Building Education 2.0
At a workshop I attended a couple of years, we were all asked to come up with a six-word sentence that captures who you are. The sentence I came up with in the few minutes we had for this activity is: “Learn and teach what I love”.
The story of ‘Education 2.0: Teaching in a Fast-Changing World‘ is a reflection of this philosophy. It was September 2006 when I transitioned from my job at the Earth Charter Initiative to help start the UPEACE Centre for Executive Education. As the education Program Manager at the Earth Charter, I had been diligently helping build an ‘Online Education Resource Centre’ that documented useful resources for educators to use in their professional practice. But in my 4 years at the job, I had noticed that the energy, connections, and actions that came from people meeting each other face-to-face and sharing their stories could not be replicated easily via online tools.
It was this vision of passionate and socially conscious educators who want to come together and interact deeply with others from different contexts and experiences, that guided the development of this one-week immersion experience.
The challenge that I wanted to take on is how can the course reflect and model the educational changes that it itself proposes? It was clear that for this experience to be transformative, a few things were essential:
1. A balance between structured time and time to interact freely
2. Space for participants to share the work that they were doing
3. Field visits to organizations engaged in impactful educational work
4. Diverse participants working at different levels in the educational endeavor
5. Building a learning community that would endure beyond the time period of the course
Having offered the course for six years now, I can see how some of these design objectives have been achieved more comprehensively than others. What has worked best are the first three objectives in the list. In fact, two participants in the 2007 course got married a few years later, having met at the course! Two others in the following year co-authored a book. I myself have been collaborating closely with a number of the participants and in 2013 started co-facilitating the course with a couple of alumna.
Reflecting on the past, planning for the future, here are three major changes to the ‘Education 2.0’ course for this upcoming year:
1. Participants will come to the course with an educational intervention that they would like to work on and implement post-course.
2. We will have an intentional focus on dialogue as a mechanism for thinking, and for making our thinking visible.
3. We will use all of the above to dream big, and design our own answers to the big questions about educating in the 21st century.
This experience promises to be one that will allow us to discover, to create, to challenge and be challenged, on UPEACE’s beautiful 300-hectare piece of land. Costa Rica – the happiest country in the world – is the perfect setting for a course that puts forward the idea that ‘Peace Education needs to be a big piece of the 21st Century’. But what always makes a party are the guests. What are you doing the first week of July?
In our roles as leaders and learners, continuing to model and seek quality professional development is important. In seeking professional development that matters, there are multiple avenues we can take. This kind of approach requires modeling on the part of administrators and teacher leaders alike. Lead learners can demonstrate the commitment to professional learning.