2020 CO(vid) Reboot

A Community & Collective Call to Action

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

What will we choose to build? Who will we choose to become? As we all do our best to find comfort amid endless uncertainty, many of us are left with existential questions of purpose and what could have been. And while I feel incredibly fortunate having unlocked answers to many of these questions mere months prior to the coronavirus apex, I know there are others far less fortunate.

In 2020, Learning Economy became much more than my next chapter and latest employer. It became a reason to wake up energized and smiling; a glowing light among emergent difficulty and darkness; a future vision and ideology rooted in systems thinking, radical transparency, partnerships, and public goods. And while I have no interest in imposing my interests or ideologies onto others, I hope sharing this vision might open new doors for those feeling isolated or uninspired. All you have to do is be bold, raise a hand, and take a few steps down the path less traveled.

For the past year, a small but dedicated team has been working to galvanize a distributed network of public and private pioneers; a rugged yet thoughtful community of innovators and educators with a shared interest in actively shaping the future instead of sitting idle as one gets shaped for us. In late January 2020, in partnership with the CO Department of HigherEd, we kicked off the C-Lab, unaware that a novel virus had already emerged overseas and would soon change the course of history forever.

Fortunately, this state laboratory and future vision for Colorado was also born as a wave of new ideas and technologies (blockchains, digital trust, verifiable credentials, self-sovereign identity, etc.) began gaining traction and raising new questions about how our systems and institutions of education might be reimagined. So, as we near the midpoint of 2020, amid the best and worst novelty has to offer (technological and biological), I think it‘s now undeniably clear that the time to create lasting change is upon us.

In 2020, and in partnership with a range of thoughtful, creative, and courageous state agents/agencies, Colorado is moving beyond rhetoric and political platitudes. With the release of our 2020 C-Lab Stakeholder Action Guide, we‘re entering a new phase of collective action; one open to anyone willing to take a stand and break free from the perils of legacy and tradition. There are no barriers to entry. Only fear, uncertainty, and doubt stand in our/your way.

How often are you free to act with unrestricted agency? How far does your (or your student’s) voice truly carry? What does freedom really feel like? C-Lab represents an opportunity to confront and address these questions together. I know the restrictive reality of institutional bureaucracy all too well. It can be demoralizing; exhausting. You know there’s a better life available to you, but as you get older, a transition can seem unreasonable or even reckless. With the next phase of C-Lab, the aim is not to blow up or inject chaos into an already fragile system. The goal is to tap into potential energy and reinspire every Coloradan through community coherence and collective action. In the years to come, we have the opportunity to build a new baseline — a sustainable future forged of innovation, equity, and generational durability.

We are the architects of the Internet of Education, and as Marc Andreessen recently wrote, it’s time to build.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for devoting your attention…arguably the most precious asset on earth. You’re among the select few who are willing to think a bit deeper about what it means to be alive.

It’s time to (re)inspire, break molds, make impact at the margins, and to rediscover the power of community and shared action. This is a moment in time we won’t see again. There will be those who take the bold steps necessary to rebuild legacy systems and those who sit idle and revert to the comfort of what we once knew. The work won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. We owe action to the future generations who will inherit a world they had no voice in shaping. I hope you’ll join me in exploring (and shaping) Colorado’s new infrastructure frontiers.