Video: DIY U: Designing Self Organized Education

On Sunday I had an awesome time presenting at Maker Faire NYC at the Queens Hall of Science. ┬áMaker Faire is a worldwide network of events stemming loosely from the pages of Make magazine. It’s part science fair, part crafts fair, part place to show off your interactive Burning Man art project (my friend and one of my favorite artists, Kate Raudenbush, was there with her metal sculpture Braindrop). There were lots of people showing off their projects made with the tabletop Makerbot 3-D printers called Cupcakes, or their robots built with the open-source electronics platform Arduino. It’s 100% DIY and a spirit of infectious goofy optimism pervades the whole place.

Braindrop, by Kate Raudenbush (photo by Marc Whalen)

I spoke with Caroline Woolard of Trade School about self organized education and we got some great questions. Here’s a couple of insights that I learned from the questions:

1) Scalability. Does change in education happen on the level of MIT Open Courseware with 100 million users and Stanford’s AI course with 100,000 users or does it need to happen in small groups, face to face as with Caroline’s Trade School experiment?
My answer: Education has to evolve at both ends of the scale. The common thread is more options. I also think I’ve been guilty in the past of focusing too much on the technology. But the reality of the way things are developing is that you can use technology to create a platform, as Maker Faire has done and as Trade School has done, (TEDx another great example) to share resources, spread ideas quickly, and to create the sense of a global community. Then you enact those ideas and reinforce it through small scale self-propagating prototypes, because people really need that face to face experience.

2) How did YOU learn what you needed to know?
When someone asked me this, I realized that all the stuff I say about self directed learning really comes from my own life experience as a journalist–something I learned largely by doing it (I audited one class for half a semester in college). Joseph Campbell said “A journalist…enjoys a license to be educated in public.” What do journalists do? Form hypotheses, read, identify knowledgeable people through various heuristics, question them closely, question your own hypotheses, look for contrary points of view and interview them as well, state your ideas as clearly as possible, absorb feedback, repeat. Also, as a journalist I resist putting myself in a position of an expert. It’s far more important to have access to the right expertise from people in the field, which is always changing.

Afterwards, one audience member commented to me that the presentation seemed to define what Maker Faire was about–”It’s not just about technology or DIY or sustainability…it’s really all about a community learning together!” I took that as a huge compliment.

One Response to “DIY U/ Edupunks’ Guide at Maker Faire NYC”

  1. Daniel says:

    Great presentation. Thanks!

Leave a Reply