This wee post is a response to something @tomball2 said on Twitter recently:
— Tom Ball (@tomball2) September 29, 2014
It’s amazing to me that we are still talking about whether or not flexible work is happening. I was researching flexible working a decade ago, exploring trends in flexibility of time, place and employment contract – as well as flexibility of working practices and choice in how we work together to get stuff done.
Thinking about choice around work got me thinking about choice in learning about work.
I’m particularly interested in post-graduate level learning because this is about learning in complex contexts – exactly the sort of messy contexts that workplace relationship dynamics create.
Access to learning at this level has traditionally been through a predetermined curriculum, which is delivered through lectures and discussed in tutorial discussions.
In my way of seeing things, MOOCs continue this predetermined, content-led approach only now lectures are replaced by links to video clips and articles, and discussion forums replace tutorials. That’s all right as far as it goes. I have participated in a few interesting MOOCs through various UK universities.
But I get so frustrated at how already powerful universities are using potentially radical tools to maintain the status quo. Social technologies enable so much more than MOOCs. They create massive opportunities for community-led learning that is based on conversation, shared interest and shared experience. This is learning as personalised, self-determined, just-in-time, and on-the-go.
As I’ve written before, it’s not that content (books, articles, videos and so on) is unimportant in the community-led approach. The difference is that topics are proposed and discussed by members of the community, rather that being set by an authority figure of some sort.
I’ve made a few false starts in initiating learning communities. I know how not to do it 🙂 I’ve always felt as though I was setting myself up as an expert and was uncomfortable with it. Having said that, I’m not denying expertise. I’ve worked, reflected, struggled and learned too long for that. I have expertise.
But I’m not the only one and that’s the source of my discomfort. So I’ve just realised that I’m looking in the first place for people who share my interest in democratised business education for all (not just elites), so that we can explore together what we think that might look like in practice.
Then together we can see how far we can get in creating a community for anyone who wants a quality business education. This needs a network of us; it’s too big a job for one person. That was my big mistake, I think.
In the meantime, I shall carry on blogging about what I think an alternative quality business education for all might look like. I’ve set up a new Twitter account for these blog posts – @BizEd4All. Let’s see what unfolds – no big deal, no big promises.
Getting back to the thought that kicked off this post, being aware of how long it has taken flexible working to become mainstream, I’m under no illusion that this might be long-haul effort. So be it.