Why We Launched the Learning Sciences Exchange

New Fellows Program Aims to Inject Insights from Early Child Development into Daily Life

The science of learning has become one of the most dynamic disciplines of the modern age. Every month, new studies arrive with insights on how the human brain develops, how parents' words and gestures have an impact on their children's language abilities, how adverse experiences have longterm affects on a person's well-being, and much more.  For anyone with access to journals like Child Development—and the expertise to read and understand those journals—this is an exciting time. 

There's just one problem: The number of people with access to scientific journals, and the ability to gain anything from them, is minuscule. Especially when you compare those individuals to the number of people around the world who could benefit from and would likely be quite fascinated by what these studies mean. Even scientists themselves will often admit to not having time to read and understand each others' work. How do we expect our parents, teachers, child care providers, and health care workers—not to mention our policymakers and those in industry—to possibly be able to process what we are learning about human potential and apply the lessons from it? 

This problem will not be solved by simply getting scientists to be better communicators or by telling teachers or parents to read more scientific studies. It will take some entirely new models for determining how ideas are disseminated and what stories we tell ourselves.  Insights into the ways humans learn will need to become knitted into daily life and reflected much more powerfully in policies that shape the way human beings interact and support each other. To start this process, we first will need to tap into talent across not only the worlds of science, but also journalism, entertainment, and policy. And we need to bring these talented individuals together to listen to each other, to share ideas, and to collaborate on projects with wider reach.  

The Learning Sciences Exchange—a one-of-a-kind fellows program launched this week by New America, the International Congress of Infant Studies, and the Jacobs Foundation—is designed to do exactly that. Our Call for Applications opened yesterday. Applications for LSX, as we call it for short, are due February 15, 2018. Much more information about the program is available here, and throughout the next two years you will see blog posts and commentary from our fellows on our EdCentral blog and the Jacobs Foundation's BOLD blog, as well as disseminated through ICIS's website and other communication channels. We are looking forward to seeing the fresh thinking and creative approaches that will emerge from this interdisciplinary, international, and intentionally collaborative initiative. 

 

Author:

Lisa Guernsey is deputy director of the Education Policy program and director of the Learning Technologies project at New America.