We’re Running out of Excuses

T Shirt“Complaining is stupid. Either act or forget.” – Stefan Sagmeister

It’s getting so that the only reason we won’t spend our time doing the work we want to do will be because of us.

Because we’re afraid. Of criticism. Of how hard it might be. Of how long it might take to get good at it. Of the dip.

But, here’s the thing. We won’t have any excuse not to. Why? Because there are too many options out there to make it happen.

Let me show you what I mean.

“I’d like to learn how to do that, but I can’t find a class that works for my schedule.”  What about an online course, a YouTube video, a podcast series, Google hangout?

“I’d like to make my work better, but I can’t find anyone to give me feedback.”  What about a meetup group, a Twitter chat, a blog, a Pinterest board, a podcast?

“I’d like to __________ (fill in the blank with, say, paint, write, make music, create a film, etc.), but I can’t afford to do it.”  What about Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Patreon?

Pretty soon (we’re pretty much there), there’ll be nowhere to hide. No excuses to make. Because no one will believe us.

(Maybe they already don’t.)

What Artificial Intelligence Will Teach Us about Learning

picjumbo.com_IMG_4892One of my favorite things about Kevin Carey’s book, The End of College, is how he skillfully weaves throughout each chapter his experience taking a course with Eric Lander, renowned MIT professor, MacArthur Genius Award winner, and Human Genome Project leader. Lander’s course, The Secret of Life, is required of all first-year MIT students, and is often cited as the reason many of them decide to study chemical and biological engineering.

What sets Carey apart from the average MIT student is not only that he’s decades older, but that he’s “taking” the course online, from his home in Washington, DC, through MIT and Harvard’s shared online course platform, edX. Carey not only registers for the course, but he “attends” every lecture, takes notes, completes all assignments and exams, and, ultimately, passes the course and earns a certificate of completion. Carey clearly captures, through his experience, both the challenges and the privileges associated with taking this course. He uses that experience to explore the state of higher education, current and future. Continue reading

“Get Naked!” (to Learn)

Seth DressedTen days ago, I was sitting on a hard-backed chair in The Purple Crayon in Hastings-on-Hudson alongside 80 of my fellow ruckus makers. Seth Godin had taken the stage to kick off the weekend.

Toward the end of the night, he asked if we had any questions. My hand immediately shot up, and I asked, “What advice would you give us to get the most out of the weekend?” Without missing a beat, Seth said, “Get naked!” Continue reading

Digital Games that Supercharge Feedback for Learning

CameronAre there ways we can use games with learners for in-process feedback? We think well-designed games can do just that.

Have we found some that do that? Yep.

You can learn more about this kind of feedback in relation to these kinds of games in our white paper, Supercharging Feedback to Propel Student Learning.

In fact, Cameron White, Associate Director of co.lab, was on a panel at SXSWedu presenting on it today (Using In-game Data to Enhance Learning)!


When Throwback Learning (#tbl) Works

Seth in JeansWe sat in red-topped, wooden chairs, placed in rows of six on each side of an aisle, facing a hardwood stage. From Friday through Sunday, on the white screen behind him, Seth Godin stood on that stage and projected ideas and images that challenged us.

Seth shared his experiences and responded to our many questions. From time to time, we broke into small groups to work, share, and discuss. During lunches and breaks, he mingled among us as jazz played, thought-provoking images were projected, and informal conversations took place.

It was what I’d like to call, a throwback learning experience. Continue reading

How Rethinking Time Helped Me Be More Creative

timerThere’s a terrific scene between Gandalf and Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film of the Tolkien trilogy. Frodo’s feeling the weight of his quest – to destroy a ring, in order to save the world – and he’s wishing circumstances could be different. Wisely, Gandalf responds, “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Watching this scene recently got me thinking about time. Crazy to write, but it got me thinking about social research terms we used a lot in graduate school, terms like problematize and reify and demythologize. All the terms we used to question or critique commonly held assumptions.

When I first moved to Silicon Valley, I had a hard time letting go of my rigid thoughts about time. Up to that point, I’d spent nearly two decades in schools where seat time and contact time were everything. Looking back, I can see how time got concretized down to the period, the credit hour, or the next bell. I remember colleagues sizing each other up by who arrived first and who stayed the latest (in the suburbs, cars in a parking lot said it all). Continue reading

Creativity as Stocks and Flows

stonesHow “[s]mall things, over time, can get big” (Kleon, 2014, p. 64):

‘Stock and flow’ is an economic concept that writer Robin Sloan has adapted into a metaphor for media: ‘Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you product that’s as interesting two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.’ Sloan says the magic formula is to maintain your flow while working on your stock in the background.

Continue reading