Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wednesday Interview - A Great Learning Experiment Begins at Black Mountain SOLE

On a stunningly-beautiful 1,200-acre campus near Asheville, North Carolina, a fascinating experiment in learning is about to start this fall. Join me Wednesday, July 10th, for a live and interactive FutureofEducation.com interview with members of the Black Mountain SOLE founding team.

On the same grounds where the famous experimental Black Mountain College got its start, and with with permission from Sugata Mitra to use the "Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE)" appellation, the non-profit Black Mountain SOLE will be a residential campus that allows for a variety of alternative learning experiences by providing housing, meal plans, work and meeting spaces, technological infrastructure, mentors, and a community of other learners--everything except the accredited curricular program. Their offerings are much richer than this pithy description, but think of a place where online and independent learners can get the social and intellectual benefits of being in a devoted learning community.

This idea intrigued me as soon as I heard it. Combining online or blended learning experiences with entrepreneurial activity, open meeting spaces, outdoor activity, and meal-time/lounge-area conversations begins to explore a new kind of creativity in rethinking higher education. An experiment like this would be almost impossible for high-cost traditional institutions to play with, but has so very much potential on the disruptive fringes. I can easily envision similar experiments or spaces being conceived in locations all over the world.

I met some of the leadership team for Black Mountain SOLE at one of the most interesting conferences I've been to in years: the AERO Conference, an event that explores all kinds of alternative educational models. It seems somehow more than serendipitous that the day after the conference finished I was already driving from to North Carolina, and a stop at Black Mountain was but a short detour. The surreal tree-shaded drive into the campus was just a prelude to the historic buildings and the incredible views. Within minutes I could imagine so many exciting opportunities in such a place. After a few hours, I was hooked.

We'll talk on the show about how this project has gotten started and funded, what is hoped for this coming year, whom they hope will participate, and what the implications for self-organized learning environments might be. I'll also describe my my own plans to spend this coming year at Black Mountain SOLE (yes, I liked it that much), and some fun events I'll be holding there, including at least one large on-site conference and a number of more intimate deep-dives with educational thinkers!

Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Time: 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate). Log in at http://www.futureofed.info. The Blackboard Collaborate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Blackboard Collaborate, please visit the support and configuration page.
Recording:  It doesn't happen often, but Blackboard Collaborate had technical difficulties during this interview and the recording had all kinds of issues. Sorry that there is not a recording of this session!
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