This is Bror Saxberg's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Bror Saxberg's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Bror Saxberg
Chief Learning Officer of Kaplan Inc.
Recent Activity
There was a terrific article in the New York Times recently by Anna North. It starts out describing persistent myths about “learning styles” in instruction, and it picks up steam when it generalizes to explore why learning research is not having an impact on students. Although she never uses the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2015 at Bror's Blog
Sarina Simon, founder and President of NorthSouth Studios, conducted a virtual interview of me recently. I thought you all might find it interesting as well! Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2014 at Bror's Blog
Just a quick note following up on the earlier announcement about our April 2014 AERA panel session. We had some terrific participants - Dick Clark, Carl Dweck, Ryan Baker, Richard Culatta, Ken Koedinger, Rebecca Peterson, all talking about what the new on-line platforms can contribute to research, and also talking... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2014 at Bror's Blog
Paul Tough is publishing an inspiring article, Who gets to graduate?, in the New York Times Magazine this weekend. It describes work at the University of Texas at Austin to combat failure-to-graduate by lower income students with few natural external support structures for success. It showcases the use of cognitive... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2014 at Bror's Blog
Tom Friedman recently interviewed the head of HR for Google, Lazlow Bock, about hiring approaches at Google. What Tom reports (and the very good cognitive scientist Daniel Cunningham comments on) gives a good example of how our instincts about expertise and learning can be both right and wrong. Just as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at Bror's Blog
Just a quick note - we'll be doing a panel session at AERA again this year. It's in Philadelphia, and our session will be at 10:30 AM on Sunday, April 6th: We've got great researchers, practitioners, policy folks - if you can come, please do, and bring your questions and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2014 at Bror's Blog
I attended the Datapalooza event in Washington DC last month, celebrating a variety of quick-hit data deployment efforts by various companies, large and small, using data from the federal government to create innovative information for learners. I was asked to do a quick intro to the section on learning, technology,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2014 at Bror's Blog
You know the cocktail party cliché, “Hey, doc, I've got this nagging pain in my hip. . .” I did have a nagging pain in my hip, and finally went to see somebody about it. It gave me a front-row seat to what you might call “post-science professionalism” - how... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2013 at Bror's Blog
A quick note - Rick Hess and I over the last week ended up doing two launch events for the book we just published, Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age: Using Learning Science to Reboot Schooling. Here are links to the videos: iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium, Oct 30,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2013 at Bror's Blog
Two recent articles, one in EdSurge by Harold Levy and one in The Wall Street Journal by Stephanie Banchero and Erica Philips, illustrate yet again the problem of putting technology ahead of learning for students and schools. Someone oughta write a book about how to get this right. . .... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2013 at Bror's Blog
A recent article in the New York Times talks about new ways to rank colleges based on salary potential after graduation, giving very different rankings and results for colleges than, e.g., US News and World Report. It's worth thinking for a moment about all of this – how would any... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2013 at Bror's Blog
Last month there were two events in fairly close proximity that are worth reviewing together. During AERA and at the ASU Education Innovation Summit (EIS) there were sessions talking about why evidence-based approaches continue to get short shrift in education technology and education at scale. It’s clear (at least to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2013 at Bror's Blog
The 2013 AERA meeting was a huge (13000 plus attendees), complicated (2400+ sessions), long (five full days in San Francisco for 2013) education research conference, with some unusual sessions. Yet, if you dig a little, you can find real gems, including research from David Feldon, Briana Timmerman, and colleagues, showing... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2013 at Bror's Blog
An interesting article in EdWeek last month about new methods for teacher preparation caught my eye. It described an approach focused on giving teachers a specific repertoire of competencies through structured training and practice before they’re let loose on classrooms. What’s reassuring (and maybe puzzling this didn’t happen earlier) is... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2013 at Bror's Blog
In the next few weeks there will be two different sessions (full disclosure: I’m a panelist on both) talking about how education can benefit from more learning science, one at the ASU GSV meeting in Scottsdale Arizona, and the other at the huge education research conference, AERA. The audiences are... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2013 at Bror's Blog
Big data is big news. Some might think the arrival of very large education-related data sets spells the end of our education troubles – that by analyzing this data, all necessary new information to accelerate learning will be revealed. Not quite! The analysis of large amounts of data is clearly... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2013 at Bror's Blog
My friend Richard Clark from USC pointed me to a very interesting, but troubling, study recently published in Europe. It looks at teachers' misconceptions about learning statements that have been steeped in either neuroscience language or in “brain-based” language. Even teachers who are enthusiastic about neuroscience, and view themselves as... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2012 at Bror's Blog
As I've written in this blog on numerous occasions, there is a ton of learning science already out there (e.g., the synthesis available in E-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer, or the very nice exposition by Daniel Willingham in Why Don't Students Like School,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2012 at Bror's Blog
Thanks to a link from Kaplan University Group's President, Greg Marino, I recently saw Peter Norvig's very nice TED talk about about the Stanford AI course he and Sebastian Thrun put together. It gives telling insights into how these two faculty members thought about their instructional design. It reminded me... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2012 at Bror's Blog
At a recent meeting sponsored by iNacol to think deeply about competency and assessment, we talked about what impact the last few decades of learning science should have on doing the best job planning and using competencies for learning. The good news is the learning science lines up with the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2012 at Bror's Blog
A recent op-ed piece in the New York Times got me thinking about strengths and weaknesses offered by on-line learning. The writer, Mark Edmundson from the University of Virginia who teaches Shakespeare there, lauds the wonder of the intimate, free-flowing, improvisational-yet-responsive nature of in-class experiences, and contrasts this with what... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2012 at Bror's Blog
John - Sorry to be late responding - it should be up and working!
Well, it's always been the case that gaining skills, mastering new things takes effort - a lot of it. (Personal effort, opportunity cost compared to what you could have been earning, actual cash costs, etc.) What's happening now is that the potential cost/effort of quite a bit of mastery is going to come down because of technology: after a fixed investment up-front in well-designed media and interactives, it costs near $0 to deliver (but of course it will cost to maintain and upgrade, but again, those are fixed costs). This is a big improvement, potentially: wherever the funds flow from (government, philanthropy, students themselves), community colleges, textbooks, universities are all very expensive to run - and each new student has a lot of expenses with him or her. What's happening now is that IF (a big if) a student has access to Web-connected devices, many solid underpinnings for learning can come in for a lot less cash (even $0 in the case of Khan Academy, MITx, others). (Personal effort is still required for mastery - perhaps even more of it than a conventional university/community college might demand.) That's not quite the end of the story, though. There's only so far towards mastery that purely automated systems can get you (although over time, e.g. with intelligent tutoring systems, there's a lot more we can do - see my blog on this at That means we have to find the best ways to link people, media, machines, data, and learners together to get efficient, engaging, effective learning to happen. It's not likely to look anything like what any of us are doing today. So, yes, it does mean learners need some kind of access to the Net. There are many ways to make that happen - there's an amazing amount of consumer connectivity already in place that can be used. There are resources for those who do not have Internet connections privately available - e.g., libraries - although those are not as convenient as we would like. Perhaps just as the government has wound up supporting many current models of education with large subsidies to keep the cost to students lower than the delivery cost, folks will need to press government to lower the cost of Internet access for new models of learning in the future? It's a lot less expensive to provide Internet access and devices for a student for a year than to fund many of these current learning alternatives, for example.
A recent letter in the Wall Street Journal from an over-burdened college professor, Larry Bensky, lamented the push he was feeling towards teaching more students (90 instead of 60) in his summer school online course. He was particularly worried about the quality of instruction he could provide with a 30%... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2012 at Bror's Blog
I had the good fortune to be invited to attend the Microsoft CEO Summit in Seattle last week. This is a yearly gathering of 100 or so of the world's most prominent CEOs (covering 30 countries and 11 million employees this year) to talk together, with Bill Gates, and with... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2012 at Bror's Blog