I Am What I Learn

President Barack Obama gave a boost to the learning industry when he called on the nation’s students to take greater responsibility for their education.

In short order, this led the U.S. Department of Education to launch a national video contest titled “I Am What I Learn.” Students from ages 13 and older are being asked to enter a two-minute video to respond to the question and to share their stories about why their education and career training is so important to their future. The initiative is called I Am What I Learn.

The contest is open from September 21 to November 2, 2009. Winners get a $1,000. I already encouraged my daughter to enter; maybe you can do the same with your teenagers.

The video contest not only encourages creativity and reflection among American students but it is a telling lesson for all of us employed in corporate learning and talent management. I see three takeaways:

1.) Consumer generated contests and crowdsourcing have made their way into the Department of Education. This is an interesting example of Crowdsourcing applied to marketing the importance higher education. Crowdsourcing is a term coined by Jeff Howe and refers to how companies such as Legos, Procter & Gamble, and Boeing use the wisdom of crowds to develop solutions for R&D problems, designs for products, and new ideas for businesses. At the heart of crowdsourcing lies a simple truth: “The most efficient networks are those that link to the broadest range of information, knowledge, and experience.” I wonder how Department of Education will use these videos—hopefully we will see them in a series of student generated ads highlighting the growing importance of education and life long learning.

2.) Young people will bring their video habits to the classroom and the workplace. This phenonom has been called Technology populism by Forrester Research and it refers to how YouTube has become such a growing part of all of our lives.

Consider the following statistics that can be found on the Did You Know Video:

  • More video has been uploaded to YouTube in last 2 months than all the footage aired by ABC,CBS, NBC since 1948
  • It would take 412.3 years to view every video on YouTube
  • There are 13,000,000 articles available on Wikipedia in 200 languages
  • There are 3,600,000,000 photos archived on Flickr
  • There are 3,000,000 tweets per day on Twitter
  • Over 1,000,000,000 pieces of content (weblinks, news, blog posts) are shared each week on Facebook
  • 3.) Government is being re-defined by the social web. Increasingly various parts of the government are using social media tools such as YouTube, Wiki’s and Blogs to connect to and collaborate with constituents. Consider the enormous success the social network MyBarackObama had in generating funds for the Obama presidential campaign.

    So my question to all of us is this:

    How are you using the social web – or the cluster of Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs wikis, and social networks, that drive community-building and collaboration – to redefine and re-invent your learning and talent management departments?

    Share with me in the comments section, via email, or send me a note on Twitter.

    [tags]Social web, Barack Obama, Department of Education, Crowdsourcing, I AM what I Learn[/tags]

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    About Jeanne Meister

    Jeanne C. Meister is a best selling author of three books, internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker. Jeanne is Partner of Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting organizations in re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace. Jeanne was recently voted by her peers as one of the 20 top influential training professionals in the United States. Jeanne’s name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of global corporate universities. Jeanne is the author of three books, Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities. Jeanne’s latest book is, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010) is in its 10th printing.No information is provided by the author.


    1. My colleague and I have created a new social network for people wanting to transform how they work and live called IAM Learning Community (www.iamlearningcommunity.com). We use a platform called Social SAM, created by George Tran (1shoppingcart). We also use Facebook, Twitter, ping.fm, and of course our blog.

    2. As industry and subject matter experts, we must make sure that K-12 kids understand what real learning is. I propose the following: Two classes, identical curriculum – one book learning and class participation – the other videos and social media interaction. Same tests. Let’s see what happens. Being in the business, I vote for the latter. Thanks for the article.

    3. Frances Trant

      Great article and follow-up note by Diane Craver. We must learn to harness the many Web.2 tools available to enhanse our employees’ learning…instead of spending time disciplining them for accessing social network websites. They will go there anyway, so let’s put our energy into providing inhouse materials or links to external learning for them.

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