Learning from experience

22 Jul
Cover page

Stars of the book

The biggest changes in society have come about because people have a right to education and the ability to learn. All 3 of our 21st century innovators talked about the importance of education and sharing knowledge.

When asked about her theories on how networks and connectivity will end ignorance and terror, Judy Breck said:

Only individuals can participate in the Internet connectivity. All the power flows from individual nodes. There are no hierarchies. This empowerment of the individual is amplified by the end of isolation where terrorism can incubate. Longer range, it will be the end of ignorance that will bring the global golden age of liberty.

Each of our own children and all of other people’s children will learn from the commons. Ignorance will end globally—and will end in a way that has never happened before. American kids will not be taught one version of history while Iranian kids are taught another. Kids from all over the world will study from the commons, learning history from the same virtual pages. And there is more. If there is disagreement the new generations will be connected with each other as individuals, not isolated. They can confer and collaborate. They can decide which pages of history too are true; this is already happening on Wikipedia.”

When asked about the difference in her roles when moving from Stanford to Vital Wave Consulting, Karen Coppock said:

The primary distinction between my current role and my work at Stanford is the nature of the client. At Stanford and Santa Clara, I advised technology-oriented social enterprises. At Vital Wave Consulting, the vast majority of our client base is Fortune 500 companies. That said, the basic work, assisting organizations with accelerating technology usage in emerging markets, remains the same. In both cases, an effective strategy must be based on a solid understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic context of the particular market along with business rigor to be successful. I believe that high-tech multi-nationals can learn a great deal from social entrepreneurs and visa versa and luckily, I am in a unique position to be able to facilitate these learnings for everyone’s benefit.

When talking about PulseWire’s progress, Jensine Larsen said:

We sometimes joke that this core team is like the “camels that carried the jewel across the desert.” Now, we have a full, experienced team and we are about to embark on our beta phase, where we will test PulseWire with networks that are building solutions to the top 3 greatest threats to women and girls in the world: HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and environmental destruction.

We are all excited and scared because of the enormity of the task and the potential, creating a tool that crosses so many political, cultural and economic divides. We are all aware that we will learn a tremendous amount through a process of deep listening to the real needs of women on the ground. We may have to completely redesign our concept, but we are prepared mentally for this and we will be adaptable and agile in service to our mission.”

10 key points stand out in those extracts from the interviews:

  1. connected with each other as individuals, not isolated

  2. learning history from the same virtual pages

  3. process of deep listening

  4. solid understanding

  5. facilitate these learnings for everyone’s benefit

  6. confer and collaborate

  7. creating a tool that crosses so many political, cultural and economic divides

  8. adaptable and agile

  9. completely redesign our concept

  10. excited and scared because of the enormity of the task and the potential

This is dynamic learning through connection and a solid understanding of another persons point of view. Learning and facilitating the learning of others by conferring and collaborating. Learning by the process of deep listening. Being adaptable and agile enough to completely redesign a concept if a solution does not fit the problem it is designed to solve. This attitude to learning and education is not about filling your head with the facts needed to pass exams and get a college degree but it is about the importance of dialogue as part of the learning process. It’s also about being excited and scared because of the enormity of the task and the potential.

Wikipedia has a section that defines Dialogue education.

Dialogue education shifts the focus of education from what the teacher says to what the learner does, from learner passivity to


Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

learners as active participants in the dialogue that leads to learning (Global Learning Partners, 2006c). A dialogue approach to education views learners as subjects in their own learning and honours central principles such as mutual respect and open communication (Vella, 2002). Learners are invited to actively engage with the content being learned rather than being dependent on the educator for learning. Ideas are presented to learners as open questions to be reflected on and integrated into the learner’s own context (Vella, 2004). The intent is that this will result in more meaningful learning that has an impact on behaviour. “

In the world of New Media, where the consumer become the creator, the process of learning has also changed. Education is no longer something to consume and regurgitate to pass an exam but has become an active process whereby people learn from the experiences of others, reflect upon and question the content of what they are learning and understand that experience within the context of their own lives.

Teachers learn from students and connect with each other as individuals
(Judy Breck).

This process is only possible where there is mutual respect, open communication and solid understanding
(Karen Coppock).

There is a willingness to shift the focus from what the teacher says to what the learner does – adaptable, agile and a willingness to completely change a concept if necessary
(Jensine Larsen).

With all of these wide ranging, wonderful possibilities directly (and literally) at our fingertips – what form will our future interaction and contextual learning take? Have those social shapes already been formed in the ether text world of Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter has certainly changed a great deal since 2007: Information source Wikipedia

  • The tipping point for Twitter’s popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. During the event, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000. “The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter messages,” remarked Newsweek’s Steven Levy. “Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it.”

  • Reaction at the festival was highly positive. Blogger Scott Beale said that Twitter “absolutely rul[ed]” SXSW. Social software researcher Danah Boyd said Twitter “own[ed]” the festival. Twitter staff received the festival’s Web Award prize with the remark “we’d like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!”

  • The first unassisted off-Earth Twitter message was posted from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut T. J. Creamer on January 22, 2010. By late November 2010, an average of a dozen updates per day were posted on the astronauts’ communal account, @NASA_Astronauts.

And what has changed with Facebook since 2007: Information source Wikipedia

  • On October 24, 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion. Microsoft’s purchase included rights to place international ads on Facebook.

  • In October 2008, Facebook announced that it would set up its international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

  • In September 2009, Facebook said that it had turned cash-flow positive for the first time.

  • In November 2010, based on SecondMarket Inc., an exchange for shares of privately held companies, Facebook’s value was $41 billion (slightly surpassing eBay’s) and it became the third largest US web company after Google and Amazon. Facebook has been identified as a possible candidate for an IPO by 2013.
  • Traffic to Facebook increased steadily after 2009. More people visited Facebook than Google for the week ending March 13, 2010.

  • In March 2011 it was reported that Facebook removes approximately 20,000 profiles from the site every day for various infractions, including spam, inappropriate content and underage use, as part of its efforts to boost cyber security.

  • In early 2011, Facebook announced plans to move to its new headquarters, the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, California.

Without doubt Twitter and Facebook have changed many things about how we can interact with each other across the world. It is cited that social media may have even “amplified and accelerated” a revolution : Egypt, Twitter, and the rise of the watchdog crowd

Whilst writing the closing blog for this series the biggest news worthy item is about Rupert Murdoch Social media campaign takes on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. We must wait and see the final outcome for that story. But, nonetheless, social media has created a communication channel which would have been unthinkable in the days of Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich image source wikipedia

Julian of Norwich


We are diverse, independent and decentralized but not disenfranchised. And most definitely not alone or isolated.

Judy, Karen and Jensine (the 21st century pioneers) are already harnessing collective intelligence and actively encouraging others to do the same. There are many women and men actively involved in finding the mechanism for aggregation of ideas into collective progress.

How we help each other and what the future holds will be the content of many books and web pages for years to come. For the final thoughts about technological innovation and pioneers I would like to close with the motto of Girton College, Cambridge:

Better is wisdom than weapons of war “

Hoping that you have enjoyed this blog series. If you have great ideas to share and you would like an interview to be published on the Soft Footsteps blog pages, please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

The next posting will be an index pages to access all of the blog posts and a personal dedication to some great women in my own life.



Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

Legal bit

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Please note this notice is to protect the source research material. Please feel free to link and quote with references back to this page. Thank you. Copyright : Maggie Baldry

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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in 21st century, Soft Footsteps


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