Here's my theory of achievement all on one slide. Talent and effort, I think, are, as Will Smith and Francis Galton and Charles Darwin would tell us, two different things. And in fact, in a very simple way, you can think about multiplying them to get skill. If you have zero talent, doesn't matter how hard you'll work – you won't be skilled. But on the same token, if you have abundant talent and you don't try, or you're never given an opportunity to try – and here's where I think MOOCs really democratized learning – if you don't have an opportunity to learn, you also won't develop skill. So talent matters and so does effort. But you'll see that I have effort here twice and that is because I respect the doers in the world – the people who are skilled and they do something with their skill. I think all of us know people who have acquired great skill in their lives, and at some point, for reasons that we might not fully understand and maybe they don't either, they stop doing. They stop doing things with their writing skill, with their speaking skill, with their mathematical skill, with their programming skills. So, where effort counts twice is in unleashing our talent, and then, again, in converting those skills into tangible, real-world, useful achievements. Talent counts, effort counts twice. I want to bring you completely up-to-date to the modern science of high achievement. This slide summarizes the work of my close colleague and friend Anders Ericsson. And if you've ever heard the phrase "10,000 hours," then you've heard of his work. Anders Ericsson is a psychologist at Florida State University. He trained with Herb Simon, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, and together they began a program of research which was to basically decode skill development. They wanted to understand really beyond what Galton and Darwin could say: How do these people become so eminent? Where does skill come from? And what Anders has found is that it is over thousands and thousands of hours spread out over years and years that individuals acquire complex skills of any kind, physical or intellectual, and it is the quantity of the practice that has, I guess, attracted the popular imagination. There's something very viral about 10,000 hours as a meme. But it's the quality of the practice, actually, that Anders would like to put the emphasis on. And given the focus of this meeting, I will spend some time really unpacking what deliberate practice, which is Anders' term for this high-quality practice, what it really is. Before I do, let me point out that there are two other trajectories, and these will be very familiar to anybody who studies learning. The first is that people will get very good at something or good enough at something at the early stages of their practice and training and then they will stop getting better because they're fine, right? And many skills are like this. You drive, and then you drive better, but then at a certain point, you drive OK enough, and then you stop improving in your skill. And for some things, like driving, that's fine. But the real lesson for me about this flat line is that it is easy for individuals not to improve beyond a certain point. It is easy for them to what I say is resting on the plateau of arrested development. And it's deliberate practice, not mindless practice, that keeps you off of the plateau and on the red line of continuous improvement. And then, of course, familiar to anybody who works in MOOCs, there is the dropout trajectory, which is, you start full of enthusiasm for taking Michael Sandel's justice course at Harvard, and after the second lecture, your enthusiasm has left you, and you never get to the third lecture. Right? So this is, of course, part of life. You have to drop out of things, right? I mean, I don't practice piano anymore and that's a good thing because it has made more time for other pursuits. But by the same token, I think we have to realize – and again this audience knows better than I do – complex human skills are really use it or lose it. They atrophy with disuse. And so, if individuals continually drop out of one thing after another they will never even stay on the plateau of arrested development; they will lose everything that they have begun to gain. What is deliberate practice, and what makes experts' practice so much more efficient than the practice of other people? I'm gonna present Anders Ericsson's work, and I know there are some people in the audience who could stand up here and and give the same lecture. I think there are also probably people in the audience who know that there's a controversy around this research. And the controversy really centers on how much has Anders Ericsson cracked the code of skill development and how much has he, sort of, left out, and what else is there – other than deliberate practice – that might matter? I think Anders will take a pretty strong position and say you can explain almost all of skill through this simple process, whereas others would put more of an emphasis on native talent, including things like your working memory or your IQ. But one thing that is not controversial in the cognitive science literature, or psychology more broadly, is that this is effectively the fundamental process by which human beings learn. So whether there are other factors or how much luck or opportunity or talent also matter, there is a consensus in the scientific field that this is actually the process by which skills do augment with experience. The first thing that distinguishes deliberate practice from the kind of practice I used to see my own middle school math students do as their teacher is that it's intentional, and in particular, it's intentional in two ways. The first is that the learner has a specific goal in mind, not a general like "I am here to do math." Right? You don't see world-class soccer players go onto the pit and say, "I'm gonna play soccer better today." No, no, no. It's very specific. They intentionally know what aspect of their practice they're going to work on. And the second is that it's a challenging goal. This is, of course, obvious, but really how obvious is it? When I first met Anders Ericsson, I gave him what I thought was a challenging scenario and it was true. I said, "Anders, if this 10,000 hour rule has any truth to it, why is it that I have cumulatively run 10,000 hours in my life and I'm not a second faster than I ever was? I can set the clocks in my house by the time I come back from my run because it is exactly the same time every time." And so he asked me a series of questions, and in particular, he wanted to know if I ever tried to run faster. No, actually. I have never once in my life tried to run faster. The winningest cross-country coach in history, I think, is Joe Henderson. He coaches outside of University of Chicago, I guess, the City of Chicago, for me, I think of it as the University of Chicago. But he's a track coach at a local high school and he often begins his track practices with this: "However fast you can run today, run faster." And so that's the second aspect of this, you know, stretch goal. It's specific. It's challenging. You have to do what you cannot yet do. Most learners don't fundamentally enjoy that. Focus. 100 percent engagement. Interestingly, when you study world-class experts like Kevin Durant, the basketball player, they spend the majority of their practice time alone. Now I don't think solitude is doing any work here, but I think what solitude enables is full concentration. I don't know about you but I get so much more work done when I'm at home and the phone's not ringing and people aren't coming into my office and, you know, when I am completely alone, I get so much more – it's like on an airplane ride – you get so much more done. Right? And I think the key is, if this is not the reality for most people, how can you get as close to 100 percent engagement as possible in their learning? Third, there is feedback. And this, again, is complete common sense, but really, how much feedback do most learners get in most context? Here, I think digital learning has a huge advantage because the traditional learning formats of standing in a lecture hall like this with lots of students does not enable the kind of immediate and information-rich and personalized feedback that is optimal for learning. I think a good guiding principle would be this: How can we get MOOCs and other learning experiences to be more like what it is to be an Olympic athlete in training? When an Olympian dives off the diving board or finishes a lap, they immediately get their score, their time, and a video playback of what went well, what didn't go well, and then some coaching from their coach, to say, "You see that? You see that? That's what I mean by your left elbow being a little too high." That's the kind of feedback I think that would perhaps radically increase the rate at which people could learn new material. And then the final process gets back to the being – that is the theme of the conference and that the opening remarks really got to. What's the hardest thing about deliberate practice? Is it setting a challenging and specific goal? Is it finding solitude or complete concentration? Is it figuring out how to get rapid and information-rich feedback? As a psychologist, I think the hardest part of deliberate practice is to let go of vanity. Because when you really listen to feedback about what you got wrong, it is ego crushing. I get feedback sometimes after talks like this and I'm always cringing even before I get it. I say to my organizers, as I will today, "What's one thing I can do better?" And even before they open their mouths, I just, I'm like, I don't want to know, really. Right? You know, you could speak a little slower. You can make a little better eye contact with the third and fourth row. Your slides are a little hard to read from the back. Whatever it is, I don't want to know. And I think that, again, is a motivational, emotional, psychological challenge for designers of online courses. How can you not only give feedback, but ensure or increase the probability that it will be received and that there will be some reflection going on in the head of the learner, and that they will then make a small adjustment, and then start the process all over again? That's what deliberate practice is. And however much weight you put on talent, I will say that if you follow these four steps of deliberate practice consistently, you will get better at whatever it is you are trying to learn to do.