As may be obvious, the title of this post was inspired by Thomas
Friedman’s book The World is Flat, in which he argues that fundamental shifts in world markets have led to Globalization 3.0. My
impression is that the world of learning is also experiencing
fundamental shifts, suggesting that we may have entered Learning 3.0.
It seems that a number of factors have come into play to allow for more
collaborative learning than previously possible. People, such as those
in the Ho’ohana Community, are using the new opportunities to redefine
how they learn. Friedman devoted over 600 pages to his thesis. Having
neither Friedman’s eloquence nor breadth of knowledge, I’ll share my thoughts in a few paragraphs, then encourage
the community to teach and learn from each other.
has been around throughout the ages and continues today. I see it as characterized by
"push" learning, wherein those with particular knowledge teach others.
Push learning happens in homes, classrooms, and workplaces, and traditionally occurs in-person.
Think of the master craftsman teaching the apprentice or the algebra
instructor teaching a classroom of high school freshmen. The teacher,
or teaching institution, is primarily responsible for deciding what subject matter the student
needs to learn and how education will be
During the heyday of Learning 1.0, college students selected an
area of specialty, learned enough to get an entry-level position in the
field, gained on-the-job experience, and remained in the same industry
(perhaps with the same company) for the duration of their careers. Society
came to count on the regimen and pace of Learning 1.0 and built
institutions to support the model.
Learning 2.0 came about
because of several shifts that allowed for what I view as "pull" learning. Pull learning allowed students more control to over the
subject matter they chose to explore, as well as the timing and
location of learning. While much learning still occurs in-person,
technological advances in communications allowed for distance
learning. While much of learning is still front-loaded in elementary
and secondary education, life-long learning became the catch-phrase for
a whole new approach. Individuals often
experienced waves of learning in which they could undertake new
learning initiatives at various times throughout their lives.
changes became much more common; some voluntary and some thrust upon
workers because of layoffs and skills obsolescence. Learning 2.0 allowed
these workers to make these career changes successful, as institutions
arose and adapted to meet the new demand. Online degrees, night and
weekend coursework, and non-traditional college students abounded.
3.0, for the sake of this thought experiment, is characterized by
"collaborative learning". Learning is distributed across communities,
so that individuals teach
and learn from each other. Learning not only occurs in waves, but is
also a continuous, fluid process of research, discussion, and
discovery. Learning 3.0 is made possible by recent technological
improvements in connectivity, which make location largely a non-factor,
and by unrestricted access to knowledge. Students interested in a new subject can
spend less time seeking information, allowing more time for
collaboratively building upon existing knowledge. Learning
3.0 takes advantage of informal means of learning, which supplement
rather than replace more formal forms of education.
An example of Learning 3.0 is Moodle, the
open-source software that is sparking a flurry of collaborative
learning in (none other than) the education industry. The website
explaining the philosophy behind Moodle is instructive, and I’ll quote a few key points.
asserts that learning is particularly effective when constructing
something for others to experience. This can be anything from a spoken
sentence or an Internet posting, to more complex artifacts like a
painting, a house or a software package.
 extends the above ideas into a social group constructing things for
one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared
artifacts with shared meanings. When one is immersed within a culture
like this, one is learning all the time about how to be a part of that
culture, on many levels.
Connected behavior is a more empathic
approach that accepts subjectivity, trying to listen and ask questions
in an effort to understand the other point of view.  A healthy amount
of connected behavior within a learning community is a very powerful
stimulant for learning, not only bringing people closer together but
promoting deeper reflection and re-examination of their existing
Your job as a ‘teacher’ can change from being ‘the
source of knowledge’ to being an influencer and role model of class
culture, connecting with students in a personal way that addresses
their own learning needs, and moderating discussions and activities in
a way that collectively leads students towards the learning goals of
It is with a great deal of humility that I even
broach the question posed by the title of this post. Perhaps it is
simply that my learning experiences have shifted fundamentally. Yet
when I read about classroom teachers embracing Moodle’s philosophy of
collaborative learning, and when I participate in the collaborative
learning that has taken place in the Ho’ohana Community this month, I
continue to wonder, have we entered Learning 3.0?
Can academia teach collaborative learning?
Blaine Collins is the author of the Stronger Teams Blog, a collection of thoughts about teams, teamwork, collaboration, and team leadership. He draws upon three decades of experience in managing, leading, and
participating with teams in various businesses and the public sector. His most important roles in life are as husband, father, and son. He is an avid football (soccer) enthusiast.