The Near Future of Education: Watch for the Signals!




This past week I had  opportunity to visit the digital agency, Sparks and Honey (www.sparksandhoney) with my Marketing Strategy students. Thanks to CEO, Terry Young, we were hosted at one of their uniquely innovative daily-- yes, daily, one hour briefings on cultural content as the company shares the sparks of our world across five themes reflecting cross industry global topics. Pretty heady for a rainy Wednesday.

In the company of 10 of my marketing students, we watched,arena style, their innovative approach  to design thinking ablaze on a NYC business morning on “buttoned up” Madison Ave. The briefing reminded me of sitting in at USAToday in their editorial meetings. But this was 2016 different.

This daily briefing is the energized, fast paced short visual presentations from platforms all over the world, You tubes, apps, websites, etc and engaging twitter length organizational feedback/ conversation around the 30 or so views on all sorts of worldwide cultural data. The team refers to these sparks as SIGNALS, the content cues found in the massive online  environment that create creative worldwide cultural connection for change---These are the ideas that may cause us as marketers--or as simply as humans-- to stop and say “Hey”!-- Say “Dude”!-- Say “Whaaa”? ---Say “Yeah”! They are REMARKable sparks of interest… REMARKABLE as mega marketer, Seth Godin has pointed out is the foundation for a good brand buzz... But, these are the early early smoke SIGNALS that shows what the near future is asking us to notice-- To put that signal into our busy brains for future reference. (For me, it included the possibility of gifting a friend with a $60.00 purchase of a uniquely grown melon with a naturally grained logo-ed Hello Kitty logo! Say “Whaaaa”???)


OK, aside from  culturally bizarre notables ,what did this visit tell me about the near future of education? SO much...for so many blog posts.

Watching my students was key. These aren’t youngsters, they are post grads and they are multi-skilled global students, and I saw  they were excited to see this kind of workplace, and yet a bit anxious. They knew that even for themselves as young millennials, who can be facile, this transparent, connected world of work will demand more from them. Sparks and Honey is a place that brings IT, Creatives, Quants, Designers, Writers, Marketers, Self-starters, Collaborators, Dreamers, Doers, Futurists and In-the-moment-ists ( I think I invented that word, sorry.) together.  It's a window on the world of collaborative work. The agency is a signal in itself.

THAT is one  charge to education. To continue to build school communities that reflect this design model of connected, collaborative learning where we can ready the Gen Z's.  Break out and breakaway educational thinkers at all levels of the organization must create places that exist that embody goals and objectives linked to educating our near future workforce, a workforce that will be impacted by the complex changes that Signals will bring to their lives --the signals move into a reality in the snap of a digital finger.

I know it's possible. I know from seeing so many connected educator communities that are growing worldwide online, I know from writing a book about brand in education with Eric Sheninger, and I know from the look in my learners’ eyes. The power of transparency in the digital world brings conversations quickly  to the upper registers of cognition. Collaboratively designed communities fire and SPARK  thinking. And the HONEY that results?...sweet learning.


The Near Future of Education can be sweet when sparked with innovation and design thinking. In creating a BrandED community as we suggest in our upcoming read, BrandED new school strategies will bring relational behaviors that can spark and sweeten our young learners' school journeys the signals, school leaders--- and make a few yourself this year as you close out the school term and eye the near future of fall 2016-17 school year.