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This has been a remarkable week. U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self — a new kind of edX course — has kicked off with over 26,000 participants from 190 countries enrolled.
There is an old adage about a group of blind men and an elephant. Each man has his hands on a different part of the animal: one feels the trunk, another the tusk, yet another the tail, and a fourth holds the foot. When asked, “What is an elephant?” each gives an entirely different description, based on the part they can feel. And of course, they are all correct.
In that spirit, Otto and I would like to share what we see happening in the U.Lab. While we don’t claim to have seen the whole elephant, sitting as we do where many flows of information converge, we might have a unique perspective on the whole. Over the past week, here is what we have seen: The U.Lab is catalyzing an emerging eco-system of self-organized learning, which is the beginning of a profound revolution in learning. Nowhere was this more apparent than during the live session on Wednesday. Some real opening or shift happened during that Wednesday global co-initiation event.
Here was the view from inside our classroom:
We see dozens and maybe hundreds of Hubs forming across many major hotspots of societal renewal worldwide. Here are a few photos you sent us and posted on twitter and Facebook, showing what some of these hubs look like:
Buenos Aires, Argentina (via @BungeMartin):
Bangalore, India (a group of young organic farmers):
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
What’s happening is the emergence of a new model of hybrid learning infrastructures that blend online learning infrastructures with environments that you are co-creating in your local and personal contexts.
Currently, we all know that higher education is:
- Not accessible to the masses
- Too expensive
- Disconnected from real societal needs
What’s happening here is:
- Accessible to anyone with an internet connection
- Intentionally connected to real societal needs
What’s more, because the learning is self-directed – meaning you are all choosing to show up and learn together rather than being told you should – the quality of learning and engagement has the potential to be far more meaningful and impactful than it would otherwise. That is why, from where we sit, the part of the metaphorical elephant that we can feel, we are seeing the emergence of seeds that hold the possibility to not only renew the 21st Century University, but also institutions beyond.
What’s next? Many of you are joining coaching circles, which are small groups of five that will go through a very personal and intense learning process (using the U-method) with weekly deep listening based dialogue sessions. We’ll report more on this next week as we continue to hear from you about these experiences. We’re so excited for the journey ahead.
Join Otto, Adam, and thousands of students around the world — enroll in MIT’s U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society and Self today.
Cover photo: @tavi_8
Adam Yukelson, U.Lab Course Team