on edupunk

Jim’s been talking about edupunk a fair bit lately (starting with the killer post The Glass Bees, then Permapunk and finally tying in the awesome Murder, Madness, Mayhem wikipedia project), and Jen wrote up a piece that dovetails nicely into the concept. There’s something about the edupunk concept that is resonating deeply in me.

It’s a movement away from what has become of the mainstream edtech community – a collection of commercial products produced by large companies. Edupunk is the opposite of that. It’s DIY. It’s hardcore. It’s not monetized. It’s not trademarked. It’s not press-released. It’s not on an upgrade cycle. It’s not enterprise. It’s not shrinkwrapped.

It’s about individuals being able to craft their own tools, to plan their own agendas, and to determine their own destinies. It’s about individuals being able to participate, to collaborate, to contribute, without boundaries or barriers.

And it’s not new. The early days of the “edublogosphere” had a definite edupunk vibe to it. Long before that, we had seen edupunk, and it was awesome. I remember when Hypercard was commonplace. When teachers and students would regularly build and adapt their own interactive applications, games, and databases to support classroom activities. Without fanfare or infrastructure or strategic planning or budgets. When Hypercard was killed, it was an end of a renaissance era of DIY edtech.

But, the key to edupunk is that it is not about technology.

It’s about a culture, a way of thinking, a philosophy. It’s about DIY. Lego is edupunk. Chalk is edupunk. A bunch of kids exploring a junkyard is edupunk. A kid dismantling a CD player to see what makes it tick is edupunk.

reassembled

I’m not about to suggest that technology isn’t important or relevant to edupunk – of course it is. But only as an enabling piece of infrastructure. Technology can empower individuals, amplify actions, and connect communities. But without the edupunk philosophy underlying it all, it’s just a bunch of technology. Uninteresting and irrelevant.

One of the coolest classrooms I’ve ever been in is the Engineering Design Lab at the University of Calgary. It’s a classroom from the outside, but is really nothing but rows of workbenches, armed with any tools and materials imaginable. Drawers full of Lego for building prototypes. Cabinets full of Mechano for piecing together simple machines. A full machine shop for building more complex ones. It’s a place where the students are not only allowed, but encouraged to explore and create. Working in groups to create and solve problems. Critical thinking. Inquiry. Experiential. And it is the most hardcore edupunk class I’ve seen.

engineering design lab - 6

16 thoughts on “on edupunk”

  1. Let me be the first to say you are so very punk rock. I really appreciate this bit:

    And it’s not new. The early days of the “edublogosphere” had a definite edupunk vibe to it. Long before that, we had seen edupunk, and it was awesome. I remember when Hypercard was commonplace. When teachers and students would regularly build and adapt their own interactive applications, games, and databases to support classroom activities. Without fanfare or infrastructure or strategic planning or budgets. When Hypercard was killed, it was an end of a renaissance era of DIY edtech.

    I love context and history you rpovide here, and between folks like you Brian, Alan, Chris Lott, Injenuity, Gardner, Downes, Barbara Ganley, Bill Fitzgerald, , Geeky Mom, Martha Burtis, Jerry Slezak, Andy Rush, George Brett, Tom Woodward and so many others I get filled in on so manyt hings I just don;t know about this field. I never was exposed to hyper-card, or learning objects, or really anything like that. I come to the game so late, and to see you nail a post like this and build upon an idea is why I love the people I share with regularly, and remain truy amazed how fun, demanding, and truly committed you all are.

    366 photos is EDUPUNK, Barbara Ganley pursuing life beyond the classroom in her prime is so EDUPUNK, you are all so inspiring that when I think about the field sans the people in becomes an empty suit.

    So, let’s just kick some ass and take some names. No surrender, no retreat.

  2. Jim, thanks for kicking out the jams with the edupunk stuff. seriously. and you didn’t miss a think with the learning objects mess – it was anti-edupunk, an attempt by the establishment to categorize and describe ways in such a way as The Enterprise could make sense of it. And it never went anywhere… go figure… But you seriously missed out on the hypercard stuff. Amazing what happens when a tool that powerful is handed to teachers and students. I remember trading Stacks on floppy disks (before we had this fancy schmancy Internet thing…)

    But yeah, I guess 366photos is pretty edupunk :-) I’m just hoping this post doesn’t get me fired…

  3. D’arcy thanks for bringing this to the top. I want to go edupunk and rock out. I see the examples of edupunk that you list and think about applying the term to the different learning environments and practices that I have witnessed. I just started following Jim, but will make sure to track back through his posts. I like this term, it represents organic learning, I definitely felt edupunky today when I subbed in the auto lab. The students taught me a lot, about cars and tools but also on independent learning, project management, problem solving and the importance of hands on experiences.

  4. Y’know, I’d love to bring some of my junior high robotics classes for a visit. What do you think… would the supervising prof or TAs be willing to show us around for a couple of hours?

  5. teddy – let me get in touch with one of the profs. not sure if they open the lab up to K-12, but it would be awesome if they did. I’ll email you off-blog when I hear back from them.

  6. Man, I love where all this is going.

    And that’s not because I actually have any idea where it will end up. Quite the opposite, actually. But things like “It’s DIY. It’s hardcore. It’s not monetized. It’s not trademarked. It’s not press-released. It’s not on an upgrade cycle. It’s not enterprise. It’s not shrinkwrapped.” — it’s beautiful.

    I almost think we have another reverend north of the border :)

    Rock on, my friend.

  7. Oh man, hypercard was some of the most fun I had in Junior High. My computer teacher had units devoted to messing around in hypercard and a few of us got pretty decent at hyperscript.

  8. It’s this also part of the whole “Mind Tools” concept that was floating around earlier this decade?

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