Notes from the Global Learning Council

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Global Learning Council’s inaugural meeting and symposium at Carnegie Mellon University. The two-day gathering brought together White House executives, educational leaders, and technology developers from around the globe to discuss how technology can enhance learning.

Here are some of the highlights:

Dr. Subra Suresh, President of CMU, former Director of NSF

  • With technology, we have the potential to develop lifelong learners.
  • However, we need a systematic evidence-based process to evaluate online learning.
  • The council brought together thought-leaders from around the globe in order to answer the questions:
    1.  How do we quantify learning in scientific terms?
    2.  How do we improve the outcomes in a systematic manner?
  • Objectives of the GLC:
    1. To develop evidence-based practices to guide instructional design in order to support learners of all ages- from K—the grave.
    2. To foster mechanisms to curate and share data—the science of learning—in order to improve learning outcomes around the world.
    3. Collaborate across sectors.
      •  “War is too important to be left to the generals.”- George Clemenceau
      • Education is too important to be left to one group—we need diverse perspectives—education, policy, technology.

Pat Gallagher, Chancellor and CEO of University of Pittsburgh, former Director of NIST

  • We are in the crossroads of three powerful currents:
    1. Technology: communication, measurement, data—revolutionizing every aspect of society.
    2. Science: making significant progress in cognition, learning science.
    3. Knowledge: our dependence on it has never been larger.

Charles Perfetti, Director of Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh

  •  Lecturing is largely ineffective.
  •  We must pay attention to the social context and explore the social advantage in education.
  • Watching a video does not have the same effect as participating in a live activity.
  • After 15 minutes, teachers MUST incorporate quizzes for students to recall and interact with information.

Luis Von Ahn, CEO, Duolingo--#1 Apple App

  • Believes education is a divider and wants to equalize it.
  • Delivered 7 tenets of education:
    1. The best education money can buy should be free, not a luxury.
    2. Support itself, not lean on funding.
    3. In your pocket, not in some building.
    4. Learning should be fun and not a drag.
    5. Should be based on data, not opinion.
    6. Data should be used to personalize education, not just personalize ads.
    7. Designed for the student, not for the system.

James Shelton, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

  • Bell curve performance:
    • Society reinforces the traditional bell curve.
    • We need to reinforce the bell curve all the way to the right.
    • We must move kids from the middle and we need NEW ways to do so.


    • We need to reach families and share the message that we can do better.
    • Show them that others in similar situations have done well.

Nichole Pinkard, Founder of Digital Youth Network and Remix Learning, Associate Professor at DePaul University

  • Parents are operating systems.
    • Affluent parents find apps, programs, and enrichment activities for their children.
  • We need to make learning pathways visible and real.
    • If students want to find something for their own interests, they search and find what they need. But they don’t do this in school.
    • Students need to understand trajectory; teachers need to make learning clear and related to current goals.

William Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland

  • We’re not the most educated anymore.
    • Challenges associated with this:
      • Competitiveness
      • Social Equity
  • Children born into the lowest quartile have an 8% chance of obtaining a college degree.
  • Children born into the highest quartile have an 83% chance of obtaining a college degree.
  • There’s a 1 million dollar difference in lifetime earnings between college and non-college educated people.
  • Higher education is society’s gatekeeper for a good job and quality of life.
  • We’re creating an economic caste system our ancestors came here to escape.
  • We have the lowest social class mobility of any country.

Justine Cassell, Associate Vice-Provost, Technology Strategy and Impact, CMU

  • We have to find a new model of school.
  • For the majority of students, feeling respected by their teacher is the number one indicator of performance.

As you can see, it was an enriching two days. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be in the presence of such innovative leaders and am eager to continue my exploration of technology enhanced learning.

Thanks for stopping by!

Never stop learning,


Ashly LocklinComment