One of the many lessons learnt from the first round of Open Education Challenge applications has to do with our responsibility to sustain and widen an education entrepreneurship community.
Why not exclusively proceed with the selection of the ‘10 best European startups’ and just work with them as planned?
Having received 611 applications has made the OEC much more than a ‘competition’. The 611 entrepreneurs from 74 countries that submitted a project in less than 2 months send a powerful message: education entrepreneurship exists! This powerful movement can’t be seen as an extension of the ‘traditional’ startup incubators. It should be one of the main drivers of change for our education systems.
We must acknowledge the creation of a unique community of innovators that is also asking for more interaction and mutual support. All of the projects are different and show different levels of maturity. However they all convey a powerful message: education entrepreneurship is not only an individual quest to create a successful venture but a collective undertaking that will change the way we teach and learn.
It is therefore our role to support this community and sustain cooperative learning among all the entrepreneurs and not only the ‘winners’.
Oren Zuckerman, Co-Director of the IDC Media Innovation Lab, mentioned to me during a recent visit to Israel an article by Seymour Papert based on the example of the samba school as a model of cooperative learning.
“At a samba school the dominant activity is dancing. But it has another purpose related to the Carnival at which each samba school will take on a segment of the more than twenty-four hour long procession of street dancing. While people have come to dance, they are simultaneously participating in the choice, and elaboration of the theme of the next carnival; they are engaged in a common activity – dancing – at all levels of competence from beginning children to superstars. The fact of being together would in itself be ‘educational’ for the beginners; but what is more deeply so is the degree of interaction between dancers of different levels of competence. What counts is the weaving of education into the larger, richer cultural-social experience of the samba school.”
Education entrepreneurship in Europe can’t be reduced to a competition. It has to be like a samba school: more than 600 aspiring entrepreneurs that simultaneously participate at all levels of competence in a larger ‘educational’ process, learning from each other to develop better their projects.
Strengthening this community of innovators is our upcoming ‘challenge’.
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