Digital communities: Are they real?

                                                                  Campo de Cebada, La Latina, Madrid (Zepelin)

A week ago, the Prix Ars Electronica, one of the most important awards for creativity in the field of digital media, was awarded to ‘El Campo de Cebada’ as the best practice in the category of ‘Digital Communities’. I visited the website to learn more about this “barley field”.

‘El Campo de Cebada’ is a 5,500 square meter area in the La Latina neighbourhood, at the very heart of the historic centre of Madrid. It was once left vacant and converted into a temporary installation. Then, as the architect David Bravo explains, the parents of children attending nearby schools and collectives of young architects came together under the name ‘El Campo de Cebada’ to maintain the community’s use of the space. They signed an agreement with the city council for its temporary lease.

MOOCS: from Alice in Wonderland to Harry Potter

 

No time to say hello, goodbye

No time to say hello, goodbye

MOOCs from a historical – and magical – perspective

“No time to say hello, goodbye”. Innovators in education are these days like the white rabbit in Alice’s adventures in Wonderland: they jump from one innovation to the other and have no time to look backwards to validate their ideas and find inspiration from the past.

Let’s take the example of MOOCs, these “massive open online courses” that are presented as “the” solution for opening up education to all. We used to count students by the tens or hundreds in classrooms or amphitheatres. We are now designing a universal classroom with hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of students. Universities, students, professors, business angels, and policy makers have embarked on an adventure that should transform the way we learn and the way we teach.

Education is a special need

 

The teacher as a lighthouse
The teacher as a lighthouse

I just came back from spending a few days with Yaacov Hecht  and had the chance to get inspired by his vision and energy. In his book, Democratic Education: A Beginning of a Story, he described himself as “dyslectic and dysgraphic with average academic capabilities”. He writes: “When I began first grade, it became evident to me that I could not learn to read and write”.

How can he be a leading visionary in education if he doesn’t read or write adequately?  It is maybe – surely? – that he transformed his “special needs” into “special skills”.

No more classrooms or more democracy?

Vittra school Stockholm

Vittra school Stockholm

I rediscovered a very interesting study commissioned in the UK by the DfESClassroom of the Future. It argues that a pleasant and comfortable environment for learning will stimulate children’s imaginations. Everyone will share this view even if most of our schools are very far from offering such architectural and design features. Very interestingly, the report linked the delivery of an effective education, which makes use of all the possibilities of the Information Age, to the way the school buildings reflect advances in technology (1).

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