Students/young people are using the internet and social media to pursue their interests. I think this network can be the touchstone for them sharing and teaching other students. The role of the adult could be that of a mentor. Mentors, who have expertise and interest in the student's topic, would be able to offer additionall learning tools and resources for students to explore. This is congruent with the research found in the Digital Research Project http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/ "In contexts of peer-based learning, adults can still have an important role to play, though it is not a conventionally authoritative one. In interest-driven groups we found a much stronger role for more experienced participants to play. Unlike instructors in formal educational settings, however, these adults are passionate hobbyists and creators, and youth see them as experienced peers, not as people who have authority over them. These adults exert tremendous influence in setting communal norms and what educators might call “learning goals,” though they do not have direct authority over newcomers."
Another way this network could be beneficial to students is to offer projects, tools, ideas to students that they (the adults) have successfully implemented with students - ones that were student-centric. For example, I began a student-centric project a few years ago called Creative Tools For and By Kids http://weewebwonders.pbworks.com/. Even though I am not officially using it in class anymore, several students have returned to add to it on their own.
I wonder if this network will appeal more to educators than students. This is in effect just a place to meet and all it's value comes from member contributions. Unless we present a different Metaphor that allows the world to be revealed in a different way, then this place is little different from others that students now inhabit.
What is the "Significant Theme"? What can we offer students that will 'spark' them. What tricks can we clue them into that will help them defeat the Dragon?
Here are some ideas.
As adults we're all aware that we're still kids. If you're in front of a classroom it's a secret you hold dear at all cost, but there it is. I we can communicate this it gives students another tool for functioning in society.
There is the eternal conundrum for the beginner; I can't get the job because I have no experience, I can't get the experience because I have no job. What we need to communicate is the metaphor of the undifferentiated cell. That cell can be anything. The beginner is self defined. A high school student who wants to be a commercial banker makes sense, but if you are a Plumber and you say you want to be a commercial banker...not so much. Put simply we have to point out the huge opportunity that young people have 'accentuate the positive'
The advantage of being poor. As adults we know that we are constrained by our possessions and commitments. The mortgage, insurance and car payments are like a drug habit that must be fed. Also we've become accustomed to a certain standard of living. For some of us that means we're stuck. "when you ain't got nothin you've got nothin to lose"
Students also have TIME and ENERGY. They have the potential to do things that we no longer have the resources to achieve.
Of course then there is school. When you're a student you tend to think that schools and colleges are there for the students and not just businesses run by people who want to keep their jobs and have things run smoothly. But students have the numbers and they can make things happen. And they'll be voters soon enough and if they are interdependent enough they have the power to do many things.
Great thoughts, Jeff; Jenny as well. I also think that one of the lessons I've learned about this kind of project/networking is that we'll likely learn these things as we go along, and being on the lookout for them is critical. I think Jenny's class should help, as well as the responses we get the the Students 2.0 interview series, and then the creation and support of live events with students.
Thanks for welcoming me in!
A very interesting project. In my own work as an English teacher I've been developing a VLE on Ning (FutureClass) since the middle of last year and really wanted to encourage students to move beyond the idea of simply remote access and even 'remote collaboration' towards using resources and links to show initiative and develop their own learning paths. I have found real 'takers' here hard to come by, however, and it almost seems perversely that the easier and more intrinsically rewarding such pursuits become for students, the less inclined they are to embrace them.
I think pressure of work is one factor - 'why should I take on extra?' - and the association of digital media with pleasure and social networking is another.
The potential for a global Web2.0 'school' is huge with advantage for home-schooled students especially. Could this be developed on a single Ning with Groups used as 'departments' or 'subject learning spaces' with affiliated tutor/mentors?
The model of Jim Burke's 'English Companion' Ning is an interesting one; could 'Student 2.0' be a moderated environment where students 'go to help each other'?
I do feel what is offered needs to be creative and extending in the sense that it goes beyond school provision, nether duplicating nor competing with it. In that sense are we looking to provide an environment for the 'gifted and talented' to thrive and would this be a way of working with schools and providing for the kind of student who would embrace the world of 'Student2.0'?
I have a 'mothballed Ning' (FutureClassWorld) which I was considering developing - in the big dream! - along these lines for English/Language Arts subjects. Could 'Student2.0' serve as a hub for endorsed 'satellite Nings'?
My son who works in San Francisco for ITVS and is developing their social media profile is making use of Ning and in a discussion at the weekend described us as 'designers of user experience' as we take these incredible Web2.0 applications and basically work out how best to use them. Surely there is a significant paradigm shift coming over the horizon in the way we design the learning experience and here is a genuinely new frontier to explore.
One thing that I am really seeing among the VHSG home school community is a desire to go beyond their comfort zones. Two home school teens started a very impacting blog a few years ago called Rebelution which really has grown to make a very big impression on a large number of our students. They have recently published a book called "Do Hard Things" that has even brought more volunteer teachers forward to jump in to the technology and commitment to teach classes for free with VHSG. I recommend browsing the site and exploring the book's premise that teens can get excited about the challenge of doing hard things (taking initiative, being responsible, sticking with a commitment all the way through even after the glow of the 'honeymoon phase of helping' wears off).
In our community I see the teens as being quite capable. We have several teens that have taken on the responsibilities of designing and/or teaching courses to peers and younger students and in jumping in to help with courses taught by volunteer adults. Some of the teens have opened official classes. Other teens are doing so informally by just agreeing to meet on a week by week basis as a more experienced teen on a subject helps teens that are new to a subject. In all of these instances, it was a teen or a group of teens that took the initiative to arrange their class or informal meeting's access to tools and resources. They pursue learning the technology, they put a lot of thought into their presentation material, and they have followed through on their commitments to each other.
As adults, if we do what we can to provide tools and accessible assistance when they need it we can go a long way toward seeing them blossom as leaders, communicators, and creators of valuable resources.
This is very cool...I just wrote Jenny, but thought I'd add it here as well..
....where we're coming from.. see if any is helpful...
We're doing this innovation lab where kids are creating their own courses and getting trained to be tech interns
[a wiki of it]:
1) some kids are creating their own classes, ie: hebrew, music composition, etc
2) some kids are going to take this over.. as a course
3) some kids are going to join in with Christian Long's great tedxteen project this semester and then carry it on next year - as a class
4) we created some videos [hit tumblr link at top] - that we sent to Pres Obama and put on ed.gov to promote this student-centric school idea, and making school real life, ... the short story is here
and this is how we're promoting "kids driving it" in our district, just launched last week
5) we're working with uni's as well - Anya Kamentz has a great message here - the diy uni, very much like how see hs and prof develop.
6) on training kids to be tech interns - you've probably seen this - [we think this changes teacher prof develp as well]
We're starting a new log of innovation lab ideas/examples here.
I show this stuff to my kids everyday.
I think the more kids see Ted talks and Tedxteen talks and BIF talks and BIF conversations and read books like Linchpin... the more they will believe us that we want them to drive their learning. We spent this last year piloting an open source math class. It took forever to convince them, that if they weren't getting a "grade" on something, or if the district didn't mandate something, that it was valid - even more so.
We set up a class ning the beginning of the year - kids have taken it over .. that's my hopes for the Education Beyond Borders - New School site and for this site .. the more global the platform and the more it fills up with great people embracing change.
Bravo Jackie and Jenny and Steve for getting this going.
We just have to get more comfortable with the discomfort of getting out of the way.
I think it's important for students to realize that adults care deeply about young people and their futures. It's also valuable for them to see lifelong learning being modeled...and the learning opportunities go both ways!