Go high five, go low beyond, avoid the middle

Whoopsy daisy…imagine perhaps a Chinese teacher now suddenly starts cherry-picking your best students. I mean the ones you had in your own local class-room. The ones you today educate digitally. But on the other hand…whoopsy daisy, if you instead started to teach these Chinese students yourself. Here is how to can win this whoopsy daisy-game.

20 years ago, I met a CEO of a large, publicly traded, globally known, company. We talked about history, the present and the future. Not least, we talked about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I believe this story can help us to find a good answer to this whoopy daisy issue…

In short, the CEO described the fall of the Berlin Wall something like this: “We had to choose. And we decided to get bigger, and smaller, at the same time.”

The company was already large long before the fall of the Berlin Wall. At least 50,000 employees. They also had a number of different subsidiaries operating in similar areas.

What this company realized when the Berlin Wall fell was that in the very short term the world had suddenly become about twice as big. 1989 was an unusual year for the globe.

They thought and thought: what to do now?

What they soon realized was that, on the one hand, huge new opportunities were now being opened up. They could become at least twice as big. But at the same time, they also realized that at the same rate, competition would increase at least as much.

How did they do it? They chose to sell off some of their old sub-areas and instead buy in, even more, in the areas they were already strong in. It can be described as, on the one hand, narrowing down their business, on the other hand expanding it.

In concrete terms it can be described as almost changing a number of thousands of employees, in a certain area, in the small country of Sweden, with a number of new thousand employees, in another area, but who were employed in Asia.

It became more of the same, you could say, but on more markets than they previously were established on.

That effort has today proved not only to be wise, but also successful.

Actually…1989 was not a totally unique year after all.
Christopher Columbus experienced something similar, year 1498.

-> Try this book on how to use Columbus to understand your digital future.

What now seems to be happening to the world of education as it has started to become digital is that large parts of it have also begun to become global. This does not apply, of course, to all parts of it, but for a dominant part of it.

Sure; language, political science, to some extent also history, drama and literature, can have “national specialties”. But a basic course in mathematics is guaranteed to be quite similar around the world.

My own area, management, no longer even has nationally adapted accounting. The management area of today should already be relatively, globally speaking, “equal” regardless of whether you are studying in Europe, the USA, Asia or perhaps Middle East, Africa, or Russia.

Easy to forget, but the education market has, really had an incredibly long period of being “nationally protected”.

Hundred of years actually.

It is almost exclusively course literature that has become global, so far. And even that part of the education market has not been global for very long.

In fact, when I was a young undergraduate student, during the 1980s, a very large proportion of the literature used was written in Swedish. Today, I see almost no textbooks at my university that are not written in English.

What does this mean?

Does not all this actually sound a bit like playing music?
Yes, it does. And the same thing has already happened in that industry

Well, it means concretely; if you’re a educator, and you want to continue in this business for the next few decades, you’ll benefit from thinking like the company I just told you about. Narrow down your own content area of interest, but at the same time invest globally.

-> A book on how to utilize the already digitally transformed music industry in order to understand what is happening to the education industry.

But hello. What? What did he really say right now? Well…I wonder if he didn’t actually say something like this…

We should go even deeper into what we’re already interested in, and learn even more about it, even if we already think you know a lot about it.

But at the same time; get ourselves a Twitter-account.

And…care about E-learning and new kind of tools that we can use in order to help others to learn faster, deeper, better, in a more fun way…than ever before.

We are gradually entering a different world for education. A global one.

Not only a digital one.

Share this post and help others to avoid getting stuck in the middle.

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