How can one best design an education system that can adapt to both the diversity of individual needs and the rapidly-changing economic landscape? Instead of a system that is geared for mass production but is slow to change, we need one that can scale for mass customization across the needs of students at different stages of life while also evolving rapidly enough to keep pace with the changes that they face. To meet this challenge we need to harness the potential of millions of people who are trying different ideas in education by distilling what they have learned into patterns that can be replicated, refined, recombined and evolved.
For example, Knowmads is one example of a bold experiment in post-secondary education. It is itself an evolution from prior experiments. What have they learned? Which students benefit most from this approach that integrates student-directed learning with projects sponsored by business partners who seek help with real-world problems? Can their successes be replicated and improved upon? How can the approach be scaled effectively while still remaining highly adaptive? Can the approach be combined with others to meet the needs of mid-career students or a business that recognizes the value ongoing education as a means to tap the creative potential of its employees in order to meet the challenges of a changing market?
In order for more students to benefit from this experiment, the experience that Knowmads has gained needs to be distilled so that others can learn from it and improve upon it. The lessons need to be made available in a way that facilitates refinement and combination with other approaches to meet different and evolving needs.
One element of the solution is an open repository for curriculum, education methodology, and resources that is designed to facilitate experimentation, sharing, and collaboration among a much broader base of educators, students, and communities than current practice. Another key element is a network of educators and community members who are capable of providing tailored instruction, mentoring, and facilitation on terms that are analogous to just-in-time manufacturing: with a lead time of a few days or weeks rather than months or years.