I love creating innovative learning opportunities for people of all ages. Since 1993 I’ve led academic courses, professional trainings, and corporate meetings in classrooms, board rooms, and wide open spaces all over the world.
My own formal education gave me a start. In 1997 I received a Ph.D. from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information studies. But I’ve learned even more from my experiences in teaching at every level of instruction and working with organizational leaders and teams as a management consultant. Our world has changed so rapidly over the last two decades, and everything– our environment, our economy, our culture, our personal safety, health and prosperity– depends directly on our ability to learn our way through it.
Many of my consulting clients and my university students have told me that they had to unlearn and recover from what they were taught in school so that they could be successful in their careers. In school we are told to be quiet and keep our eyes on our own papers; at work, our supervisors ask us why we can’t be better team players. Too many high school and college graduates move on without a working understanding of the internet, or conflict, or interdisciplinary design principles that will empower them to solve problems and identify opportunities.
As I considered how to help the next generation navigate an increasingly complex and uncertain future, I spoke with many educators. They helped me see that change in education depends on empathy and credibility; if I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the future of institutional learning, I needed to walk in their shoes and prove the concept. I needed to teach in the places where people thought change was impossible.
This is why, after teaching at UCLA for 11 years and serving as a management consultant for startups and Fortune 100 companies, I began teaching high school courses, first in America’s fifth-largest high school in Los Angeles and later in semi-rural schools on California’s Central Coast. I used online tools and techniques that brought the world to my students and brought my students to the world. In 2009 I coined the term “Open-Source Learning” to describe a teaching philosophy that empowers students to work in partnership with their teachers and expand their networks beyond classroom walls to develop their own learning experiences that can be shared with everyone.
In 2011, I introduced “The Open Source School” as a conceptual model at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA. Since then, I’ve presented Open-Source Learning concepts and use cases at gatherings such as the Macarthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning Conference, the Connected Learning Summit, the Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society in London, the Computer Users in Education conference, The O’Reilly Open Source Conference, TEDxUCLA, and others.
Today I am learning out loud more than ever. It’s exciting to see the positive impact Open-Source Learning has with my family, my students, and the people with whom I’m so fortunate to work. I love sharing principles, strategies, and practices that teachers, employers, families, and communities can use to create positive change and achieve value through learning. And I continue refining and sharing my own practice. In addition to speaking, consulting, and helping others apply Open-Source Learning, I still walk the walk in my service to students at one of California’s oldest schools.