Knowmad Society

Building a manifesto for evolving learning

What? Why? And, for whom?

We separate kids by age and grade, we manage schools in a top-down style, we operate within industrial hours, and teachers hold absolute power and authority over students — these are part of a structure in education around the world that is not backed by research. We’ve assumed that if we don’t tell kids what to learn, they will not learn anything at all.

This is absurd!

We’ve lost touch with WHAT we are educating for, WHY we do it, and FOR WHOM this is all intended to benefit.

On January 1st of this year, I released a statement that started a conversation. It is about principles for building positive education futures by evolving learning. The document is called “Manifesto 15” – a public declaration of a vision for education futures. After I completed a draft, I invited others to join in reviewing, editing, and to also add their names as co-authors. We are a group of 33 scholars, teachers, artists, designers, thinkers, and medical doctors. In the last three months since its release, it’s been read and discussed by thousands of people; signed by many; and volunteers translated it into 18 languages!

What we have learned so far:

  1. “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed” (William Gibson in Gladstone, 1999). The field of education lags considerably behind most other industries largely from our tendency to look backward, but not forward. We teach the history of literature, for example, but not the future of writing. We teach historically important mathematical concepts, but do not engage in creating new maths needed to build the future. Moreover, everything “revolutionary” taking place in learning has already happened at different scales, in bits and pieces, at different places. The full impacts for ourselves and our organizations will be realized when we develop the courage to learn from each others’ experiences, and accept the risk and responsibility in applying a futures orientation in our praxis.
  2. 1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids. We need to redefine and build a clear understanding of what we are educating for, why we do it, and for whomour educational systems serve. Mainstream compulsory schooling is based on an outdated, 18th century model for creating citizens with the potential to become loyal, productive factory workers and bureaucrats. In the post-industrial era, this should no longer be the end goal of education. We need to support learners to become innovators, capable of leveraging their own imagination and creativity to realize new outcomes for society. We do this because today’s challenges cannot be solved through old thinking. And, we are all co-responsible for creating futures with positive outcomes that benefit all people in the world.
  3. Kids are people, too. All students must be treated and respected as human beings with recognized, universal human rights and responsibilities. This means students must have an active say in the choices regarding their learning, including how their schools are run, how and when they learn, and all other areas of everyday life. This is inclusion in a real sense. Students of all ages must be afforded liberties to pursue educational opportunities and approaches for learning that are appropriate for them, as long as their decisions do not infringe on the liberties of others to do the same (adapted from EUDEC, 2005).
  4. The thrill of jumping off a cliff by deciding to do so yourself is a high you will never have if someone else pushes you off of it. In other words, the top-down, teacher-student model of learning does not maximize learning as it devours curiosity and eliminates intrinsic motivation. We need to embrace flat, horizontalized, and distributed approaches to learning, including peer learning and peer teaching, and empower students to realize the authentic practice of these modes. Educators must create space to allow students to determine if, and when, to jump off the cliff. Failing is a natural part of learning where we can always try again. In a flat learning environment, the teacher’s role is to help make sure the learner makes a well-balanced decision. Failing is okay, but the creation of failures is not.
  5. Don’t value what we measure, measure what we value. In our obsession over testing, we have somehow allowed the OECD to become the “world’s ministry of education” through the PISA regime, and the cult of educational measurement is spreading throughout the world. At a national, state-to-state level, it is as if we are competing to be the best-looking kid in a humdrum family. Even worse, our schools are producing politicians and policy leaders that do not know how to interpret test scores. The best innovations are often killed the moment we start worrying about measurement. We need to put an end to compulsory testing and reinvest these resources into educational initiatives that create authentic value and opportunities for growth.
  6. If “technology” is the answer, what was the question? We seem to obsess over new technologies while having little understanding of what they’re for or how they can impact learning. Technologies are great for doing what we have been doing better, but using new technologies to do the same old stuff in the classroom is a lost opportunity. Black boards have been replaced by whiteboards and SMART Boards. Books have been replaced by iPads. This is like building a nuclear plant to power a horse cart. Yet, nothing has changed, and we still focus tremendous resources on these tools, and squander our opportunities to exploit their potential to transform what we learn and how we do it. By recreating practices of the past with technologies, schools focus more on managing hardware and software rather than developing students’ mindware and the purposive use of these tools.
  7. Digital skills are invisible, and so should technologies be in schools. Invisible learning is a recognition that most of the learning we do is “invisible” – that is, it is through informal, non-formal, and serendipitous experiences rather than through formal instruction (Cobo & Moravec, 2011). It takes into account the impact of technological advances to really enable the invisible spaces to emerge – but, like the spaces, the use of technologies is likewise invisible and fluid. If the challenge for our schools and governments is to create students that stand out in creativity and innovation, and not students that mindlessly memorize and repeat old ideas, any use of technologies for learning must enable these creative and innovative directions. Schools should not use computers to “do work” around preassigned parameters with prescribed outcomes; they should be used to help design and create products and learning outcomes that extend beyond the imagination of the curriculum. Rather than putting technology in the forefront and obscuring learning, make it invisible yet ambient, enabling learners to discover their own pathways for development with these tools.
  8. We cannot manage knowledge. When we talk about knowledge and innovation, we frequently commingle or confuse the concepts with data and information instead. Too often, we fool ourselves into thinking that we give kids knowledge, when we are just testing them for what information they can repeat. To be clear: Data are bits and pieces here and there, from which we combine into informationKnowledge is about taking information and creating meaning at a personal level. We innovate when we take action with what we know to create new value. Understanding this difference exposes one of the greatest problems facing school management and teaching: While we are good at managing information, we simply cannot manage the knowledge in students’ heads without degrading it back to information.
  9. “The network is the learning” (Siemens, 2007). The emerging pedagogy of this century isn’t carefully planned. Rather, it’s developed fluidly. Our traversals across networks are our pathways to learning, and as the network expands, so does our learning. In connectivist approaches to learning, we connect our individual knowledges together to create new understandings. We share our experiences, and create new (social) knowledge as a result. We must center on the ability of individuals to navigate this space and make connections on their own, discovering how their unique knowledge and talents can be contextualized to solve new problems.
  10. The future belongs to nerds, geeks, makers, dreamers, and knowmads. While not everybody will or should become an entrepreneur, those who do not develop entrepreneurial skills are at a great disadvantage. Our education systems should focus on the development of entreprenerds: individuals who leverage their specialized knowledge to dream, create, make, explore, learn and promote entrepreneurial, cultural, or social endeavors, taking risks and enjoying the process as much as the final outcome, without fearing the potential failures or mistakes that the journey includes.
  11. Break the rules, but understand why, clearly, first. Our school systems are built on cultures of obedience, enforced compliance, and complacency. The creativities of students, staff, and our institutions are inherently stultified. It is easier to be told what to think than to think ourselves. Openly asking questions, and building a metacognitive awareness of what we have created and what we would like to do about it, can best cure this institutionalized malaise. Only then can we engineer justified breaks from the system that challenge the status quo and have the potential to create real impact.
  12. We must and can build cultures of trust in our schools and communities. As long as our education systems continue to be based on fear, anxiety, and distrust, challenges to all of the above will continue. In the Minnevate! project (MASA, 2014), the researchers found that if educators are to build a collective capacity to transform education, we need engaged communities, and we also need to engage with the communities we serve. This requires a new theory of action, centered on trust, where students, schools, governments, businesses, parents, and communities may engage in collaborative initiatives to co-create new education futures.

(Read the full text and add your signature to Manifesto 15 here).

I’m thankful for the interest and success of this project; and, I traveled to TEDxUFM in Guatemala to share what I learned so far. In just a few months, we find ourselves driving a new global conversation on learning.

16158920667_90b64b1398_k

Three months later, the conversation on evolving learning continues. Manifesto 15 is a set of principles, built for open discussion, remixing, and sharing.

And, here’s the best part: This is a conversation we all own.

Take this document as a starting point, building in your own ideas. Or create a new manifesto of your life. We learned that we can build a collective capacity to evolve learning, but this requires a tremendous amount of trust from all of us to realize our visions. And, we need to challenge the assumptions our learning systems are built on. We need to understand why, how, what, and for whom we are educating.

While we may not be able to predict the future with precision, we can at least set the vision for the type of potential futures we can create with others. And, from this, we can take meaningful action today. Manifesto 15 is not a mirror to the past, but it is a prism that takes a diverse spectrum of ideas and melds them into a coherent vision. We’ve set our vision.

Mahatma Gandhi is credited for teaching us: “Be the change you want to see.” Our invitation remains open to join us and build community, centered on trust and open dialogue, as we work to change the face of education – the absurdity ends now.

16343927072_e294cfcc61_k

Manifesto 15: Thirty days later

vis-notes-card

30 days ago, on January 1st, I released Manifesto 15: a statement that started a conversation about principles for building positive education futures, grounded on the idea that we urgently need to evolve learning. This is a public declaration of a vision for education futures. In the past 30 days, it’s been read and discussed by thousands of people, signed by many, featured at a TEDx event in Guatemala, and teams of volunteers around the world have translated it into 11 languages (and visual notes!) – and more are on the way.

Manifesto 15 is posted online at http://manifesto15.org.

I’m thankful for the interest in this project and the support we have received around the world. I now seek your guidance on how we can best move forward.

Our message is based on the need to challenge the assumptions our learning systems are built on. We need to understand why, how, what, and for whom we are educating. The manifesto is intended to serve as a “snapshot” of what we’ve learned to date in regard to creating positive education futures. It’s not meant to pretend to have all the answers or the best ideas, but it’s an honest assessment of where we’ve been, and, through a statement of principles, illustrate where we would like to go. We present a global perspective that is about creating futures that we can all thrive in. It is decentered from any particular context, and is just as much North-South as it is South-North in orientation. We’re not pandering to anybody or any particular agenda. We just think that we can do better in education.

Here’s the best part: This is a conversation that we all own.

Please take the document as a starting point, and build in your own ideas and practices. Or, create and share your own sets of principles. The document is open for discussion, remixing, and sharing – and please do so with your own networks.

Our invitation remains open to join us and build community, centered on trust and open dialogue, as we work to change the face of education. If you would like to help us develop a plan for action that connects with the principles of Manifesto 15, or would like to explore how we can bring these ideas to your organization, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mahatma Gandhi taught us: “Be the change you want to see.” Let’s do it!

John Moravec, PhD
Founder, Education Futures

Knowmads on Umbrales

Last week, the Peruvian television program “Umbrales” (TV Perú) broadcasted a program on knowmads in Peru and Latin America. I was interviewed along with Cristóbal Cobo and other local and international experts on what the emerging knowmad paradigm means, and what the implications are for countries such as Peru.

The producers were kind enough to upload the complete program to YouTube, broken into four segments (in Spanish): http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlm3adGMhVbrjHpYOexXTm-JKuKZnjU0j

Report from Peru: Growing a Knowmad Society in Latin America

During the week of September 21, I was invited by the Peruvian Ministry of Education and IPAE (Instituto Peruano de Administración de Empresas) to conduct a workshop on education in Knowmad Society and deliver a keynote at the Encuentro Nacional de Jóvenes Innovadores (“ENJi” – the national encounter of youth innovators). The outcomes were stunning.

Dr. Cristóbal Cobo and I first teamed up for the workshop at MinEdu, which was constructed as a localization of our “Sociedad Knowmad” workshop series. The workshop offered government officials frameworks for the formulation of relevant policies and legislation for achieving goals set by the Ministry, while embracing “umbrella” concepts such as Invisible Learning and Knowmad Society. Over the two days, we engaged in conceptual dialogue, thinking forward activities, policy roadmapping, and a World Café session on building innovative futures in for Peruvian education.

MinEdu taller Perú - Cobo y Moravec

Cristóbal and I again teamed up with our complementary keynotes for the 400 young innovators at ENJi. Focusing on our work on the Invisible Learning project as a starting point, Cristóbal talked about incorporating the creative process into our work and learning by developing soft skills (i.e., interest, curiosity, reflection, unlearning) to create new value for ourselves, our organizations, and our communities. In my talk, I emphasized the value of nonconformity in the interest of pursuing what we truly love, and how this relates to knowmadic work. Our talks intersected on the development of “entreprenerds,” people who dream, create, make, explore, learn and promote businesses or social endeavors, taking risks and enjoying the process as much as the final outcome, without fearing the potential failures or mistakes that this journey includes. (Incidentally, “entreprenerd” is the topic of our next collaborative project.)

Image by IPAE

What really amazed me was the extent to which the knowmad concept is catching on in Peru – as well as elsewhere through Latin America. IPAE pulled out all the stops to give the knowmad “brand” a successful presence: signage, bags, t-shirts, badges, and so on. Not to mention an aggressive television and print media campaign. As for the impact, #knowmad was a trending topic in Twitter at the national level. It was an honor to witness so much visibility for the idea as it develops into a movement.

IMG_4896

At the closing panel discussion at ENJi, I asked the audience, “starting tomorrow, who’s going to take action to make Knowmad Society a reality in Peru?” A number of hands raised, and there were some great responses with specific actions. One stood out, however: Daniel Navarrete (@danielitohead) announced that he is creating a new group called “Mundo Knowmad” to support and help co-lead the creation of new knowmadic possibilities in Latin America. Great! Two days later, I joined them for their first meeting in Lima:

IMG_4991

IMG_4993

IMG_4995

IMG_4997

For more information on Mundo Knowmad, please get in touch with Daniel and join his Facebook group.

This was a great conference, and we had a great time. I’d like to give special thanks to Maite Vizcarra, Lorena Sánchez, and Roberto Esparza with IPAE and to the team at PromPeru for their generosity and for being such great hosts!

One year later: 1.0 schools still cannot teach 3.0 kids.

Knowmad_Society_Cover_for_KindleLast month, the collaborators of the Knowmad Society project celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of the book, Knowmad Society. In the open, Creative Commons-licensed volume, nine authors from three continents, ranging from academics to business leaders, share their visions for the future of learning and work. Educational and organizational implications are uncovered, experiences are shared, and the contributors explore what it’s going to take for individuals, organizations, and nations to succeed in Knowmad Society.

The book is available as a free download or is available for purchase in print, and readers are invited to remix their own editions of Knowmad Society. In the first year since the release of the book, tens of thousands of copies have been downloaded by people worldwide. Thank you to everybody who made this project a success!

Some of our favorite quotes from the book

Cristóbal Cobo:

The soft skills have become the hard skills.
 

 
John Moravec:

1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids.
 

 
Thieu Besselink:

 Learning in #KnowmadSociety is about the experience of being alive as much as it’s about the study of life.
 

 
John Moravec:

 We need to train kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
 

 
Christel Hartkamp:

 Education is more than schooling.
 

 
Ronald van den Hoff:

 What we really need is an INNOVUTION!
 

 

Edwin de Bree and Bianca Stokman:

 The enablers of the 20th century are the disablers of the 21st century.
 

 

Pieter Spinder:

 Knowmads is not a dress rehearsal, we create real stuff.
 

Some media from around the Web, inspired by the project

From Lenovo:

Bm3B80oCQAAXco9-1

From IPAE (Perú):

proxy-1.jpg

John Moravec at TEDxUMN:

ExpoEnlaces 2013 recap

The text is in Spanish, but Educarchile posted a nice recap of my keynote at ExpoEnlaces 2013, organized by the Chilean Ministry of Education. Here are some highlights, translated into English:

We do not know what education will be like in the coming decades, but it is clear that the Internet and new technologies are changing the way we learn; not only by the amount of information that can be queried , but also the ability to connect and collaborate freely other.

Is that the new technologies that bring context gives students a much more active role in their own learning. Something that John Moravec, American expert on education, globalization, and work calls “invisible learning.” According to this paradigm, developed in conjunction with the Chilean Cristóbal Cobo, the opportunities for learning extend beyond the scope of the classroom.

“We are facing what I call the ‘[knowmadic] society of knowledge’ (society 3.0) focused on the action and personal innovation. Against this background, schools should not focus on what to learn but how to learn. 1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 students, nomads of learning,” Moravec said.

According to the expert, education 3.0 should be focused on soft skills in creating new learning environments and ecologies of learning, reinvent our relationship with technology, “such as consumers move from content publishers to create technologies to improve relationships and not replace,” and the specialist says the hardest is to, “develop systemic approaches to address how to teach using Technology at as a systems problem.”

Thank you, Enlaces and Educarchile!

Buy Knowmad Society and support human rights in Europe

Knowmad Society cover
From today through December 31, 2013, Education Futures LLC is donating 100% of the net proceeds from sales of Knowmad Society purchased from Amazon.com to Sudbury schools in The Netherlands in support of their continuing legal battles against the government, which is prosecuting parents that send their children to Sudbury-type schools as criminals.

To purchase the book, visit:

As noted previously, schools that enable self-determined learning are under attack in Western Europe –particularly Sudbury-type schools. Parents of three families were convicted as criminals last May for sending their children to De Kampanje Sudbury School. On February 4, 2014, they will appeal their convictions in court. The school and parents have already spent €100,000 on the cases, and school enrollment in all Dutch Sudbury schools have suffered as a consequence.

To keep the schools running, and to help finance the criminal appeals, the schools are seeking international support. As this is a case about restoring freedom of options in education, in line with international human rights laws, Education Futures is donating 100% of Knowmad Society’s net profits from sales on Amazon.com to support their cause.

For more background on this case, please read Peter Gray’s excellent piece in Psychology Today on the human rights struggle in Europe in relation to education.

To learn more about Sudbury schools in The Netherlands, please visit: http://www.sudbury.nl

Rise of the Knowmads: John Moravec at TEDxUMN

Knowmads are nomadic knowledge workers –creative, imaginative, and innovative people who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. The jobs associated with 21st century knowledge and innovation workers have become much less specific concerning task and place, but require more value-generative applications of what they know. The office as we know it is gone. Schools and other learning spaces will follow next.

Watch my introduction to Knowmad Society at TEDxUMN, and read the book, Knowmad Society at http://www.knowmadsociety.com