Social Learning: What To Manage In Learning & What To Leave Alone


Management is a dodgy technology for the 21st century.

Daniel Pink’s words, not mine, but it’s true.

Management is a construct of industrialization. To be fair, it has a role anywhere: networks, sports team, software, app stores, parks, and retail environments are all managed (with varying degrees of efficiency and success). But what about in learning? What should be managed there?

What is to be learning–so, standards?

The pattern and form of those standards–so, curriculum?

How that curriculum is delivered to students–so, teaching?

What happens when pre-determined learning outcomes aren’t met–so, remediation?

These are all constructs that we often seek to refine rather than replace, but our relative lack of success here compared to our expenditure of time, money, and ideas should make us wonder–are we doing it right?

Social Learning is already happening. The presentation below isn’t a call for that. It’s here.


But as economies, institutions, connectivity, technology, and information access morph the world around us and make it unrecognizable to the Sesame Street generation, it would make sense to at least be able to contextualize social learning:

What is it?

What should I understand about it?

What is it “doing” to learning?

How should I adjust my actions and behavior as an educator accordingly?

And more broadly, what parts of the learning process need to managed, and which need to be left alone? Because if it all needs to be managed, we’re doing whiz-bang job.