Sunday, March 11, 2012

In Delhi: EDGEX2012

I am siting aboard a Jet Airways flight on my way to attend and present at the EDGEX2012 conference in Delhi. It's officially starting from tomorrow. But we--the speakers and the organizers--are meeting today. I am sure Viplav Baxi has already started his day and the folks are already meeting at the Habitat Center, the location of the conference.

Am I excited? I guess that would be an understatement. I am looking forward to 3 days of insights, learning and most importantly, getting to meet others similarly passionate about education. Viplav calls it the Disruptive Educational Conference. I must say I agree. Vehemently!

Yesterday, as I added a few final touches to my presentation, some random thoughts fleeted across my mind.  I jotted these down as they occurred to me and have copied them here. Without edits.
  1. I wouldn't be attending this conference if it weren't for social media.
  2. I was introduced to the work, ideas and blogs of most of the speakers via Twitter.
  3. What I have learned in the last 3 years have been completely via social media. Social, informal learning.
  4. I am a part of a huge global network of educators and learned, a virtual community of practice.
  5. Knowledge in this community is constantly being reconstructed through dialogue, conversation, and debate.
  6. There is no knowledge repository. It is a construct of the network, a constantly flowing and shifting set of paradigms and practices.
  7. There is no one place where this knowledge is stored. It resides in the network.
  8. The network itself is constantly shifting. The edge becoming he center and vice versa.
  9. If we cease to converse, we will cease to create. Conversation is the key to continuous learning which is our key to survival today.
  10. We are, in a way, going back to our roots when our forefathers gathered around the fire to exchange stories.
  11. These stories were not merely means of amusement but keys to survival. By sharing experiences, the elders of the tribe passed on their knowledge about an unknown, unpredictable, dangerous world full of chaos and novel challenges (think of the Cynefin Framework).
  12. This is where we need to go back to. Albeit in a different manner. However, the situation is not very different. The business world is changing, becoming unpredictable and chaotic.
  13. There is no time for an individual to learn from his or her own experiences. We have to go back to the story swapping days, capture tribal knowledge and build on it.
Today's linear, structured, syllabus-and exam-driven model of education is uniquely unsuited to meet the needs of this volatile, changing, chameleon like world. Linearity needs to be replaced by holistic focus on pattern matching, exploration and creative thinking. Think of how the divers learns in the example JSB cites in the power of pull.

I think we can all feel the coming of a huge change. It is already beginning in pockets with parents choosing to homeschool their children, open courseware gaining popularity, adults opting for meaningful work over just jobs. These are tiny facets of a much bigger wave sweeping across different sectors and it's presence is being felt.

I am looking at this conference to highlight some of these changes, to think about what we as educators can do.

Wheels down, Delhi! Time to get off. 

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