Can Learning Change The World?

Can Accessible Knowledge Change The World
Summary: Knowledge is worth more to people and organizations than monetary benefits. It's believed that it's freely and easily accessible to everyone, but is it really? In spite of all this, it's up to learning practitioners and educators to make it accessible to all and contribute to changing the world.

Will You Change Your Approach To Learning?

Do you believe that continuous learning and knowledge can change the world? Shouldn't every society promote the need to learn? It wouldn't take much; humans instinctively learn. It's programmed in our genetics. If not, we would have been extinct thousands of years ago. We live in a world where knowledge and information are worth more to people and organizations than monetary benefits. Ask any intelligent person whether they would take a one-time lump sum payment or a lifetime flow of valuable knowledge. The choice is simple: Most will always choose knowledge.

Most leading organizations are completely knowledge-based and, if they are not, then they are knowledge-driven. This alone speaks volumes. Consider that some of these major knowledge-focused companies have significantly fewer assets and staffing than traditional, asset-based corporations and this knowledge focus has also made them significantly more valuable. Even up-and-coming entrepreneurs are developing business models with information and data gathering in mind, even if they are producing or selling a product.

Accessible Knowledge Comes At A Cost

The reality is that knowledge and information are exceptionally valuable commodities. A world with easily accessible and limitless knowledge comes at a cost, for most. Even when people give it away for free (e.g., Facebook users or any social media company), the same users will ultimately pay the price in the end. Want to learn something new or simply refresh your knowledge? It'll cost you. Knowledge is the new profit business model. You believe it's freely accessible but you're actually paying for it. It's insidious and, I might add as an entrepreneur, a genius approach to generating profits.

Shouldn't knowledge be free and accessible to all? Shouldn't it be a selfless, societal benefit? If anyone can access knowledge and learn, wouldn't this eventually benefit us all? Are there ways to satisfy both masters, that of selflessness and profit? We may not be the ones to address and answer these, and many more questions, but they must be asked.

Before being accused of being a left-wing socialist, keep in mind that I'm a profit-focused entrepreneur and I stand behind a responsible, free, and fair market economy. Like many, I obsessively study various business models and continually sharpen my own business models to ensure I'm maximizing my company's revenues and profits. My preoccupation, something I hope becomes yours as well, is to discover a model that will ensure all have access to continuous learning and knowledge while allowing organizations to gain profit benefits.

eLearning Resources

Wikipedia may be one organization that has had success with a passive learning approach, but admittedly, it's not a profit-focused one. YouTube is a wonderful learning resource; I use it a lot. It's free for users and makes money for publishers and YouTube, but it's not a properly structured learning approach. LinkedIn Learning, a resource I develop many courses for, is wonderful and formalized learning resource, but it's not free. And naturally, there are many vendors providing free learning resources like webinars and courses but again, they have an implicit bias: to promote the products or services they're offering, which is understandable.

Please continue to use all these wonderful learning resources with proper judgment, of course. Fundamentally, every learning resource is attempting to help make the world a better, more educated, and informed place. In these increasingly tumultuous times, people need reliable learning resources they can rely on. They need resources that are without bias, deliver knowledge intuitively, deliver reliable and verified knowledge, focus on solutions, are sustainable, and are supported by a community.

New Business Model For Free And Accessible Knowledge

Recently, we've developed a business model that wouldn't cross the minds of most entrepreneurs and would not get a second thought by many in our learned economic paradigm. The objective is to give learning, specifically structured and credible eLearning courses and resources, for free to organizations promoting standardized professional growth and development.

Yes, you read that correctly: free! It's not a perfect solution but it's an elegant one. Most organizations, especially non-profit and professional ones, are challenged with one or all of the following items: the skill and expertise to designing and developing eLearning, burdening the exorbitant costs associated with developing eLearning, and/or the risks of developing irrelevant eLearning resources.

This model eliminates these concerns and worries. We're able to develop targeted courses for any organization without cost or risk to meet their specific audience needs through a shared revenue approach. By owning the intellectual property, courses can be repurposed for any other organization. Naturally, there is a cost to end users, at an organization's discretion, but everyone wins. An organization doesn't burden the costs and risks associated with eLearning course development, members and end users receive structured and substantive learning resources at a reduced cost, providers share in the revenue and are able to repurpose a course to benefit other organizations. Oh, and it's easily accessible to anyone anywhere in the world, thanks to learning technologies and eLearning.

Granted, you're thinking: "But this isn't free." You're right. But it significantly reduces the barriers and access to learning and knowledge resources. Isn't this the purpose? Nothing will ever be 100% free but with thought, breaking up with preconceived notions and with some creativity, any organization can impact on the benefit of their people and, consequently, impact on society.

Why share this idea and business model? Because it benefits everyone if it is done. It also stimulates thought and creativity. This may not be the best or the perfect approach, but it is a new and innovative perspective that may plant the seeds for even more learning innovations. To be honest, most people will read this article and then go back to what they are currently doing as if it's "working."  But is it working? And even if it is, can it be better than it is? Asking critical questions helps to move the boulder forward.

Change Your Thinking To Change The World

If you want to change the world, you must change your thinking. As Marshall Goldsmith once said, "What got us here won't get us there." Or to capture Gandhi's thoughts: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change...we need not wait to see what others do." As I've stated repeatedly, this is every learning practitioner's time to step up and shine. Learning and knowledge are our currency and your role is central to making it happen. Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share how you believe learning can change the world.

We want to hear from you and hear about your efforts. And who knows, it may be the topic of our next eLearning Industry article. Also, please check out our LinkedIn Learning courses to learn more about developing your business credibility for your learning efforts. Please share your thoughts and remember #alwaysbelearning!