Tuesday, October 01, 2013

ReinventED - an Unconference on Alternative Education Models with Sugata Mitra and Others

My wife and daughter and I moved to Asheville, NC, this year to be part of the start up of Black Mountain SOLE, a "self-organized learning environment." Based in part on the ideas of Sugata Mitra (he was the one who did the famous hole-in-the-wall experiment in India), Black Mountain SOLE is a fascinating experiment--a place where a self-directed learner, a student taking a gap year, someone doing an online program, or anyone interested being part of a learning community (including dorm rooms and a very health-conscious food service, but without the traditional curricular program) can come and gather with others.

Besides falling in love with the beauty of the physical facility (where at one time the also experimental Black Mountain College was located), a large part of the motivation for me to pick up and get here was the ability to start or be part of physical events. The facility can accommodate over 700 people, and room and board are inexpensive and arranged by the YMCA management onsite, so creating an event is significantly simplified.  I have some really fun plans, starting with an open and public event being held here October 25 - 27, called "ReinventED."

"ReinventED" (http://www.reinvented.org) is the first collaborative venture between me and the Black Mountain SOLE organizers.  It's an unconference here at the Black Mountain SOLE campus that they are organizing and that I am facilitating to explore the purposes of education, new and old best practices, and alternative models for learning.  Having run an annual unconference before the ISTE.org traditional conference for years and years, as well as a series of Classroom 2.0 unconferences and my Hack Your Education tour, this is a format that I really appreciate. Attendees determine and create the session topics and formats, and the focus is on conversation and learning in a way that is usually much richer than the traditional lecture format.

Sugata Mitra will be a special guest at ReinventED, as will good friends David Warlick, Shelly Terrell, and Peggy Sheehy. There is a cost to attend, there is travel, and the date is soon--so there will be some who want to come but won't be able to. Don't worry, hopefully there is lots more fun ahead. (Maybe you have an idea for an event!) Those who want to consider coming can find out details and register at http://www.reinvented.org.

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