EduPunk – Tech or Mindset?

So recently in the education blog scene there’s been a hubbub over the term EduPunk. It was first coined by Jim Groom in his blog Bava Tuesdays, and from what I can understand, EduPunk basically covers two things:

  1. The use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and so on (as well as non-web things such as Lego) in teaching and education
  2. The backlash against corporate education technology, such as Blackboard, in favour of more grassroots efforts.

The idea is that by using interactive and collaborative tools, and by going for non-corporate producers, education is following a more DIY ethos, which is at the core of punk ideology.

Now while I think the concepts are admirable, I think the “punk” term here is a little misplaced. From how the term’s being used currently (granted, it’s only been less than a week), it seems to me that the focus is more on the technology – rather than the actual mindset of being punk.

It’s great to incorporate latest technologies in education, particularly in encouraging students and teachers to interact and collaborate with each other in the learning process. But there’s no point in forcing students to start blogs or in maintaining copious wikis on every topic, if the central ethics are not the core of the learning experience. By focusing on the tools, this doesn’t become EduPunk – it becomes EduTrendy.

To be really EduPunk, and really adhere to punk’s DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic, participants in the learning process need to be given freedom and independence to learn their own way. Current technology has made this process simpler, but it’s not really the tools that matter – students can still educate themselves with paper and books if that’s all they have at their disposal.

I suppose in a way EducateDeviate and alternative education in general is very EduPunk – it’s all about creating and exploring your own styles and ways of learning, experimenting with different things, being free to learn what you want to learn how you want to. Instead of being dictated from a higher authority on what you ought to learn, you get to decide for yourself.

Some princles of the EduPunk Mindset, then, would be:

  • Freedom to decide the content of your own learning
  • Freedom to learn according to your chosen styles
  • Freedom to express yourself through your learning processes
  • Freedom to engage in different forms of education, traditional or non-traditional, including experiential education and service learning
  • Freedom to incorporate your own personal experiences and thoughts with your learning
  • Freedom to hold your own perspectives, ideas, and opinions on various topics
  • Freedom to learn at your own pace
  • Freedom to use any of the tools at your own disposal to learn
  • Freedom to choose from various providers of education at your own discretion
  • Freedom to set your own educational path

How then can we match up the tools-focused perception of EduPunk with the mindset of EduPunk? Should we think less of the tools and technology, and start thinking of ways to reform education systems to allow for more DIY learning?

Other resources for opportunities – alternative education, youth empowerment, getting involved

There have been many opportunities for fellowships, conferences, scholarships, courses, and so on that come my way and should really be on this blog. However, I haven’t always had the time to post all the information that comes my way – especially when about 10 of them come at once in a newsletter.

I get my information mainly from a few sources, and I would recommend that you check those sources out to find more great opportunities for youth and alternative education. Here’s where to look:

TakingITGlobal – awesome resource for young people looking to make a difference. Events, scholarships, groups, projects, whatever – everything you need is there.

Have Fun Do Good – Britt Bravo’s blog has a lot of information and resources on making a difference in creative ways. I particularly like the books she recommends – she has great taste (and great luck because she gets the books for free!)

TinKosong – this blog, started by a bunch of Malaysian university students, contains regular information on opportunities for young Malaysians to get involved and expand their education. A lot of the information we have is crossposted between the two blogs, since we both have a similar scope (though they do come from a more Ivy base).

Education in Malaysia – the other top Malaysian education blog (haha), whose founder Tony Pua is now an MP! While EiM is more about analysis and commentary rather than opportunities, they do sometimes appear, and it’s a good resource for current affairs in education anyhow.

Ask MetaFilter – every so often there will be a question about travel, education, or opportunities, and the answers given would be top notch. The main site, Metafilter, doesn’t really carry much links about opportunities, but it’s worth a watch.

The Star: Education – Every week in their Sunday pullout, they write up about different educational opportunities and events across Malaysia, and it’s republished on the website. Youth2 is another good source in the paper; however, their website isn’t quite as regularly updated.

GoAbroad and TransitionsAbroad – both great resources for anything to do with travel and going abroad. GoAbroad also has a regular newsletter with information on different programs that you can subscribe to.

ActNow – This Australian-based website is all about educating and empowering youth to make change in their communities. Within their pages are plenty of information and resources on current issues, and ways you can get involved.

World Youth Foundation – this Malaysia-based organization releases a regular email newsletter with all sorts of updates and information on youth empowerment and making a difference.

Young Social Enterprise Initiative – they provide various programs and fellowships for young social entrepreneurs to gain funding and mentoring for their work and enterprises. Their social network, FutureShifters, allows young social entrepreneurs to connect with each other and share ideas.

Global Youth Action Network – the organization that links youth-based organizations together. Their newsletter, YouthLink Express, has all sorts of information on events, conferences, possible scams (which are unfortunately an issue with youth conferences), organizations, and many others.

International Young Professionals Foundation – not just for young professionals, but for any young person seeking to make a difference. Membership is inexpensive (and there are funding options if you can’t afford it) and they have tons of information on various opportunities across the globe.

Social Edge – Opportunities – such an AMAZING resource for anything to do with social change and social entrepreneurship. Check out their main site too for discussions and resources on the same topics.

Do you have any other resources for such information and opportunities? Post a comment and share them with us.