As you age, you realise that the most precious currency you have is time.
In the business world, I’m the equivalent of a grizzly veteran. I am old enough to have seen my first computer when I was 23, known life before the Internet, navigated the dot boom and bust at the end of the last century and realised early on that web 2.0’s promise of social engagement was also going to disrupt the comfort zones for some and empower many others. And in 2009, a chance connection on Twitter made me realise it was time for me to structure my learning for the rest of my life.
In academic terms, I’m a relative novice. I’ve had to relearn how to write (from bullets and join the dots, time-poor consultant speak to measured, reference, journal-speak). I sometimes spend an hour to craft a sentence in front of a paragraph. There are days when I see only mountains of text around me, and others when the sheer pleasure of learning is almost sensual.
And yet, the novice academic is in constant conversation with the pragmatic change agent. We now all possess tools that have extended learning to 24 x 7, across multiple channels, connecting students and educators beyond geography, blurring the lines between the educator and the learner. It is not just the shields of laptops that educators now face in a lecture hall, or the merciless Twitter back-channel, or the streamed webinar. There is a clear need for some paradigm shift in this new century to re-engineer education to account for the fact that peer to peer has now gone mainstream.
On 30th December, I noticed a tweet from Howard Rheingold, asking if people would consider becoming beta students on his Mind Amplifiers course. As from this week, I am part of a group of 30 learners from across the globe, with Howard as the glue, navigating around text, audio, video and online tools. I’m like a kid who’s just found the cookie jar.
We are all co-learners, says Rheingold. That’s a far cry from where we’ve just come from, already.