Reflections From Deeper Learning

I was honored to attend the Deeper Learning conference last week at High Tech High in San Diego as sort of a visiting reporter.  If you did not lurk via Twitter, you can go back and call up #deeperlearning to gather connections, links, and perspectives from a number of people who share a foundational journey to shift education off of the Industrial Age assembly line.

Rather than writing long posts on the conference workshops, here are some reflections and takeaways from 2.5 days with 400 education innovators:

  • “Deeper learning” is as good a name for the learning we are trying to create/re-create.  But I hesitate to capitalize the term, as if there were a brand name that works better than other brand names.
  • At the first set of breakout sessions, High Tech High students were standing politely on the side in case anyone needed help. I was sorry I had to ask if they could join us in our work.  Why don’t we default to having student voice in our learning?
  • These 400 educators passionately want to create highly engaged student learning environments.  Most of them say that it is lonely quest back home.  The understanding and support for deeper learning is intense but still shallow, broad but not deep.
  • Modifying our use of physical space to amplify deeper learning may be the easiest and cheapest “first step” for many schools.  Clear out the junk, write on the walls, and open the windows and doors to the rest of the world.
  • There were really only about a dozen active Twitter “reporters” at the conference.  Hmmm. We know this is a key connector with thought colleagues and a simple, efficient way to expand our PLC’s and real-time learning.  Is this a baseline “badge” for the deeper learning educator?
  • All educational PD should model deeper learning best practices: out of our seats and working together. The report from university attendees that at their own conferences they all still gather to listen to each other present “papers” is really disturbing.
  • As I found on my #EdJourney, the answers to most of the questions I heard already exist. The questions that public and private school educators ask are vastly more similar than they are different. It is a matter of connecting what we each want to do with solutions that others have already created.

What if a million educators could share “deeper learning” with colleagues for thirty minutes every week?

0 thoughts on “Reflections From Deeper Learning

  1. awkytle

    Thank you, Grant, for this summary. I followed your tweets last week and noticed how many times you encouraged people to include students in the process with them. How wonderful that the students were there, but how sad that most did not think to include them. Was the students’ purpose for being there communicated clearly to both students and teachers? Just thinking aloud. Wouldn’t it be great if we regularly “flipped” some conversations, putting students at the front of the room to ask leading or guiding questions, then have them roam around the room and listen/engage with the teacher groups? Certainly would be an interesting way to have their perspective in an active fashion!

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  5. Scott Totten


    In your last point, you mention that many of the answers to our questions already exist and that you observed them during your #EdJourney. In your opinion, are schools asking themselves the right questions? If the questions are similar for many schools, are the questions & answers deep, diverse and personalized to their particular needs? How do we create a system of education where we model risk-taking, asking questions and sharing success so that we might remodel the entire ecosystem of our system? Would it be possible to create a place where we can post the big questions and schools can submit their answers for all to see, adjust and iterate those answers, show process and growth? Thank you for your time.

    1. glichtman


      I think many schools are asking the right questions…which leaves many more that are not. To a great extent the questions are very similar; the missions of most schools are similar at an 80% level, so the extent of “particular needs” are much less than common needs. Is there/can we create a place to post questions and answers? I think we can but I don’t think the solution lies in posting and reading Qs and As; adults need to see the solutions in action and then be given time and resources to re-tool their approach to learning. I do think it is possible to create this “common sandbox” of experience…and I am kicking the problem of how to create it around with some people who might be able to generate the gravity needed for the work. In the meantime, I hope my book will be something of a clearing house of ideas!


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