My favourite part about technology is its connective ability. The opportunity to build vast networks of individuals from across the world to solve problems or build knowledge can prove to be game-changing. Approaching situations with a one-size fits all/bureaucratic approach is becoming less necessary and less relevant.
Organizations that are dealing with overwhelmingly large issues have been able to harness community to create solutions. Kiva has provided a platform for people to become micro-lenders to entrepreneurs in developing countries, Linux is an entirely open-sourced and collaboratively created operating system, Kickstarter gathers people together to fund creative ventures but the one that fascinates me the most is OpenIDEO.
IDEO is a leading design firm that has entered into the field of social innovation. They are using design principles to solve MAJOR global issues, for example How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline? The site aggregates ideas from participants and follows a process leading to action. This open-source approach uses technology as a vehicle to CONNECT. Check out the video below for a quick overview:
Imagine the potential for this type of innovation in education. When I am looking for a book on a topic, I don’t read the publisher’s overview; I read the user comments on the Amazon page. The number of stars that an app receives on the App Store can largely determine the fate of that app. As an educator, I am FAR more likely to go with the opinions of a collective of educators rather than with a for-profit company’s opinion. We need to harness the collective knowledge of colleagues to solve educational problems and questions in an open-source manner.
Picture a site similar to OpenIDEO with an educational slant that would allow educators to post big questions and collect ideas from fellow educators. Questions could range from the local (pertaining to a single issue or school) outward to more open ideas that would affect a larger sample. I am a VP with the Toronto Catholic District School Board which is compromised of 201 schools. There are countless fragments of innovation and wisdom within the staffs of these schools that when connected could prove revolutionary. The idea is not to simply post lesson plans or worksheets but to engage in substantive discussion to address issues.
We need the forum to connect these ideas. Its time to value the knowledge within the system and use technology to connect educators in a revolutionary and solutions based manner. What would the educational version look like?