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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Collaborative Education


Was intrigued by the above article @ Fast Company for a couple reasons…
1)      They need more engineers in Silicon Valley, so they opened a tuition free school and charged the businesses a placement fee of $20K for their graduates – what a model! Now, all the businesses out there that are bitching they can't find the talent they need... follow suit!  If talent matters to you pay for them.  Or perhaps it doesn't matter that much to you and you use that as an excuse to pay less?

2)      And they don’t really do traditional instruction at this tuition free school:

“And once school opens, there's no instruction. Instead, participants work side-by-side on personal projects, usually involving open-source software. The learning comes by being jammed together in the same place and having smart people nearby to learn from and ask questions of. "It's like a writers retreat for computer programmers," Albert tells Fast Company. "You don't learn English at a writers retreat, but you hone your craft." 

I’ve read two other pieces of late that talk about the importance of collaborative learning… yet, all three are talking about different students:  
“For the next hour they did field trip follow-up. Ms. Krings gave them Muni-Meter math problems. At the block station the boys kept building racing tracks and knocking them over while Yudy He Wu made a municipal parking garage and lined the top with Matchbox cars. They never stopped chattering to one another, which Ms. Krings said was good. “They’re working together to resolve problems and developing their verbal skills,” she said.”

b)Harvard Students -  Twilight of the Lecture
“Reviewing the test of conceptual understanding, Mazur twice tried to explain one of its questions to the class, but the students remained obstinately confused. “Then I did something I had never done in my teaching career,” he recalls. “I said, ‘Why don’t you discuss it with each other?’” Immediately, the lecture hall was abuzz as 150 students started talking to each other in one-on-one conversations about the puzzling question. “It was complete chaos,” says Mazur. “But within three minutes, they had figured it out. That was very surprising to me—I had just spent 10 minutes trying to explain this. But the class said, ‘OK, We’ve got it, let’s move on.’

Finally, there was this interesting, and I think related, piece in the Washington Post last week - which made me wonder if part of the way we've set up learning in the schools (don't cheat and talk to your neighbor!) is because of this hero myth Gabler identifies in entrepreneurship -
WP: The end of lone-wolf capitalism - HERE

All of which argues, as I've done many other times on this blog, for blowing up the way we do K-16 education and starting all over again. 

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