of different reasons for doing that So you would still have I Want to just call it custodial care.

Yeah, which is yeah that pastoral slash custodial care is a term no one in America has heard. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to hear that term an awful lot,

but it’s very interesting that you bring that up because ultimately that’s what we’re talking about here, right? Where it’s a care over the child in a very, I want to say,

not a heavy -handed way, right? This isn’t like, I think many times the American brain, at least, would think this is a, it’s sort of like, I’m going to direct and I’m going to, but where it’s more like a nudge.

You know, it’s more like, you know, like, you should be doing this or, hey, maybe let’s go over this way or, you know, like, let’s make sure you’re actually on the track towards that learning objective kind of thing. Well,

I think of it even just for yourself and, like, things that you are on a journey with for learning. You know, in the advisory, you would have a facilitator who would help you navigate your learning journey and build your skills and knowledge to navigate your own learning journey.

It’s kind of like taking the best that we know from, like, indigenous culture of being connected and belonging and making meaning and honoring,

you know, yourself and your family and the land. Like, let’s learn from that. Let’s learn from the homeschool cooperatives that have used the community as the playground, you know, for a long period of time.

Let’s learn from public education that has said we are going to serve every single child. You know, let’s pull those things together and create a system that can deliver on those promises.

I think that the — so you interviewed a lot of people. You had a working group. This is something that you reach out to communities about how does a seed get planted here?

How does it get started? Because we’re talking about — again, if you had a total clean slate, if we were gonna go set up a new city in a unincorporated county in Montana right now,

that was, I was like, hey, look, this is, we’re gonna go develop this. I could see how you, this would be possible, right? How do you start to insert yourself in a place that has 200 years of precedent and expectation and systems and bureaucracy and muddling through to start to bloom?

Or maybe that doesn’t happen. Maybe you set up, I don’t know, maybe you have to have these clean, kind of clean slate opportunities that then organically grow into the old system.

I don’t know. – We’re talking about like how to make this vision come into reality. – Yeah, like it’s gotta start somewhere, right? So do you start with, like in your experience as someone who thinks about this every day and is implementing and working on it,

are there different entry paths? Is there one that is always the one that you should start with? Like where do we, where’s the, that moment that’s like? – Yeah,

I don’t, this is, let me say this. We haven’t inserted ourselves like had to do that anywhere because what we’ve been doing for these past 10 years is building a community of learner -centered sites and people and schools that are thinking about different aspects of this.

And what we’ve done is engage with them and say, what else would you need to really bring it to life? And so for example, big thought in Dallas.

They run the Dallas city of learning. They do this amazing out -of -school time, incredible work and cross -sector partnerships,

strategies for resource distribution. They have an established system for measuring impact. They have a micro credentialing initiative. They’ve developed this creator archetype and they’re measuring those qualities that kids get in the after school programming.

And they’re working with the Dallas independent school district, you know, to connect with them and to connect all of this up. When you hear the leaders from big thought talk about their work,

Byron Sanders, Greg McPherson, Leanne Binder, Annie Wright from Southern Methodist University that they’re doing a data sharing, really neat platform.

When they talk about it, they’re talking about weaving together experiences for kids that and making it so accessible to families. And so what I’m saying is two things.

One is this is already emerging. – Right. – Already happening in places. So when we connect with folks and they say, “Hey, will you come in and help us think about that?” We ask them,

“What would you need to do? “What you’re doing more?” If you had real investment, what could you imagine establishing, you know? But even that wouldn’t be enough,

Ladek. That’s the thing. Like we could keep doing what we’re doing now, but it’s not spreading. It’s hard to spread something that is unique to its environment.

We have to know what to scale and what not to scale. Do you see what I mean? Like the beauty of the current system is like, it’s so efficient when everything is standardized.

– Of course. We know how to set up a new school building. We know how to hire new teachers. We know how to give them the common core curriculum. And you know, here’s how you structure a day. Here’s what the administrative person,

yeah, I totally get that. Is there a way to create that? And I’m not trying to push us towards a playbook, right? I’m not trying to push us by any sense, but are there a set of…

clear principles? You know, like the, you know, the learner -centric, you know, bill of rights that it’s like, hey, here’s what, you know, an equitable, you know, supportive,

accessible public community of learning looks like. And these are, you know, these are the 10 components of it. And then, you know, you can start to tease out from there. Is that something that you’re working towards?

Or is that, would they even be possible? – Yeah. Well, the way that we’re approaching it is we’re saying, you know, here’s the heart of the idea.

And I described it earlier, like that learner agency is at the heart of this socially embedded, personalized, relevant, contextualized, you know, open -walled and there are a lot of different ways to express all of that.

But what we need is a system that will support those who are working to do that work. And so we’ve been finding folks in different contexts and saying, let’s look at your context and say,

what is allowing you to do this work? What’s holding you back from doing this work? – Right. – And so what needs to change? – Other than financial resources, what are some of the typical challenges that you hear?

– Well, when you imagine trying to really open the walls and let learning happen everywhere, transportation becomes like an infrastructure solution that is needed,

right? And when you think about the learning in terms of like really cross -sector partnerships and all of that work,

then it offers an opportunity to think of funding in new ways and different communities have navigated their own. That one, we shouldn’t go deep into that one for now,

but that’s (laughs) – It’s so different depending on their context. – 100%. – Right? I mean, so we need to learn a lot. We need to learn a lot.

– The first thing that popped into my head when you said transportation was, I was like, this is a perfect, moment for Lyft and Uber and DD and what ride -sharing systems to be like, we’ve got a solution for that.

We’ve built a platform that could handle these needs. Now let’s make it equitable and safe, right? Like, you know, like, and something that parents can trust, you know, like, that’s a hell of a conversation.

– Right, and you know, some of the inventors, like Iowa Big is opening a new community -based city view community high school in Iowa and they purposefully placed it downtown.

They placed it and they put it like right in the chamber of commerce, like literally in their building. So it’s like, if you think about using the spaces in the community in new ways,

and if we’re grouping advisories or home bases as smaller groupings, that becomes very possible. And so it’s like the way we think of resources will need to change.

– Hmm, which it seems like a great time to do that, right? With the coming out of the pandemic with the digital economy, the advent of artificial intelligence,

like we have the ability to leverage for lack of a better term, these efficiencies and different pathways to potentially find ourselves with answers or potential answers,

right? – Absolutely, yeah. – What do you do about the, or it’s not what do you do? We shouldn’t ask that question. The question I wanna ask is, I’m interested to hear in those 110 interviews you did and the communities that you talk with,

both the parents and teachers and stuff like that. I’m always fascinated in the, that sounds great, but let somebody else do it first or not in my backyard conversation.

How many of those do you have? Or do you get that sense from these conversations? (upbeat music) I have not come across that anywhere.

Wow, that’s awesome. Wow. I think because we’re not coming with, do you want to do this? What we’re doing is finding folks who are already doing some aspect of and learning from them and hearing from them.

And so it’s, it’s just a different starting place and part of the vision from education reimagined for these ecosystems of learning is that each one would be unique to the community.

And so you start with creating a shared vision. So for example, we worked with Fab X, which is out of school time and summer program in Newport,

Rhode Island and Providence, Rhode Island. And just the most amazing community of folks, absolutely incredible, like serving folks who are underserved and marginalized,

you know, and really had the idea of starting right there in the neighborhood. Like how do we connect with all of the blue economy, the folks connected to the water there in Rhode Island and create opportunities for kids to learn that they wouldn’t have access to,

including, you know, career opportunities. And this has grown. It started like as a small after school thing. And now it’s grown and grown and grown. They’re serving, you know, hundreds of kids. But when you,

when we connected with their community, and they said, let’s come together and have this conversation, they started with three questions. One was, if we could do,

if we could really get there to this beautiful place that we’re imagining where our kids are having the whole community as playground learning, they each are known for their unique gifts,

you know, and, and we’ve developed it, what would we see here and do? And they like painted that picture together. And the people who were there, it was like the, the head of the school system,

it was like every, every level it was business, business owners. It was mamas and papas. It was the pastor and his wife. It was like that, you know, superintendent. It was the guy who drives the bus like it was everyone.

So they create the shared vision. And the second question was remember what it used to be like. And then the third question was, what questions did we have to answer together to get us where we want to go?

Right? Like that those are the kind of conversations we’ve been in with people and and they have the they have the vision. They have the knowledge,

you know, it’s just to take the time together to come together and imagine and then say how will we do it together? That’s that’s what we need to do.

And that will help each community develop for themselves, the kind of ecosystem that makes sense, that can be sustainable, that serves the needs of that community.

But still, even if we did that, we would not necessarily have a transformed public education system. No, no, of course, no. And well, so here’s I mean,

I want to first pause and reflect and just sit because like, I again had one of these. This is why I love my job, right? Like I just had one of these profound,

you know, moments as you’re describing that I’m seeing this, you know, multifaceted, you know, time where this community comes together and they just take this collective deep breath,

and they pause. And they say, look, you know, one of the one of the most difficult things in any of these conversations is just asking people to take that piece of time out,

right, and come and contribute and actually contribute. But then, you know, coming out of that conversation, it’s what action steps could we do next,

right? Like, and then committing to, again, taking on a piece of that action or making the movement collectively to say, “Look, we’re going to adjust. We’re going to change.” And then change management itself,

as we all know, is an incredibly difficult process for any organization, whatever. We’re talking about education. So I just had that beauty, but I really wanted to focus on the ability for a community to take a collective breath and reflect and be very intentional about a next step.

Right? Like, I just don’t see that happening so much in our world these days. Right? Yeah, well, come on over. I want to hang out with you more,

Bobbi. There are absolutely people doing that and they need investment. They do. And I think that’s part of our work at Education Reimagine is,

you know, we talk about building the field and spreading the vision. Like, their stories need to be illuminated and they need investment because it’s hard to do that.

And, you know… Well, so take me there. Take me there because you’ve said this now multiple times over the last, you know, half an hour here of needing investment,

of finding investment, you know, either vehicles or, you know, whatever it is. This is why we pay taxes. The money’s there. Right?

Or it should be there. What kinds of investments are you talking about? And where does that… Where does it usually come from? Yeah. I think that,

you know, in the nonprofit world, in the world of philanthropy, you know, folks are working hard to continue to rethink and reimagine and iterate how funds get invested.

And it’s really aligned with this vision because a lot of what I… I see and I’ve heard is that creating like high participatory decision making is the way that they’re going.

So there’s even some funders where like saying, let’s do high participatory grant making where we are bringing the folks that we would give money to,

helping us see what’s out there, like help think where should we invest? And that really goes along with this vision of empowering learners to be able to participate in their own education,

like as highly respected, I’m driving. And so I think we’re at a moment in time where things like that are all resonating, you know, at many different levels and that’s part of the power.

So one of the things that we’ve done is, you know, by launching this cohort, by doing this exploration, by gathering people’s stories and telling them is work with funders to say,

hey, there’s a lot of amazing work out there that we’d like to share with you and let’s think about how we could create some kind of fund. And there are many, you know, there are many amazing,

wonderful organizations already funding innovation and transformation. So I don’t think that that is actually the problem.

What I think is difficult is, you know, what our president, Kelly Young, she’s an amazing storyteller and she always uses, as an example,

the, you know, if you were trying to make a rocket ship, you can’t go to the place where they make Ford Mustangs and be like, hey, let’s make a rocket ship here. That moment,

you know, so how do we, how do we create enough space so that we can make some full demonstrations of these kind of ecosystems so that we could say,

hey, public education, you know This is like research and and development. Sure, you know, hey, this is a way it could work. Yeah Look, here’s it. Here’s an MVP. Here’s an MVP for this ecosystem Like like what do you think about some seed funding?

Let’s go to your you know, let’s good Let’s do a round a you know for for this particular thing and then guess what we’ll report back We’ll show outcomes, you know, but it’s just the time frame is probably 10 years Right that we got a report back on and and so there you go.

You know that when you have investor dollars The immediacy of return that conversation, but there is slow capital out there. It’s funny. It’s low capital Patient capital, I guess we call it. I think it can be faster than you think because don’t forget We don’t have to start from nothing.

This isn’t about an absolute clear field This is about people that have all been at work together. Yeah Not only that, but it’s also about learners who are going to enter the system at different points,

right? I think what if you were to build a system like this You would you especially were just let’s use let’s use the term K through 12 You’d have different students of different ages coming in and so you’d be able to track different outcomes Quite readily.

I think yeah, I just think over time whenever people, you know, they speak about education and educational outcomes Holy smokes. I mean you say yourself. We’re talking micro -credentialing and you know universities,

you know Changing their ethos or changing their their deliverables and those kinds of things finding patients again It goes back to that observation of that collective deep breath of saying hey,

you know what let’s We know that we know that we want to have something different here. So let’s let’s be have a little patience with it That’s that’s a good point. It is and and You know,

we’re convening in Dallas next week with the cohort, you know Yeah, I’m excited and and the The different inventors and their teams are gonna come and they’re gonna do consultancies with each other on their concept plans and get input.

And, you know, when we were planning this, we were thinking, how can we make it really nice for them? ‘Cause these are the folks on the ground doing this important,

powerful work. Like, what can we do extra to make it a really great experience for them? And I think creating the environment where people can have that moment to dream together is really important.

And you’re right, the funding and the investment has to say, it can’t be like, we need the immediate return. It has to say, we know this takes time. – And we know it exists out there.

I mean, there are mega funds out there that have the ability to put a significant investment in an experiment or what looks like to be an established system to let it grow and thrive and then take hold,

take root, right? – Yeah. I mean, take me to this. And ’cause I’m fascinated to hear what your conversation is based on what I’ve heard in other conversations on this podcast and other places.

As we think about a public system that could be applied on a national scale that has aspects of this accessible,

learner -centric, you know, no wall kind of piece, one of the things that you’ve emphasized here is the ability for a locality to define its values and define what the system would look like.

How do we find a shared value system in a larger context? Even in, let’s just even say that, I’m gonna say at a small state like Massachusetts, where I come from a big state like Colorado,

you know, where, you know, spaces are wide and people are not necessarily talking to one another, or whatnot, what do you find there? Or what, what are the conversations been around? Hey,

we’re all, coloradoans or hey we’re all Texans but you know we may find in Dallas that we have a different set of values we want to portray than in San Antonio. Talk to me about that.

Yes I think that the unifying view of asking people what do we want for our children is very helpful starting place like we want them to have the kind of um childhood that gives them the experiences so that they feel you know happy very joyful like they supported happy cared for you know they know who they are and you know it’s back to that John Dewey quote like education isn’t about preparing for life as education

is life you know we learn through experience so to give to say how could we create an environment so your child can grow up experiencing you know um being a learner like being respected that their ideas are listened to that we think of them in the community as participants needed like wanted you know participants to help us solve difficult difficult problems and all of those experiences of growing up to have those

friendships to have that accessibility and to you know intentionally take down the things that would um marginalize people or not be inclusive um that’s also a function of this kind of environment that would allow kids every child to feel that way that is a very unifying place to begin this conversation and I think one thing we’re learning in our country is you know how do we from all of our like wide range of beliefs

and ethnicities and cultures, how do we live together in a way that’s wonderful for our kid? And then our kids can be the kind of leaders who will help us see what we can’t see right now,

but who will lead us into even more and better living. So I think that’s the challenge that we have in front of us.

And I think there’s already people out there doing amazing work. And the heart of it is relationships. – Amen. – And being known, and having a chance to contribute.

– I kinda wanna leave our conversation here, right here. Like I feel like that was a great, like nice little bow that you just tied us in. Bobbi, tell me how,

if somebody wants to continue this conversation with you, if somebody wants to get involved, whatever, like what’s the best way to get a hold of you? – Sure. You can check out educationreimagined .org.

And we also have a really, you’ll see when you get on the website, we did like a little series of animated videos called “The Big Idea.” – Yeah. – And you can see what this looks like in action.

You know, I was trying to be concrete -led, but man, it’s hard sometimes. – I’m gonna actually, you know, I have that you are all right here, and I’m just gonna throw it up on the screen so that it’s kept there for posterity.

– Okay. Yeah, and we’d love to hear from you. You know, we also have in our build the field area, we have learning lab trainings, we offer courses, we offer a community to come and be a part of with us.

And so, you know, we’d love to hear from folks who are doing learner -centered work, who wanna learn more about ecosystems, who just have ideas. So yeah,

please, please reach out. – Absolutely. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day. I really, really appreciate it. – Thank you for this great conversation and the wonderful questions. So I really enjoyed it. it. Thank you again for listening to the E -Learn podcast here from Open LMS.

I just wanted to ask one more time, if you enjoyed this show, if you learned something, if you were inspired, if you were challenged, if you feel like, you know, this is something you can take into your practice, please do me a favor.

And right now, on your podcast player, hit subscribe. That way, you’re never going to miss a future episode. Also, come over to eLearnmagazine .com and subscribe there as well, because we have tons of great information about how to create killer online learning outcomes.


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