Monday, September 5, 2011

Edupunk: Implications for the Classroom?

"What if I'm right and you were wrong? What if you knew it all along?" - Face To Face

After reading about Anya Kamenetz's free ebook entitled The Edupunk's Guide, I began pondering possible implications for the classroom. According to Kamenetz, Edupunk refers to the "many paths learners are taking in this new world." Essentially, people are using free resources such as social media to assist them in their learning. The very meaning of the word "education" is changing, which is challenging the institution that we have been through (and are still a part of). How many of us have looked up a "how-to" video on Youtube to learn how to renovate their house? Or how about searched for the best chocolate chip recipe (rated 4.5/5 stars by over 5000 people)? Or watched a video about how to play a particular song on guitar? Or searched a forum to find out why their iphone is acting up? This is Edupunk. Learning what you want, when you need to.

The post inspired me to finally tile above the shower in my bathroom. With nothing more than the handy folks at Home Depot and some Youtube videos, I successfully completed my task and learned a lot about what to do (and what not to do) when taking on a tiling job. No, I will not come tile anything at your house for any sum of money! Check out the pictures below.

What does this mean for education? Some institutions, like MIT, have changed they way they do things, offering course material free online for anyone who would like to look at it and learn. However, to get credit for those courses, you must pay your fees and write exams. In the K-12 system, Edupunk does have its place, albeit in an altered form. Clearly, the Internet is at the centre of this new type of learning. Ubiquitous access is imperative! But Edupunk has farther reaching implications than simply integrating technology.

It speaks to students learning at their developmental level - what is right for them at that particular time (differentiated instruction, maybe even restructuring the grade system). Even as an adult, learning benefits when you have someone there to guide you through the process. My tile job is far from perfect. It would have been much better had there been someone to model the processes and give me feedback towards my performance. For other types of learners, videos would suffice (something which Salmon Khan banks on).

Edupunk also speaks to student-directed learning, or any form where students have the ability to choose much of the task. Due to a mandated curriculum, student choice is generally limited to the medium used to complete the task, rather than the task itself. Choice, in whatever form it takes, is a powerful tool for teachers to utilize to give students a sense of ownership over their learning.

As you're planning this year, see if you can incorporate something in the spirit of Edupunk. Oi!

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