Last week on the invitation of Martin Lindner, I attended the one-day workshop-style event ‘Hack die Bildung‘ (Hacking Education) in Berlin.

A very nicely diverse group of about 25 people attended. This number of people worked well for me, reminiscent of the BlogWalk format, as it allowed for more deep-diving conversation.

Six themes were proposed beforehand :
informal self-organized learning, workplace learning, beyond the classroom, open course materials and open universities, beyond texts and books, hacking education out in the ‘real’ world

I was attending to both be ‘host’ to the theme of ‘beyond text and books’, as well as to share my experiences in working with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and 10 primary schools here in the region.

Edu-hackers at work

After a general intro plenary round, two rounds of ‘speed-geeking’ followed. In short bursts of 6 minutes everybody rotated in small groups through the six themes, that were introduced by the hosts by way of showing examples, applications or sharing a few anecdotes. This way everybody gets an overview quickly of all themes, before choosing a topic to explore more deeply in the group discussion  rounds. Fittingly a description of my speed geeking remarks about the theme ‘beyond texts and books’ is too long a text to fit in this blogposting so it is posted seperately.
During the discussion rounds in the afternoon, notes on each of the themes discussed were made in etherpad (in German).

More edu-hackers at work

The closing plenary session we used to formulate a few educational hacks. Here are some of those mentioned, from the top of my head (i.e. without diving into the extensive notes):
– ELSA, as practiced at a school in Berlin, where parents, teachers and pupils/learners together negotiate the way the learning experience is shaped.
– Hands on themed projects, in which learners get most of the responsibility (as example a bike tour to Germany’s highest mountain top in the Alps was mentioned)
– Parent blogs, to counter the ‘control freakishness’ of teachers
Micro labs

It was a very pleasant, and intensive day. I find in general these small scale get togethers give me a lot in terms of conversations, learning as well as contacts. More than large conferences do. It’s not a new insight, of course, been doing these unconference things since early 2004 after all, but it is one worth repeating every now and then.
On top of that, I rather enjoy Berlin as a city, so that helps too!

Berlin had a festival of lights, illuminating different buildings, such as Brandenburg Gate