Role Shift

The last time I looked at roles in education I was inspired by Anil Mammen to create a table based on his definitions. I think some of the descriptions can be used in a prescriptive way of getting out of our industrial, hierarchical mindset and moving to an enterprise 2.0 or wirearchical culture. In networks, learning is the work, so a critical part of this culture shift is viewing learning as quite different from traditional training. The objective is to become a wirearchy:

a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology

Though incremental change may not always work, it might be easier for established organizations to move to a transition zone in getting there:

Hierarchical Getting There Wirearchical
Training – Learning & Development – Organizational Development – HR
Representative of the establishment. Guide Peer in learning.
Responsible for imparting approved knowledge. Knows what to teach, when & how. Continuously learn & unlearn.
Omit & modify as necessary.

Collude with the establishment.

Knowledgeable on a given subject.

Interpreter of information.



Workers – Learners – Employees – Associates

Powerless receiver of knowledge. Empowered to find knowledge. Critical Thinker.

Democratization of knowledge.

Studies out of fear of failure, reprisal, or displacement. Closing of teacher-learner divide.
Decentralization of authority.
Selfish motive to learn – job, money, fame, power, desire to appear smart. Opportunities for self-directed learners. Seeker of truth.

Engaged professional-amateur.

Arete* [via Stephen Downes]

* Arete in ancient Greek culture was courage and strength in the face of adversity and it was to what all people aspired.

4 Responses to “Role Shift”

  1. Terry Elliott

    I like the categories but tongue in cheek I might relabel them: Old wine in old bottles, old wine in new bottles, and “not bottles at all” Our metaphors can be pretty binding if we are not very cognizant of them. As can our tables. I do love the sense of meaning that enclosure gives, but I am also aware that they are just intellectual helpmates in our struggle to make sense. Good on ya, Jarche.

  2. Sahana

    Thank you for the post, Harold. It not only reminded me of Anil’s post and the time when I worked with him, it also highlighted the roles from a completely different perspective. I especially liked the concept of Arete.


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