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Getting Smart Podcast

Dec 9, 2020

This week, Tom is sitting down with author and advisor, Michelle Weise, to discuss her new book, Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet.

Michelle is currently serving as an entrepreneur-in-residence and Senior Advisor at Imaginable Futures, a venture of The Omidyar Group. Michelle was formerly the Chief Innovation Officer at Strada Education Network’s Institute for the Future of Work, and Sandbox Collaborative, the innovation center of Southern New Hampshire University. She was also the co-author of Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, with Clayton Christensen.

In this conversation, Tom and Michelle discuss her background in the arts and innovation; how and why she came to write her new book, Long Life Learning; what long life learning means to her; what she predicts to be the future of business models for long life learning; and her advice on how we can all make good decisions about what to learn next no matter where we are on our long life learning journey.


Key Takeaways:

[:10] About today’s episode with Michelle Weise.

[:55] Tom Vander Ark welcomes Michelle to the podcast.

[:59] Tom congratulates Michelle on her new book, Long Life Learning.

[1:37] When did Michelle’s interest in language, literature, and poetry begin?

[2:27] Michelle elaborates on her deep passion for poetry and how both reading and writing it helped her get through the death of her 10th-grade chemistry teacher.

[3:07] Michelle’s exploration of Asian-American and African-American poetry and fiction in graduate school.

[3:58] Michelle’s favorite African-American poet and what drew her to Asian-American poetry in particular.

[4:57] Tom highlights a poet whose work he recently fell in love with: Rita Dove.

[5:14] How and why Michelle came to be a Fulbright Scholar in Seoul, South Korea.

[6:20] Michelle’s path after coming from Korea and why she decided to join an ed-tech start-up with Gunnar Counselman.

[9:15] After a short stint at Fidelis, Michelle joined the Clayton Christensen Institute as a Senior Research Fellow of Higher Education for nearly 2½ years. There, she also had the opportunity to write a book with him called, Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution.

[9:38] Michelle’s experience working with Clayton on their book together.

[10:57] Tom reflects on a past experience with Clay and Michelle shares an important lesson that she learned through working with him.

[13:16] After Christensen Institute, Michelle did another three-year stint at Strada, a non-profit impact fund in Indianapolis.

[13:50] About Michelle’s role at Strada and how it led to her writing her new book, Long Life Learning.

[15:53] At Strada, Michelle had the opportunity to interview hundreds of people. Was this specific to Long Life Learning or was it more for the R&D center at Strada?

[17:00] Young people today are not only going to live longer but they’re also going to experience more change in their lifetimes than previous generations. The old model of education and work is already becoming obsolete. As Michelle shares in her book, we need to begin thinking about long life learning.

[20:22] With this knowledge, is it becoming less critical to make a decision about where you go to college immediately after high school?

[22:44] Would Michelle agree or disagree with the sentiment Ryan Craig expressed in his 2018 book, A New U, that unless you can get a free or subsidized education at a selective university you really should think about a hard sprint to a good first job as an entry point to an earn-and-learn ladder?

[25:58] Does Michelle foresee Gen Zrs having careers somewhat resembling her own? I.e. taking a “tour of duty” approach?

[28:17] What are the business models for long life learning going to be?

[32:03] What advice do people need to make good decisions about what to learn next?

[37:24] Does Michelle see AI making it easier for us to learn in the direction we point to?

[40:28] Is Michelle optimistic about adaptive learning?

[42:17] Some of the other ways Michelle sees AI aiding us in the future.

[43:58] Does AI have the potential to make hiring more equitable? Or is Michelle concerned that more inequity will surface in AI-driven systems?

[46:11] As a long-life learner herself, how does Michelle continue her journey every day in “getting smart?”

[45:56] Would Michelle agree that Louise Glück was a good choice for the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature?

[47:53] Tom plugs Michelle’s book, Long Life Learning.

[48:23] Tom thanks Michelle for joining the podcast.

[48:48] About Tom and Emily’s book, Difference Making at the Heart of Learning.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Michelle Weises LinkedIn

Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet, by Michelle Weise

Imaginable Futures

The Omidyar Group

Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, by Clayton Christensen and Michelle Weise

The Power of Place: Authentic Learning Through Place-Based Education, by Tom Vander Ark, Emily Liebtag, and Nate McClennon

Emily Dickinson (Poet)

The Art of Hunger: Essays, Prefaces, Interviews, by Paul Auster

Kamau Brathwaite (Poet)

Rita Dove (Poet)

Fulbright Korea

Gunnar Counselman

Michael Horn

Strada Education Network

Derek Thompson on The Atlantic

Crazy/Genius Podcast by Derek Thompson


Harvard Extension School

A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College, by Ryan Craig

David Blake

Learn In

Louise Glück Wins the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 285: “Amy Klement on Equity and Imaginable Futures

Difference Making at the Heart of Learning: Students, Schools, and Communities Alive With Possibility, by Tom Vander Ark and Emily Liebtag


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