This summer, a little way off the beaten track of Highway 40, my family discovered the Beaver Ranch. A postwar historical site it tells the very brief story of an entrepreneurial spirit who thought he could create a whole new industry to supply the European market with the rather beautiful pelt of this industrious rodent. The old cement “houses” are still there, and you can see how he tried to replicate the architecture of the traditional beaver lodge. The venture itself, failed miserably. What he didn’t know prior to beginning is that beavers mate for life. Putting a male and female together in the same lodge did not result in all the little pelts he was dreaming about because of a little love story that he knew nothing about. Okay, maybe I am a hopeless romantic but to me life without some kind of magical romance is pretty dull. And now for the leap…if life is all about learning then what is learning without a little romance?
I fell in love this summer with a little website called Coursera…well not with the website itself but the opportunity it offered me to take a songwriting course with Pat Pattison at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Hands down the BEST online learning I’ve ever done. Why? Probably because I love to write songs and was able to connect, for FREE with an amazing teacher and 11 000 other starry eyed songwriters like myself from around the world. We watch extremely well produced video lectures, work through quizzes and offer each other feedback on assignments that specifically target the concepts we’ve been learning. I got up almost every morning of my summer vacation at 6am so I could work undisturbed in my little home office on something that I love for a couple of hours.
The barriers are coming down, for every student who wants to learn there is a teacher who wants to facilitate that learning. They may be in your home, your school, your community… or waiting to connect with you in the cloud. As I head back to school I can’t help thinking about what education will look like in the future as brilliant and passionate engineers work (I am also reading the Steve Jobs biography…WOW!) to bring the learning that stirs our hearts to our fingertips. When we love what we are doing, anything seems possible. Call me a hopeless romantic, but why settle for less?