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Some thoughts beyond formal education

Or: Let’s start thinking together

So, knowledge, communication and innovation routines are changing fast into those early days of the 21st century.

How can we keep track with these developments without having hiccups? How can we educate ourselves in a more meaningful, collaborative way?

Ah, you wanna know, why we have to start working collectively to educate ourselves? It is because the traditional education system is slightly outdated.

  • They were built to transfer old wisdom into young minds.
  • They were established to accompany the 20st century — with all those workers and employees.

The digital 21st century will look quite different in some years. We are building new transformative ecosystems in nearly every industries.

Therefore, knowledge, communication and wisdom will start moving beyond our anthropocentric point of view. The Network Society is forming a new version of our world society. And all of our old regulatory systems will have to be rethought.

That assumed, old knowledge will mostly not bring us to new social innovations, to find modern solutions for important questions. That’s the main point:

  • We have to think beyond our traditional education system.
  • We need more connected knowledge, new knowledge, futuristic and thoughtful knowledge.

Where will we find it? I don’t know exactly. Let’s figure it out. Together.

Don’t ask what education can do for you — ask what you can do for our education. (acw in reference to JFK)

If we agree to think about the future of education in more hybrid forms, and if we assume that nowadays education must be a great deal more than imparting traditional knowledge, the issue of how to generate and manage new forms of knowledge starts to play an increasingly central role.

How can new knowledge be produced in a more creative way?

It can be produced by collecting and mixing informations from very different sources.

  1. You can use the intelligence of new machines and bots and algorithms and online sources, courses or whatever and feed it into your personal working environment.
  2. Then reflect all those informations independently in a meaningful way and combine it with your very personal interests.
  3. After that or while reflecting — and this is the most important issue — come together with various other, diverse people from different fields.
  4. Talk with them very openly. O-P-E-N! That’s the main point. The future will look quite differently than the status quo. But nobody will ever know, how it will look like. We have to build it from scratch up. Therefore, only open people will kind of create it.
  5. Because we will need our collective minds, we will have to use collaborative techniques with which we can explore and chart a particular field of inquiry across a series of discussions or by working together on the search for a solution to a specific problem.

This is the way, new knowledge will be created. With all people, who like to be involved. But where will you find interested people?

A key role is ascribed to the vast palette of modern formats from world cafes and barcamps, hackathons, meet-ups and makerspaces to design-thinking or culture-map workshops on the one hand and all those new networks and communities of practice in the Internet on the other. Connect yourself with interesting people on the social networks, where the real stuff is discussed (Twitter, LinkedIn, Meetup, YouTube, some Facebook groups …) You will soon find ways to participate with like minded people.

All together and remixed by every person in an individual way those connections enable us in a much more open, forward looking form of continuing education than traditional classroom settings with their classic neon strip lighting ever could. This is the way, education for tomorrow will look like on the abstract level.

What does that mean for the organisation of education?

Rethinking education for the 21st century also implies linking the central role for developing competency to the individual — away from the one-size-fits-all aspirations of the past, where experts defined in a top-down manner, what which people have to learn. But to do so, of course, individual persons need robust self-learning skills in order to make individual use of the (in some fields) broad spectrum of possible learning formats. How can we support them?

Museums, theatres, and libraries have long formed attractive infrastructures for informal learning and an established range of activities for the educated middle classes. Unfortunately, most of them are a litte bit outdated as well.

So, today they are joined by new, more flexible formats mentioned above, which took place wherever they like, although they have not yet reached the broader mass of people.

But they are visibly accompanied by new locations like co-working, maker or hacker spaces, where mobile workers come together to make use of a supportive working atmosphere and to foster serendipity. And while this scene is getting broader connected with the old businesses, new formats will get more traction over time. Because they simply use it for their own learning journeys.

How can we manage this new knowledge machinery?

I think, we have to promote participation in such scenarios, contribute by ourselves in very different scenes to connect to diverse people. And while viewing participation in conferences, trade fairs, meet-ups etc. as another component part of education which, under certain circumstances, could either be funded by BELGUT (our concept for unconditioned learning money) or given a substantial tax break, when time is invested, would do much to promote broader access to continuing education.

Admittedly, at present there is little chance of such initiatives finding widespread acceptance in todays educational politics. But maybe, the future of work will open a window of opportunity in the next time. We have to be more creative …

Yet, if you consider for a moment the huge crowds of digitally connected savvy visitors at the soon starting International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA), building digital skills would be just another small step forward in such a scenario.

What society as a whole needs to do is to rehearse a form of discourse that moves away from pedagogical infantilisation and towards transformative eye-level thinking in which everyone is invited to participate. On his or her own motivation.

Sure, there is still a great need to learn about digital communication in a fair way— as can be seen from the many commentaries on social media. Nonetheless, it‘s the only way by which we can reach this collective goal, and consistently spread social discourse across all levels of the Net, and by doing so, also become skilled in constructive criticism.

In addition here, regional events might also help to acquaint us with the fascinating world of opportunities held by a collaborative constructive future.

So, let’s move on. Happy to meet you somewhere!!

This article was first published at Medium.

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