H.G. Wells, the futurist and great thinker, once said: “The past is the beginning of the beginning, and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.” As you can see, Wells had a broad view of both the possible and the ever-more possible. It was clear to him that the future is a very long horizon from which we see just the slightest glimpse. That is a good thing, if you are a person like Darren Nerland. Seemingly, he shares the love of the possible with Wells—and the optimism that we are all reaching for the best conceivable version of that future, especially if that future utilizes both our intellect and our capacity for invention. By another name: technology.
As an educational futurist, I am keenly interested in those who hold a lit torch for us and signal that it is safe to travel the new road ahead. Darren is one of those amazing personalities: both a critical thinker and a humble and empathetic coach. No wonder he has such an important place in the future of learning in Seattle. Many organizations have someone who can keep pace with the latest tools and learning trends. Others can understand that the human factor is the critical piece of the talent management puzzle. When these are located within the same person, an organization stands a real chance to be great. If any organization deserves it, it is the Gates Foundation.
Having been in conversation with him about the future of learning and technology for the past year, I am constantly energized by his inclusive view, and how all are welcome in the very large environment of thought he provides his groups. Once in a while I can see that he would like us to move along with him at his pace, but it’s good-natured and he always finds a bridge for us to follow along, even if we lag behind a bit.
In a recent event that he organized, the “Learn-A-Palooza,” he brought together a commanding group of thought leaders to open their minds and hearts about how they see the future of this world we are all creating together and how they are implementing it within their disparate organizations. Augmented Reality? Check. Learning Personas? Check. New software, new environments, new skills we all need to stay in the hip zone as educators. How future learning can be fun. Yes, fun. I said it. Check, check, check, and a most enjoyable check. If you missed this Gates/ATDPS event, you squandered an amazing view of the possible.
If Darren ever holds another one, don’t miss it. I know I won’t.