Virtual School Meanderings

May 20, 2022

Connection over content: A new era for edtech

As I say each week…  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this week’s highlights from the Christensen Institute. 
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May 17, 2022

Recovering from COVID

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:16 pm
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An item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

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Recovering from COVID

And What America Can Learn from How Germany Teaches about the Holocaust

Today’s newsletter discusses 6 topics:

·      New books coming out about COVID’s impact on our students and schools;

·      Lessons from Germany for America’s teaching of race and racism;

·      Why community colleges should focus more on careers;

·      Why “offline” digital learning is critical to support children worldwide;

·      Sal Khan’s new full-time virtual school in partnership with Arizona State University;

·      And a remembrance of Jonathan Haber, who died far too early last week.

Will the kids be OK?

It’s a question many of us are asking as the third academic year impacted by the pandemic draws to a close.

To help answer the question, new books are on the horizon.

NPR education reporter (and my college classmate) Anya Kamenetz has a new book out this summer called The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now. Although the book is about K–12 education, Anya joined me and Jeff Selingo on Future U. to talk about how COVID-era children will fare as they leave high school behind, and what will the ripple effect be on colleges and universities over the next decade-plus.

Anya was an ideal person to write this book for many reasons, not the least of which being that she had previously reported on the impact of Katrina on schools in her home state of Louisiana. As she told us on the podcast, college enrollment among New Orleans students still hadn’t rebounded to pre-Katrina levels as of 2020. And in New Orleans, unlike with COVID, many of the students were quickly re-enrolled in schools after the hurricane.

That’s a sobering thought, but Anya shared advice for what colleges should do from which we can all benefit. You can hear it here, on the latest episode of Future U.


As many of you know, my upcoming book, From Reopen to Reinvent, also seeks to help schools rebound from the current moment by reinventing themselves to better meet the needs of all students. I joined a radio show, The Great Voice in Michigan, to talk about the book, which you can listen to here.

For those who pre-order the book, I’m offering a limited-time special.

If you’re interested in having me speak to a group (virtually or in-person), get in touch, as I’m discounting my usual speaker fees for those who make larger pre-order purchases. You can pre-order the book from Amazonfrom Barnes & Noble, or from Indiebound. And thank you.

Never Forget: Lessons America Can Learn From Germany

While in Germany, my Class Disrupted podcast cohost Diane Tavenner explored how Germany remembers and teaches children about the Holocaust so that it does not repeat its past.

In our latest episode, Diane shared what she learned. We then reflected on how the way Germany approaches this conversation could offer a new starting point to help America move past its polarizing conversations about teaching race and racism.

Toward the end of the episode, I share a story about my father and lessons of forgiveness in response to a question Diane asked me.

After World War II, my dad was the first American Jew in high school to go live in Germany as a part of a study abroad program for the American Field Service. The year was 1966, and he lived with a German family. To this day he considers them his German family. He speaks fondly about his time with his German brother and the sibling-like teasing that they shared. It’s not just that time heals, but that time with concerted actions to never forget and never repeat allows us to find forgiveness.

The whole episode is worth your time. You can listen to it here.


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Why Community Colleges Should Focus More on Careers

I’ve written many times about the lackluster results of community colleges on average.

My latest column in the New York Sun, “Why Community Colleges Should Focus More on Careers,” shares former Yale University President and Coursera CEO Richard Levin’s view that it’s time to give up the “myth that community colleges are a gateway to four-year colleges” and instead have them focus exclusively on preparing students for careers.

His ideal model? Singapore’s vocational education system, which is linked closely with industry and has “state of the art equipment in virtually every trade and profession” and gets placement rates into jobs of “93 to 95 percent” compared to the current success rate of community colleges, which is well “below 50 percent.”

You can read the whole piece here.

Why ‘Offline’ Digital Learning Is Critical To Impact Children Worldwide

As thousands of educators, entrepreneurs, and investors gathered at the recent ASU+GSV Summit, the premier event for innovation around human development, a growing number recognized both the need and opportunity for educational innovation in low-income countries, particularly for the over 250 million children who lack access to schools.

In my latest piece for Forbes, I write about how many of the solutions proffered still focus on Internet-based solutions. Glaringly missing from the landscape are adaptive, digital learning solutions that are offline.

While we work to increase universal access to the Internet, the edtech ecosystem cannot ignore the hundreds of millions of children currently without connectivity but who are eager to learn. Read my whole piece here.


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The Khan World School

Khan Academy and ASU Prep Digital, Arizona State University’s online learning offering for high schoolers, announced a new partnership to launch the Khan World School, a virtual school for high schoolers.

Sal Khan and Amy McGrath joined me to talk about the partnership and share details about the school, as well as answer audience questions. I find their vision inspirational—and the conversation left me excited for the advances to come in education.

You can watch the conversation herePaid subscribers of this newsletter will also receive access to the transcript.

Remembering Jonathan Haber

Finally, I end this newsletter on a somber note. A friend, neighbor, and wonderful educator, Jonathan Haber, passed away last week unexpectedly. I shared some reflections on his life and contributions to education in a small piece for EdSurge, which you can read here.

As always, thank you for reading, writing, listening—and thinking critically.

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© 2022 Michael Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

May 6, 2022

Do you know who your students know? Here’s why you should.

As I say each week…  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this week’s highlights from the Christensen Institute. 
Copyright © 2022 Christensen Institute, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a friend of the Institute.

Our mailing address is:

Christensen Institute

92 Hayden Avenue

Lexington, MA 02421

May 4, 2022

The importance of targeting nonconsumption

This one appears to be their more generalized newsletter…  But either way, it’s still from the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this month’s highlights from the Christensen Institute.
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May 2, 2022

Our 100th Episode of Future U

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 9:11 pm
Tags: , , , ,

An item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

You’re on the free list for The Future of Education


Our 100th Episode of Future U

More on Meritocracy and Questioning College for All

Five seasons ago, shortly after doing a three-hour stand-up session together for the trustees at Bellevue University in Nebraska, Jeff Selingo and I launched our Future U. podcast.

Over 99 episodes, we’ve interviewed university presidents and former presidents, as well as other higher ed leaders, faculty, entrepreneurs, policymakers, journalists, and authors, among others, to help unpack the future of higher education. Throughout it all, we hope we’ve helped each of our listeners learn something about their own learning journey as well.

In our 100th episode, Jeff and I stepped back to reflect on some themes from our first five seasons.

Despite the prodding, I resisted making predictions about colleges closing.

Instead I focused on small colleges that are facing threats and what lessons we’ve learned for them from past guests on the show—namely the presidents at Simmons University, Morehouse College, Paul Quinn College, Trinity Washington University, Dickinson College, Davidson College, Dominican University of California, and Southern New Hampshire University.

Jeff reflected on how higher education thinks about—or all too often doesn’t think about—the talent development of its leadership and staff.

In the second half of the show, we invited guests back from our first season—Michael Crow of Arizona State University, Pat McGuire of Trinity Washington University, and Michael Sorrell of Paul Quinn College—to make predictions about the next five years of higher education. Interestingly, without prodding from us, they all focused on the same dynamic around adult learners.

And finally, we invited predictions from our listeners—and received some really interesting ones.

You can check it all out at here or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


As readers know, I have a new book coming out in July titled From Reopen to Reinvent: (Re)creating School for Every Child.

For those who pre-order the book, I’m offering a limited-time opportunity that expires July 13th when the book launches. If you’re interested in having me speak to a group (virtually or in-person), get in touch, as I’m discounting my usual speaker fees for those who make larger pre-order purchases. Whether you want to buy 15 books and have me join a virtual book club at your school or several hundred and have me join you in-person for a speech and meetings, send me a note and let’s talk.

You can pre-order the book from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, or from Indiebound. And thank you.

Meritocracy and College for All

In our latest episode of Class Disrupted, Diane Tavenner and I wrapped up our mini-series on meritocracy and education by describing the rethinking that has gone on in education around the college-for-all movement. We conclude by suggesting a path forward that learns from the past and empowers students to decide for themselves whether college is their right next step.

You can listen to it or read the transcript here.

In the New York Sun, I also tackled the topic of exam schools—and suggested that in the fights presently occurring over them, both sides are genuinely concerned about excluding people based on race. Just this past week the Supreme Court took action to keep Thomas Jefferson’s historical admissions policy in place while lower courts consider a lawsuit claiming that the Fairfax County School Board’s actions to alter the school’s admissions process discriminated against Asian Americans.

But in the piece I argue that there is a better way forward that neither side is discussing. This other path would benefit all students. Read the piece, “A Golden Opportunity Amid the Fire and Fury Over Exam Schools” here.

MasterClass and Outlier.org Founder On Active Learning and Engagement

Finally, I hosted Aaron Rasmussen, the cofounder of MasterClass and founder of Outlier.org, on my YouTube and LinkedIn Live channels to talk about his own journey to founding Outlier.org, which offers the first two years of college general education courses for $400 for each three-credit course. It was a fascinating conversation that shed light on how he’s thinking about creating a platform that doesn’t just offer great production value, but also actively engages learners and creates an online community to support them. You can watch the conversation here or listen to it here.

As always, thanks for reading, writing, and listening.

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© 2022 Michael Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

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