Learning Without Limits


You’ve heard about the ways in which e-learning is transforming higher education. But we are convinced that e-learning will play a role in changing how we transfer and access knowledge in all aspects of life.

If you’re interested in exploring the promise and challenges of e-learning, please download the free report Just in Time: The Beyond-the-Hype Potential of E-Learning, which Mario and our colleague Katie Paris wrote with invaluable input from a dozen trusted advisors. This is the culmination of a year of conversations with more than 100 leading thinkers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs.

Don’t expect answers from the Oracle of Delphi in this report. We hope, though, that it inspires you to consider how e-learning could change the way we transfer knowledge and continuously improve and provides context for ways you can use e-learning to improve your organization and enrich your life.

Overzealous prognosticators say that e-learning will wipe out our existing education and training sectors. Meanwhile, some been-there-done-that commentators will tell you that e-learning is just a way of dressing up “distance learning” in faddish new clothes. We disagree with both. Today, cloud computing, open-source systems, and ever-smarter mobile devices are converging to create platforms unlike anything we’ve ever seen for knowledge sharing, service delivery, and how we teach and learn—far beyond the confines of formal education.

In an attempt to walk the talk, we created our own short videos on what and how we learned during this journey. If the report or videos resonate with you, we hope you will help spread the word via your networks. You can find the report, the videos, and a number of options for sharing them here.

And here are brief updates from around the Leap of Reason community:

  • Congratulations to our friends at Roca, Inc. and Third Sector Capital Partners who have joined forces with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to launch the country’s largest Pay for Success initiative (also known as a Social Impact Bond). The initiative is aimed at improving outcomes for young men on probation or leaving the juvenile justice system. Government payments will be based on Roca’s effectiveness in reducing the number of days young men spend in jail and improving their employment and job readiness.
  • The Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, the Department of Education’s foray into using scientific evidence as the basis for funding decisions, recently got data-driven validation of its approach. The purpose of i3 is to help organizations with the strongest track records of improving student achievement and attainment scale up and serve more students. The $150 million question: When you pick grantees that have demonstrated strong results in their current settings and help them scale up, will those strong results translate to the new settings? Thanks to new randomized trials of three of i3’s initial scale-up grantees (Reading Recovery, Success for All, and Teach for America), the early answer appears to be yes (although we need to keep in mind that the studies are not definitive because they’re based on just a few years of data). For a more detailed look at what the studies show, see the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy’s two-page summary.
  • And as we review studies like these, let’s not check our brains at the door—even when studies use the “gold standard” randomized design. Pointing us to the sobering article “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False,” David Hunter recently noted, “When even highly reputable sources tell us that something has been ‘proven’ to have impacts … this is [not] necessarily a bankable truth. In promoting the science of program research, design, implementation, and delivery, let’s not forget the essential art that these require, and for certain let’s not rush to dismiss the accumulated experience of long-time practitioners whose views should stand with full respect alongside research reports.”
  • And speaking of David Hunter, next week is the one-year anniversary of Working Hard—and Working Well. We’re delighted to say that his book has now surpassed 9,000 downloads—a strong sign that David’s tough-love, tough-introspection message is catching on.
  • The talented team that created the “Moneyball for Government” video featuring John Bridgeland has scored with its next installment in the series, featuring United Way Worldwide’s US President, Stacey Stewart. “Moneyball for Government 2: What Works” takes a look at dozens of organizations that follow the Moneyball principle of using evidence, rather than gut instincts, to guide their work and help them improve.
  • We’re pleased to see that Jeff Bradach and his colleagues at Bridgespan have launched a yearlong effort to spark dialogue and action to help proven social solutions achieve “truly transformative scale.” Bradach’s announcement includes great examples of programs that have achieved massive scale (hospice care, kindergarten, microfinance, tobacco control) and acknowledges that these are rare exceptions. “Why is this? What lessons can we learn? What barriers must we overcome? What experiments—formal or informal—are underway, and what new pathways for scaling impact are emerging? Is technology, for example, capable of transforming the social sector as powerfully as it has the for-profit sector?”
  • America’s Charities President and CEO Steve Delfin gave a nice shout-out to the After the Leap conference in “Why the Difference Between Outcomes and Outputs Matters,” in the Huffington Post: “In listening to the speakers, panel discussions, Q&A and hallway conversations, I came to the conclusion that given what Morino calls the coming ‘era of scarcity,’ the performance management and evidence-based advocates are on the right path. And I’ve become one of them.”
  • In an interview this week with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Cynthia Figueroa, Congreso de Latinos Unidos’s rock-star CEO, emphasized the “importance of measuring whether programs actually [make] a difference in people’s lives.” Cynthia and her team will be highlighting their performance-management approach as well as their Latin dance moves at their annual gala, in Philadelphia, on March 15.


Events for Raising Performance:


Mario and Lowell

Mario Morino is Chairman of the Morino Institute, Co-Founder and Founding Chair of Venture Philanthropy Partners, and author of the lead essay in Leap of Reason. Lowell Weiss is president of Cascade Philanthropy Advisors, co-editor of Leap of Reason, and advisor to the Leap of Reason initiative.

Download Leap of Reason and Working Hard—and Working Well for free. Check out our suite of materials for strategic planning sessions, performance-management projects, professional development, board meetings, or graduate/undergrad classes. And encourage colleagues and stakeholders to sign up for monthly updates to help power their leap.