Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Success of Social Networking in Education

Classroom 2.0 just hit 9,000 members today. While I know that as a percentage of the population of educators that's a drop in the bucket, Classroom 2.0 is a social network that just addresses the use of Web 2.0 in education--growing, but still narrow, slice of the pie. And to have 9,000 people signed up there is way more than I ever thought there would be.

Ning in Education, another educational social network I run, just reached 1,800 members. It's a niche network as well that's growing quickly and exceeding my expectations. And the NECC 2008 Ning network has seen a flurry of activity in the last few days, almost 1,300 strong today, and really showing the value of a social network for an educational conference.

I will admit to a small amount of personal gratification in watching this happen and having been a part of it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NECC Breaking New Ground and Remote Participation

Part I:

Imitation--especially with permission--is the sincerest form of flattery. Last year I stayed up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning building a blog post that listed all of the NECC speakers, their sessions, blog tags for each of them, and links to search feeds on those blog tags. The post went over so well that my blog hits went through the roof. This year the conference added this as a feature on their main site, and their new page, pretty much a duplicate of mine from last year (should be, since I helped them!) is now live at

It's not only a good resource for blogging and following up afterwards, but it's also a super-easy page for finding speakers and when they are speaking. Do check out!

Part II:

I've created a wiki at (forwards to for the listing of live-streamed sessions at NECC, as well as live chat sessions. This should allow those who are not able to attend NECC in person to be able to remotely follow some of the what takes place. (I'll know this was needed if NECC absorbs it as well next year!)

I'm looking for a volunteer (volunteers?) who would be willing to receive emails with session information and populate the wiki. Because it's hard to have multiple people editing a wiki page at the same time, and because I expect much of the streaming information to occur just before sessions start, I think we'll lock the pages just before NECC starts and only have our volunteer(s) doing updating. (If you know in advance you are going to try to stream or have create a chat session, you can add that now.) Please let me know if you'd like to help in this way.

It is very important that those who are considering streaming 1) read the NECC Code of Conduct for Video and Audio Recording, and 2) plan on low-bandwidth or independent broadband methods for streaming. I also think it's important that we express appreciation to NECC for bravely experimenting in this and other areas.

There is also a page on the wiki for adding links to recordings or chat logs afterwards. This is an alphabetical table list of all speakers and their sessions.

There will hopefully also be live content at EduBloggerCon and NECC Unplugged, and you should refer to those specific web pages for links.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NECC Sessions for the Classroom 2.0 Crowd

For those who might be attending (or wanting to attend) NECC in San Antonio in a couple of weeks, be sure to check out some of the following activities:

1. EduBloggerCon 2008. The Saturday just before the conference, in the conference center. A whole day of "unconferencing" with educational bloggers. Subtitled "Classroom 2.0 LIVE in San Antonio." No cost to attend, just sign up at the wiki and come with wireless ready. If you can't make it in person, watch the wiki, as both back-channel chatting and streaming video of the whole day are almost guaranteed with this crowd.

2. NECC "Unplugged." Three days of collaborative fun in the NECC lounges, centering on the Bloggers' Cafe. Come and give the talk you always wished you could give at NECC. Or do a speed demo. I'll be talking about Ning, of course! While we don't know if the bandwidth will allow streaming video the whole time, it will be tried! Watch the wiki up and look for links to live interaction.

3. Come to the Classroom 2.0 Birds of a Feather session!
Tuesday, 7/1/2008, 4:45pm–5:45pm; HGCC 217 A

4. I'll be presenting in some other sessions:

An Introduction to Open Source Software and Open Technologies
Tuesday, 7/1/2008, 3:30pm–4:30pm; HGCC 217 A

Classroom 2.0: Exploring the Potential of Web 2.0
Steve Hargadon (moderating), with Vicki Davis, Lucy Gray, Karen Greenwood Henke, Rushton Hurley and Leigh Zeitz

Free, Open Source, and Web 2.0 Software for the Classroom
Monday, 6/30/2008, 4:45pm–5:45pm; HGCC 217 A

Social Networking in Education
Steve Hargadon (moderating), with Steve Dembo, Darren Draper, James Klein, Michael McVey and Dennis O'Connor
Tuesday, 7/1/2008, 2:00pm–3:00pm; HGCC 217 A

5. For a full list of Open Source Software sessions, see my blog post at:
Zemanta Pixie

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Free and Open Source Software Sessions at NECC

NECC is the largest educational technology conference in North America, and it attracts 12,000+ participants. For the fourth year I'll be running an "Open Source Pavilion" there with 40+ computers running Linux, and with a speaker series that's now a part of the main program.

If you're going to be at NECC, we'd love any volunteer efforts in the Pavilion. (We could really use some machines right now for the playground area to demo different FLOSS programs.) Here is the schedule of Open Source sessions at NECC. If there is no location given, it is in the Open Source Pavilion--otherwise, the room location is after the title.

Monday, June 30

Wonderful World of Wikis
Vicki Davis
Adam Frey

Enterprise-Scale Linux Thin Client Deployment: Roll Out for Success—HGCC 102 B
James Kinney

Open Minds, Open Education, and a View of Open Culture—HGCC 103 A
David Thornburg

Moodle Magic: Tricks for Enhanced Course Design—Grand Hyatt Lone Star Ballroom B
Michele D. Moore
Kathie Robeson

Web 2.0 Skills in the Safety of Your Classroom!
George Luginbil

11:00am-12:00pm 3D Modeling and Animation Using Blender
Stephen Crampton

Mooovin' To Moodle—Grand Hyatt Lone Star Ballroom D
McPherson, Bowen and Tynes

Using Moodle to Teach Teachers about Web 2.0 Tools
Liz Farmer

MySpace, Your Space: Effective Social Networking Using Open Source
Jim Klein

Moodle: Hear It from a Sixth Grade Teacher's Perspective!
Chris Craft

Moodle-Powered Learning in an Enhanced K-12 Classroom—HGCC 214 C/D
Mark McCal
Charles Ackerman

Birds of a Feather: Free, Open Source, and Web 2.0 Software for the Classroom
Steve Hargadon

Birds of a Feather: A Meeting of Moodlers—Grand Hyatt Lone Star Ballroom B
Michelle Moore
Jonathan Moore

Tuesday, July 1

Web 2.0 Skills in the Safety of Your Classroom!
George Luginbil

Moodle Magic—Make It Happen: Exploration of E-Learning Implementation
Laurie Korte

Student Voice, Teacher Voice: Podcasting with Audacity—Grand Hyatt Lone Star Ballroom A
Arelene Anderson
Sharon Wagner

Open Source Software for Developing and Differentiating Digital Curriculum
James Sweet
Sharnel Jackson

Social Networking in Education Panel
Steve Hargadon

Introduction to Open Source Software and Open Technologies
Steve Hargadon

Why Linux, Why You, and Why Now? — HGCC 001 A
David Thornburg

Birds of a Feather: Classroom 2.0
Steve Hargadon

Wednesday, July 2

Computer Programming for Everybody: Teaching Programming with Python
Vernon Cedar

Report from Indiana and K-12 Open Minds Conference
Huffman & Taylor

Use Your Noodle—Learn Moodle! An Open Source Learning Management System
Michelle Moore
Kathie Robeson

Free Open Source Content ManagementSystems: Powerful, Collaborative School Web Sites
Tim Frichtel

Python for Fun Introductory Programming—HGCC 102 B
Michelle Hutton

Share My What?! Exploring Open Educational Resources and Web 2.0
Lorraine Trawick
Amanda Hefner

Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ideas for a "Future of Education" Project?

Because of my recent blog post on "Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education" (here and here) I have had the phrase "future of education" in my mind over the last couple of months. I was surprised to find that I was able to register the domains and .org, as both just happened to be expiring when I looked for them. I was then was able to obtain the next week, so it seemed like some divine destiny was at work.

I've been wondering what to do with the domain that would make a difference, and am opening this up for your ideas or feedback. Of course, I could start another Ning network with the name (or even convert the School 2.0 Ning site to but I have a feeling that there's a larger opportunity here.

What would you do with I'm looking for your brainstorm ideas. Without knowing what or how, I have a vision of helping to spark a larger dialog on the transformations taking place in learning and education. Maybe it could be a directory of open educational resources coming out of the read/write Web. Maybe it could be a multi-blogging platform to encourage discussions of both technology and pedagogy. Maybe it could be the foundation for a conference or conferences on education--or even the means of facilitating local "Lyceum"-like discussions on education. Maybe it could be a repository for student projects providing visions of education. Could it somehow be all of the above?

Got any ideas?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Our Youth Need Old Crows

Sarah Hanawald tipped me to this wise poem, the full text of which I ultimately found from Google Answers.

by John Ciardi

The old crow is getting slow;
the young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know,
the old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things, the old crow is still
the young crow’s master.
What does the old crow not know?
How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below, and rings
around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Proactive Learner

I often talk about how physically unsuited I would have been for the world 150 years ago, and how lucky I am to live today because of our current medical knowledge. I look at the original Microsoft gang at the left, and really wonder how many periods of history would have so favored and benefited the nerd?

I'm convinced that different periods of time favor different physical, intellectual, emotional, or social characteristics. I've also become increasingly convinced that we are moving into an era which will overwhelmingly favor the proactive learner--the individual who seeks out information, tests theories, develops passions, ask questions, joins groups, becomes a part of larger discussions, and acts. It's hard for me to imagine that the quiet, conforming, waiting-for-instructions student or employee will have the opportunities in the future that were previously rewarded to those character traits when I was growing up. I don't think it's a stretch to say that being quiet, conforming, and waiting-for-instructions really identified the model student and worker in most people's eyes for the last half of the 20th century.

But as I look around at the complexity of our current world, at the sheer volume of both material and opportunity, at the amazing entrepreneurial environment the academic and business worlds will operate in, it becomes increasingly clear to me that the character traits of being proactive learners and contributors are going to be essential to our students. Of course, they will need help turning creativity into craft (thanks to Karen Greenwood Henke for that thought), and coaching in how to use independence to create competence, but above all, they will need to be proactive.

How do we help our students develop these skills? The classic, and profound, rule of all influence: we have to model those skills ourselves.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A First Look at "Disrupting Class" by Clayton Christensen

It took me all of about three minutes to decide to order Disrupting Class by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson. Computers, education, and change? How fast can I get it?

But the review I read in Education Week, "Online Education Cast as ‘Disruptive Innovation’", which so intrigued me, may have gotten the main idea of the book wrong.

The caveat I need to give is that I've only read the beginning and ending portions of the book (when I'm truly engaged in a book why read it in order?!). However, there's enough meat in what I did read to do a short overview here, and to try and explain where the authors are headed and why it the message has been unique to me.

From my reading, the disruptive innovation is not online education, but the increasing expectation that our children/students will have a customized educational experience. This makes a lot of sense to me, since having watched the ed tech world for some years now, it's hard to imagine a "technology" (even one as compelling as online education) motivating educators or parents to dramatic change. There are just too many practical daily concerns to make it believable that the unfulfilled promise of computing would "disrupt" our current system. On the other hand, a shift from the industrial model of schooling to one that is more responsive to our individual children does seem like an unstoppable force, since increasing parents' expectations for the education of their own children carries huge motivation and power (the authors' claim that in many school districts already over a third of their spending is on special education students [p. 34].)

Professor Christensen is the lead author, and he acknowledges that he is not an "expert" in education, although he has a lot of practice in it (he's a professor at Harvard Business School). However that may be, he was asked to look at the problems of education through the "lens" of his body of theory about how organizational cultures react to "disruptive" change--with the hope that this study might help to frame why schools have struggled and how to solve their problems (p. v).

In beginning to discuss disruptive innovation theory, the authors break with some expectations and praise public schooling: "[A]s we will show, contrary to widespread perception, on average, public schools have a steady record of improving on the metrics by which they are judged, just like other organizations we've studied" (p. 44). But even with this positive record, there is a specific kind of innovation which almost always "trips up well-managed, improving" organizations and which defies "the abilities of even the most capable executives in the world's best companies" (p. 44-45). They believe public schools are going to experience this, since:
...two significant disruptions of this sort have swept through the U.S. public schools, marked by the Nation at Risk report and the No Child Left Behind Act. Assigning schools new jobs for which they were not built--and therefore are not necessarily doing--has meant that schools don't look as good in light of the new requirements. But given how difficult it is to negotiate these disruptive currents, as we show in the pages that follow, the schools have done remarkably well--which provides some hope that they may be able to switch to a student-centric learning mode, too, through a disruptive implementation of computer-based learning. (p. 45)
So, if I'm reading this correctly, the disruption is the switch to expectations for student-centric learning, and that online learning (or the computer) becomes the solution--not the original disruption. The use of the word "disruptive" for the implementation of the solution has me a little confused as to what the disruption is, but I'm going to leave that for now. Chapter 2 has more detail on the model of disruptive innovation, but for our purposes I want to go back to the introductory chapter.

The introduction to the book tries to define what the problems in the U.S. public school system really are, and it gave me a new framework for trying to understand the philosophical tension in my own mind (and the nation's?) between authoritative and constructivist education. The authors start with a summary of four commonly-held aspirations for our schools:
1. Maximize human potential.
2. Facilitate a vibrant, participative democracy in which we have an informed electorate...
3. Hone the skills, capabilities, and attitudes that will help our economy...
4. Nurture the understanding that people can see things differently--and that those differences merit respect...
(p. 1)
Acknowledging that we are not doing well in these areas, the authors then propose seven common theories for the lack of school improvement--and then refute each as the root cause. and even all as the main dynamic.
  1. "[S]chools are underfunded." However: "The U.S. public education system spends more per student than all but a few countries, and yet, on average, its student often perform at or below the level of those in other economically advanced countries" (p. 2).
  2. "[T]here aren't enough computers in the classroom." However: "If the addition of computers to classrooms were a cure, there would be evidence of it by now" (p. 3)
  3. Students and their parents are to blame. However: this is a serious factor (especially in the light of the increases in minority-background students, who have historically performed least well), but there are enough exceptions to believe "[t]here has to be a better answer" (p. 4).
  4. "The U.S. teaching model is simply broken." However: we often make mistakes when imagining how our teaching model is compared with other countries (see the fascinating exercise the reader goes through on p. 4 here).
  5. "[T]he teacher unions must be the problem." However: "Like all explanations, this may be true to a degree, but as the definitive explanation, it doesn't hold up."
  6. All of the above are "conspiring collectively to constrain" the U.S. However: Of course, they state. "[A]ll these issues are at work in other nations' schools as well--and yet the evidence is that many of them obtain better results than do those in the United States" (p. 5).
  7. Finally, the "way we measure schools' performance is fundamentally flawed." However: Of course, as well, but not the root cause. "Today a stunning proportion of the people in [the] offices and cubicles of [Silicon Valley] are Israeli, Indian, and Chinese. Those educated in the U.S. schools are losing share--and it's not because the United States is uniquely unable to measure true academic achievement. The United States has kept its technological edge in the world not because its public schools are sending the best potential technologists to U.S. colleges. The United States is clinging to its advantage because it has continued to be a magnet for the best talent in the world" (p. 6).
If, the authors now ask, all of the above "do not explain the problem, what is the reason for the educational woes? ...If other countries have these same factors at work in their schools, why is it that so many of their students outperform U.S. students?" (p. 6) Basically, they say, it comes down to motivation. "Unless students (and teachers, for that matter) are motivated, they will reject the rigor of any learning task and abandon it before achieving success" (p. 7).

So, when there is high "extrinsic" motivation, as is the case in societies and families that are depending on education to raise themselves from poverty, the system of education is not as important as the end result. Standardized, factory-style learning works just fine in that setting because the end goal is more important than the journey to those folks. But without extrinsic motivation, as is arguably the case for the United States, the job of schools is much harder since educators must appeal to the "intrinsic" motivation of students--and intrinsic motivation clashes with standardized learning. A dependence on intrinsic motivation means that we can no longer ignore different learning needs and styles, and the customization in learning they bring is the disruptive force we are starting to feel, and that seems will be answered by the use of "student-centric technology."

There's obviously much more to this book than I have started to explore (and maybe I'm wrong in my interpretation of its message), but hopefully this gives you a starting point for considering to read it. I'm going to keep plowing away!

Ning as the New Ebay

I've been following the Ning blog lately, where they are increasingly profiling different Ning networks. (Full disclosure for our anonymous friend: I do consulting work for Ning!)

I'm struck by something lately. In a "long tail" world of increasingly varied interests, and where organizing groups has become "ridiculously easy," I sense a huge opportunity for the entrepreneurial individual. Creating and running a successful Ning Network around a topic now potentially places someone in a position to make a career of that role--or, at least, to springboard from there.

In fact, historically, I would argue that this might be an incredibly unique period of time in the history of business and social movements, where armed just with passion, authenticity, a proactive mindset, and time (notice the lack of financial prerequisites), the pioneering man or woman or youth can stake a kind of virtual claim and oversee the development of a topic area. It sure seems like Ning is the magic ingredient. At last count, 275,000 social networks. Wow.

Indiana Is the Place to Be

The 2008 K-12 Open Minds Conference is now scheduled for September 25 - 27 at the downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sponsorship prospectus is beginning to be emailed out, and the registration website should be on line later this week.

To register interest in attending the conference, you can go to This site will ultimately remain as the conference wiki, but the permanent site will be If you or your organization is interested in being a sponsor or exhibitor at K-12 Open Minds, please contact me.

OK, so the logo is a little "busy." We're working on it! :)

Here are excerpts from the sponsorship prospectus:


Schools around the United States and the world are discovering the the benefits of Open-Source Software. In Indiana alone, over 125,000 students use Open-Source Software every day. Not only does Open Source save money, it allows schools to extend the benefits of technology more broadly, affording a better education to students.

On September 25 - 27, 2008, the second annual International K-12 Open Minds Conference will be held at the downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Organizing Committee:

Donna Benjamin, Education Spokesperson for Open Source Industry Australia
Cathy Blitzer, Indiana Department of Education
Kim Brand, President, FileEngine, Inc.
Emily Garaffo, Indiana Department of Education
Forrest Gaston, Consultant, Central Indiana Education Service Center (CIESC)
Jim Gerry, Illinois Math and Science Institute
Steve Hargadon, Project Director, CoSN K-12 Open Technologies Initiative
Jim Hirsch, CIO, Plano Independent School District
Tom Hoffman, SchoolTool
Daniel Howard, President and CEO, Georgia Open Source Education Foundation
Mike Huffman, Indiana Department of Education
Jim Klein, Director of Information Services and Technology, Saugus-Union School District (California)
Kevin McGuire, Director of Information Technology and Media Services, Michigan City Area Schools
Steve Midgley, CTO, Tuckapilla, LLC
Dr. Kathryn Moyle, Associate Professor, University of Canberra
Randy Orwin, Director of Technology, Bainbridge Island School District - Washington State
Bryant Patten, Executive Director, The National Center for Open Source and Education (NCOSE)
Benoit St-Andre, Education Services Director, Revolution Linux
Scott Swanson, Strategic Technology Coordinator, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Laura Taylor, Indiana Department of Education
Dr. David Thornburg, Executive Director, The Thornburg Center
David Trask, FOSSed

History The first-ever K-12 Open Minds conference was held in October of 2007 in Indianapolis. Largely organized by the Indiana Department of Education, with support from Indiana University, the conference drew 342 attendees, with more than 70 speakers in over 100 sessions. The keynote speakers were Dr. David Thornburg (futurist and noted author), Dr. David Cavallo (Director of the Future of Learning Group at the MIT Media Laboratory), and Benjamin Mako Hill (Board Member, Free Software Foundation, Advisor to OLPC project, MIT Media Labs researcher, member of the Ubuntu Community Council).

Sponsors included Asus, Dell, Educational Collaborators, ENA, HP, ImpariSystems, Intel, Matrix Integration, Novell, R Cubed Technologies, SAFARI Montage, Stoneware, Inc., and Tandberg.

A significant one-day pre-conference was held with 35 U.S. and International Open Source advocates and "thinkers" who worked to share and help each other develop "roadmaps" for the introduction and use of Open Source Software in educational systems. Representatives came from Canada, Spain (2), France (2), Norway (2), and Germany.

This Year's Conference

Focus: K-12 Open Minds will be the definitive event in North America for advocacy and learning around Open Source Software and Open Technologies in K-12 education. The conference focus is on the three critical areas for the adoption and use of Open Technologies: Leadership, Teaching and Learning, and Technical. The conference should both attract existing decision-makers as well as to help develop leaders from within the educator community.

Attendance: Attendance estimates for this year are 400 - 500 participants. The success of last year's conference and the addition of a more robust planning process would indicate the likelihood of increased participation at this year's event. Holding the conference in Indiana will increase the potential for continued support because of the State's pioneering efforts in the Open Source arena. The earlier Fall date is to accommodate the ability for schools to use their 2008 budget funds. We estimate that the conference registration fee will be under $200, which makes it a very good conference value.

Sponsors: Sponsoring organizations will be treated as partners, and starting in June a monthly Sponsor Advisory Committee will be convened over the telephone. Sponsors will be asked to consider using their internal and promotional resources to promote the conference. With this spirit in mind, we would also ask each organization to make recommendations for speakers and presenters, from within their organizations or without. One thing sponsors should note is that we are considering hosting a pre-conference "Vendor Event," giving direct access to teachers, technicians, and administrators in an Open Source environment to talk about what they want and need. A school visit could be included. Your opinions on this kind of an activity would be collected via the Sponsor Advisory Committee conference calls or through direct correspondence with any of the organizing committee members listed above.

Speakers: Keynote speaker availability is being solicited currently. Dr. David Thornburg has already agreed to speak as a keynote speaker. Keynote suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.

Organization: The actual conference organization and logistics are being managed by the non-profit National Center for Open Source and Education,

International Participation: As was the case last year, there will be a concerted effort to involve the international community in a significant way, including a one-day pre-conference brainstorm or "roadmap" session. A portion of sponsorship dollars will be used to facilitate participation by representatives in countries where Open Source Software is having a noticeable impact on education, and there are also additional opportunities to contribute to that fund. In addition to the countries represented last year, we are anxious to make similar invitations to individuals in Portugal, Brazil, Chile, the Philippines, South Africa, and Australia.

Student Participation: There will be a push this year to increase the level of student participation at the conference, and even the hope of convening a student committee for oversight of a showcase area, a student keynote, and student presentations. A small portion of sponsorship dollars will go toward this effort as detailed below, but with some dedicated sponsorship student involvement could be enhanced.

Awards: This year K-12 Open Minds will be making some awards to recognize leadership and accomplishment in the use of Open Source Software in K-12 education.

Promotion: Promotion of the conference last year was largely by word of mouth and some active blogging efforts. This year's promotional efforts will include:

  • Proactive use of media contacts to generate publicity
  • Wider efforts to involve the educational and Open Source blogging communities
  • Promotion to past attendees
  • K-12 Open Minds will also be a sponsor of the Open Source Pavilion at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), distributing promotional materials and giving promotional talks
Sponsors are encouraged to take advantage of and help contribute to both of pre- and post-conference publicity. Effort will be made to audio or video record every session where the speaker(s) agree to do so. Recordings will be posted on the conference website so that they can be used as resources at a later date. A social network for the conference is planned as well, which should allow for continuing dialog and contact after the event.

The Future of Work (and Education)

Social Media in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

This commoncraft video on social media, by using the analogy of ice cream production, does a great job of demonstrating an outcome of Web 2.0 that I increasingly see as inevitable (and positive): a significantly more entrepreneurial world where business, interest, and passion can intersect on idea and projects in the "long tail."

Because many traditional barriers to product or service creation and marketing have been obliterated by the web, and the cost of failure has largely been reduced as well, specialty and niche businesses are likely to explode. I believe that a cornucopia of businesses (and social movements) will provide opportunities for amazingly varied work and careers, and that traditional businesses will also have to gravitate toward a more "engaged" relationship with their customers.

The impact on education seems clear. Students who learn to be self-motivated, highly-engaged, and proactive will thrive in the new world. The same "long tail" effect, when applied to educational opportunities, means that students will be able not only to study from a much broader range of topics than we've traditionally offered in "brick and mortar" schooling, but they will likely be able to actually participate in original work and research in a field of their choosing well before even applying to college.