21st Landscape

The world of business has changed in the 21st century. Here are my finds, notes, commentaries and explorations about that.

Why Life-long Learning?

A skills and knowledge gap is keeping unemployment high.

UPDATE: This New York Times article titled, "Skills Don't Pay the Bills" at first blush seems to be painting a position opposite of my post, saying that American employers have lowered wages so low that it doesn't matter what skills you have, workers can't afford to work for them. However, if you read to the last line of the article, you'll see the conclusion is the same: we need to get better at learning at all ages and levels -- fast -- if the USA wants to stay a world-player in the 21st century.

We've all heard the mantra of "jobs, jobs, jobs." We hear the stories of companies they receiving hundreds of resumes for every job opening advertised. This naturally creates the idea that jobs are scarce out there.

But did you know that there are presently 3.6 MILLION job openings in America right now? (As of the last day of September, 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Report, Nov 6, 2012.) And that number has remained unchanged since August.


Education: The Problem & The Solution

Note: Many of you, especially education wonks, will have heard all this before (except the solution video, below, may be new to you). For those outside of the educational system, these two videos succinctly yet positively summarize two foundational points. If you have kids in school right now, realize they are in the most difficult transition in educational history. As a parent, you'll want to take the extra effort to get your kids more 21st century education than 20th century education.

The Problem

The current school system, from kindergarten through college, was designed and evolved for an industrial nation, and an industrial age. It was good at some things, and not so good at others during that age.

Now, it seems the 20th century education system is good for very little. The high school drop-out rates are unacceptably high, especially for boys. Business is complaining that new graduates aren't hirable because they don't have the skills required, even in our time of record-high unemployment. Teachers complain they are little more than babysitters, and the laws restricting the disciplinary actions and liability of teachers and school districts mean that the police are being called in to handle classroom discipline. (Two examples from the WTF file are here and here, -- and it keeps happening, adding this to the list on Sept 27, 2012.) Things are a bit of a mess.

It is a system out of its time. Just as public education came into being in the late 1800's in order to support the Industrial Age, so will the next educational system come into being to support the Information Age. There is no choice here; it will change, it is already happening. The only question is: how painful will the change be for you and yours? Will you or your child be more 20th century or more 21st century when their schooling is completed?

Sir Ken Robinson explains the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools' dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD in this RSA Animated Talk.

(You can watch the full, non-animated version, 55mins, here.) You can't hear him speak the stats on redefining genius and divergent thinking in the animation; it was displayed on a slide in the original talk at 49:14. The stats are:
Ages 3-5: 98%
Ages 8-10: 32%
Ages 13-15: 10%
Ages 25 and older: 2% (sample of 200,000 adults as a control)

The Solution

Kids need to be doing the kinds of activities and learning the kinds of skills that are foundational for an Information Age economy. Here's a terrific example.

This year, David Preston's high school students engaged online thought leaders and used open source principles and tools to create:

  • a microfinance operation
  • a hackspace
  • a venture incubator
  • an online art dealership
  • a P2P digital consulting practice
  • a game lab
  • an international digital research partnership
  • an alumni/friends community designed to evolve into a massively multiplayer open source learning environment that translates knowledge capital directly to the marketplace

Several students documented the experience in the following work-in-progress video, "We Are Superman."

David Preston holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Science. He has taught at universities and graduate institutes and consulted on matters of learning and organizational development for 20 years. For the past seven years David has also taught English for students of all ability levels in grades 9-12 at America’s fourth largest high school (in Los Angeles) and at a comprehensive high school on California’s central coast. More on David and his work at http://www.prestonlearning.com.


21st Century: Cross-Domain Sharing & Solutions

Technology and systems are developing so quickly in so many domains that we haven't even had time to cross-pollinate most of them. Especially when using digital data and systems, software and processes built for one domain can, in many cases, be powerfully applied in another.

There are many rich solutions waiting to be crossed. You don't have to be a breakthrough-business or person in your own domain to discover and bring breakthroughs into your domains. Watch this video for a living example of what I mean.

Video after the jump.

Language Learning + Business Win

Luis von Ahn presents a brilliant real-life example of how the internet can be used in new ways to solve multiple problems simultaneously using massively distributed online collaboration and provide value to all participants while doing so.

This is mind-blowing from a business perspective, and world-opening from a world education, learning and language perspective. Watch, enjoy, be amazed!

(Video after the jump)

Marcin Jakubowski's "Civilization Starter Kit" #Maker #MyNewHero

Holy cow wow! This is an awesome materialization of new wealth, health and happiness for the entire world, especially regions that are poor or struggling. And anyone can help! Watch the TED video below (4:11 long) to get the scoop.

TED Talk: Khan Academy's New Data Reveals Game-Changing Reality

This TED talk by Salman Khan (below) gives enough background for those who are unfamiliar with the YouTube education sensation of Khan Academy, yet it also reveals exciting new data from the new exercises part of the Khan Academy web site. The data is revealing that we may have some core misunderstandings about classifying kids and their learning ability. It is also showing wonderful results from experimental "flipping the classroom" math classes for 5th and 7th graders in the Los Altos school district.

Witness the birth of a prime component of a new educational system.

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