I was drawn to the book  “The World is Flat” (by Thomas Friedman) through discussions in blogs like Classroom 2.0.

It fits within my interest of learners collaborating globally to create deep and meaningful learning experiences.

Reading the book has been rewarding on many levels; but, on page 156 I found this direct link between Friedman’s work and my own.

“Companies like Google, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, and TiVo have learned to thrive not by pushing products and services on their customers as much as by building collaborative systems that enable customers to pull on their own, and then responding with lightning quickness to what they pull.  It is so much more efficient.” (Friedman, 2005, p. 156)

This discussion of the act of “pull[ing]” by customers is based on Friedman’s argument that through technological advances  the consumer is able to interact with the provider in a direct and immediate manner.


How do we as educators “build collaborative systems that enable [students] to pull on their own, and then [respond] with lightning quickness to what they pull”?

This is beginning to sound like PBL (Project Based Learining) as described on the blog http://www.classroom20.com/group/pblbetterwithpractice/forum where the instruction begins with a topic or question around which the students conduct individual and group exploration.  It is not shaped around an instructional theory or defined learning path – it is free-form learning through discovery.

I am involved in a project which has the central question: “What are economic indexes, and why should I care?”

I wonder if I can “build a collaborative system” for 1st year econ students which enables them to pull on a connection between the what and why of economic indexes and the what and why of college costs.  Would that connection be a strong enough collaborative system to elicit their “pull”, and be capable of holding their attention through “responding with lightning quickness to what they pull”?

The value of “lightning quick” response falls into line with various learning theories which tell us that immediate response to the learner is key to maintaining their learning momentum.  And, specific to Distance Learning theory, the response must be not only immediate but elicit further engagement of the learner and of the learning group.

I understand that some examples of “pulling” are crowd-sourcing, mobile restaurants, etc – but what would crowd-education or a mobile education look like?