I ENVY the design community. I am JEALOUS of the programmer/developer community. Want to know why? It’s simple: They thrive on sharing, collaborating, and improving their field.
I know a lot of educators who feel the same way, and many educators who also want our community to share, collaborate, and constantly improve practices in our field. However, the reality is that despite many of our best efforts…this is not our current culture.
What We Can Learn From Their Community
This post isn’t meant to put down our field, but rather to inspire other educators to join in what many of us are already doing, and what is necessary to keep education progressive and effective for the 21st century. Above all, I believe we can learn so much from the “hacker” community and how they have grown.
Let’s start with Hacker News. Hacker News is a simple site for the community to submit articles, read those articles, vote them up, and comment. In their guidelines they state what to submit:
“On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one’s intellectual curiosity.“
As educators we are constantly trying to spark our student’s “intellectual curiosity”. Many of us have sought out to spark our colleagues’ intellectual curiosity as well through social media sharing. However, what makes Hacker News so special is the community within this simple site. Ed Weissman does a great job explaining the dynamics in a recent post.
I’ve been periodically reading Hacker News for the past couple of years, but I joined the community almost a year ago. What I’ve learned is that this group of people care about sharing knowledge, advancing their field, and holding each other accountable (which is WHY you should read it as an educator). But Hacker News is not the only place where this type of communication and collaboration happen. Here are some other sites I envy.
“Originally founded by Chris Wanstrath, PJ Hyett and Tom Preston-Werner as a project to simplify sharing code, GitHub has grown into an application used by over a million people to store over two million code repositories, making GitHub the largest code host in the world.”
“Code is about the people writing it. We focus on lowering the barriers of collaboration by building powerful features into our products that make it easier to contribute. The tools we create help individuals and companies, public and private, to write better code, faster. Ship it!”
Do we have a site like this for education?
“Dribbble is a show and tell for designers. Players share shots—small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on. Shots are small screenshots (400×300 pixels max) posted by members to show what they are working on. Some have called Dribbble ‘Twitter for designers.’ Shots are to Dribbble as tweets are to Twitter.”
This is a great site to browse and be wowed. It provides inspiration for other designers and allows people in the field to see “what everyone else is working on”.
Do we have a site like this for education?
The Point Is Clear
The list could go on, but I think the point is clear. If we want education to continue to move forward we all need to get on board with sharing, collaborating, and discussing best and next practices. I’m thrilled that thousands of educators around the world have been doing this for years, and I know how many of us want this type of open culture to be “our culture”. But we need to reach out to our fellow educators who may be intimidated of this type of community, and show them it’s all about improvement.
Sites like Better Lesson and Mastery Connect are already bringing in educators to share and communicate. There is a litany of Ning networks like Classroom 2.0 and the Educator’s PLN that also form social connections between teachers. With so many education startups taking on this task our community is spread thin, with the real “hub” of conversation for educators being Twitter (in my opinion). Wouldn’t it be great to have another hub to share our own perspectives and writing on education?
We think the first step may be making a “Hacker News” like site for education. I don’t know about you, but I am constantly using news aggregators like Pulse, Flipboard, and Zite to find great articles and resources (as well as Twitter and my RSS reader).
This site would be curated by other educators, and function similar to Hacker News (or Reddit). The benefits would span many areas including the altruistic (sharing with the community for the good of the community) and opportunistic (the “Hacker News” effect).
We want to know if you would be interested in being a part of this community. We are calling it “Academic Recess” and hope you’ll sign up to be notified when we launch the site. It will be simple, clean, and all about the content and conversation.
Check it out here: AcademicRecess.com