Five reasons why the sharing economy will change the way we learn


Leaders and managers in the business education sector must be ready for the massive changes afoot, says Marcelino Elosua 

The advent of digital personal technologies, such as smartphones and tablets – and now even smart watches – has led to a boom in reading and writing. We read and write more than ever before.

But this reading and writing differs in a fundamental respect from the linear way in which we might read a novel, or digest a traditional business book. It is collaborative. We debate, discuss and collaborate in real-time through the written word, via instant messaging and social media.

The collaborative economy has already transformed the transportation sector (through technologies like Uber) and the accommodation industry (through AirBnB). Leaders and managers in the world of business education must now prepare for it to change their sector forever, too.

As the way we read becomes collaborative, so too will the way we learn. Here are five reasons why the learning sector will be disrupted by the collaborative economy:

Change is the new normal New technologies are applied immediately, virally and globally and new ways of communicating, making social connections and spreading knowledge arise. Resistance to change is increasingly weaker and delays in implementation ever shorter

Hierarchies are weaker Pronouncements from senior figures are being replaced by communication among equals. Feedback from peers has become more valued than that from traditional leaders

Collaborative content is ‘never wrong for long’ The banes of the traditional editor – the typographical or factual error – are now accepted, and corrected, in record time. Well thought out, rigorously quality-controlled, content is being replaced to some degree by spontaneous communication. This has many errors, but they are rapidly detected and resolved thanks to the large amount of crowd-sourced ‘proof-readers’ – actual users who are keen to tell content providers where and when they have made a mistake. Wikipedia is proof-read and fact-checked by its millions of readers

The cost of collaborative content is hidden Many communications are made collaboratively with a lot of apparently free content. Yet much of this content has an important commercial imperative – it helps build the brand and improve the image of, or trust in, its provider. Meanwhile, other ‘free’ content comes from public sector sources which, as some of the public temporarily forgets, is not free at all but financed by taxation

Traditional qualifications have less value The vital importance that was given in the past to university degrees, as a way of proving ones mastery of a discipline or topic, has weakened in favour of the value of experience and, within it, its capacity to react creatively, to adapt to change and to overcome new challenges. All these skills can be developed through collaborative learning.


This is an extract of a major forthcoming article from Marcelino Elosua. Elosua is the founder and CEO of LID Publishing, which publishes Dialogue.