Cristóbal Cobo

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.

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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:

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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:

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From IPAE (Perú):

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John Moravec at TEDxUMN:

Who’s the best looking kid in an ugly family?

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(Spoiler: It’s Finland.)

I recently did a short interview for the Madrid magazine PLÁCET. Here’s the complete English version of our conversation:

What are the biggest mistakes that education has been committed in the last 50 years in western countries?

I think that it is easy – and very popular – to look at all of the problems in education and all of the mistakes that we’ve made. But, in actuality, our schools do precisely what they are designed to do, and they do it very well: prepare our youth for careers as factory workers and government bureaucrats.

The problem is, we don’t have as many factories as we had in the past. And, we certainly want fewer bureaucrats.

So, I think our biggest mistake has been in asking schools to prepare students for jobs that existed in the past, but have little relevance today or in our foreseeable futures.

Are the politically or economically powerful people the ones who dominate education, and are those who are interested in a well-educated population demanding their rights to design their own future?

I think there’s a real question on whether we can collaborate and build a collective capacity to develop a common education agenda. A lot of self-interest emerges when we approach any change in schools. We have to be willing to have an open and honest discussion what those changes mean to each of us, personally and professionally. Most people learn about education issues during elections, and they are often presented as “wedge” issues that prevent us from taking a long view or creating a shared vision of how we would like to develop our communities for the future.

So, we need to ask ourselves: What are our common goals? Can we agree on who a learner is? What is learning? What is a “positive” future for our community? And, who is the collective “we” making these decisions?

The world is changing faster than ever. What are the demands of the labor market of the near future?

We seem to be in a feedback loop where technological change prompts social change, which in turn demands further technological change, and so on… And, this is occurring at an increasing pace. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict what the demands will be. So, we need to start thinking about how we can meet demands that we cannot imagine, yet.

In education, this means that we need to stop teaching what to think and what to know, and instead focus creating students that know how to learn beyond school, and how to develop new skills and competencies.

How will we determine technological innovation in our education, training, and work?

Technologies, so far, help us do things that we’ve been doing already a little bit better. The real game changer will be when we develop intelligence amplification and artificial intelligence technologies that augment (or even replace) our capacities for imagination, creativity, and innovation.

How does globalization affect education?

Whether we like it or not, today’s graduates are competing one-to-one for jobs with alike people around the world. Why hire a (Spanish) teacher in Madrid to teach your child Chinese when you can hire an actual Chinese speaker with greater qualifications from China, utilizing connective technologies such as Skype, for far fewer Euros?

What is Invisible Learning?

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. It takes into account the impact of technological advances to really enable the invisible spaces to emerge. So, in the Invisible Learning project, Dr. Cristóbal Cobo and I explored a panorama of options for the future development of education that can be relevant today. We did not propose a theory, but sought to blend many ideas together to present a broadened landscape of ideas and perspectives. Because we are still building this paradigm, it is very much in “beta.”

What country is the world leader in education today, with proven results?

That’s like asking, “who’s the best looking kid in an ugly family?” In that case, Finland is the best looking. But, I’m not saying they’re looking beautiful…

What are the keys to happiness that every student (16 – 24 years old) should know to ensure a happy and well-off future?

I don’t know what the keys to happiness are, but today’s students need to prepare for futures where they can work anytime, anywhere, and with just about anybody. I call these people “knowmads.” Moreover, knowmads:

  1. Are not restricted to a specific age.
  2. Build their personal knowledge through explicit information gathering and tacit experiences, and leverage their personal knowledge to produce new ideas.
  3. Are able to contextually apply their ideas and expertise in various social and organizational configurations.
  4. Are highly motivated to collaborate, and are natural networkers, navigating new organizations, cultures, and societies.
  5. Purposively use new technologies to help them solve problems and transcend geographical limitations.
  6. Are open to sharing what they know, and invite and support open access to information, knowledge and expertise from others.
  7. Can unlearn as quickly as they learn, adopting new ideas and practices as necessary.
  8. Thrive in non-hierarchical networks and organizations.
  9. Develop habits of mind and practice to learn continuously.
  10. Are not afraid of failure.

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!

Did you miss the live Webinar with Cristóbal Cobo? Don't worry. We made a recording for you.

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Life in the 21st Century has become international, multicultural, and inter-connected, requiring new skills for educators to succeed. What are the so-called “21st Century skills,” and which key conditions are needed for the development of these skills within and outside of formal educational settings? Learn what it means to learn in a “knowmadic” society, and explore the shift from what we learn to how we learn in this free, online webinar.

Event co-sponsors: Education Futures LLC, Minnesota Association of School Administrators, TIES education technology collaborative, and Whitewater Learning

Twitter hashtag for discussion: #knowmad


coboAbout the presenter: Dr. Cristóbal Cobo is a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, where he coordinates research on innovation, open knowledge initiatives and future of learning research projects. Currently he works on Internet Science, OportUnidad, K-Networks and SESERV (European Commission). He is also coordinator of a collective project on informal, non-formal and invisible learning – a collaborative book and an online repository of bold ideas for designing cultures of sustainable innovation. Cristóbal has been a Visiting Fellow at the Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, University of Oxford and Professor and Director of Communication and New Technologies and editor of the educational platform of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Mexico.

He has worked on academic projects with organizations such as the Open University (UK), the University of Oxford, the University of Minnesota, the University of Toronto, the Open University of Catalonia, the Mexican Ministry of Public Education, and the Ministries of Education of Chile and Argentina, the Telefonica Foundation (Argentina and Mexico) and the European Union. He has been an invited expert for RAND EU in future trends on technology and education commissioned by the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA).

Dr. Cobo currently serves on the board of the Global Open Educational Resource (OER) Graduate Network.

Free Webinar on Thursday: Skills and competencies for knowmadic workers

We are pleased to announce a free webinar with Dr. Cristóbal Cobo this Thursday:

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There is no cost to participate. Join the live Webinar by visiting http://www.educationfutures.com/live on August 8!

Life in the 21st Century has become international, multicultural, and inter-connected, requiring new skills for educators to succeed. What are the so-called “21st Century skills,” and which key conditions are needed for the development of these skills within and outside of formal educational settings? Learn what it means to learn in a “knowmadic” society, and explore the shift from what we learn to how we learn in this free, online webinar.

Event co-sponsors: Education Futures LLC, Minnesota Association of School Administrators, TIES education technology collaborative, and Whitewater Learning

Twitter hashtag for discussion: #knowmad


coboAbout the presenter: Dr. Cristóbal Cobo is a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, where he coordinates research on innovation, open knowledge initiatives and future of learning research projects. Currently he works on Internet Science, OportUnidad, K-Networks and SESERV (European Commission). He is also coordinator of a collective project on informal, non-formal and invisible learning – a collaborative book and an online repository of bold ideas for designing cultures of sustainable innovation. Cristóbal has been a Visiting Fellow at the Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, University of Oxford and Professor and Director of Communication and New Technologies and editor of the educational platform of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Mexico.

He has worked on academic projects with organizations such as the Open University (UK), the University of Oxford, the University of Minnesota, the University of Toronto, the Open University of Catalonia, the Mexican Ministry of Public Education, and the Ministries of Education of Chile and Argentina, the Telefonica Foundation (Argentina and Mexico) and the European Union. He has been an invited expert for RAND EU in future trends on technology and education commissioned by the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA).

Dr. Cobo currently serves on the board of the Global Open Educational Resource (OER) Graduate Network.

Outliers School KNOWMADS – applications now open

10 sesiones virtuales, 35 horas, DesignThinking con mentoría de Cristóbal Cobo, John Moravec y Hugo Pardo Kuklinski. 20 participantes repensando los entornos de aprendizaje y siendo nómadas del conocimiento.

From November 4-14, I will join Hugo Pardo Kuklinski and Cristóbal Cobo to lead a 10-day, online program on entrepreneurship, design thinking, and new leadership in education: Outliers School KNOWMADS. (Note: The primary language of the program is Spanish.)

We are looking for 20 outliers. The application period is now open, and will close on October 20.

More information: http://www.outliersschool.net/knowmads/

Knowmad Society is now available!

Last December, we celebrated the completion of the Knowmad Society project by launching it at Seats2Meet.com in Utrecht. Now, we are pleased to launch the website, and offer the book as a free download, a free iPhone app, or a $0.99 Amazon.com Kindle purchase.

Full details about book is available at http://www.knowmadsociety.com.

Photo by Rene Wouters
Knowmad Society launch – Photo by Rene Wouters

A collaboration between John Moravec, Cristóbal Cobo, Thieu Besselink, Christel Hartkamp, Pieter Spinder, Edwin de Bree, Bianca Stokman, Christine Renaud, and Ronald van den Hoff, Knowmad Society explores the future of learning, work and how we relate with each other in a world where we are now asked to design our own futures. These nine authors from three continents, ranging from academics to business leaders, share their visions for the future of learning and work, and provide insight into what they are doing now to help drive positive outcomes. Former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart provides an afterword on his take on how to best support a knowmad society in the international arena.

Knowmads are nomadic knowledge workers –creative, imaginative, and innovative people who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. Industrial society is giving way to knowledge and innovation work. Whereas industrialization required people to settle in one place to perform a very specific role or function, the jobs associated with knowledge and information workers have become much less specific concerning task and place. Moreover, technologies allow for these new paradigm workers to work within a broader options of space, including “real,” virtual, or many blended. Knowmads can instantly reconfigure and recontextualize their work environments, and greater mobility is creating new opportunities.

The authors explore knowmad society in terms of socioeconomic evolution from industrial, information-based society to knowledge-based society, to a creative, context-driven Knowmad Society. Educational and organizational implications are explored, experiences are shared, and the book concludes with a powerful message of “what’s it going to take” for nations and cultures to succeed in Knowmad Society.

Key topics covered include: reframing learning and human development; required skills and competencies; rethinking schooling; flattening organizations; co-creating learning; and new value creation in organizations.

Knowmad Society is published by Education Futures LLC with additional support from Seats2Meet.com.

Invisible Learning: The first 365 days of open access

On September 15, 2011, Cristóbal Cobo and I released Invisible Learning (published in Spanish as Aprendizaje Invisible) into the Creative Commons as an open digital text. The printed edition, published by the University of Barcelona, was available since April of that year, and is still available for purchase through a number of sources, including Amazon.es.

We’ve counted well over 50,000 direct downloads of the PDF edition of the book from invsisiblelearning.com. By itself, this number is impressive for an education book (most printing are limited to just a thousand or two copies), but it probably grossly underestimates the total reach of Invisible Learning. The book is also distributed on a number of other websites, including Google Books, institutional digital collections, blogs, and others.

We are also really pleased with the media response and derivative products being created from Invisible Learning — some of the most interesting pieces are cataloged at aprendizajeinvisible.tumblr.com.

For those of you looking for Invisible Learning in English, the book will be summarized in the first two chapters of Knowmad Society, to be released later this year. Stay tuned!

Continuing the conversation

Join the Aprendizaje Invisible Facebook group, or follow us on Twitter:

If you’re interested in organizing a presentation or workshop about Invisible Learning at your organization, we’d love to talk with you!