Notes from 2006


What good are notes if you don’t review them from time to time? I reviewed my notes from 2004 as well as notes from 2005 last January, so now it’s time to review my half-baked ideas from 2006.

Non scholae sed vitae discimus (We learn, not for school, but for life – Seneca, Epistulae)

Curriculum is a solution to a problem we created, wrote Brian Alger, a quote that still sticks with me.

I started thinking about life in perpetual Beta - Perpetual beta is my attitude toward learning – I’ll never get to the final release and my learning will never stabilise. I’ve also realised that clients with a similar attitude are much easier to work with than those who believe that we will reach some future point where everything stabilises and we don’t need to learn or do anything else. I believe that this point is called death.

On the “learning profession”: As a learning professional, it’s time to take a stance. Enabling learning is no longer about disseminating good content. Enabling learning is about being a learner yourself, sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm and then taking a back seat. In a flattened learning system there are no more experts, only fellow learners on paths that may cross.

Foreshadowing my business future in 2011, I wrote that perhaps individual expertise is gradually being replaced by collaborative expertise.

I was asked for one or two sentences on where the field of adult e-learning is going. My response was that the overwhelming majority of the learning needs of Canadian adults are not addressed by formal training and education. In this post-industrial era, adults today require self-directed learning skills to thrive in the unstructured work environments outside of school. Efforts should be focused on the development of practical tools and strategies for adults to learn in a networked information society.

I riffed on Jay Rosen’s theme and wrote about the people formerly known as students:

The people formerly known as students do not believe this problem ”too many individual learners” is our problem. Now for anyone in your circle still wondering who we are, a formal definition might go like this:

The people formerly known as students are those who were on the receiving end of an oligopolist educational system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and few options, and accredited institutions competing to speak their truths while the rest of the population learned in isolation from one another – and who today are not in a situation like that at all.

My thoughts on a networked world were that in warfare, work and learning we are witnessing a major change in command and control and we will have to shift with it or suffer the fate of defeated armies.

Effective work and learning networks are composed of unique individuals working on common challenges, together for a discrete period of time before the network begins to shift its focus again. This is like small groups of guerrillas joining for a raid, conducting it, and then going their separate ways to reform as a different set for a new mission. If armies and businesses organisations are changing to networked models, then the best learning support has to be informal, loose and networked as well. We are shifting from a “one size fits all” attitude on work and learning to an “everyone is unique” perspective. If everyone is unique then there are no generic work processes and no standard curricula.

Near the end of 2006, I concluded that  in our networked world, modelling how to learn is a better strategy than shaping on a pre-defined curriculum.