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As promised, we’re starting to roll out videos and podcasts from Post University’s Online Learning Conference 2012. First up is the keynote session by education futurist Steve Hargadon. He focused on presenting 10 cultural changes he believes are shaping the future of education. He also covered what this future of education, or this “new education narrative,” looks like, along with seven ways educators can drive the new education narrative. His presentation is worth watching, and I encourage you to stay tuned for the full video.

This clip also includes the opening plenary session by Ronald J. Pugliese, Director of Economic Development for the City of Waterbury, and Frank Mulgrew, President of the Online Education Institute of Post University. So, as I alluded to in my last blog post, you’ll be also able to hear Ron talk about why he believes the future of Waterbury is vibrant, and the role he sees Post University playing in helping bring positive change to the city’s community in the coming years.

Hit play, sit back, and let us know what you think of what you see.

Or, if you’d prefer, give the transcript of the video a read. We’ve added subheads to the transcript to make it easier for you to scroll down to the parts that interest you the most. Here’s what’s included:

  • Post University’s Dedication to the Future of Education
  • The Future of Waterbury and Post University’s Role Within It
  • Welcome for Steve Hargadon
  • The Future of Education Introduction
  • Why the Traditional Education Narrative is Shifting
  • 10 Cultural Changes Shaping the Future of Education
  • The New Education Narrative
  • 7 Ways Educators Can Drive the New Education Narrative
  • Q&A

Post University’s Dedication to the Future of Education
By Frank Mulgrew

Welcome, it’s good to see all of you here. It’s my pleasure to stand in front of you at a time in higher education when things are truly transforming. Anyone who’s involved in higher ed knows the transformation is occurring. They can feel it, whether they’re part of it directly, or they’re feeling it around them, it’s happening. This conference is very much dedicated to that.

Post University as an institution is also dedicated to that future. Therefore, [that’s] why we have a conference called Shaping the Future. So I want to welcome all of you from near and far to the conference today, and I hope you get a lot out of the sessions, the keynote speaker, and the discussions that you have amongst each other.

As a matter of business, I want to thank our sponsors for their generosity. Each one of them has been a really fantastic partner for Post University. So I’d like to thank Pearson, Blackboard, Cengage Learning,, and McGraw-Hill for sponsoring today’s event.

The history of Post University is wrapped up in Waterbury. We were founded in 1890, and have been a part of the Waterbury community ever since then. But we’re less focused on the past, now. What we’re now thinking is the present and the future. The future of Waterbury is looking really, really bright, and we want to be part of making Waterbury an education hub, a center of the future of education, and we believe this mayor and his staff are really dedicated to that future.

We’re also dedicated as a community member. We want to be an active community member and provide jobs, growth, opportunities, community development. So it is my great pleasure to introduce Mr. Ron Pugliese, who is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Waterbury and also the father of an alum of Post University.

The Future of Waterbury and Post University’s Role Within It
By Ronald J. Pugliese

Well, good morning everybody. First of all let me, on behalf of the City of Waterbury and Mayor Neal O’Leary, welcome you to this absolutely beautiful downtown and absolutely beautiful Mattatuck Museum.

Post University, as Frank said, had its start right around the corner here. I’ve had the opportunity this morning to speak to some people from outside of Waterbury, and in some cases, outside of the State of Connecticut. So for those people that are not familiar with Waterbury, let me especially welcome you and thank you for being here. It’s very important.

The future of Waterbury, as Frank indicated — I think he stole my notes, actually — but the future of Waterbury is extremely bright. We’re working very hard with a whole series of partners, and one of our most important partners is Post University. We are so proud of the growth of Post University. I grew up here. I remember walking to Wilby High School, which is up the hill here, and walking by a small building, right down the street, that was Post College back in the 1960s.

And today, to see where Post has gone, physically, at the campus and the west end of this city, and to see the extraordinary growth in online learning, I couldn’t be as a citizen of Waterbury, as a citizen of this community, as a native of Waterbury, more proud of the partnership that we’ve always had with Post, and the evolving and continually, more important partnership that we will continue to have with this great university.

Frank mentioned one of my sons. I have three sons. I’m extremely proud of all three of them. My second and third son, as I was telling some people here this morning, went the traditional route: high school, college, graduate school, got their master’s. Couldn’t be more proud of these two young men.

My oldest son went a different route. Went to several colleges. Unfortunately, [they] didn’t quite work out. Got married, has children of his own, and decided after getting into a law enforcement career, that he wanted to get his degree. And I tell you, as proud as I am of my second and third sons, I could not be more proud of my oldest son as a graduate of Post University online, and part of this extraordinary growth that has occurred right here in the City of Waterbury.

So as a representative of Mayor O’Leary, as a representative of the city, and a representative, quite frankly, of where the future of this city is going, I’m very, very happy to be here today to welcome every single one of you here. Keep in tune with where Waterbury and where Post is going, as partners, because it’s going straight north. We’re going straight upward, and we couldn’t be more enthusiastic.

So thank you, enjoy your time in Waterbury. For those of you who don’t live here, come on back. Every single day you come back, you’ll see some new things here. We’re doing some very positive things, and as I said, a very positive partnership with a great university. I couldn’t be happier to be here. So thank you all very much. Have a great day.

Welcome for Steve Hargadon
By Frank Mulgrew

So now I have the great pleasure of introducing our guest speaker. Steve Hargadon is the founder of classroom 2.0, host of the Future of Education interview series, and co-chair of the Global Education and Library 2.0 Worldwide Conferences. He is also the Emerging Technologies Chair for ISTE.

His thinking, what he’s thinking about the future, is directly in line with this conference. He’s thinking about shaping the future. I was reading all sorts of quotes from various educators across the country about Steve, and what they kept on saying was his quiet and easygoing demeanor, but how influential he was in where education is going, K-12, higher education, all of it, into the future. So it is my great pleasure to introduce to you our 2012 keynote speaker, Steve Hargadon.

The Future of Education Introduction
By Steve Hargadon

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all lived up to our bios? I’m quietly reshaping education. This is really fun for me. I really enjoyed preparing for this. I feel like it’s a privilege to come and talk to you on this topic. Before we get started, I want you to turn to your neighbor, take 30 seconds, and tell them a passion, a skill, or a talent you have. A passion, skill, or talent. And I’m going to come down and join you here, because, OK, I know it’s hard to stop that exercise.

I want you to note the energy in the room. Could you feel the energy in the room? We’re going to come back to this at the end, but this is always really fun to do because it really produces an enormous amount of energy. Human energy. So I do an interview series called the Future of Education. I think I’m up to about 250 interviews. I’ve been privileged to interview people like Ken Robinson and Dan Pink, but also a lot of sort of boots-on-the-ground educators, and it’s really fun just to talk about what’s going on in education right now.

Why the Traditional Education Narrative is Shifting

So there’s a growing consensus amongst them, and amongst a lot of people, that education is broken. But it’s kind of intriguing because that’s not a full narrative, is it? I mean if we go to our neighbors, a lot of them will say they don’t see anything that’s not going well. They feel very comfortable with everything. And yet there is this sort of growing consensus amongst the group who are thinking about education that something in fact is wrong, and that institutions like Post are addressing [it].

So that would be the factory model, this factory model system we have. There was a woman here, and she and I both share 8th graders right now. And it’s really fun to watch an 8th grader flourish with a teacher who’s really, really exciting to them. But then also, you cringe when they come home with memorizing names and dates for history, and you say, where are the stories?

Well when I was growing up, this factory model was the narrative. I sat in the chair. I was obedient. I listened. That was my job. I knew that and I did it very well, and yet we know that doesn’t really, at some level, that doesn’t work for us now.

So for higher ed, this question of broken would be, is there a tuition bubble? Right? What are graduation rates? And what are employment rates? Is higher ed actually serving the students well? And these are questions that I’m hearing asked every day. So today we’re going to go through three areas.

First is, I’m going to make the argument that this is a time of real change, not just that every generation feels that they’re sort of at the cusp of history, but that we really are at a place of significant change. That there are 10 cultural changes that are worth paying attention to, and how that impacts education and a shift in this educational narrative.

And the main argument I’m going to make is that even though we think education is driven by pedagogy, that it’s actually driven by culture. That we’re seeing a technology shift that’s creating a large cultural shift, and that cultural shift is changing our expectations for education, and that education is changing because of those cultural changes.

So a time of real change. This is something else that all these people agree on. That there’s something really significant happening now. Something at the level of the advent of the printing press. We’re seeing a change of what it means to be human at a level that we’ve probably never seen in our generation and in many generations. So, their argument would be we’re going through this change — the biggest change maybe in human culture in centuries, possibly ever.

When I came here, the first thing I did when I checked in the hotel was I actually noticed that there was 4G on my phone. I don’t get 4G at home, right? So then I pulled out an app, and I said, which direction is the tower? And the app showed by an arrow, the direction of the tower. Then I said to the gentleman, I need a room that faces this direction. Then I Instagrammed the screenshot of my phone telling me the direction.

OK, so I don’t know about you, but when I buy a book now (and I typically buy from Amazon), if I go into a physical book store, I feel I owe it to them to actually purchase the book I find there. But if I buy a book on Amazon, I’m buying a book because of other people’s reviews. The institution has lost some power. If I go out to a restaurant, I go to Yelp or I go to Google Maps, and I look up the restaurant, and then I look at the reviews.

There’s something that’s really changed here in terms of where I get my information, and who I trust. So this is a change in who has voice, and it’s also a very serious power shift. I’m not going to use the word the rest of the presentation, but it’s a de-institutionalization that’s taking place. The institution has less power and the consumer has more voice.

Do you recognize this scene? So this is Tahrir Square. This is representative of the degree to which these technologies are changing governance and discussions around governance. Creating a new governance in one of the world’s oldest societies is not easy, but interestingly enough, who has voice here who didn’t have voice before? And what did the government in Egypt do to try and restrict what was taking place? They turned off Facebook and Twitter. These places where there was voice and power.

We’re now getting to participate in the world’s great conversations. Governance is one of the world’s great conversations and those people in Tahrir Square are participating in that conversation. We’re participating in a conversation now about education. One of life’s great questions, where many more of us are getting to participate because of these technologies.

This is a great series, the great conversations. Does anybody know who publishes this series? Britannica. Again, there’s an interesting story there. A 200-year-old physical encyclopedia, now having been displaced by comparable online offerings. So this is the orderly view of the change that we’re going through.

So we had the apprenticeship era. The parents were responsible. The content was practical skills. The pedagogy was apprenticeship. Took place at the home. And then we moved to universal schooling as part of the industrial revolution, and the state became responsible. The content was disciplinary knowledge. The assessment was testing. And the location was at school.

And now in this very orderly fashion, we’re going to move to lifelong learning as part of the knowledge revolution. Individuals and parents are responsible. The content is learning how to learn. The assessment is embedded. The location is anywhere.

So this is what I think the realistic view is. It doesn’t feel orderly. I know a lot of teachers who are saying to me, I’m going to retire, but I’m not ready to go through the changes that are taking place. This is like a tidal wave.

And I like to say that there are three people in this picture you can’t really see, but who are there. One is the person on the beach, who’s looking at the buildings and doesn’t even see the tidal wave. They just don’t know it’s coming. There’s another person, and that person is on the wave. Is there anybody here who’s tweeting? Brave enough to admit they’re tweeting. So young lady, you’re on the wave. So she’s on the wave and she’s tweeting. I’m on the wave and I’m 50 feet out.

And the third person’s on the beach, not looking at the buildings, but looking at the wave and saying, how in the world is she possibly tweeting? How can you be surfing a wave and tweeting at the same time? I can barely walk and chew gum, and now everybody’s sharing everything and they’ve got all this stuff going on. How do they do it, and how do they read all the blogs, and how do they put themselves out there?

10 Cultural Changes Shaping the Future of Education

I don’t think this feels orderly. I think it feels like a huge tidal wave and we’re trying to figure it out. That’s part of what we’re doing. We’re building narratives to understand the change, and not just understand it, but to be able to communicate that change to others in a compelling way to say, this is what education exists for. This is why we’re devoted to teaching and learning. So again, a technology shift creates culture shifts, creates an educational shift.

1. Culture of participation

So I created 10 changes for this talk. It could have been 50. But I picked 10 that I thought were apropos to this conversation. Number one is we’re seeing a culture of participation. I don’t think this is new. I have three daughters. We’ve read the “Little House on the Prairie” series three times out loud, and there was a culture of participation. But I don’t think this is new. I think we’ve come back to it, and sort of on steroids.

Web 1.0, when the web came out, we treated it like we treated everything else that we previously had had, right? So we read, we received, and we researched. That was how the web was when it first came out for us. Web 2.0 is about contributing, collaborating, and creating. All of a sudden, we were in a peer relationship instead of a subservient one.

The phrase Web 2.0 came from a man named Tim O’Reilly, who was trying to describe why certain companies had survived the dot-com bust, and others had not. That description is highly technical, but to me it really comes down to Web 2.0 is a framework for user participation. If you think about the companies that survived the dot-com bust, the ones that we now call Web 2.0, they are institutions in a new way. They don’t provide the content. They provide a place for us to supply the content to each other.

So if I go to Flickr or YouTube or Facebook or Twitter, I’m not going to see what those companies have to say or to show me. I’m going to see what other users have to say. And that’s what Web 2.0 is. It’s about institutions allowing us to connect with each other. And that’s what great institutions are now doing, is they’re allowing their users to connect with each other. They’re facilitating those connections.

So the Internet’s become this unparalleled platform, right? For participation, and interestingly enough, that’s happening largely outside of formal institutions. And that’s kind of this dilemma. That’s this dilemma of all of these guests. There’s so much learning taking place, so much active participation, but it’s not happening where we wanted it to or where we thought it was, or where we have a vested interest in it taking place.

2. Culture of creation

OK, #2 is we’re seeing a culture of creation. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like I created a lot growing up. I have a box full of every paper I wrote in high school and college. And my wife says, throw it away. I’m like, no way. Why do I feel so strongly about that box? Well because I wrote those papers wanting them to be seen, and they were only seen by my teacher and my mother. And I’m sorry Dad, but you never read ’em! Right? OK, so we want to be creators. We’re interested in that, and yet I don’t feel like I was a creator growing up.

My kids are creators. They create. We may argue about the grammar. We may argue about all of the informalities associated with that creation, but they are creators. The digital camera alone. I was a photo buff growing up. I loved taking photographs. My daughter takes probably 10,000 photographs for every one I took, because you had to carefully guard that film. Because it was going to cost you to get it developed and then printed. Well, she can go out and do all these shots while she’s using a flash and she’s jumping up and down on the bed or something and she’ll take 150 photos without thinking about it.

Anybody using Instagram? Anybody have a child using Instagram? That daughter who took those thousands and thousands of photos is now posting them to Instagram and getting feedback from other people in a way that was really reserved only for the highest professionals until this generation.
Instagram is brilliant, both in its simplicity and its potential to share. And it reminds us of a number of things. We’re not just creating text. We’re creating visual imagery. We’re creating movies. YouTube, Instagram, Flickr. These are media that are becoming compelling for their ability to communicate, and for our ability to create in this culture of creation.

This is my friend, Kevin. So Kevin has amyloidosis. It’s a rare condition. Typically, when you’re diagnosed with amyloidosis, it’s a terminal diagnosis. It’s a protein deposit in your organs, and his was largely confined to his heart. So they decided to do one of the first heart transplants for someone with amyloidosis.

I didn’t know Kevin at the time. He was about a block up. I knew of him. So I called and said, Kevin, sometimes when people go through a difficult health issue, they like to blog because then they save themselves all of the telephone calls. You don’t know me (I was leaving a message), but I’d be glad to help you set up a blog.

He called me back the day before going into the Mayo Clinic and he said, I’d love to have a blog. So his wife’s name is Barbie. So it’s OK, so Kevin is now the world’s foremost expert on amyloidosis and heart transplants. Now he happens to be a physician. But he doesn’t have any professional credentials around amyloidosis and heart transplants, but his blog is the place people go to learn about amyloidosis and heart transplants. People have written him and said, You’ve saved my life. He created out of nothing, he created a space for that conversation.

I have a skin condition called vitiligo. I don’t know if you’re going to be able to see it. It’s the Michael Jackson skin disorder. You lose pigment in your skin. I’m very light-skinned, so it doesn’t bother me, but if you’re dark skinned and you have vitiligo, it’s enormously debilitating.

So one night I’m thinking, hmm I have vitiligo. I know how to build social networks. Why don’t I build a social network for people with vitiligo? Literally three hours later, it’s up online. It is now the world’s largest network for people with vitiligo. Created. Didn’t require a foundation. Didn’t require a mailing list. Didn’t require money. Just created. Right?

These are in essence, these creations become our resume. In fact, they’re much more powerful than our resume. This is my daughter’s website, the oldest daughter. Not the 8th grader. She does theater for kids with autism. You’ve probably never thought of that, but those of you who know children on the autism spectrum have probably just now said, oh that’s kind of brilliant. Because theater is practiced socializing. And autism is a disorder that affects the social skills, so she has more work than she knows what to do with.

She couldn’t convince her university professors to let her do this in the university, so as soon as she graduated, she put up the website, she started doing interviews, and she now does this professionally. She created.

3. Culture of sharing

And #3 is a culture of sharing. This is intriguing to me because we’ve got lots of stories in higher ed about difficulties in sharing, right? Ryerson University and the Facebook group, and suing the student, bringing him up on academic charges. And then he sues them back? You’ve got the guy in Florida who sues the students for posting his lecture notes, because those lecture notes are copyrighted material. We’ve got conflict around sharing, but the web is clearly bringing us a culture of sharing.

Wikipedia is very much a shared information piece. Anybody use Wikipedia? Anybody use it daily? Anybody use it hourly? I actually watched the movie the other night, it was about a peacekeeper, a woman who goes Bosnia and she discovers that terrible things are going on there. And I’m watching the movie on my laptop on the left hand side of my screen. I have Wikipedia open on the right hand side of the screen. I’m actually researching while I’m watching the movie. I was kind of blown away, but this is a culture of sharing.

We now have a licensing system for sharing. Anybody using Creative Commons? Creative Commons is a license. I want this shared and I’m going to tell you how it’s OK to share, rather than, “I’m protecting, cannot use unless you contact me,” I want to share my content. Here’s how it has to be attributed, or it has to be for noncommercial purposes, or whatever it is. But there are a variety of licenses now under Creative Commons for sharing. This is a culture of sharing.

When my kids post their pictures on Instagram, nobody’s asking for permissions. I take Jane’s picture and I post it on Instagram. Ten years ago, I would have had to ask you to sign a form, a release form to actually post that. There’s a shift here to sharing, which is very different. They call this a gift economy. This is an actual phrase used to describe an ecosystem where sharing is the primary method of getting things done.

So I share with you. I give you attribution. I promote what you’re doing. I’m not looking necessarily for the gain to me. We often think of, well I’ll say this — David Wylie, who runs a number of Open Education Resource projects, will say that we often think that we’re a honeybee. If we give knowledge or we sting somebody, we’re going to die. We can’t give it away. The bee that stings loses its stinger and the bee is going to die.

We’re not honeybees. We’re like people lighting candles. The famous Thomas Jefferson quote, I can light your candle. It doesn’t diminish mine at all. And if we light all the candles in the room, there’s more light in the room. Well that’s how education really is, right? At core we believe that knowledge liberates and it provides light. And this culture on the web is a culture of sharing. It’s a culture of lighting candles and having more light available.

4. Culture of conversation

It’s also a culture of conversation. When I asked you that question about your passions and interests, there were probably 50 conversations going on. Now if I come into a room like this, do I need to hear every conversation? No, but I have value and engagement in the conversation that I’m in. And that’s intriguing to me because if we look at the web, the web has now become this place of conversation. All of these conversations are taking place.

And you can look at the web and say, well, it’s too much. Why would I ever contribute if there are already great videos on algebra? Why would I add another video? Or if there’s already all of this content, why would I participate? Well, for the same reason when you come into the room, you don’t stop talking. You get value from that conversation with someone else. The web has become this great place of conversation. Conversations that we can’t participate in all of them, but we get the value from the ones we’re in.

5. Culture of information

It’s a culture of information. This is intriguing to me. Anybody hear of Big Data? Big Data is just the enormous amounts of data that we’re now able to collect and then thinking about how you actually analyze that data. There’s so much information now from the web. Do you recognize these photos? And it’s not just that there’s information, it’s that there’s information everywhere.

These devices that we carry. This is my Android phone that has that lovely 4G signal right now. This device, it’s not actually a phone. My this is the Galaxy Nexus, and it had a problem, and I was without this phone for four days, and I cared more about the fact that I was without my phone, I keep saying, my device, than if I had lost my computer. This device is better than the Dick Tracy watch. In fact, it rivals the Star Trek Communicator. There’s actually an app I can put on this phone to emulate the Star Trek Communicator.

We have online learning. This is the famous chart from Clay Christiansen on disrupting class, showing the growth of online learning. Not from a pedagogical standpoint, but just from the growth of a technology where we have access to information anywhere.

This is Flip Learning. You’ve probably been hearing about Flip Learning. I’m glad they switched the name. Three years ago, this came out of Texas known as Teaching Naked. The idea was that you went into the class without an actual structured outline for what you were going to do because the content had been provided to the students before. Well, I’m glad we’ve moved on right? I’d much rather be a Flip Learner.

But Flip Learning is like Khan Academy. It’s the video taping of the course content and then coming to the class and having the discussion in the class. There’s also, because of this information everywhere, I think going to be a huge change in textbooks. I think we’re going to fire our textbooks. We’re literally going to say, you don’t serve any useful purpose, and you cost a lot of money, why would I use you? Because I can aggregate web content now, and I can create a place for conversation around that content that’s much richer than a textbook has been.

6. Mobile culture

We’re also a mobile culture. Does anybody know the statistics on the number of mobile phones in the world? Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, who wrote a book called “Society 3.0,” who works for the Apollo Group, quoted a statistic that 70 percent of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone. Now I really have to wonder about that, because multiple devices, again, I’m not sure that that’s actually 70 percent of the world’s population. Maybe if you take the total population of the world, 70 percent would be the number of actual devices, but it’s still stunning.

Someone announced last week that 40 percent of high schoolers have an iPhone. An iPhone! I don’t know if these are accurate numbers, but they’re close enough to accuracy that I kind of nod my head and think wow, right? This is a mobile culture. We have all of these devices. It’s off-grid online.

I used to provide email labs for conferences, because I did a lot with open source software, so I could show how you take all these old, used computers and set them up as a lab for email. Have you been to a conference lately with an email lab? They don’t have them anymore. Why? Because you check your email on your device. You don’t have to go to a computer anymore.

Does anybody recognize this photo? Huge bonus points if you do. Yes, what’s it from? You think it’s Next Generation? This is from an old Star Trek — remember they used to carry a tablet around? Right, this was essentially the iPad how many years ago? This has actually come out in the court cases on the trademark issues related to the tablets, because who really invented the look and feel of the tablet? Well clearly it wasn’t Apple or Samsung or anybody else. Some geeky nerd who was working on the Star Trek set. Yes!

7. Global culture

OK, we’re now a global culture. When I was in high school, I went on an exchange program and I lived in Brazil for a year. That was a big deal. I think in the United States, there are fewer than 1,500 students a year who actually go live abroad as part of an exchange program. It’s a small number. And it’s actually a small number in college who study overseas.

But intriguingly, we’re becoming a global culture. I talk to somebody in another part of the world almost daily now, if it’s not through Skype or some other program, I’m communicating in a way that just didn’t happen before. My 18-year-old daughter, the second daughter, just got back from doing humanitarian work in Nepal for six months. And I’m kind of stunned by how easy that was to do. And the fact that that now is so culturally close.

This is Anne Merchan, who’s an accounting teacher in a small rural school in Australia, who, if you see pictures of her, she’s at a high school level. You see the picture of the school. There are cows in the background. And she brings in people from all over the world to her students routinely.
This was bringing in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, for which she actually invited the whole world to attend. So they had students from all over the world listening to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra talking about what they do.

If you think about our definitions of innovation, we’ve typically thought that people bring ideas from one area or industry into another, and that that’s a large part of how innovation takes place. And what we’re seeing now is incredible global innovation. Ideas brought from one place in the world to another almost instantaneously, an amount of hours rather than weeks and months or years.

This is that conference I hold. This is the Global Education Conference. It has over 10,000 participant log-ins, five days, 24 hours a day, 300 to 400 sessions over the course of a week for people all over the world to talk about globally connecting in education. It’s astounding.

Tomorrow — Jane knows, because I’m staying here in order to do this — I’m running a conference called the Social Learning Summit on the use of Web 2.0 and social software in education. Seventy-three sessions over the course of six hours, but online and free. People presenting from 12 countries. Stunning.

8. Social culture

Okay, we’re a social culture. Now this is really intriguing to me. We have the rise of social networking. First we had blogs. Anybody here ever blog? Keep your hand up if you’re still blogging. So that’s maybe a tenth of the room, slightly less. The blogs were a great tool for being able to communicate for creating those social connections, but they were limited because they were chronological and you had to learn something about the technology to do it.

Then came wikis. Arguably a much better medium for communication than a blog. Multiple authorship, create multiple pages, good hyperlinking system. How many of you actively create a wiki? Ten percent down to maybe two people total. Why would the better technology not have created more usage?

Then comes social networking. So Facebook doesn’t release their numbers publically on a very regular basis. The most recent figure was about 845,000. I think the official announcement was 750. I think everybody expects they’re waiting for a billion users before they make the next big announcement. But if Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest country.

How many of you belong to a social network? What’s the difference? We can argue that it’s the technology. We can argue that what social networking does is uniquely bring you in to an environment, allow you with multiple tools. It’s not as constrained as blogging or wikis. But the argument I would bring is that it recognized the social. That immediately, it helps you connect with other people that we know. That our lives are social.

My dad, who could be for all intents and purposes now defined as a recluse, he’s older, he’s retired, he’s in his home. He still emails me and my brother an article at least once a day. He’s sharing with two people. But that’s sharing. And we’re kind of built to share. It fulfills something in us. And Facebook and these other companies recognize that. In addition to a lot of other themes that we’ve talked about — creation, participation — but there’s something about the social that we’re re-recognizing, that we’re seeing the value of.

This is my Classroom 2.0 social network, started five years ago for educators interested in Web 2.0 social networking. It now has 66,000 members. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to Facebook, but the truth is it’s actually too large for the conversation, because we don’t actually want to talk to 66,000 people. We want to splinter off. The statistics show that for all the friends we have on Facebook, we actually communicate on a regular basis with about seven of them. But we do communicate and we make those connections.

9. Grassroots culture

Number nine, we’re a grassroots culture. This is where I dive a little bit deep. So our traditional way of getting things done was that we had an institutional idea. We created a plan, we went to market, we sometimes had to incentivize participation, sometimes had to incentivize for the ultimate goal of getting to participation. This is how most institutions do things. I’m sure that none of you experience this at all in your current roles, right? This is how we do things. We get an idea, we plan, we market, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

This is the new social model. So intriguingly, it starts with participation, but not mandated. Participation by choice. When you go to someplace on the web, you’re going to where you want to go. So if you got vitiligo friends or you go to Classroom 2.0 or you go to Flickr or you go to Instagram, you’re going somewhere you want to go and that personal participation leads you to participating publically.

So you make a choice. You’re going to post something, you’re going to be involved, you’re going to be active. You then end up joining into a community of people and then sometimes that community actually goes to a level where they’re doing things for the benefit of others that not even relate to the community.

So if this is Encyclopedia Britannica. This is Wikipedia. And intriguingly Wikipedia serves a whole group of people who don’t contribute at all to Wikipedia. So this bottom-up, this grassroots movement ends in the civic, much more often than the institutional does, because the institution is based on certain structure, financial rewards, compensation, and the like. So the intriguing part here is that the institutional idea and the end result community look very, very similar.

Britannica Online and Wikipedia are both online encyclopedias. They look similar, but they’re created completely differently. Oftentimes I’ll have someone come to me and say, you created Classroom 2.0, a social network with 66,000 people. We are trying to create a social network within our school community. We can’t get four people to join.

And I’ll go through this and say the difference is people are forming from the grass roots up, rather than from the institutional down. And you have to figure that out and respect it. There’s a whole set of lessons we won’t get into today, that when you shift your mindset, you think about how you help those users participate with each other and what they’re looking for.

10. Long-tail culture

I told you we were going to go deep, and even slightly deeper. We’re in a long-tail culture. This is a pretty famous graph. Anybody seen it? It must not be that famous. This is a power law curve. And this was from a book called “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson. And this curve describes demand.

Let’s say we’re talking about music or books. The books or music that sell the most are at the head of the curve, are the ones that generate enough revenue to get into a retail store. So I used to say if I go into a Borders bookstore, but I can’t say that anymore, right? So if I go into a Barnes and Noble, and I’m looking at the books, those books have to sell enough copies to justify being in a physical bookstore.

What Amazon discovered was that all of these other books that don’t sell enough copies to get into the physical bookstore, there’s still a demand for them. It’s just that the demand isn’t great enough to justify the distribution warehouse, advertising costs. But Amazon starting selling in this long tail, because they could actually figure out a way to have five copies of a book in one single warehouse in the United States, instead of having to put five copies on every shelf in a physical bookstore.

Amazon now sells more books that aren’t sold in a traditional bookstore than are. In aggregate, Amazon sells more product in the long tail than the head of the tail. This is really intriguing to me, because in part what it may be telling us is that if this is the corporate world, if this is the traditional high volume world that we’re used to, this long tail world may actually eclipse our traditional world in terms of volume, which has huge implications for the kind of jobs that we’ll have and for the kind of skills that we need.

If I’m that compliant student, who graduated from high school in 1979, and knows exactly when to raise my hand and when not to, then I’m really well-suited to this world, this hierarchical, corporate-compliance-oriented world.

But if my daughter, who graduates from college in 2008, is doing theatre for kids with autism, she’s down in this world. What skills does she need that are different from these skills? She needs the ability to create a website, to feel entrepreneurial, to be self-engaged, to take initiative. These are very different skills and I’m intrigued by this, because this long tail world has potentially really huge implications for us and for how we think about who we are and what we do.

Again, this is my friend Kevin. He’s in the long tail. He could make a living from this, but he doesn’t. This is my vitiligo network. Again, this is in that long tail world. I got an offer to work for a vitiligo research company. Of course that’s not my interest, but it could have been my professional career. And it is for my daughter. This is what she does in that long tail.

The New Education Narrative

OK, was it too deep? Did we dive too deeply or are we OK? So we have these 10 cultural changes, and if my argument is that we are seeing technology changes that then drive culture changes that are going to drive educational changes, what’s the new narrative for education? What narrative do we build out of those cultural trends?

It’s certainly not for me, the factory model narrative. I can’t tell my 8th-grade daughter that she should study those history memorization questions, and that’s really going to serve her well, because I know in my heart she has to become engaged around something that she cares about in this new world. Or at least that’s my belief.

So now we’re trying to figure out what’s this new narrative. I’m going to make a proposal and the fun of you as an audience is you get to push back. I want to argue that our new narrative is agency. Our new narrative is helping people to learn to act for themselves. That my narrative was compliance. It sounds stark, it sounds dramatic, but it’s true. And my parents would have told you that’s true. My job was to be a compliant student.

My argument is that the new learner has to be an agent, a self-learner. The autodidact is going to be king or queen. The cultural shift is that this participation reinvented is tapping our cognitive surplus. I like to say that I’ve had a personal cognitive revolution. When I started blogging, my brain started working differently.

I discovered someone on the Titanic. Literally. I discovered that someone who was listed on all the Titanic manifests for decades was listed wrong, because I suspected that the name that should have been Hargadon actually was Hargadon. I wrote the Irish Titanic Society and I said, I think you may have a mistake there. They went back to the original passenger manifest and said, yes in fact that was actually Kate Hargadon who was on the Titanic who died. And for years I was listed on every Titanic site as the historian who discovered Kate Hargadon. Unfortunately I don’t get credit in the 100-year anniversary. Can you believe that?

But I went through a personal cognitive revolution. All of a sudden my brain started to fire differently. I was communicating with people. Instead of gathering all those papers in a box to go in my attic, I was communicating publically online and getting feedback. For me, this was a dramatic shift. And I’m seeing it in my kids. Their active engagement.

So I want to put agency in context. We already know about agency because we live in some worlds that do a really good job of balancing structure and freedom, because when we balance structure and freedom, we unleash individual energy. That’s the story of democracy, and it’s also the story of free market economics. These are systems that have structure, but allow for freedom within the structure.

Look what’s happened to China in the last 10 years. Pretty heavy on the structure, but with just a little bit of freedom, explosive growth. It’s a recognition of the individual capacity of every human being to be engaged, and for me that’s agency. It’s like unleashing a torrent of energy. When I was in high school, I would come home from school and I would watch Gilligan’s Island. That seems pathetic, but I know I’m not alone. I could have been doing all of these other things. The world now affords incredible opportunities to be doing other things than watching a sitcom.

Clay Shirky calls this the redistribution of our cognitive surplus. He was being interviewed by a television reporter who said, how do people find the time to do all of this? And he said, you of all people have no right to ask that question, because we’ve been sitting in front of the television for hours every day and we’re now doing something else with that time.

So structure, freedom. Where do schools, educational institutions, typically live? They’ve lived on the structure side. I don’t think anybody’s felt like they were purposefully being over-controlling, but this has sort of been our narrative model. And interestingly enough, as we move to freedom, I think we’re going to see incredible opportunities. I think online learning does this in brilliant ways. It brings agency to the learner.

So if we’re going to educate for agency, we have to be thinking about how to unleash individual energy and potential. How do we unleash the energy and potential to live in this world? I’m not saying this world doesn’t exist, but most of the jobs in this world are being outsourced, or are going to go to robots. This is the arena in which I personally think we need to be trying to figure out how to help people become learners. So technology shift, at least the culture shift, leads to an education shift, then who’s on the front lines? You are.

7 Ways Educators Can Drive the New Education Narrative

OK, so this is the break point. I have a series of slides of advice for you as individual lead learners in the learning agent world. This is an action list for you. But with these 10 cultural trends, with you as lead learners, I want to suggest there are some actions that you can take that fit the bottom-up model, rather than the top-down model.

First, have you ever seen this diagram? What do they tell you on a plane? Put on your mask first and then help others. Why your mask first? Number one, you have to be alive to help others. Number two is, that mask is a frightening thing. And you’re showing the child that the mask is safe. Kind of intrigued by that.

So my #1 piece of advice for you is to be the lead learner. Don’t think about anyone else, but think about your own learning. That’s why I asked you that question about passion and interest. And the energy that it generated for you. What did you love doing? Rediscover that. You can’t help other people become learners in the long tail world if you’re not a learner in the long tail world. I can’t help my kids become readers if they don’t see me reading and loving reading. And as you as an instructor, an educator, your approach to learning is a significant part of how you help others. Go through that cognitive revolution yourself.

Number two, build your personal learning network. We have this incredible freedom now to find places to learn, from that bottom-up where we can go and learn the things that we want to learn. I joked about Evernote popping up the little thing coming up on my screen, but Evernote now is a collection of unique and individual learning that I have done that actually is becoming a part of my value as I pursue the things that are interest to me. I was living in that long-tail world, and if I’m right, we’re all going to live in that long-tail world and we want to find the learning that fits our own interests.

Number three, start building a personal web presence. We’re very comfortable describing this idea that my daughter should have a website to show what she’s doing with theatre for kids with autism, or that students should build e-learning portfolios. But the moment I ask educators to build their own web presence, many of them sort of shrink back to what I said, and I’m not good enough, and why would I put anything about myself online? So intriguingly, if we want to be that learner who is out there, sort of showcasing our interests and passions and our learning, then we have to figure out how to build that same website that we would want our students, our agent learners, our long-tail workers to have. Some people get stuck on this because it feels like personal branding. My quick piece of advice is if you think of a personal brand as the way that you help others, then it really makes sense for you to showcase how you can help other people. Think of this as part of the gift economy. What can you do for others?

Number four is develop your online habitudes. So habitudes is a phrase that comes from Angela Myers, and it’s the combination of habits and attitudes. It describes the ways that we approach life, and to live online to be a passionate learner, to be involved in that conversation that leads to this cognitive revolution. There’s a little bit of courage required. Courage, thoughtfulness, care, think of what those online habitudes are and then begin to practice them.

Number five, become a part of the conversation. This is often hard for people, but go to a website, write something. This isn’t as hard as it was three years ago, because you’ve likely written something on a Facebook page, you’ve gone public. But are you participating where it’s most critical, where you care the most, the ideas around which your energy is released?

Number six is build, curate, or participate in a passion project. Start a vitiligo friends network. Really the most rewarding thing I’ve probably ever done. My wife is now going to be very mad at me — are we streaming? Other than getting married and having children, one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I get an email from someone at least once a week from someone thanking me for creating the network. It’s not uncommon for me to get email from someone who says I was close to suicide until I found the network. How does a skin condition create that kind of trauma for somebody? Well, if you’re dark-skinned, and you have big, bright white patches, you don’t even want to go out. You get a job at night and you feel like you don’t know anybody else with the condition. This has fulfilled me. You can do the same thing. You can find something that you care about where you can start the project.

And number seven is ready, set, engage. Just do it. Ok. Now we’re done.


Do you like this new narrative? Am I touching on something you care about? Would you define the narrative different?



This is a dilemma that a lot of us face. I really care. And it’s not that I just don’t care about her knowing the dates. I really care that she’s not learning the value of history. Meaning, instead of actually learning what the issues were and getting engaged, she’s being asked to memorize the names and the dates. So I’ve been very candid with our 8th grader and said, honey you’ve got to get through the class. And she’s very oriented to, in 8th grade she’s worried about getting into college, so she does her homework three weeks in advance. She’s very unique in this way.

I’ve just said, I don’t care. You do whatever you have to do to get a good grade. But I’m going to make sure that we talk about it. I read every book that she reads in school, and I talk to her and I really engage at the same time that I’m saying to her, it’s your choice. She says, what if I get a B? I’m like, honey, there’s worse things in life than a B, plus nobody’s looking at your 8th-grade transcript.

So our 19-year-old who just got back from Nepal, she applied to colleges when she was in Nepal. She didn’t get into her first-choice school, so she sent me a note and she said, Dad, what do I do? I said, honey, #1 is just remember there’s no plan B, it’s always a plan A. Find something you care about, figure it out, look for another school, but don’t go into plan B. Somebody made a decision. You have not failed. You’ve done things you’ve cared about in your life. You’re passionately interested. There is no plan B. Make a new plan A.

So she calls me back a week later. My plan A is I’m writing the admissions office and I’m sending them a letter asking them to reevaluate my application. Awesome. Week after that, they accepted her. And it’s like, OK, this is really interesting. My parents would never have given me that advice, but to me it feels as though that’s the advice of this time.

There’s a new book out called “I Moved Your Cheese.” Do you remember the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” The idea was things are going to change. If you’re in a big company, you have to learn how to change with those things. This Harvard professor writes a book called “I Moved Your Cheese.” Says sometimes things change and it may not be the right thing, so you can actually go move the cheese. Become the agent.

So hopefully it’s in that conversation that I’m making a balance there for my own child of letting her make the choice. And we talked about this. I think it was Admiral Trafalgar. Is that the right name? Who was the admiral who captained his first ship at 14? Horatio Nelson. OK, my daughter’s 14. She could captain a ship. She doesn’t know it, but she’s much more capable than we give her credit for being, and I want her to make those choices. Again, that’s my own personal choice for my child. Yes.


De-institutionalization? Well we face some really interesting issues now. So the question is, do I ever worry that the de-institutionalization is becoming re-institutionalization? We all have to look at Egypt to recognize that all of a sudden in a power vacuum, people come in and there are new forms of power and new kinds of questionable activities.

Certainly in a Big Data world, we’re living in a place now where we don’t need to get too deeply into politics, but a liberally elected president has just signed an executive order that gives him unlimited control of the country in the case of a national emergency, which is intriguingly not what our Constitution says.

We’re seeing all kinds of interesting — now the NSA says they can keep data on American citizens for up to five years without any suspicion of terrorism. So with all this de-institutionalization comes all this power to potentially re-institutionalize in different ways that we actually, I think, have to guard against and say, this is really important. We have to protect our privacy and we have to protect independence.
So those of us who are thinking deeply at this level as learning agents have to think about freedom and what that freedom means and how you protect. I know that really went deep and I hope I didn’t offend anybody with my comments.


Yes. You’re like me. You go to get the prescription medicine — old people need prescription medicine, so why is the label in tiny text, right? Could you not make a big label for me? So the question is, is there somebody doing a good job of making big screens? Well certainly we’re seeing really fun technologies come to the forefront with regard to screen and interaction, like with the CNN stuff. Are we done, Jane? Thank you so much. That was really fun.

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