Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Learning Ecosystems, Geographic Imprints, and Localnomics

Note: This post is the sixth in the nine-part series Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Convergence Reshapes Teacher Preparation for Today and the Future and written in the vein of peering into Teaching 2030. Click here to read the previous post on Surgical Learning Analytics and Learning Playlist.

Teacher preparation will expand beyond what we know today. Learning ecosystems will become more sophisticated, tying into geographic and interest-imprint dashboards, where the data “will track and manage diverse data streams from multiple agencies and institutions, offering visualizations of a region’s “educational ecosystem.” Today’s Hive Learning Network, “a community of civic and cultural institutions dedicated to transforming the learning landscape, and creating opportunities for youth to explore their interests in virtual and physical spaces,” may provide a glimpse into how teacher candidates are prepared in 2030 by weaving place-based and networked learning together. Community Connectors, another role teacherpreneurs adopt in the future, play a pivotal part in connecting students with educational opportunities in a Hive Learning Network. And, Learning Brokers, teacherpreneurs who assist families and students in investing their Educational Debit Card expenditure, which amasses federal, state, and local monies, will be the equivalent of today’s guidance counselors on cyber-connected steroids.

Already, we see districts banning together, dissolving borders, to offer blended and online learning to lower costs, including the purchase of eBooks, as well as the use of free textbooks. Overtime, there will be geographic pockets that no longer recognize city, county, or state lines as they pool their resources to bring economic stability predicated on learning opportunities for their children and future generations. However, especially in rural areas, the rise in CyberConnected earning merged with CyberConnected economic opportunity (jobs) – or localnomics – will be on the rise in 2030.

Richard Florida, senior editor at The Atlantic and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, wrote in 1995 about the rise of the knowledge-economy and learning regions in Futures Towards the Learning Region:

The new age of capitalism holds even greater challenges for regions. The very fabric of regional organization will change, as regions gradually adopt the principles of knowledge creation and learning. Learning regions will be called on to supply the requisite human, manufacturing and technological infrastructures required to support knowledge-intensive forms of innovation and production. Rather than ushering in the ‘end of geography,’ globalization is likely to occur increasingly through complex systems of regional interdependence and integration. And, as the nation-state is squeezed between the poles of accelerating globalization and rising regional economic organization, regions will become focal points for economic, technological, political and social organization . (pp 534 – 535)

TIME magazine acknowledged the rise of localnomics in its August 20, 2012, issue, drawing attention to Florida’s prescient observation. Perhaps the geographic regions where Learning Regions and localnomics will take hold most quickly will be those areas that are “spiky,” according to Florida, where the merger of “talent, tolerance, and technology” is nurtured. Teacherpreneurs flourish in these regions for their expertise in orchestrating learning is vital to the success of the community and region.

Steve Haragon wrote the following in his post A Tail of Two Ed Tech Agendas in regards to explaining the difference between the traditional economic model, the head, and the Long Tail model, where selling less is more, popularized by Chris Anderson:

The head is very vertical, as volume is the key. The head is about scaling and scope, and success is more of the same. The tail is very horizontal, as it is about as breadth and depth, and success in the tail is differentiation, diversity, and choice. The head requires hierarchy, corporate decision-making, and control. The tail requires networking, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and freedom. The head is about money, by which approval is conferred. The tail is about passion, and approval is less about the financial and often more about relationships and fulfillment. The head and the tail are actually very different economic models, and it turns out they may also be a powerful way to differentiate two different ed tech reform models

In 2030, teacher edupunks seek out local needs and participate in the future’s learning regions and Hive Learning Networks, while also learning with others globally. Early examples of “hive” or “hub” learning networks exist across the globe. Skillshare also serves as an early example for they “began as a way for communities to share local knowledge by teaching and taking classes on everything from programming to entrepreneurship to cooking.” Teacherpreneurs thrive in dissolved-border, CyberConnected communities, which grow along the lines of a Long Tail approach and push the creation of even more differentiated professional pathways and careers for teachers we have yet to imagine.

Perhaps it is in these “spiky” (a counter to Thomas Friedman’s “flat world”) regions of the world that Hives will first flourish, where the blending of “technology, talent, and tolerance” creates hotbeds of innovation, feeding local-to-international teacher preparation.

Spearheaded by teacherpreneurs and fueled by the Long Tail economic model, teacher preparation is not about scope-and-sequence curricula or higher ed hierarchal systems but is based on passion, freedom, networking, relationships, and the crowdsourcing of learning.

What are your thoughts? Will Learning Regions and Hive Learning Networks be the future’s hotbeds of innovation redefining the role of teacher?

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