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The mindset of the educational-industrial complex is threatening to take over online education as well

“Will this be on the test?”

Rethinking online education

[Find out more about the future of online learning from Akimbo, an indepent B Corp…]

[This is the sequel to Stop Stealing Dreams, now reprinted on Medium.]

  • Cohort-based, with groups of five to twenty people engaged constantly with each other (we use Slack as a surprisingly powerful peer-to-peer setting for experiential learning). There is very little time spent engaging directly from top down.
  • There are no lectures, no proprietary videos, no secret lessons. Instead, there’s a deep syllabus of materials (some required, some optional, most of them free or low cost).
  • Almost all of the work happens through the 14 assignments our students take on in the course of the month. Every few days, they complete another one.
  • All of the final work product is in public. A lot like real life.
  • Every student reviews and then comments on several of the other students’ assignments.
  • Every student takes the five or ten comments received and turns them into a reflective script, detailing actual change, actual growth.
  • Everything iterates, again and again.
  • The students attending are from dozens of cities, more than a handful of countries, time zones around the world, but every admitted student shares the same mindset of seeking true growth. Self-selection plus curated admissions means that the support network is strong. Enrollment—in the outcome and the process—is the secret of effective education.

…Enrollment—in the outcome and the process—is the secret of effective education.

  • A team of ten trained coaches is engaged with the students, holding office hours in videoconferencing software, cheering from the sidelines and holding people accountable — not to a system, not to a test, but to themselves.
  • And so we set expectations. Again and again, about how we do things around here.
  • The group is always on the edge of something — success, a breakthrough, exhaustion… and then they regroup and do it all again.
  • Everyone makes promises, everyone shows up, everyone connects.
  • The dropout rate is less than 2%. We graduate more than 98% of our matriculated students, an almost symmetric reversal of the typical online course.
  • Many of our students are getting generous and direct feedback for the first time in their career. And it sticks.

If you want people to become passionate, engaged in a field, transformed by an experience — you don’t test them, you don’t lecture them and you don’t force them. Instead, you create an environment where willing, caring individuals can find an experience that changes them.

The lecture doesn’t go away from our culture, and neither do tests. But neither can be at the center of the online learning environment, not any more.



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Seth Godin

Founder of altMBA and Akimbo. Daily blogger, teacher, speaker, 20 bestsellers as well...