Blog Post

We're Storming the Academy! A Provocation and a Promise

     Provocation:  Traditional education too often forgets its precious social condition of face-to-face interaction and takes its collective opportunity for granted.   If your classroom can be replaced by a computer screen, maybe it should  be. 

    If you want to think seriously and creatively, with depth and urgency, about the ways your classroom can be more than a screen, the ways you can turn even a large lecture class into a site of real interaction and vitality, then visit the HASTAC TENT, Storming the Academy, at Drumbeat Barcelona, Learning Freedom, and the Open Web, Nov 3-5, Plaza dels Angels, Barcelona, Spain.  We promise it will be worth your while. 


(And, if you cannot be there, the students in my "Future of Thinking" tutorial will be creating a FutureClass "class in a box" website that will try to recreate some of the experience of this rare time together in Barcelona, for those who cannot join us there.)

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We are using lessons from collaborative open web development and peer-to-peer learning and assessment to storm the academy at the first international Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona, Nov 3-5.   Surrounded by pioneering open source web developers and experimenters in online peer-to-peer learning, we are using methods of the open web to look back and at shake up traditional learning institutions.   Were looking at four key areas that need storming:  collaboration, syllabus building, assessment, and publishing (including peer review).  Our chief idea is that face-to-face learning should not be taken as a given in education but as an affordance, as an opportunity not a default.  How does thinking about the unique opportunity to learn together change the components of traditional learning?   Where else do people come together to interact face-to-face and why?  Going to movies together, watching sports together, participating in a Drumbeat Festival together:  all are premised on the unique social conditions of collective, face-to-face interaction. Is there anything more scarce than time?  Is there anything more rare than meaningful contact in our busy, scattered world?  Traditional education often forgets that precious social condition and takes its collective opportunity for granted.  Heres the mantra:  If your classroom can be replaced by a computer screen, it should  be. 

            Second, our other goal at Drumbeat Barcelona is to create a public voice, public representation, and public performance of the ideals and purposes of Learning, Freedom, and the Open Web that our developer-colleagues will be developing along side us.  We provide critical and creative articulation of open web goals and believe that, without this articulation, the goals themselves suffer.   You need both critical thinking and critical doing to keep the Web free and open.    So we are planning a series of interactive creative and critical thinking activities for Festival participants.  And, since we will be located in an actual tent out in Plaa dels ngels, the gorgeous plaza in Raval, between the Museum of Modern Art and the FAD, we will involve random participants traversing the square in our learning activities too.   Students from Duke University will be developing a FutureClass website and class in a box collecting tools and responses to the Drumbeat Festival and making it available to all during and after the Festival.

            In our tent will be several people from HASTAC (Haystack), a voluntary network of networks of about 5000 people dedicated to creative development of new technologies for learning and research, critical thinking, and participatory learning.   HASTACs central infrastructure is based at Duke University and from Duke will be Cathy Davidson (one of HASTACs founders), Mandy Dailey (HASTAC Senior Project Manager), Nancy Kimberly (HASTAC Project Manager), plus five students (undergrad and grad in five different disciplines) from Cathys Future of Thinking tutorial (Nick Bruns, Robbie Curtis, Jade Davis, Sam Iglesias, and Whitney Trettien).  We will also be joined by Anne Balsamo (another HASTAC founder, from USC) and Trebor Scholz (New School).  

            Were storming!  How about you?   Join us at the Storming the Academy tent!




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