Let the Learning Commence

Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Herkie

Congratulations International Connections Academy graduates. You’re the second generation of graduates from online high schools. The first generation included olympic athletes like Apolo Ohno, accelerated students, and struggling students that would have never finished high school without an online option. You have the opportunity to make  second generation of online learners famous.

You have inherited an interesting planet from us Boomers. There are 4 forces changing your world:

  • Communication technology leading to the spread democracy: free people and free markets are unstoppable when there is free communication;
  • Biotech is promoting health and longevity–there’s a good chance you’ll live a longer and healthier life than your grandparents;
  • Cleantech leading to sustainability–which is good because you’ll share the planet with 9 billion people when you’re my age; and
  • Edtech is powering anywhere anytime learning and connecting more people to the idea economy.

These four change forces–democracy, health, sustainability, and learning–will shape your world. You have lived the last one, at least second inning of online learning–you’re part of something really big.

The future is all about learning.  From here on out most of your learning will be “for me” not “for degree.” It will be flexible in time/place, driven by your interest. You’re in charge now.

Most of you will go on to get other diplomas, but pay attention to other market signaling strategies: the resume you build, a portfolio of the work you do, and the references you collect.

It’s time for you to build a personal learning plan–what you need to know today, what you need to know for your first job or startup, and what you need to learn to achieve your goals. As you build your personal learning plan, there are three things to consider.

1. Learn to earn. Learn like an entrepreneur. There’s never been a better opportunity to build a company and make a difference. It’s been said that being an entrepreneur means that you fail until you don’t fail. It also means thinking like a boss–take initiative, take responsibility.

2. Learn to serve. You grew up on a time of unusual freedom, to some extent unmoored from convention.  But don’t live unmoored from community. Plug in, find a place to serve, learn how to make a difference.

3. Learn to share. I blog everyday to find out what I think. I blog to learn. I also blog to share–it’s part of how I contribute. Share what you’re learning. Make learning an active part of your social profile.

Congratulations graduates. Learn to earn, serve, and share. Let the learning commence.


Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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