Forget the signal to noise ratio. Signals themselves are a problem now.

Anyone else observing how the problem is no longer finding valuable learning sources among the ‘noise’?

The sheer volume of quality content being produced daily, weekly, monthly means there’s more good info available than you can ever hope to absorb, use, or apply.  It’s overwhelming.

First – I’m not going to talk about ‘fake news.’ If you want to learn how to critically look at news reports, recognize the inevitable biases, and not get sucked into believing everything you read, I suggest you go here.

Here’s where I’m heading:

There are SO MANY areas where the best way to learn the latest strategies and innovations is through online experts rather than formal education. 

I can get more good quality ideas and relevant information through experts on these topics than I could in a formal academic course: sales enablement, account management, customer success, entrepreneurship, ed reform, project-based learning, e-learning, edtech, learning coding, wordpress, email marketing, social media marketing…

But the problem is:

  1. I’m a learning junkie and want to know about things
  2. There are A LOT of quality experts/sources on the subject(s)
  3. Experts and sources are publishing constantly.
  4. Experts are emailing their list constantly.
  5. New discoveries/strategies

Example: I follow some quality  education writers and news sources – KQED’s MindShift, modernlearners.com, Will Richardson, Most Likely to Succeed, EdSurge, Buck Institute for Education, 21C.org, Tony Wagner, Linda Darling-Hammond…These are ALL quality sources. But even scanning everything produced that hits my inbox would take hours per day.

Example: I’ve been working on a career shift this past year – I love Scott Barlow, Liz Ryan, I’ve signed up for 4-5 ‘experts’ free workshops/workbooks/mini-sessions that crossed my path on Linkedin or other sites. I get on their email list and start receiving interesting stuff 4- 5 times a week… each. The time it would take to read, absorb and then apply all the steps they suggest = more than 50 hours a week.

Other areas overrun with people apparently making a living from being an online expert to a niche audience: productivity, goal setting, healthy eating, fitness, meditation, motivation, getting organized, raising your kids, how to become an online expert and make a living at it…

The problem now is NOT finding good, quality content that will help me. My problem is there is TOO MUCH.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOOOOVE that people are creating their own way to contribute. I think that it’s only going to grow. As the amount of knowledge and content in the world grows, it becomes valuable for someone to help people do the hard yards.

If you can save me 50 hours of researching online to find something that works for helping my daughter discover her passion/direction, then that’s valuable. If you can help my sister in law when she needs new strategies for my 7-year-old autistic nephew as he grows up, then that’s valuable.

The explosion of signals means a new approach is necessary. Here’s what I’ve come up with that works for me:

  1. Before you start, decide exactly what your goal is. Solve a problem, gain an understanding, try a new approach…Always keep it in mind so you recognize when to stop.
  2. Realize it’s impossible to actually analyze or even review all the good material or ideas available.
  3. Pick one expert to start with, and bookmark the rest (I use getpocket.com to save pages/articles so I can find them later).
  4. When the advice all starts sounding the same, when all the advice resembles what you’ve read before… STOP. Now go do something with it and take steps to achieve your goal.

gooddailyquotes-com-qh1_back_gt_gallery_foI’ve come to the realization that on the topic of education, I’ve come to step 4 – the themes are repeating, and while I’ve not read all the great articles or discovered all the notable experts. It’s time to STOP absorbing. I have enough to work with – now need to go finish off my site www.parentsforfutureskills.com, and put my ed news stream into maintenance. I’ll stick with ModernLearners and MindShift and mute the rest!

(It’s often said that 65% of the jobs our children will hold haven’t been invented yet, which rings true if you think about how many new jobs have sprouted up in the past two decades. I’m betting a portion of the new jobs will be self-made jobs, where someone helps others solve a specific problem they’re facing…by curating and distilling down the quality information out there and providing a solution that works. It’s already started in a big way, and the need for it will grow as knowledge grows.)

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