Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Week of Experiments: Wednesday - Students 2.0

So, while yesterday's "experiment" wasn't really that new or from scratch, today's certainly qualifies.  "Students 2.0" is a brainstorm that has been growing for the last few months, and which started in a small restaurant in Australia with Jenny Luca telling me she wanted to teach a class on social media to students who might not otherwise be taught about blogs, wikis, and social networking in the context of building their own learning experiences.  We brainstormed that evening and online, and the idea was actively simmering when I visited with Jackie Gerstein in Philadelphia after she'd presented at Educon 2.2 on "User-Generated Education."  I realized that, for me, this was more than just about teaching the tools of Web 2.0 to students--it was about a mind-shift in thinking about how involved students can/could/should be in the shaping of their own educations.

Of course, I've been well-prepared for this moment.  My original interview series at EdTechLive was with many of the superstars of the Open Source Programming world, all of whom did important work at a young age that was outside of their traditional schooling, but involved apprenticeship, mentoring, and communities of practice.  My oldest daughter chose to homeschool herself and became a serious scholar of Shakespeare and other great literature, so I'd seen a student be a self-motivated scholar when provided with the right kind of mentoring and opportunities.   I'd interviewed Arthus early on as well as the gang at the original Students 2oh project that Clay Burrell had facilitated, and I'd appreciated the work of Sylvia Martinez at GenYES supporting students being actively involved in tech support and teaching teachers.  So the idea of some group of students actually being capable of driving their own learning made a lot of sense to me.

Here's what we've done to start:
  • I've scheduled a series of "Students 2.0" events at to discuss this topic.  We start with Robert Epstein to talk about his tome, Teen 2.0, and the idea that adolescence is a historically unique construct that, it can be argued (and I think he does), severely limits the inherent capabilities of teens.  I have to say, I'm desperate to plunge into the book, and can't wait for the interview.  Then Jackie Gerstein is going to come on and give us that presentation on "User-Generated Education," followed by Michael Furdyk, a teenage entrepreneur who then became one of the co-founders of the impressive TakingITGlobal.  In June Elizabeth Kanna is going to speak on "Real World Student Preparation" and Jennifer Openshaw will speak on "What Every Parent, School, and Student Should Know:  Preparing Our Kids for a Global Economy."  Hopefully we'll draw in the good folks from Science Leadership Academy and other schools providing students with opportunities to shape their own learning--and send me your suggestions for other speakers!
  • We're launching Students 2.0 as a social network.  Here's our vision:  "Students 2.0 is a network for you to connect independently with other students and with mentors to shape your own educational paths and experiences outside of traditional institutions. It's a place to explore passionate interests, build professional competencies, and form your own Personal Learning Network (PLN)."  The site is very much still in brainstorm mode, so please encourage students and mentors/educators to join and help us make something significant.  
  • Jenny Luca is scheduling a "Learning Web 2.0 Series" for students that will be held in Students 2.0 and live in Elluminate, and which will start on April 21st and go eight weeks.  She'd love some help, and we hope that this is just the start!  As you can imagine, we've got lots of big ideas and really want to share them.
This should be interesting!  Still to come:  tomorrow - Aula 2.0, Friday - EduBloggerCon, OpenSourceCon, and GlobalEdCon.
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