By simply becoming

Conventional school work expects us to complete the assignments, take the tests, and get graded on both submittals. We hope we learned something in the process, but forgetting so much of it in only a few days time suggests otherwise. School work is finally getting disrupted by becoming engaged in comprehensive social networks. This innovation is made possible by software for setting up online communities. This latest generation of software combines wiki, blogging, social networking, search engines, discussion lists, voting, private messaging and chat rooms in one place. It's a far cry from LMS/VLE environments like Blackboard which perpetuate school work without disruption. As the book Disrupting Class says, this technological innovation "moves the goal posts".

If I were to give you an assignment in this new way of getting an education, here's what I'd say to you:
  • Become somebody to us in this learning community. Lose your anonymity. Establish an identity with a personal profile page so we can check you out. Show us what you want us to know about you in here.
  • Become searchable by us. Give us tags or keywords in whatever you upload that might show up in our search results. Help us discover what you say about yourself, how you see yourself and what differences you want to make in others' lives.
  • Become connected with others in the community. Find out who has something in common with you. Make it easy for us to find you, friend you, follow your updates or subscribe to your feed if we get into you.
  • Become creative for us. Generate some stuff for us to see, consider, relate to and enjoy. Create something you want to get better at doing while your among us. Let us know if the content you upload is something we can use, mash-up with something else or simply link back to when we mention it.
  • Become discerning about what we contribute here. Respond to our polls, rank our contributions, and comment on our latest input. Give us feedback, appreciation and other viewpoints to consider. Help us improve by not being over-sold or over critical about what we contributed.
  • Become receptive to tons of input from us. Use the variety of feedback you get from us to improve your game, sharpen your thinking and formulate new questions.
  • Become reflective about all this engagement. Take time to let it sink in and come to new realizations. Change your mind about something that has caught your intention by seeing it in a new light after some consideration.
  • Become transparent to us. Let us know some of what your thinking, feeling, struggling with, defining as a problem to you or possibly starting to get ideas about to explore further.
  • Become responsive to others among us. Mentor them if you see something they don't recognize yet. Converse with them if they need a sounding board to sort out their confusion. Offer other questions to consider if they appear stuck. Confront them if they are doing more harm than good. Validate them if their effect on others is helpful or possibly amazing.
What everyone learns by becoming all these things is prepared for a very turbulent future. Engagement in this communal intensity yields life-long curiosity, creativity, reflectivity, courage and compassion. The outcomes are not taught by instructors and graded for credentials. Topics get introduced by the learners and voted on by others. Most teens are already playing this game in other contexts. The desired outcomes emerge from this process of highly complex interactivity.


  1. This realtes quite well to an older post of Stephen Downes's that has come bubbling back up to the surface today.

  2. ... and of course, I meant relates. Sorry. Dyslexic fingers!

  3. Karyn: I'm glad you could relate to it and relate it to Stephen's post too.

    Relating to you