Douglas Crets

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Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Al Meyers: Consultant

Your Reputation Creates the Way You Will Learn — A Social Media Project that Tests the Reputation Graph

Credit to Jon Bischke who has really been the vanguard in reputation graph thinking. This series is dedicated to him.

Here’s one of the first interviews we’ve received in a social media project to track what people think about education and their careers. Your reputation online will model your ability to learn and to teach others, as people turn increasingly to the online space for their information, social networking and education. So, let’s get to know the people who will teach each other.

Douglas Crets: Can you think of a single skill you learned in K12 that you use today in a way that has made you feel successful in business or in your career, in general? What is it and why has it helped?

Al Meyers: The things I learned during my K12 years were actually derived largely from my extracurricular activities – many of the areas that have been considered “non-essential” in the age of tight operating budgets.   Athletics and music taught me skills that have truly helped me throughout my business career:  commitment, teamwork, collaboration, perseverance and goal setting.   The K12 setting was also helpful from a social skills point of view.   I was fortunate because I had many good teachers who cared deeply about their students and were able to translate learning effectively.  It is important to note that I went through my K12 years before the digital revolution arrived.

Douglas: What do you think will be a defining trend in education innovation in the next ten years?

Al Meyers: Digital learning and blended learning will be major trends going forward.  I would also include self-paced (or differentiated) learning in this category as well.  After seeing Sal Khan speak at TED this week, it is clear that he has created something truly special – the opportunity to leverage the Internet to allow students to be “lectured” out of the classroom, and then use their class time for tutorials and more one-on-one interactions between teacher and student.   Teachers can finally become “mentors” in a digitally-driven learning environment.  In particular, as today’s “digital natives” join the teacher workforce and the “digital immigrants” begin to retire, there will be an increased demand for utilizing learning tools that are more closely tied to the manner in which students consume content in their daily lives.  Eventually, the investment will follow the ideas – we’re only in the first few innings of a very long game!

Douglas: What have you learned in your engagement in social media that has helped you in your current career?

Al Meyers: When I was in Corporate America, I never fully understood what was truly happening in the social media space.  However, in the past few years, I have seen firsthand how the value chain has been turned on its head, as consumers are now content creators.   We are truly in a “flat world,” as Thomas Friedman evangelized a few years ago.   Building my own blog, joining social networks, and participating in the online dialogue has allowed me to reinvent myself in ways I had never dreamed of just a few short years ago.   Everyone has an opinion, and now you can put yourself out there; however, with power comes great responsibility, and I have learned that you still must be as vigilant as ever about protecting your information and ensuring you do not use his power to violate the basic ethics of proper communication.  This means that you still need to respect people’s opinions and not react in a hostile manner, even if you disagree with someone’s point of view.  Social media has allowed the “silent majority” to not be so silent anymore, and democracy has taken on an entirely new dimension that our founding fathers may not have contemplated when drafting the greatest governance document ever crafted by human hand.

Douglas: Can you describe a transformative experience you have had that was brought on by engaging with others in the digital media space?

Al Meyers: I have been fortunate to have several.  First of all, I was able to bring the experience of TED to Atlanta because of digital media.  TEDxPeachtree was birthed out of an idea I had and served it up on Linked In to see who would join the movement.   And thus, TEDxPeachtree was born.  Secondly, I had a local production crew help me produce a 2-minute video about 21st century learning that I unveiled at TED 2009 in Palm Springs.  After the event, it was uploaded to YouTube, and it has now exceeded 25,000 downloads!  Digital Media – the ability to show your talents to the world, and also have the ability to discuss topics of interest with likeminded individuals, has allowed me to shift my career from a media-centric one to a socially-responsible, education-centric one.

Douglas: If you were to hire someone for a job in your current career today, what would you expect that person to know how to do immediately? Does the current education system from which you pull your talent offer this kind of training, or do you feel that it is training you have to offer your new hires?

Al Meyers: I would expect a person to be self-sufficient.  This means that they would be able to use the Internet and other secondary research tools to learn about the areas they’re working in, understand the dynamics of the marketplace and the competitive landscape, and be able to problem-solve as independently as possible.  They should also have strong critical thinking skills and understand how they can be applied to any subject area, whether or not it is an area you have worked in throughout their career.   Further, people should have a strong sense of global awareness, cultural sensibility and high-level collaborative skills.   Written and oral communication skills are a must!

I don’t believe the current education system is offering the right training, because educators are not fostering creativity.  Out-of-the-box thinking is hard to find these days.   In any event, what many employers fail to understand is that the most important aspect of being a manager is to be a coach to your direct staff, and so I believe it will be the training I offer my new hires that will be what they’re most able to repurpose in their careers as they develop into seasoned executives.   If a manager desires a loyal, motivated staff, then it is incumbent upon them to create this culture, and not expect it to materialize on its own.

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Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech

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