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The Future of Learning

04/29/2011 8:30 AM
Diana Rhoten, Cofounder and Managing Director of Startl

Description: Although she is committed to boosting interactive digital technology for learning, Diana Rhoten's talk is framed by movies. Waiting for Superman is the starting point: a good demonstration of how schools are failing our children, but very unimaginative, Rhoten says, when it comes to solutions. In fact, one of the assumptions on which Rhoten has built Startl is that the future of education is about learning, not about schooling. The companion assumption is that technology has a critical role to play, not as an end but as a means. Her stance is buttressed by hard data: in New York City, 50% of teens drop out before completing high school, but 97% of them go online, and more than half have mobile devices.

Startl chooses to work "on the edge," taking risks, and seeking to engage outsiders who bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to educational innovation. The task is harder, Rhoten believes, because the field isn't guided by a strong theoretical framework _ we need a successor to behaviorism and constructivism that embraces young people's affinity for game play, connectivity, and technical skill.

Startl's role is to recruit entrepreneurs and support them in developing products that are "learning rich and market smart." That's where the other movie parallel comes in: Rhoten's model is Robert Redford's Sundance portfolio. The Sundance Institute nurtures new talent, and Startl does this through its Design Boost five"day boot camp for product designers, as well as a summer"long Accelerator to help entrepreneurs build their companies. The Sundance Film Festival helps filmmakers meet distributors; Startl runs a VC Summit and a Venture Fair to introduce educational technology entrepreneurs to capitalists. The Sundance Channel is a new distribution outlet, while Startl hopes to bypass the school market and enable new products to get directly to learners.

The lecture includes information and promotional videos about three products Startl has helped to nurture: Mind Snacks, language games for young people; Toontastic, an app that supports storytelling and animation; and Project Noah, a mobile tool for exploring and documenting wildlife habitats.

About the Speaker(s): Diana Rhoten is the cofounder and managing director of a new social enterprise called Startl, which is dedicated to accelerating startups in the education technology and digital learning market. She is also the founder of the New Youth City Learning Network, which helps institutions across NYC design and develop innovative learning experiences using new media and technologies.

Previously, Rhoten founded and directed the Knowledge Institutions and Digital Media and Learning Programs at the Social Science Research Council. She was also a program director in the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation, an assistant professor of education at Stanford University, and an education policy analyst and advisor for the Governor of Massachusetts. Her work and her research focus on the social and technical conditions of collaboration and innovation for the twenty"first century. She has published in a range of academic journals and advises a host of cultural, scientific, and educational on the issues of organizational design, creative collaboration, and adaptive change. Diana has a Ph.D. in social sciences and educational policy and an M.A. in sociology from Stanford University, as well as a M.Ed. from Harvard University and an A.B. from Brown University.

Host(s): School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, The MIT Education Arcade

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated 10 months ago

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December 16, 2011 18:50
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