John Moravec

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Do it yourself – do it together

A couple weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Waag Society in Amsterdam. I met with Keimpe de Heer, director of the Creative Learning Lab, and he is focused on innovating in human potential development and education. Paired with a Fab Lab, they aim to develop the community they serve into prosumers of imaginative, creative and innovative outputs — not just consumers.

Watch the interview with Keimpe. The first ten minutes discuss the Waag and the Creative Learning Lab. The real fun starts at 10:48 into the video, where Keimpe challenges the “do it yourself” movement with “do it together” collaboration. Using open source concepts, Keimpe explains how “we” can be better than “me.” At 14:45, he shares some products bring developed at the Fab Lab, including a $100 $50 prosthetic leg and tank tread upgrades for wheel chairs.

This was my second visit to the Fab Lab in Amsterdam. For a summary of my previous visit, and comparisons to the Fab Lab at Century College in Minnesota, click here.

July 20 update: Keimpe wrote to correct that the Fab Lab is working on a $50 prosthesis, not a $100 prosthesis. Even better!

Shameless self-promotion

The response has been phenomenal! Just two months after the release of the Spanish edition of Invisible Learning, Cristóbal Cobo and I have given talks in Argentina, Czech Republic, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, and the United States. We also have near-term plans for additional talks in these countries and Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Finland, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Most importantly, the conversation about Invisible Learning is growing –and we are pleased to see others lead the way! Most recently, I was delighted to learn of this workshop on Invisible Learning in Finland by Tero Toivanen:

Next Wednesday (June 29), De Baak will host a gathering on Invisible Learning at their center in Driebergen. The next day, we will engage in a conversation on deep diving into the future of work at De Baak’s seaside facility in Noordwijk. Both events are provided free of charge by De Baak, and if you are in the Netherlands and are interested in applying to attend, please contact me — there might be space available.

The following week, from July 4-6, Cristóbal Cobo and I will lead a workshop on Invisible Learning at the International University of Andalusia (UNIA) in Malaga. If you would like to attend or would like more information, please contact UNIA.

If you cannot attend one of the above events, but would like to organize a presentation or workshop on Invisible Learning (virtual or in person) at your institution, please drop us an email. We look forward to expanding the conversation!

A plutocratic education

This piece from KQED captured my attention:

a number of authors and high-profile businesspeople and entrepreneurs are debunking the notion that college is the best solution. They’re questioning whether paying tens of thousands of dollars and investing four or five years in an institution should be the default for young people when so many more options exist. With free, high-quality education available to anyone, is college necessary? These folks say no.

Indeed, we have been hearing a lot from the überwealthy lately on what they think of education. Bill Gates thinks the Web will outperform universities (Windows required?); Peter Thiel thinks higher education is in a bubble of false promises; Mark Zuckerberg dabbles by bankrolling Newark’s schools; and, Oprah is waiting for Superman to revolutionize America’s schools.

They might be right. But, that’s not the point.

The problem is that these people have hijacked the entire conversation.

If the ultra wealthy are concerned about America’s competitiveness, the schools aren’t failing. They’re failing the schools. The nation’s ranking on the PISA tables continues to slip, but if we control for poverty, we’re darn near the top.

Maybe the problem doesn’t stem from failing schools and a rotting education system. Maybe the problem is that the number of America’s poor under 18 years of age is rising (21.7% live in poverty as reported by UNICEF in 2007) and wealth among all age groups is being concentrated to a tiny percentage of the population. Given a problem that is rooted in poverty, can we trust the ultra wealthy to “fix” education? …or, can we build a more inclusive conversation and generate more realistic solutions?

Ethical cheating: Getting ahead in formal education

My frequent collaborators, Arthur Harkins and George Kubik, recently published an article on “ethical” cheating for On the Horizon. That is, “cheating” within “the context of digital-era learning that involves open-source collaboration and the ready sharing of ideas, knowledge, and information.”

In other words, we use technologies to help us get ahead in other areas of life. Why not embrace them? I prefer that my banker use a computer to help her compute my finances rather than employing long division and other “analog” approaches to doing math. Why not permit the purposive use of technologies to help students get ahead, too?

From the article:

We assert that advancements conferred by the increasing capability and availability of digital technologies are altering the definitions of scholarly literacy and scholarly practice. Three technological advancements in particular are accelerating these changes: telecommunications; networking; and digital retrieval, copying, and pasting. It is a world in which knowledge relevance overtakes knowledge fidelity as significant measures of competency and application. This is nothing less than a shift from just-in-case to just-in-time knowledge access, development, and application.

A systemic approach to knowledge development and application

In the current issue of On the Horizon, Arthur Harkins and I introduce systemic approaches to knowledge development and application — that is, a framework which provides a systems-language descriptive means for understanding and engaging in an expanding ecology of knowledge development options. We call this “MET” : mechanical (conservatively repetitive), evolutionary (self-organizing), and teleogenic (purposively creative). Many of the characteristics of the MET framework are summarized in this table (click to enlarge):

The MET knowledge development framework

From the article:

American preK-12 schooling systems may be primarily mechanical, but some of their students may learn at home or on the internet in parallel evolutionary and teleological ways. The question is how such students can survive the conservative impacts of the outdated majority culture mechanical model, especially if it is delivered in unsophisticated and undemanding ways. They may have to depend upon self-education, the help of their parents, and luck to avoid becoming the casualties of a declining knowledge-resistant culture. We believe that the MET archetypes, buttressed by [augmented reality], can help such people, beginning immediately.

Continue on to the full article in OTH…

Perspectives on Invisible Learning

By popular demand, here are the slides from my Invisible Learning “stump lecture” from the past month:

In an era of globalization and “flattening” of our relatiohships around the Earth, how can we learn better? What happened to learning as we moved from the stable structures of the 20th century to fluid and amorphic structures of the 21st century? What roles do schools and colleges play when you can learn in any context and at any time? Do we continue with formal learning or do we formalize informal learning?

This is an open invitation to explore some of the best ideas emerging around the planet that are contributing to a new ecology of learning.

More info:

Invisible Learning released

Cristóbal Cobo and I are pleased to announce that the Spanish edition of our new book, Invisible Learning (Aprendizaje Invisible), has just been released by the University of Barcelona (Col·lecció Transmedia XXI. Laboratori de Mitjans Interactius / Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona). The e-book is available for purchase at the UB website today. The print edition will arrive in the coming months. Update May 15, 2011: The print edition is now available for order at the UB website.


Dialogue with the Cristóbal Cobo and John Moravec about Invisible Learning

The Invisible Learning concept

Our proposed invisible learning concept is the result of several years of research and work to integrate diverse perspectives on a new paradigm of learning and human capital development that is especially relevant in the context of the 21st century. This view takes into account the impact of technological advances and changes in formal, non-formal, and informal education, in addition to the ‘fuzzy’ metaspaces in between. Within this approach, we explore a panorama of options for future development of education that is relevant today. Invisible Learning does not propose a theory, but rather establishes a metatheory capable of integrating different ideas and perspectives. This has been described as a protoparadigm, which is still in the ‘beta’ stage of construction.

Our conversation starts in Spanish

We are pleased that the University of Barcelona approached us to publish the book, and they have the privilege to produce the first printed edition as well as the first electronic edition. Moreover, with more native Spanish speakers in the United States than in Spain, we believe there is a legitimate market for a Spanish-language text throughout the Americas and Europe.

An English edition is in the works, and we hope to reward our patient English readers with the next release as a free ebook. If you are interested in helping us produce this edition (i.e., direct assistance through translation support or other resources), please email us.

Presentations and workshops

Yes, we love to talk! If you are interested in organizing a presentation or workshop about Invisible Learning at your organization, please email us. Recordings of some of our previous talks are linked, below:

Continuing the conversation

This book uses the hashtag #invisi in Twitter. You can also follow us:


"Reboelje!" – Invisible Learning in the Netherlands

Finally, after several weeks of travel and meetings, I am able to report on the Invisible Learning Tour, which was hosted by NHL in Leeuwarden. The event was an example of self-organization. Given the seed of an idea, three universities, two Sudbury schools, the Knowmads school, and various other partners came together, using social media, to construct a two-day event. The purpose of the Invisible Learning Tour was to raise awareness for the need for innovation in education. Mainstream teaching focuses mainly on the preparation of students for compartmentalized roles and jobs (mainly factory workers and bureaucrats) that contrast sharply with the needs of the modern economy, which requires people that are imaginative, creative, and innovative. We explored ideas, existing options, and new pathways for learning that is relevant for the 21st century.

The first day was built into an open space event, moderated by Edwin de Bree (De Koers Sudbury School) and Franziska Krüger (Knowmads). About 130 participants attended the live meeting, and another 295 joined online. I gave the opening keynote, which is posted on Vimeo (my slides are also posted here):

The first day also included open conversations on how to make Invisible Learning visible, and a few participants self-organized a flash mob (video by Guido Crolla):

The second day involved a media tour to the De Kampanje and De Koers Sudbury Schools, and the Knowmads school in Amsterdam. I produced a short video based on interviews with students and staff members at the two Sudbury schools. What struck me in our conversations was, that despite the fact the students have no teachers (they are responsible for their self-learning), their responses were articulate and cogent — despite the fact they were speaking in a second language:

Unfortunately, my time with Knowmads was cut short as I had to race to the airport to catch my flight back from Amsterdam. As I left, however, one thing was very clear: A tremendous momentum for change is building up in the Netherlands. As Knowmads tribe leader Pieter Spinder puts it, it’s time for a Friesian rebellion: “Reboelje!”

Special thanks go to Edwin de Bree, Franziska Krüger, Christel Hartkamp, Jeroen Bottema, Pieter Spinder, Guido Crolla, and the team at Mooipunt/CMD program at NHL in Leeuwarden (Tom Ravesloot, Tom Klaver, Jeroen van de Bovenkamp, Wout Laben, Peter Klaas, Sanne van der Heide, Julien Hogemans, Robert de Kruijf, Sander Nota, and Robin van Poelje). Without their leadership and contributions, this event would never be possible. Better yet, they turned it into a smashing success!

Thank you!

The Invisible Learning Tour kickoff

As the Invisible Learning book enters the final layout stage this week (expect the release in April), Cristóbal Cobo and I are already delivering talks, workshops, and seminars on the topic. Already, in addition to our home base countries, we have been invited to speak in Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Netherlands, and Spain.

In regard to the Netherlands, what started as a Twitter conversation two weeks ago has expanded into a two-day event, The Invisible Learning Tour (TILT), on March 7-8. The event is a co-production of Sudbury Netherlands, CMD Leeuwarden, HAN, Inholland, Knowmads, and MooiPunt. The Co-lere website introduces the gathering:

Our schools, universities and other institutions need to make a quantum leap to catch up to the highly-globalized knowledge- and innovation-driven society. At this conference, we work together with John Moravec, education futurist, in an Invisible Learning tour to make new educational paradigms and approaches to human capital development visible.

Monday, March 7, I will open with a talk on Invisible Learning in the morning, and, in the afternoon, we will morph the event into an open meeting space. Further details are being posted to this Facebook page (where you can RSVP to attend, too).

Tuesday, March 8, will make site visits to see invisible learning concepts in practice at HAN Arnhem, the Sudbury Schools of De Koers in Beverwijk and De Kampanje in Amersfoort, Knowmads in Amsterdam, and the Creative Learning Lab in Amsterdam.

…and, to better introduce all this, the organizers (and I) are organizing a “teaser” webinar on March 2:

20:00 Amsterdam time
13:00 Minneapolis/Central/Mexico City time


(More information on Facebook)

Need more information on the Invisible Learning kickoff in the Netherlands?

Join the TILT Facebook group or email

If you cannot make it on March 7-8…

…and if you are interested in organizing a talk or workshop about Invisible Learning at your organization, drop us an email!

Marcel Kampman on Project Dream School

At Lift11, Marcel Kampman of Project Dream School shared experiences from a movement to leapfrog ahead and rethink how we educate and teach our kids. What makes the project exciting is that it is directly linked to the construction of a new school building for an existing school in the Netherlands. Everything will be reconsidered, reframed, redesigned to make it into the best school for the Netherlands (and maybe even the world):

Watch live streaming video from liftconference at

p.s., Thanks for the shout out, Marcel!