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Serendipity, Stephen Downes and Seth Godin

February 29, 2012

The joy and serendipity of networked learning strikes again and I hope to pay it forward by sharing this post with the lovely folks who aggregate #change11, #cck12 and #ds106.

If you want to jump right in, the result of my serendipitous finding is called: Stop Stealing Dreams

If you’re curious about my path to serendipity, or the mechanics “in the middle” as Stephen calls them, here they are:

On Feb.27th, I received my electronic copy of The Daily newsletter for the change11 mooc.  I glanced over it and saved it until this morning, at which point I opened a long list of URLs from Stephen Downes in preparation for his live session today on Knowledge, Learning and Community: Elements of Effective Learning.

Admittedly, I didn’t read any of Stephen’s posts in advance and I’m sure he doesn’t mind because we can ‘do’ learning in moocs however we want to: read stuff, don’t read stuff, join live, review the recording later, lurk, participate, debate, discuss, blog about it or not and so on. I’m glad I left those links open in my browser and went back to them after Stephen’s session because this one on The Purpose of Learning caught my attention.

I feel that I ‘know’ Stephen a little bit from his mind-shifting theories and practices in moocs.  I appreciate that he is a fellow Canadian public servant who seems to have grown up in the same geographic region that I did.  His voice matters to me.

That particular post was an artifact Stephen had created over a year ago for Purpose/ed, a site I’d never heard of before.  The name piqued my curiosity so I landed on their front page to find that their last post on Feb.27th was a highlight of Mr. Godin’s new manifesto.  And it’s free.  And it’s available in many formats.  And a thin-slice judgement (thanks, Malcolm Gladwell) confirmed that it’s worth the read.

By page 2, I was already logging into HootSuite to share it broadly with my followers and my favourite hashtags.  A few minutes later, at section 17, I found these gems:

“Here are a dozen ways school can be rethought:

Homework during the day, lectures at night

Open book, open note, all the time

Access to any course, anywhere in the world

Precise, focused instruction instead of mass, generalized instruction

The end of multiple-choice exams

Experience instead of test scores as a measure of achievement

The end of compliance as an outcome

Cooperation instead of isolation

Amplification of outlying students, teachers, and ideas

Transformation of the role of the teacher

Lifelong learning, earlier work

Death of the nearly famous college”

These recommendations resonated so well with the principles and structures of moocs that I had to stop and share them here, right now, in the hopes that Mr. Godin’s words will be cross-pollinated among thousands of mooc participants in many disciplines and institutions.

I first read Seth Godin’s The Dip last year, “A little book that teaches you when to quit and when to stick.” Shortly after I read it, I lent it to a good friend who was having a hard time at work.  It was a tough read for each of us, perhaps less concrete than we would have liked.  Yet, by the serendipity of pursuing a link that I had left open for review today, I learned loudly and clearly when to stick instead of quit.


From → Smarter worker

  1. Hi Brainysmurf
    I read this post a while back, and came again to your blog via CCK12. I learn a lot from your comments. The serendipity that you talk about is such an important aspect of learning using Web 2.0 – I find so often that things coincidentally connect – eg. a webinar links with a blog post or e-book that I just read.

    Thanks for sharing your insights


    • Hi, Rae, thanks for making time to read this and to leave your comments. Now that I’m aware of serendipty, I start to see it all over the place. It’s one of the great rewards of learning in networks. Cheers! 🙂

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