I was skimming one of my favorite IFTTT resources this morning called Betalist when I discovered it. I have my channel set up so that IFTTT emails me an invite when a new startup is featured on @betalist. Most of the startups are eminently ignorable, but this morning one came through that really struck me–FlockCircle. I shared it via Twitter and decided that it might have greater appeal to teachers and learners so I stuck my responses on Storify.
Of course, the Twitter constraints don’t do justice to the potential for crowdsourcing that this represents. FlockCircle is based on the traditional illness metaphor that has resolutely dominated medicine until very recently and frankly still is controlling, but I can certainly see where if we were to adapt this to learning disciplines that we could not only use it to fix what is broken but also to strengthen what is already strong.
Here is possible case study. I have a student who cannot seem to tease assumptions out of a reading. She can summarize text and use templates for writing, but everything she does seems to lack purpose and she definitely has no idea who she is writing for. Help me.
As a part of the crowdsourcing team that would be working with this app, I would definitely want to know more of this learner’s history just as any doctor would. Way more than what is indicated in this summary, but perhaps not a lot more.
The team would give advice to the teacher on potential “treatments” along with alternative measures if Plan A was an epic fail. Reminds me of one of those teaching movements that surface on occasion and that I had read about before–“instructional rounds”
What I would like to see added to this is an equal emphasis on examples of learner strengths. I would like for this app to be able to help teachers and learners strengthen what is already powerful. This is one of the few ‘management’ movements I can get behind–focusing on one’s strengths
. But I don’t want it without the balance of also knowing one’s weaknesses.
For me, the key here is that this tool always be kept outside of the hands of admins and the hierarchy. It should only be used by working teachers eager to improve their own skills and practice as well as the learning lives of their students. The teachers would call upon all support staff to be ready to help, but only as experts on tap and not on top.
The crowdsourcing app’s sole purpose would be to bring together those who could serve as advisors to remediate and augment. You could probably use a tool like Slack to do this within a school or within a district or within a state boundary, but it remains to be seen how large a crowd that this could best scale up to.
And who would really do this? If you trust teachers to be professionals, then you are going to have to “value” it in money, time, and psychic reward. That is the big stretch and amounts to a ‘re-professionalization’ of teaching in the U.S.
Along with this, I think we must begin to think of our learners as part of a cognitive commons. Society depends upon this common pool resource
to carry on the work of culture, civilization, and survival. Our children’s minds and capacities must be preserved, nurtured and “used” in a way that sustains us all. The perfect word for this is “usufruct”–the use of the fruit. That is all we should allow ourselves to take from the common pool resource unless we want to continue to mortgage the future for present indulgence.
Yes, it is a big stretch, a big invest, a big change in stance. Maybe a little tool like an app that encourages its users to nurture the commons is just the leverage we need to begin to do the larger lift of growing a better cognitive commons for all.
If we do advocate for a better cognitive commons, then we are also promoting a new world where we have to value elements of the commons that we have relegated to the margins. For the teacher on the porch screeching at the crazy public spaces where our learners live, this will not work. You either have to get off your high porch or invite folks onto it. A little bit of both might be the golden ticket.