#TeachHack


It took 17 months for the Scottish Learning Fringe TeachMeet to go from a tweet to reality…and so I’m not expecting this idea to happen anytime soon. However, there was quite a reaction to the floating of this idea on twitter this evening and so I thought it was worth trying to flesh it out a bit more as a blog post just now. However, this is a very embryonic idea…so feedback and suggestions are very welcome indeed.

It all started with the following tweet:

#TeachMeets are fab for sharing practice, but I still hanker after an event which more explicitly & deliberately *develops* practice…

@fkelly

Fearghal Kelly

Before I go any further, I’m not for one second criticising TeachMeets. I’ve attended loads, run three and am currently in the process of organising another. I think TeachMeets are fab, but they have their limits – as all things do. At a TeachMeet everyone arrives with their own personal experience and learning which they transfer onto others. So, although new learning is achieved it is quite individual and much of it is in the sense of transferring ideas rather than generating new ideas (although of course this happens too to different degrees).

I would just love to see an event which was explicitly about bringing teachers, and others with an interest in education, together in order to collaborate and create in order to support the generation and proliferation of new ideas. And so it is for this reason I’m proposing #TeachHack:

What would folk think of a #TeachHack? An opportunity to collaborate in the development of new practice….? Very embryonic idea…..

@fkelly

Fearghal Kelly

Although some folk are justifiably unsure about the inclusion of the word ‘hack’, I think it captures the spirit perfectly. I actually thought of it while watching this BBC Clip about hacking objects. There are all sorts of ‘hacks’ happening these days and to me it means the informal coming together of people to slightly subversively develop new ideas collaboratively. It also has the advantage of catching people’s attention.

So what would it be like? Well, I’m not sure. I’m very much thinking aloud here. It could be a one off event in one place. Or a series of events in one place. Or a series of events in lots of places. Or it could be entirely online. Or some combination of all of these!

Ultimately, the purpose for me would be to help us all to move practice forward for the benefit of our learners. I would expect us to be working on some big picture stuff which resulted in products which could be taken back and used by the participants and disseminated more widely also. It’s hard to plan out something like this in too much detail as a lot would depend on who was involved…you wouldn’t want to close down creativity. But, let’s take an example. Perhaps a team could produce a resource which provided the why and how to embed project-based learning, just as an example. They might produce a video and PDF resource which could be used with students and parents and a different resource for teachers. This might be largely produced at the event but might need taken away for trialling in their own contexts and completed online. Now, I know there’s some stuff out there for PBL…but I don’t think there’s a free coherent package which includes guides for parents and students too – and this is only an example of the sort of thing that might be produced anyway. The theme I think would be something like ‘Learning for the 21st Century’…or a cooler way of putting it than that! [Edit: Some folk seem to think that the whole event would be about PBL, I’m not suggesting this at all. I imagine the event would involve a number of different themes with each team working on a different one.]

Given that the event could occur in numerous different formats as listed above, perhaps I should outline one possible example. I do think it would be good, if possible, to blend multiple physical events with online participation. This is an ambitious way of doing this I admit, but, it could be run with two flagship physical events over weekends at somewhere like Society M in London and Glasgow [trust me, this is the perfect venue!]. However, all of the work could be managed online through Google Drive & Hangouts (Edit: or SkyDrive & Skype), which would allow for three things:

  • Groups could work together in London & Glasgow.
  • Other satellite events could join in too – folk could even participate on their own at home.
  • Groups could continue to work together online after the physical event, perhaps creating new online professional communities

This would also mean of course that we could potentially approach someone like Google (or Microsoft) for the sponsorship required to run the event in this way.

Of course, it wouldn’t have to be like this…but this would perhaps be my own “dream” option. No harm in thinking big ;)

So where do we go from here? Well, I’m not sure…but at the very least you should let me know what you think as a comment below then we’ll take it from there…

EDIT

As I’ve said already on here, I’m very much thinking aloud with this idea. The conversations I’m having in the comments below, on twitter and on email are making me wonder. For example, I began to think about how we could do this still without the big sponsorship given that big sponsorship is probably unlikely and everyone seems quite keen for it to happen.

So, we could instead model it on its mother: TeachMeet. TeachHacks could be local events organised by anyone following a shared approach. We could plan and promote TeachHacks on a wiki just like TeachMeets. Each TeachHack could decide upon its own theme and intended product and approach local organisations for venue sponsorship and to access support for creating their product. For example, a local web designer might come along and provide some tips on creating a website if that was the TeachHack’s product.

I think to go this way we’d need a second wiki or a collaborative blog in the style of TeachMeet TV as a place to upload, or add links to, products. The products would be categorised by theme so that if someone was looking for resources on PBL for example they’d easily find them all in one place.

I have to admit…the more I think about this alternative approach, the more I like it…what we might lose in terms of profile and quality of product, we might gain in sustainability and potential volume of involvement.

ANOTHER EDIT

Check out this TEDx talk which came to me from @malynmawby via @Totallywired77:

And this from @dgilmour