A Flexible Mindset to Increase Inclusiveness and Future-Readiness

by Dr. Berger

Ken Shelton is a veteran educator and speaker on a variety of educational technology, equity and inclusion, multimedia literacy, and instructional design topics. Shelton examines learning through a lens that cultivates experiential growth. His 3 E’s concept highlights the engineer, explorer, and entrepreneur, looking at the characteristics of individuals who are successful in those industries. The result is a broader, less rigid definition that encapsulates the growth mindset. He adds, “My focal point in education and the support that I do for schools, districts, and organizations is centered around getting away from the compartmentalization and rigidity that has persisted in education.”

In today’s environment, being inflexible means you’ll leave out students who don’t fit into prescribed definitions of learning. As Shelton elaborates, “If you look at educational experiences from a static lens, a large group of students and funnels it down to only a select few that have any potential of success.” Through the adoption of a more fluid mindset, Shelton points to greater inclusivity and success. “It breaks down the systemic barriers that exist regarding who is successful and who isn’t.”

Career readiness and workforce development is a focal point in educating today’s students to be future-ready. Shelton looks to the changing economic landscape facing students and recognizes that our education system may not be running parallel to the shifts taking place in society. He points to a gig economy forming, and although businesses are adapting to the changes for survival, education does not have the same pressures and tends to resist change. 

“I think what should be occurring in schools is around flexibility for learning; and flexibility for representations of learning. I always discourage having only a college-going culture. There should be an option-going culture, which means, ‘Maybe college is for me; maybe a career is for me; maybe I don’t know. But is school providing me with the learning experience that puts me in a position to say, ‘When I graduate, I have options, not I’m being told to do one thing? And what if I don’t want to do that one thing?’”

When Shelton gets the opportunity to talk with students, he asks, “If you were to graduate next month, has your school prepared you for the next decision you’re going to make, whether it’s college, getting a job, or starting your own business?” Sadly, he is continually met with the answer of “no” because of a built-in rigidity that exists in many schools as they adhere to specific outdated standards.

By taking certain small steps, schools can break out of the status quo and begin to set students up for better success post-graduation. As Shelton suggests, “If you’re a school leader, the one thing that will be most beneficial to every graduate is when they’re gearing up toward graduation, dedicate time to every single graduate to set up a LinkedIn profile. Help them understand how to keep it updated, how to have it SEO optimized, understand the importance of getting endorsements from friends and family who know their capabilities, and then help them design a resumé. It’s far more valuable than teaching students about something that’s on a standard they learn in the 10th grade, which is not going to be applicable going forward.”

About Ken Shelton

Ken currently holds an M.A. in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology as well as New Media Design and Production. He has worked as an Educator for over 14 years and most recently taught technology at the Middle School level. As a part of his active involvement within the Educational Technology community, Ken is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Google Certified Innovator.

Ken has worked extensively at the policy level and was named to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Education Technology Task Force. Ken regularly gives keynotes and leads workshops, covering a wide variety of Educational Technology, Technology Integration, Equity and Inclusion, Multimedia Literacy, Visual Storytelling, and Instructional Design topics. Ken is the ISTE Digital Equity PLN 2018 Excellence Award winner.

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