Addicted to EdTech, What Lifelong Learning Means for the World

I wake up at night sometimes with the sweats, that’s if I even manage to get to sleep in the first place. If I don’t get my dose I feel morose and irritable. Sometimes I’ll be in a room and a comment will trigger that itch at the base of my skull, I just need to get out and scratch it.

It’s a craving that I’m never free from.

And that’s fine by me.

Because, my name is Aarish, and I’m addicted to learning.

I wrote about being a generalist in another post, and the role that learning plays there. Here, I wanted to dig into what learning means to me, and what the revolution in access to information means for all of us as we move into the knowledge era.

Early in 2015 I took the Clifton Strengthsfinder 2.0. One of the insights in my strength as a Learner stated:

‘Because of your strengths, you have an insatiable — that is, incapable of being satisfied — appetite for information.’

But what has made it actually possible for someone with my proclivities to scratch that itch is the rise and rise of EdTech. It is expected by many to challenge the very foundations of modern western education, much as fintech is reinventing the way we think about everything from cash, to complex financial transactions, to the banks that underpin them. This article in Techcrunch gives some more colour to this argument.

Source: Boundless. “Defining Education Technology.”

Looking at EdTech Touchpoints

I’m a Chartered Management Accountant (don’t hold it against me!), and as with most professions, I must undertake Continuing Professional Development or CPD.

Last week my governing body chose me randomly to provide evidence of my CPD for the last few years. As I was thinking about all the formal and informal learning we can and do access, I realised that to record it fully would be near impossible. I’d have to acknowledge every article or publication I get pinged through my RSS feed. Every email subscription that drops easily digestible bites of info into my inbox. Every online course I’m enrolled onto. Every web cast, Slideshare, YouTube video, podcast. Heck every conversation I’ve had with anyone with a perspective I hadn’t considered.

So what, you may ask yourself? What does this mean for me?

… there is a new wave of online competency-based learning providers that has absolutely nothing to do with offering free, massive, or open courses. In fact, they’re not even building courses per se, but creating a whole new architecture of learning that has serious implications for businesses and organizations around the world.

Source HBR.org

What it means is a revolution in the workplace.

Need to get yourself up to speed on big data? Head to Coursera. Brushing up on Photoshop? Jump to Udemy. It means that each and every one of us has the option and ability to start pursuing paths that spark our interest and imagination.

It means that, whilst I don’t expect doctors, lawyers (or even accountants!) to become obsolete any time soon, the boundaries by which we restricted our careers are melting around us. I can use a broader range of skills to add value across a business rather than in a narrow function.

It means that yesterday’s accountant, is today’s data analyst, is tomorrow’s digital marketer.

Don’t get me wrong though, Access doesn’t mean Success

EdTech facilitates learning in a way that de-institutionalises education. It allows anyone with a data connection and a credit card to draw on knowledge from a variety of sources. From the traditional and obvious (schools, universities) to the modern (MOOCs and other EdTech platforms) to the downright avant-garde (quirky individuals just wanting to share their knowledge and success to as many others as they can). That’s Access.

But to make EdTech work for you, you need the courage to explore areas you have little or no expertise in. You need the patience to find the medium or course that works best for you. Most importantly, you need the discipline to watch the videos, read the material, engage with the community (teachers and peers alike) and immerse your self in that pursuit of knowledge. Ask questions, be prepared to forget, or to stumble, to get frustrated. To ‘fail’ and to learn from the failure. That’s Success

So what does EdTech and lifelong learning mean for the world? Actually, whatever you want it to mean. It’s the opportunity for individuals to develop themselves in ways they may never have been able to, even a decade ago. The opportunity to build learning communities with people all around the world. Idea exchanges that may never have happened, perspectives gained, lives changed. In fact, if I were to some up EdTech in one word, it would be opportunity. And it’s in our hands.

Because as Joi Ito said:

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Generalist | Thinker | Life Long Learner | Writer | Photographer

Generalist | Thinker | Life Long Learner | Writer | Photographer