EFF's Security Education Companion: essential materials for people helping their communities practice good information security

EFF has just launched its new Announcing the Security Education Companion, a beautifully organized, clearly written set of materials to help "people who would like to help their communities learn about digital security but are new to the art of security training." Read the rest

German free school teaches without grades, timetables or lesson plans

The Evangelical School Berlin Centre is a private "free" school -- that is, it costs money to go there, but the tuition is on a means-tested sliding scale, and the students enjoy enormous educational freedom -- that has drawn attention thanks to the exceptional performance of its graduating students. Read the rest

How a mathematician teaches "Little Brother" to a first-year seminar

Derek Bruff teaches a first-year college writing seminar in mathematics, an unusual kind of course that covers a lot of ground, and uses a novel as some of its instructional material -- specifically, my novel Little Brother. Read the rest

A conversation about privacy and trust in open education

For Open Education Week, Jonathan Worth convened a conversation about privacy and trust in open education called Speaking Openly in which educators and scholars recorded a series of videos responding to one another's thoughts on the subject. Read the rest

Designing curriculum for people doing stuff, not people passing tests

Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, posts a personal essay called "Reading the dictionary," which describes the traditional school curriculum as equivalent to asking students to read the dictionary or an encyclopedia from cover to cover. He contrasts this with his own style of learning, "interest-driven learning" ("code for 'short attention span' or 'not a good long term planner'") and ruminates on what a curriculum designed for people like him would look like.

Personally, I find the dictionary, the encyclopedia and videos online as excellent resources when I need to learn something. I find the need to learn things every day in the course of pursuing interests, preparing for meetings and interacting with exciting people. I'm extremely motivated to learn and I learn a lot.

I love the videos of professors, amateurs and instructors putting their courseware online. They are a great resource for interest driven learners like me. However, I wonder whether we should be structuring the future of learning as online universities where you are asked to do the equivalent of reading the encyclopedia from cover to cover online. Shouldn't we be looking at the Internet as an amazing network enabling "The Power of Pull" and be empowering kids to learn through building things together rather than assessing their ability to complete courses and produce the right "answers"?

This is really similar to my own approach to learning, and Joi's description chimes with me and recalls the best learning experiences of my own life.

Reading the dictionary Read the rest