We have dropped enough hints, so here is the news: NEO Academy is over.
No, not like that. Well, kind of, but not really. We need to explain. Can we tell you a story? Nobody gets hurt, we promise.
Six years ago, this was our thing. Education was changing a lot, and students, we felt, were not benefitting from old-fashioned approaches where they choose degree pathways set in stone, with little chance to really deviate as their interests developed and their experiences grew.
We wanted education to have much more of the agility we find in professional development: a range of learning experiences, personalized and bite-sized, "nano" learning interventions which students could do as and when they felt was the right time.
The key ingredients of NEO - Nano Education Online were all in there, but the recipe just didn't work out. The costs of developing the platform to create and host this content were just astronomical; especially given that the learning pathways had to be customizable.
We cared deeply (and still do!) about the future of education and making sure it was fit for the next generation and the realities of the world around us. We wanted to make a difference, and we wanted to use our skill set to make it work. So we changed the recipe.
Finding NEO took six years, and we would not give up a single day of that time. We evolved into an education marketing consultancy (NEO Academy), but we took a challenging route.
Saying "no" to clients or partners who did not align with our values was perhaps the most challenging aspect, but we did it, and we did it some more.
We learned what we love doing, how we love to work and, above all, who we want to be around. Our team is small, but we are a family, and NEO evolved beyond the imprints of its founder, to embrace the collective persona of our incredible and committed team. We all feel part of this.
We have worked with so many amazing institutions, and felt part of their team, and part of their story, as we helped them to optimize their marketing, streamline processes and let their brand shine through more clearly. From language schools to universities, high schools to training providers, we have built a deep understanding of our sector.
Throughout this, we found our voice, and realized we could be part of a positive future for education; not necessarily by providing that education ourselves, but by supporting institutions and organizations we believe in, with excellent marketing and communication strategies. The recipe was refined, and pared down to three key ingredients.
Who do we do it all for? Beyond our team, and our clients and partners, what is the larger vision? An education organization is not limited by the scope of accountability that binds, for example, politicians. In making great change, the politician imagines what can I do in the next four years, before I have to stand for reelection? The timeless institutions can imagine the next century and beyond, and their place at the heart of change. That is where we want to be.
Generation Alpha is almost here. The last of the generation that inherits an earth in decline and decay is being born now. After them, and in our lifetimes as professionals, the Betas will be knocking on our doors in 15 to 20 years.
What will we tell them? That we just carried on with the same systems and approaches to living in this world that created this volatile and uncertain state? Or will we tell them that we learned, listened, and tried our best to change the way they learn so that they might yet adapt and thrive in a regenerated world. We must evolve, and we must change; for them.
NEO Academy is no longer our brand, but it is always at our core. Our values, our story, our journey, and our own lifelong learning pathways which have helped us each to become experts in our field. The Buddhists talk about a mind stream when a person is reincarnated, which is an element that continues on to a new body, much like a flame being passed from one candle to another.
The idea is that the mind stream is a continuous flow of consciousness that is not tied to any one form, but rather is an ongoing process that evolves and develops over time. The new life is seen as a continuation of this process, with the potential for growth, learning, and transformation.
When you light a new candle with an old, the new flame is not the same as the old, but it does contain this at its core. We will always, in so many ways, be NEO.
When your core is stable and secure, you can build. We know who we serve, and we know who we are and what we can do for others. So now it is time to broaden out the view of whom the "other" is.
We will always work with education institutions, but learning is not always formal. Everywhere we see organizations who are working through the medium of education to change behaviors, mindsets and skill-sets; transforming lives.
As education embeds sustainable development in its ethos and approach, the institutions themselves become a transformative force for change in society. This means the days of the ivory tower are over.
Working in partnership with foundations, national agencies, NGO's, charities, social enterprises, private sector training organizations and so much more, the education that makes a difference in this world will be one delivered in partnership and through community.
In this, we will continue to support and empower our clients and partners by helping them reach new people, engage them in their story, and bring them inside. Our expertise as an education marketing consultancy is at the service of the change makers in our broad community.
This wider vision of US is part of the new NEO.
One of the traps of working from project to project is that we can get caught up in deadlines, metrics and short-term planning. The luxury afforded to us all, in the years of the pandemic, was a chance to stop and zoom out a little.
We want to work with future generations firmly in mind; not just in helping institutions prepare for them, but in doing everything we can to make things better for them ourselves. We are not a dot com kind of team, and "academy" just doesn't cover it.
And coming back to the present, we want to support others who could use our help but may not have the means to pay for it. As we grow, we want to make sure that growth benefits others beyond our immediate community, and we have identified ways of doing that which are firmly in line with our mission, vision, and values.
So what is the outcome of all this? Well, we have dropped enough hints and now it is time to reveal all. We invite you to come visit our LinkedIn page this Thursday 23rd March 2023 to find out what NEO will now become.