Content served: the case for just in time content

Ok, so I’m up early and it is a Sunday and I’ve found myself in a wonderful music rabbit hole. One song leads to another, which leads to looking up a new artist I havent heard before, which makes me download a radio play list and my whole spotify algorithm is refreshingly refreshed with new and exciting music to listen to.

What an amazing thing. The app serves me what I need, when I need it. Why isn’t school the same?

I recently read James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’ and he wrote a personal anecdote about frantically clicking through radio stations trying to find a song to make him feel better when he found out he didn’t make the baseball team. Now, with technology I could search by mood and be served something suitably melancholy or use the hive mind through social networks and be given what I need because I can define what I need in my search criteria.

I remember when I saved my money to spend almost solely on music. I walked to town and listened in store to the albums I couldnt yet afford. I had to ask to listen on the store headphones under the watchful eye of the gothy heartthrob behind the counter. Then, if I liked it, I would take it home, walking and clutching, smiling and expectant – all for a single album that was like gold for me. The point is, though, that back then I could only get what I wanted by going to the specific place at a time within opening hours and also hoping that the headphones were free. The idea of content on demand would have broken my teenaged brain.

In a school sense this music store model is still pretty good. Imagine if kids could choose the content based on their mood and interests? But if there are only three headphones, what do the rest do? It highlights a problem. Unless we have the means for delivery, agentic asynchronous learning will not work.

But now with apps like spotify, we are used to being served what we want when we want it. We can have it as music, comedy shows, podcasts and radio playlists. We can choose entertainment as well as education. We can share playlists, we can curate our own playlists, we can even write our own podcasts about it.

Do you get thinking on things sometimes?

I love how catalysts for thinking can be quite unexpected. The joy I have found this early Sunday in discovering new music has made me want to write more poetry and lyrics and even pick up my guitar later. It has made me want to send a song to a friend to laugh about the lyrics. It has made me want to write this blog about content on demand in education and how content has to be served differently to meet the needs of today’s kids.

Would you want to walk to school just to wait in line for your turn to listen to an album that has been chosen for you? No thank you.

Education can (and should) be much more vibrant, tailored for the moment to ignite sparks of connection, creativity and innovation. Served at the right temperature, the right tempo and just in time who knows what might happen?

Education needs to be a potent instrument too.

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