Start-Up Weekend Education: Coming to Seattle and a Classroom Near You!

Seattle Central Library by architect Rem Koolh...

Seattle Central Library by architect Rem Koolhaas, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Start-Up Weekend Education Seattle 2016 is coming Nov. 18-20 at the Seattle Library. It is sponsored by the Seattle Library Foundation – which kind of figures because so much innovation in education has been coming out of libraries. I was at a meeting last night at Galvanize, a start-up work space, community, and learning hub. We met together faculty, entrepreneurs, representatives from the library and volunteers and organizers for the November event. The meeting was ran a little like Start-Up Weekend: we were all asked to answer questions about our dreams and gripes about education on large whiteboards. We then saw a presentation about how Start-Up Weekend works: people get together and they have 60 seconds to pitch and idea or a problem, people vote on the problems, and then form teams to come up with solutions. Start-ups are formed from these teams. There are coaching sessions and mentoring. It is an amazing opportunity. I met some interesting people with some great ideas and a lot of creative energy. I am really looking forward to November.

So I came home last night, very energized by the evening and Jacqui, who is a college English teacher says, “that is really interesting – how do you bring that level of engagement into the classroom?” So after talking and thinking about it for a while, I thought that I had seen pieces of this method in some classes. Classes where there might be some outcomes (students will learn how to use Photoshop, etc.), but the way the students get there can be something that they work out for themselves. I am thinking that in instructor could help the students understand the goals and/or outcomes of the course, and then have the students decide how they would like to meet those goals. The instructor could provide broad topics, the students could then pitch ideas to the class, the students could then vote on the ideas, and then form teams around the top ideas. The project might be a film, a report, a series of presentations. This could also be an opportunity for the teacher to model “agile development” techniques.

Several courses I have participated in (rather than “taken”) included elements of agile development such as George Siemens and Stephen Downes Connectivism and Connective Knowlege where self-organizing groups itself was a critical piece of instruction, and DS 106 where the students create the lesson bank.

This is one of the questions I was the most enthusiastic about last night: how do we increase student collaboration in the classroom? How do we make it easier?

I know that others have been working along these lines, if you have some examples that you would care to share than post in the comments below or contact me on Twitter @geoffcain.

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