Category Archives: education

EdCast and Modular Learning

The news came out today that EdCast has taken in a round of funding to further develop their enterprise focused digital learning tools.

The interesting thing about this is the approach. EdCast is targeting millennials in the workplace who want to get their learning in bite sized pieces. EdCast gives them access to thee morsels — from top rated sources. Firms like this in that it is cheaper than hiring those guys and gives their newcomers  broader access to learning materials in a digestible format.

I think this is part of our future. The bigger picture is learning more from everything we do, making it easier to upgrade how we do stuff, including but not limited to work. Having access to a stream of great insights 24/7 can help us in that quest.

But I think we also have a long way to go before a platform like EdCast can be life changing for users. My first issue is about selecting resources. Why do we think that university professors know what we need to know?

Think about that. And if they do not, who does? We need authoritative voices, but it is not at all clear where we can find them.

Some Quick Thoughts on Strategic Alignment

Fred Wilson wrote this in his blog today.

the longer I work in VC, the more I see misalignment between investors and founders.

And misalignment gets in the way of getting somewhere.

This is true more broadly as well. “alignment” is a great word to describe shared strategies, as in a team. But usually, we only worry about alignment when something bad happens. We don’t work on improving our alignment. Perhaps we assume that alignment is automatic. The sad news is that it is not. It is something that you have to work on.

I am thinking here of aligned strategies between people in a network. The networks we use these days are generally rather loose and do not promote alignment. So, for example, you see outrageous and hurtful comments to a rather innocent blog post.

So how do you promote alignment? This is something that was taught “on the playing fields of Eton”. It is less in vogue these days. We value our independence and autonomy more.

But my guess is that we will be talking about it more. Let’s see

Kickstart your Career with Training

One of the more interesting trends these days relates to how “work” is changing. In the old days, the world of work was pretty well fixed. One found a job that started him or her on a career track. And one hoped that with high levels of job performance, the employer would offer the tools to get ahead — including, but not limited to mentoring and training.

Employers still want great workers. But employer needs are changing. They are looking for different things that they used to. More precisely, they are looking for technical knowledge and soft skills. And with a more rapidly changing workplace, employers are less able to guarantee that they can offer you the knowledge and skills that you need to get ahead in your career.

Here is an example. A statement from the CEO of ProtoLabs on who they want to hire.

(we recognize) how important STEM fields are within manufacturing today, and it’s why Proto Labs actively reaches out to college grads who may not be familiar with the current state of manufacturing — a tech-driven industry that is undergoing a digital renaissance

This is a brave new world. And targeted training will play a greater role to upgrade worker skills sets and knowledge bases for workers to fit in. That may be for entry level technical positions. And it may be for ongoing skills development.

Where will you get this? Good question.  Probably not from your school or university. Academics are not that well connected to the above world of work. We are talking about a private intermediary who is networking with employers and offering programming for workers.

I will be searching for the best of these around the globe and bring back reports as I go.

Stay tuned!

21st Century Thinking: What we are Learning about Learning

The underlying theme of this thread is that the 21st century will be the “intelligent century”. The reason is already clear. We know a lot more about how humans learn than we used to know. And we have much better tools to enhance our learning capacity.

So what does this mean for education? A lot” First, it means that schools will no longer be the sole — or even perhaps the major — place where learning happens. Schools cannot keep up with less expensive and more flexible platforms that offer folks what they need to know now.

The learning which is taking place socially is also purposeful: we have more control over our lives now, and we learn so that we can collectively take action, often driven by values and humanitarian concern.

This means that one can offer value by curating what one can and needs to learn online. Like what we do here.

Transcending the Classroom

The invention of the classroom was a step forward in creating modern society. With it, one could offer education to larger groups at the same time, and produce a stronger shared vocabulary. But just because the classroom “worked”, does not mean that the classroom is the ultimate tool for promoting learning.

What is wrong with it? Very simple. Learning is a journey. A classroom is a fixed place – you don’t go anywhere. Consider this idea from LangWitches

We are looking at becoming fluent in a work- and learnflow as a process to be able to flourish in a world with ever changing tools, platforms, networks and external innovations that will have a significant impact in the world of education.
  • Learning how to learn will include knowing how to find filter, find, evaluate, categorize, store, remix and create information… no matter how much information is available or in what format, media or language it is available.
  • Learning how to learn will mean how to work and learn with (not just about) people at a global scale… no matter how far the geographic distance, time zones, cultural and language differences.
  • Learning how to learn will mean to be able to understand the differences and purpose of a variety of platforms and being able to harness the power of these networks… no matter the type of existing platforms, the need to migrate to new platforms or the necessity of fluently being able to switch between platforms for specific purposes.
  • Learning how to learn will mean to adapt to new forms of media… no matter if this means letting go of nostalgic attachments or customary workflows of routine ways of reading, writing and communicating.

Wow!

A Revolution in Strategic Skills?

I made the argument in our strategy course last week that strategic thinking skills will become a core competence over the next half century. We all will need to upgrade just to keep up.

Think of it this way — there was a time when few could read or write. That was the norm. The great Charlemagne, for example, managed to learn how to read as an adult but could never get the hang of writing.  Think of how things have changed since then!

We no longer take just on faith what can be understood. And free exchanges of ideas have accelerated the rate of knowledge acquisition and dissemination to rates that would have been unimaginable just a few hundred years ago. To see how radical the change has been, consider that Tyndale was burned at the stake for the inexcusable heresy of translating the Bible from ancient Greek into English.

So why will strategic thinking become so important? Because change is no longer managed by a few people at the top. It is becoming organic. And as HBR notes

Strategic people see the world as a web of interconnected ideas and people and they find opportunities to advance their interests at those connection points.

Join the revolution!

Warhol and Justification

In a famous story, Andy Warhol came up to a man who was intently gazing a painting on displayed at one of his openings. Warhol asked the man what he thought. The man thought for a second and said “I can’t see any art in it.” Warhol looked at the painting for a moment and replied “I knew I forgot something!”

Very clever. And Warhol was very clever. But is it an attitude that takes us anywhere? It does if our aim in life is  to show disdain for standards. But even here, there is a danger. For one can only disdain what one understands.

The more fundamental question — and this is a universal one  — is what is our attitude towards standards? How often are our lives a celebration of raised standards or a wake for violated standards? And how well do we communicate our standards to others? At least one writing teacher tackles this challenge by asking about something really important: what is going on in a video game.

The Learning to Learn Market

Tim Ferriss (a guru of the learning to learn movement) is onto something. Tim argued — and demonstrated — that one can learn how to learn more efficiently.  And Tim makes a very good living writing about this, talking about this, and doing it.

A part of the charm here is his positive attitude. And this is something that others, like Tony Robbins , offer as well. Not just to have a positive attitude, but to evangelize how important it is to maintain a positive attitude. BTW, I am on board with this 100% and would go even farther — you can learn about that if you invest in my course.

But that is not all Tim offers. Tim offers a model for learning faster. For example, mastering the 20% of the stuff that delivers 80% of the results. This 20/80 rule is now famous. We used to call it prioritizing, but hey, new vocabulary is great if it gets people’s attention.

But the fact is we are just at the beginning of this “learning to learn” era. We have only scratched the surface of understanding how to unleash the creative capacity of the brain. And I think we will see a whole next generation of “learning to learn” products and services over the next decade. I am not alone in nurturing that expectation.

But I will take this one step further. We will also see more and better ways to find value from learning. So that you can get paid by sharing what you learn as you do it. And that is the goal of the model here. Stay tuned!