EDUCATION: DISRUPT

Several years ago my now-college aged daughter was very interested in attending the Naval Academy in Annapolis. We read everything we could about the Academy, met with various graduates, attended events at the Great Lakes Naval Station, etc. Why? Because she was smart, disciplined and was searching for the right type of college education. She also loved the idea of serving our country, and the fact that the 5 year military and management experience would be absolutely amazing. During that time, a Time magazine issue was released where the cover story featured a service academy graduate and highlighted the amazing managers produced. West Point was ranked first in the nation that year. It didn’t hurt that our new neighbor and now dear friend was/is a West Point grad – and she is a remarkable woman.

To make a long story short, while my daughter did not end up pursuing a service academy, I have really never gotten over the $200,000  question…the “savings” we had been looking at while exploring the military. Who has $200k sitting around? I’ve always been a little uneasy around the discussion of the college price tag as it is just plain inaccessible to the masses. That is not right. It just isn’t.

Maybe the price tag is why I am absolutely obsessed with how rapidly education is changing – and quite frankly, it’s all happening right before our very eyes. It’s HERE. It’s HAPPENING. And it’s SO exciting!

Several years ago I read about the Khan Academy. After researching Sal Kahn, I called my mom to talk about it, “MOM you have GOT to read about Khan Academy! Oh my gosh – he’s going to change to world!” To which my mom (who’s always one step ahead)  replied, “oh YES – I’ve read about him! I agree- he’s going to change to world.” So here we are. When Khan sat down to assist a nephew on math homework via Skype he discovered and hit upon the beginning ingredient in the search for the Holy Grail in education: delivering meaningful content in a cost-effective way.

If you still don’t get it: how about the two Stanford professors who decided to offer an artificial intelligence course online for free, and open it up to the masses (MOOC: massively open online courses)?? Within two days over 160,000 people from around the world had enrolled. EVERY country in the world was represented except for North Korea. Let me say it again: EVERY country in the world. Talk about PENT-UP demand?! The world is yearning to learn! Finally, technology can provide a platform!

So here we are. Whether through Udacity, Audacity, UniversityNow, etc the world of education as we know it is gone. Of course, I keep reading about the new programs but know there is one thing holding me back from fully embracing: the social and learning environment of attending college in person cannot be replaced by online courses. And then?

The Minerva Project.

The end. Please take the time to read about it: The Minerva Project. It just might be getting close to solving the learning environment problem AND finally provide a viable option that will not cost $200k.

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How to Keep Up When Business is Changing SO Quickly? Just Do It. Dive In.

The technology explosion is forcing us to move quickly. Really quickly. The world is changing SO quickly that it’s hard to stay on top of the constant change – especially when it comes to technology, and its impact on business. “Old ways” of doing things are being disrupted. What to do?! Just do it. Just hop on. If I can do it anyone can!

Do WHAT ?!

Read. Open. Follow. Check it out. Huh?

Here’s how. Read. Read. Read. Whatever you happen to be interested in, follow it. Probe. Dive in. Somehow I seem to think I am managing to keep up with “the new” ..maybe I am fooling myself – but I feel good about my own personal “continuing ed” program!

Here’s how I keep up:

1) Read anything you can get your hands on. I read in the morning before the kids are awake, read while waiting for carpool,  read in the bathtub (true). My favorite categories happen to be business, start-ups, digital, anything Chicago and parenting.

2) Keep your iPhone handy. If you read something cool go directly to Twitter and follow it. Even better, if you are near your laptop, press the url once you get to the Twitter handle and check out what the company does.

3) Use your “Peter Lynch approach” and take a look at the company. (Peter Lynch: Fidelity Investments stock-picker whom I’ve always admired for his no-nonsense approach to understanding what a company does and how it plans to make money. )

4) When you have extra time (say on a weekend) dive deeper. Whatever your category is, dive. Look at lists. Again, I like business. Maybe I’ll spend extra time checking out TechCrunch’s top 25 start-ups in CA. Then I’ll probe – see what they are, get my iPhone so I can follow them on Twitter, etc Maybe I’ll look at Crain’s 40 under 40 and dive deep; maybe I’ll read a few articles in Barron’s or Fortune and get out my iPhone again. Or, if the computer is nearby, I’ll go check out the start-up and watch its 1 minute vimeo/company promo – I just love seeing how and what a new company is doing!

EVENTUALLY, a pattern will emerge: you will begin to see similar sectors experiencing growth. You’ll begin to see certain areas that entrepreneurs are “going after”. You’ll see real live age-old problems trying to be solved. (Example: EDUCATION!) The race to use technology to disrupt “old ways” will begin to make sense for you – at least some sense. Maybe you love fashion  and once you begin to see trends emerge (the box/club/whatever of the month) – start thinking about your habits. What do you think? DO you like the idea? Is it passe? Is there room for exponential growth? We are in an incredible period of growth right now – why sit on the sidelines?!

So jump in. Fasten your seat belt. And join the crazy fun that is this ever-changing world we live in!