This October, Creating the Future will launch the first of a whole new series of online classes. These classes will provide the opportunity for participants to learn and especially practice the Catalytic Thinking framework that was previously taught only in 5-day, in-person immersion courses. Our goal is that students have the opportunity to go just as deep, if not even deeper into this set of practi than time permits in the in-person class.
The curriculum is anticipated to be 5 courses, each taking 2-3 months, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning time. (You can find more information about that curriculum here ) The first series of online classes will be BETA classes, as we refine both the content and the format for teaching this material as effectively as possible.
One of the most important aspects of that exploration will be the technology that supports this online immersive experience.
As we have considered the digital class environment and what we want it to make possible, here are some of requirements that we see as important.
- The ability to create a safe environment for small cohorts (The classes will have no more than 8 learners plus 2 co-instructors/facilitators.)
- The ability to have seamless live video between everyone in a specific class at the same time, preferably with each person’s image being the same size (unlike Google hangouts where the person speaking is large and everyone else is tiny).
- Video breakout spaces where the class can break into (for example) 3 groups of 3 for more intimate conversation during the synchronous class time
- Ability for students to connect in the “classroom space” via video outside of class time, to allow access to the other resources they might need during their call (see below re: whiteboard etc).
- The ability during the class to text chat in real time with everyone and also in private streams between individuals
- The ability to play videos and listen to podcasts and other multimedia presentations during the synchronous class time.
- A whiteboard that can be used by everyone in real time, and the ability to save the boards for future reference.
- A digital library space that will be both private for a specific cohort (class) and open to all the participants in future classes
- Simplicity of operation with intuitive features. Reliable. Expandable based on future needs.
Looking at the requirements has raised a whole bunch of questions:
- What else might it take for an online learning platform to be immersive and engaging for the teachers and the students in real time and between real-time classes? What other attributes have we forgotten in this list, that you have either found helpful in existing online environments or wish existed (and you haven’t found it yet)?
- What platforms currently exist that accomplish all or some of this, in both institutional and non-institutional settings?
Which raises the question:
- What are the good aspects and not-so-good aspects of those existing teaching / learning platforms? How well do they accomplish complex educational objectives in highly interactive environments?
Our dream is that such a platform exists and can be easily adapted for our needs. If that is not the case, in the short term we’ll use what might be 2nd or 3rd best.
In the end, Creating the Future cannot accomplish its mission without such a rich and agile platform, which means we cannot make do with 2nd best for very long.
So please, help us find what does exist. And if it does not exist, stay tuned. Because the next blog post you see on this topic may just be an invitation to join in creating an open source, community built platform to facilitate 21st Century educational online experiences, not just for large institutions but for the rest of us.