Creating a Culture of i-Can

Where was this when I was young? I’ve been researching various STEM learning programs and recently came across Imagineerz, a design-thinking focused summer camp for elementary school kids.

WebOFMain2

Imagineerz is the brainchild of Vaibhavi Gala, a fellow alum of the Stanford Graduate School of Education (ICE ’00), whose high school dream was to create a student-centered learning experience focusing on creativity and confidence building. Once her own children were in elementary school she knew the timing was right to explore her inner entrepreneur.

In March 2011 Gala decided to take the plunge, quitting her comfortable job in corporate training to focus on creating an experience for kids ‘to become positive and confident makers.’ The first program started in the summer of 2011 and in their 4th year of programming this summer they will serve approximately 75 students a week for four weeks in July. Building on her Stanford experience, she often recruits interns from the GSE to help her with the ongoing program and curriculum design.

As the camp and community grows Imagineerz is looking to deepen engagement with parents and kids during the year through a series of books and apps. With all the recent attention on the maker movement (the White House just announced their first MakerFaire), it would be amazing to see this type of programming become part of the K12 experience.

Pleasant from the Beginning…

 

It’s that time of year when most of us are resting, reflecting and resolving to start (or stop) doing things in the coming months. My recent reflecting lead me back to Paulo Bilkstein’s research paper, Travels in Troy with Freire, which captures some of the key education theories and thinkers behind the current maker movement in education. In thinking about designing effective learning environments, there are so many factors to consider, however I agree with Freire’s thinking that the trick is to balance the rigor with the fun. He captures this perfectly, stating that “it is important the child realize, from the beginning, that studying is difficult and demanding, but is pleasant from the beginning.”

KA Discovery Lab

The biggest potential technology offers is to serve as an ‘agent of emancipation’ as Bilkstein puts it, empowering learners to see themselves as creators and not just consumers. If we praise the current edtech movement for simply shifting students from boring offline lectures & exercises to slightly less boring online lectures & exercises, what is so pleasant about that?

I speak with many edtech entrepreneurs and while I don’t expect everyone working in this space to be an expert on education theory, I think this paper offers valuable insights for anyone exploring the intersection of education and technology. I hope some of you will find it useful and even more hopeful that 2014 will offer some pleasant education innovations. Happy New Year!