Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

The Future is Doing: How Social Media is the New Education

The following is part of ongoing notes towards a new understanding of education. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

This is a response to a recent blog post at Fred Wilson’s blog, A VC.

tweeting mobile phones

Everything is hands on these days, including knowledge

Many of the problems of 20th Century ideas of distance, space, relationships, and technical difficulty have been solved. And in so doing, we have new problems. All of them are busines problems.

But education lags in the K-12 sector. Education is not geared towards solving problems encountered through real life experience. It’s fair to say that education in this country right now is about meeting benchmarks for prowess, intellect and other people’s expectations of performance, but it has very little to do with confronting and then solving everyday problems and social issues that could make all of us healthier, happier and more well-adjusted.

Education is about content, and understanding content, and then understanding how we understand content. In this way, it’s very much like social media. This parallel is what leads me to say that social media is the new education. social media in physical form and in practice is doing what education should be made to do, and it is doing it largely outside of the formal education system.

There are a couple of ways to see the Internet’s hive of social media companies. You can think of them as a property, and call them social media. Facebook is social media. LinkedIn is social media. Twitter is social media.

But you can also think of social media as a methodology, or even better, to see them as experience platforms. Each property has its unique methodology and the people who use them have their own sense of usage and the value that usage creates for them. In some cases, though, usage creates problems, or issues. This is where companies are born. More accurately, social media these days is where the minds of the founders of new companies are born. Teachers in the formal education system would do well do take note of something Fred Wilson witnessed recently:

Jeff and I sat in front of Tom’s class Launching Technology Ventures and talked for almost 2 hours on topics like Lean Startup Methodology, Pivoting, doing a startup vs joining a startup, and more.

I can tell you this, the HBS I visited is not the HBS I used to know. The students I had lunch with had all built a startup and exited before going to HBS. The knowledge and passion for startups evident in Tom’s class was off the charts. If business school is turning into entrepreneur school, then that’s a damn good thing.

Social Media is largely the process of doing something so that other people can see your work, or it’s about working in teams collaboratively, to create solutions, deliver information and create meaning and ideas. this is how companies will be run in the future.

I take some liberty in posting the following, but: social media and business are highly correlative. The people who use social media think in ways created by the structure and use of the social media they habitually use. business rises out of personal experience. If this personal experience is social, then business will be social. here’s how Wilson ties it into startups:

here is a very high correlation between lean startup approach and the top performing companies in our two funds.

– Lean startup methology is great, but it is really a lean startup culture you want.

– Lean startup is a machine, garbage in will give you garbage out.

– Early in a startup, product decisions should be hunch driven. Later on, product decisions should be data driven.

– Hunches come from being a power user of the products in your category and from having a long standing obsession about the problem you are solving.

– Domain expertise to the point of obsession is highly correlated with the most successful entrepeneurs in our portfolio.

– Ideas that most people derided as ridiculous have produced the best outcomes. Don’t do the obvious thing.

– Monetization should be native and improve the experience for users.

– If you have an idea that you can’t get out of your head, do a startup. Otherwise join a startup.

– If you are not technical, get product experience. Get your hands dirty and work with engineers.

– Take risks when you get out of business school. If you don’t take risks, you won’t find yourself in an interesting job and career.

Now that you know this, it’s probably a good idea to think about what we can be doing to make education in the K12 sector perform in the way that best directs students to this future inevitability.


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2 Responses

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