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David Grebow

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The Relentless Learner has become the most important person in the worldwide search for talent. How can we identify them?

Most relentless learners are independent learners. The take programs, attend events, go online and learn in as many ways as they can. And they learn because they are driven to know and know-how things are done. When that thing is related to their performance at work, they trump what is casually referred to as "talent" and leave static event-based degrees and certifications in the dust. Every great innovation and invention can be traced to a relentless learner, yet they are the least understood, rewarded and identified hidden asset an organization or field of study can have. How do we identify and support the relentless learners?


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  • Jul 25 2012: Good answer. I was imagining a program, perhaps a database that industries had, vendor-neutral for whatever learning in transmitted (agnostic as to methods, approaches, tools etc.) where independent (aka relentless) learners could gain credits for their independent continuous learning and be acknowledged, track their credits, perhaps receive certificates for levels of learning, have emails sent to the people with whom they work to keep abreast of what they are learning, be able to have an eportfolio to show work, be in contact and learn from one another ... we have ALL that technology now but we have an analog 20th century imagination about how to put it to good use.

    Imagine if you were an employer looking for "talent" and you could look at a number of relentless learners who had earned a Gold Certificate in your field and related areas to help you form a Relentless Learner Team optimized for success. The resume shows what you did (a historical document) while a certificate of learning would be current and indicate what you can do.
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      Jul 26 2012: Here I am!

      Addition: Now where can I help?
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      Jul 26 2012: So the problem is then, how do we as other people tell that they have learned what they learned? The whole history track record, Gold Certificate, etc. are basically ways for other people to understand what this one guy knows. So how can we see that, Oh this kid fully understands this one concept?
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        Jul 26 2012: James how can you ask what I have learned after I have answered more than 5000 questions. Do you want the Cliff's notes?
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          Jul 26 2012: ?? I'm not quite sure I understand your question...

          But I'll take whatever you got to show me :)
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        Jul 26 2012: I tend to be conservative in my behaviour but I will happily show you my mind if you care to read the more than 5000 questions that I have responded to on this TED site. I think it pretty much covers what I have learned and all of my opinions but then I am still answering so who knows?
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          Jul 26 2012: Sure, I'm definitely interested!
        • Jul 27 2012: Debra,
          As a proclaimed relentless learner how can you say that 5000 responses covers what you know?!? By definition you are still learning and thus your opinions would be changing ;-)
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        Jul 26 2012: You can learn of anyone's learning and opinions by clicking on their profile and reading their answers to questions. Thanks James.
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          Jul 26 2012: Hmmmm... This clicking of people's profiles, what is this black magic??? lol I kid
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        Jul 27 2012: How about through short term, hands-on projects in their community?

        I'm in the infancy stage of putting together a liaison service that links issues presented by the gerneral public and "Relentless Learners" who are willing to use their self-taught skills to directly solve these issues.

        I can see the promise of a program like David describes if it is paired with a way for the independent learners to create their own track record while earning income and using their self-taught skills in the real world.

        source: personal experience
        • Jul 27 2012: Mariah,

          Great answer. And their work would be part of that learning that they would be learning about in order to do the work ... nice loop rather like a modern apprenticeship and there could be levels of achievement/rewards/awards/certificates along the way from novice onward.
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      Jul 28 2012: GREAT idea

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