“In just twenty years, some 75% of our lives will change dramatically. We know this because it happened once before. Between 1900 and 1920 life changed.”
This is the premise behind, Nine Shift: Work, life, and education in the 21st century, a book that asserts 2020 is a pivotal year where we can officially recognize the transformational change that has occurred where nine hours in your day will be spent entirely differently than they were in 2000. As co-author of the book, William Graves is a respected thought leader, speaker, and true pioneer in the area of lifelong learning. And he currently serves as president of the Learning Resources Network (LERN), the largest association for lifelong learning and continuing education in the world.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Jeff talks with Bill about key concepts from Nine Shift and how those have played out over the past two decades. They also discuss the role of learning businesses in the 21st century and the ways in which they are going to need to adapt and evolve in order to continue to meet the needs of learners.
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[00:01] – Before we begin, we want to make a small request. If you are someone who has listened to the show before and gotten value out of it, or if you are someone listening for the first time and you find this episode valuable, please take just a moment to leave a rating and brief review for Leading Learning on Apple Podcasts (formerly known as iTunes). Reviews play an important role in the long-term success and sustainability of any podcast. Your reviews help us attract new listeners, and they help show sponsors that the show is reaching listeners and having an impact. We understand all too well how busy you are, so please know that we really appreciate each and every review we receive. We’d be truly grateful if you would take just a moment to contribute a review today.
[01:10] –We wanted to take just a moment to highlight a recent review of the show and express our appreciation. This review comes from Jack Coursen, who says Leading Learning is Outstanding! – he writes:
If you work at the intersection of education and business, especially in the association world, you need to check out this podcast. I’m not always as good as I should be about my own professional development and I’m a bit of an introvert, so I don’t have a massive professional network, but just knowing 2 names –Celisa Steele and Jeff Cobb– and listening to the Leading Learning podcast helps me stay attuned to the industry and aware of the people in it. The podcast goes deep into the weeds of adult learning tactics and it also pulls back out to look at the bigger strategic picture and reflect. It purposefully pulls in diverse perspectives from across our industry and makes important connections from the outside too. I get actionable insights from listening and, equally as important, it inspires me think of new ideas and new opportunities. It’s easily a ‘must-listen’ podcast.
Thanks so much for leaving that review and the five-star rating.
And we’ll note that Jack has been on the show before. He is a front-line learning business professional and we had the chance to talk with him in episode 163 about the work his organization, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association is doing with microlearning.
[02:58] – A preview of what will be covered in this episode where Jeff interviews Bill Draves, president of the Learning Resources Network (LERN) and author of Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century.
Also note that Jeff interviewed Bill many years ago, which you can listen to at: https://www.missiontolearn.com/lifelong-learning-bill-draves/.
[04:34] – Introduction to Bill and some additional information about his background and work.
What is a “nine shift”?
[07:35] – One of the ways I came to know about you originally many years ago was through a book you co-authored with Julie Coates and that book was Nine Shift. This is an important year for the book because the changes you highlighted in it were ones you said would play out between 2000 and 2020. First, for people who may not be aware of the book or whose memories are a bit foggy, could you explain the premise behind the title – i.e., What’s a “nine shift”?
Bill explains that a nine shift is that nine hours of our day are spent differently in the new economy/new age than it was spent twenty years ago in the old age. We’re moving out of the Industrial Age and into knowledge society and that transformation is essentially completed by 2020. If we go back one hundred years ago, we can see that same change happened all over North America as we moved from the Agrarian Age into the Industrial Age. So Nine Shift was written to predict the changes that would happen in the first 20 years of the 21st century by looking back one hundred years ago at nine major changes.
[10:09] – The major driver for the change you identify from Agrarian to Industrial is the automobile and for this shift, it’s really the Internet that’s shifting things. Can you talk a little bit more about how the automobile changed things so much and why the Internet is the big driver now?
Bill says it was the automobile that defined the last century. It was 1) transportation, 2) where people lived (if you moved to the suburbs), and, 3) it was the factories—the mass production of the automobile then spread to every other tangible good and we measured success in the last century with tangible goods. It changed all of life including sports and our leisure time. The Internet and technically, the World Wide Web, is the technology that changes life in this century. He says when you have a technology that is so huge that it changes how people work, then you see the same dominoes falling. Jobs get changed, life and the family reorients itself around work, and even leisure reorients itself around the technology for the new age.
[12:18] – You cover nine key shifts in the book, which include:
- People Work from Home
- Intranets replace offices
- Networks replace the pyramid
- Trains replace cars
- Communities become dense
- New societal infrastructures evolve
- Cheating becomes collaboration
- Half of all learning is online
- Education becomes Web-based
We won’t have time to discuss them all, but I’m hoping we can focus in on a few. I’ve heard you refer to numbers 1, 4, and 5 as the “Big 3” in your TED Talk (see below). Are these still the “Big 3” in your mind?
Bill says they are and “people work from home” (with “home” now being defined as being wherever you want to be and where you work best) is clearly the silent revolution that’s driving the others. This means workplaces become more dispersed, which is why we have eLearning and online learning. Working from home people are 25% more productive than people who work in a centralized office so that is clearly what’s driving the workplace.
He says “trains replacing cars” may still be the most controversial one out there and he talks about the benefits of trains including they are better for the environment, their speed, and how you can work on a train—which is the principle reason why trains are replacing cars.
Bill also points out that people are moving by the millions into dense communities, not only in big cities but in medium-sized towns with train stations. And Canada and the US are the last countries in the advanced world to have high-speed trains, which is another thing that happens when you move into a new age—you have to start all over. So some nations/cities/states go into declines and others rise. Change doesn’t happen everywhere at the same time but Bill says we clearly have the blueprint now.
[18:35] – A further discussion about the “people working from home” shift and how we’ve had a freelance revolution over the last several years and that a huge percentage of the population now has no office to go to.
Bill shares that the gig economy is part of that but the heart and guts of the new economy is the knowledge worker. And the knowledge worker has the college degree (or equivalent) and then deals with intangibles, almost always working online. This is the work sector that he says is most important. In the last century it was factory workers but in this century, the knowledge worker creates for additional jobs. This is the part of the work sector that needs retraining and ongoing eLearning, training, and education. See our related episode, Becoming the Knowledge Worker with Jerel Bonner.
The heart and guts of the new economy is the knowledge worker…and this is the part of the work sector that needs retraining and ongoing eLearning, training, and education.
Sponsor: WBT Systems
[21:05] – If your goal is to deliver effective eLearning to support the knowledge workers in your audience, be sure to check out our sponsor for this quarter.
WBT Systems develops the industry-leading TopClass LMS, which delivers transformative professional development experiences for education and certification programs. With a single point of support from in-house integration experts, TopClass LMS easily integrates with a wide variety of systems to provide efficient administration and a unified learning experience. WBT supports organizations in using learning technology to help drive growth in membership, increase revenues, and enhance the learning experience. WBT believes in truly understanding your challenges and partnering with you to ensure the success of your education programs.
[22:09] – Turning to how to ensure people get access to these new knowledge jobs (and the learning they need), I’m hoping we can touch on shift 6: New societal infrastructures evolve. You note in the book, “this is one shift that is not inevitable, not solely dependent on the unassailable economic forces resulting from the power of the Internet. This is a shift dependent on volition, on communities and societies making a conscious choice. This is not automatic.” What’s your perspective on this shift at this point?
Bill talks about how one hundred years ago, Russia, Japan, Europe and the US all became industrialized societies but they did it in different ways. We can clearly see how they each had a different infrastructure and mode of life and we’re doing that today as well. He says the thing that sticks out to him on a continuous basis is that in this century we need 50% of our people to have a four-year college education and the US is only at 28% right now.
And when you look at unemployment, it’s at 2% for college graduates, which is rock bottom. He notes that every study and company will tell you that the greatest need is for people with a college education. When it comes to infrastructure, it starts with education and for current businesses, it’s tough hiring college graduates because you’re competing for that 2%. So this is his starting point for infrastructure in our country.
Individual Learning Accounts
[25:17] – You talk about the concept of individual learning accounts (in Nine Shift). Is that a concept you’re still high on and do you see any more receptivity to it at this point?
Bill explains that the idea of an individual learning account is that – similar to universal healthcare [and because workers can’t move because of health benefits] – this is a learning benefit for employees and employers (and in the case of low income or undereducated people, the government would pitch in) to fund a person’s individual learning account where they could spend it on a wide variety of activities to enhance their learning. What we know now is that people are going to have 5-7 careers and numerous jobs so their skillset has to change as the circumstances change, both in society and in their career/direction of their company. So we have to be very flexible in terms of ongoing learning. Cross training and acquiring new skills sets are essential, which is why he says certificate programs are so popular right now.
Sponsor: Community Brands
[28:13] – If you need to deliver education to support certificate programs and other types of credentials, we suggest you visit our sponsor for this quarter.
Community Brands provides a suite of cloud-based software for organizations to engage and grow relationships with the individuals they serve, including association management software, learning management software, job board software, and event management software. Community Brands’ award-winning Crowd Wisdom learning platform is among the world’s best LMSes for corporate extended enterprise and is a leading LMS for association-driven professional education programs. Award-winning Freestone, Community Brands’ live event learning platform, is a leading platform for live learning event capture, Webinars, Webcasts, and on-demand streaming.
Evolving and Adapting Education for the 21st Century
[29:14] – How have you seen LERN members – and organizations in the business of lifelong learning in general – evolve and adapt as this century has progressed from 2000-2020? And more importantly, how do they need to evolve and adapt to make sure they’re playing the role that’s going to make them most valuable?
Bill shares this is the central issue he debates with himself on a regular basis—can organizations evolve and adapt or is there going to be some cataclysmic change that’s going to devastate modes of learning, and maybe even organizations? He admits that he thought from 2000 up until 2015 that education would go through the transformation from 2000-2020 just like society. But around 2015 he realized when looking back at John Dewey and how he wrote his classic work in 1916 that we didn’t start changing education until the 20’s—and by 1930, we had an education system for this last century.
So right now, economically, society is positioned in 2020 for the knowledge society, but not education. Learning in society is really one basic system so whether you’re dealing with lifelong learning or continuing education, it is being dramatically changed/transformed and we won’t see that complete transformation until 2030.
[33:42] – What are your plans for marking the arrival of 2020? Bill shares that he’s going to have a grand finale in November 2019 celebrating the transition of one age into another and the NineShift story is told (all of those nine shifts have happened). He hopes to have this online and streamed live from San Diego.
[35:03] – What is one of the most powerful learning experiences you’ve been involved in, as an adult, since finishing your formal education?
Bill says it has to be his experience sitting at the feet of the masters—the extraordinary people he’s had the chance to meet in a variety of different fields (such as Malcolm Knowles). And just sitting, listening, and being able to ask questions, the latter of which he says is so critical to learning and work.
[37:32] – How to connect with Bill and/or learn more:
[38:28] – Wrap-Up
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[40:13] – Sign off