SXSW 2009: Edupunk: Open Source in Education

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 10:00 AM
Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington
Stephen Downs, National Research Council of Washington
Barbara Ganley, Digital Explorations
Gardner Cambell, Baylor University
George Lester

Watch the Edupunk SXSW Trailer on youtube.
View the online session chat.
View the wikipedia article on Edupunk.
View the twitter hash #sxswed.

Edupunk is an approach to teaching and learning techniques that uses main stream tools that brings 70s rock bands to the classroom.

Cambell Speaks. In the 1990s schools started catching on that they needed to start putting things on the web. Although faculty didn’t know what they were doing, they did find some tools that allowed them to easily put things on the internet. However, this was a very standard way of transactional changes. So far the transactions have been point and click template driven, and opressive would be a good way to describe it.

Groom Speaks. Edupunk came about as a commercialized transaction. We want to sell what we do through a certain system, instead of giving people a tool they can express themselves in. When Groom started using an open source tool, there was a huge documentation on how to do everything they needed without a vendor. At some point we have to ask ourselves, “Do we need twitter, myspace, facebook?” Are social networks a concept of “progress?” Although we’re all looking at our computer screens are we moving to the next step? Is technology a way to educate, or are we all going to become zombies driven to the control of our computers? As technology removes libraries’ need, we’re loosing places for people to meet and gather in a social environment.

Downs Speaks. Education technology so far has reserved power of authority in the school. But what education teaches us is we do not need this power of authority to learn. And this becomes a very ironic situation. Education facilities should do this for their own benefit, and not for the benefit of governments. There is a tendency for us to go to twitter, myspace, and facebook. And then to be surprised when they’re using our input for their advertisment purposes. We should do more of this for our own benefit. Down’s university offered an online course that anyone in the world could take. This course was offered for free, but if you wanted credit then you’d have to pay for tuition. This allows for anyone, no matter their financial background, to get free higher level education. 24 people paid for tuition and took the course for credit, but a total of 2200 people signed up. This, in result, was an astonishing outcome which Downs feels technology is heading.

Ganley Speaks. Her school was using small tools that were all intertwined. In June she left formal educaiton to work in communities to take a different aproach to think of themselves as learners. We need to stop and think, “What does it mean to be educated? What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to do the common good?” How does education help learn different perspectives if all you do is work with students your age throguhout your educational experience? We need to get people out into the world and have them work with other people. Librarys are a good portal for this, because they can connect community to community through its knowledge. Life is starting to be dumbed down to a menu of how life is supposed to be, and does not open up the student’s eyes to more.

Campbell Speaks. Twitter is a corportate enterprise. But there is a way where a school can be at its best where a meeting can occur. If they whole school buys into a vendor type product, then it becomes harder for a school to change that in the future.


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