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Black Swan Thinking Foundations: What you need to know to move forward

Stephanie Jeanine King

— March 8, 2021

Ruben PuenteduraOn Wednesday, March 3, ShapingEDU Innovator in Residence and black swan + antifragile thinking expert Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D., led a 45-minute crash course titled “Black Swan Thinking Foundations” in three different languages  – English, French and Spanish – in one day.

Ruben shared that this session was “an integration of what was said in earlier sessions and what’s to come next.” (Ruben finished Stage 1 of the Black Swan Thinking Project in December 2020. Check out the Black Swan Thinking Project playlist on the ShapingEDU YouTube channel.)

Black swan events have the following characteristics:

  • They cannot be predicted ahead of time
  • They have a major effect
  • They can be rationalized retrospectively

When you (or your organization) experience a Black Swan event, there are several possible outcomes ranging from existential risk (an organization ceasing to exist for example) to antifragility (being better than before for having gone through the disruptive event). And while we cannot predict black swans, we can think and design in ways that help us be more antifragile. So, Ruben invited attendees to think about antifragility when it comes to education, and to ask themselves these five questions:

  • How do I make this unit of instruction antifragile?
  • How do I make this course antifragile?
  • How do I make this degree antifragile?
  • How do I make this institution antifragile?
  • How do I make this student learning antifragile?

He also touched on planning – systems, agents and networks – and shared his SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, which is a framework for categorizing degrees of classroom technology integration, and EdTech Quintet (Social, Mobility, Visualization, Storytelling and Gaming) framework.  These frameworks can help us think and design in ways that make education and student learning more antifragile.

Lastly, Ruben invited attendees to participate in Stage 2: Painting Antifragile Learning (Not) by the Numbers.

Sign up now for the Black Swan Design Studio!

Black Swan Design Studio Preview


In English
In this intensive design studio, participants will tackle an educational problem that is relevant to them, using the Black Swan toolset, to develop an antifragile - or at the very least resilient - solution. The studio is expected to run for one week in April, and will be conducted in three stages, scheduled to fit participants' needs. The answers developed by participants will be shared with a wider audience through the ShapingEDU website.

En français
Dans cet atelier de dessin intensif, les participants aborderont un problème éducatif qui les concerne, en utilisant la boîte à outils du projet Cygne Noir pour développer une solution anti-fragile, ou au moins résiliente. L'atelier se déroulera pendant une semaine en avril en trois étapes, programmées en fonction des besoins des participants. Les réponses créées par les participants seront partagées avec un public plus large via le site Web ShapingEDU.

En español
En este taller de diseño intensivo, los participantes abordarán un problema educativo relevante para ellos, utilizando el conjunto de herramientas del proyecto Cisne Negro para desarrollar una solución antifrágil, o al menos resiliente. El taller funcionará durante una semana en abril, y se llevará a cabo en tres etapas, programadas de acuerdo a las necesidades de los participantes. Las respuestas creadas por los participantes se compartirán con un público mas amplio a través del sitio web de ShapingEDU.

Watch the full recording fo "Black Swan Foundations" in English, French and Spanish:

In English

Black Swan Thinking Foundations in English

En français

 Black Swan Thinking Foundations in French

En español

 Black Swan Thinking Foundations in English


Learn more about the Black Swan Thinking Project!

Sign up now!

Stephanie Jeanine King