A couple of weeks ago I was part of a round table discussion about EDUPUNK along with David Hall, Brian Frank and Matthew Hoy, and adeptly moderated by Steve Howard. The discussion was part of a bigger project by Jim Saunders, Nicole Veerman, and Kevin Young (let me know who I am forgetting) all of whom are part of the Online Reporting Class at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario and the Online Journalism Class at the University of Western Ontario (check out the course/project blog here). I have to hand it to the students and professors for what from the-outside-looking-in seems like a pretty amazing collaboration between and amongst students and universities. The course was designed to have the classes choose an overarching theme of relevance that has some contemporary currency, and they decided upon Maker Culture. And within this broader theme the students broke up into smaller groups and chose specific topics like Fabricators (which are fascinating to me), Food, Politics, Hackers, etc. When finished, and the links to the final articles by each of the groups are here, what you have is a fascinating look into 11 different aspects of Maker Culture. In depth reports, interviews, and video-taped discussions with people in all of these areas, framed and produced by the students. The class itself is an example of Maker Culture, and I really love the conception and design of this model for journalism courses.
The group researching maker culture in education discovered EDUPUNK, and got interested in the idea, and given I ‘ve had some history with that term they called me up for an interview (which I already posted here). They also invited me to join a Round Table Discussion on EDUPUNK, which was professionally filmed and broadcasted live over the internets. I joined remotely through Skype, but that didn’t prevent me from talking way too much. As usual, I’m in over my head with concepts I only half understand, but at the same time it was a fun discussion, and testament to the fact that I use the words logic, space, and re-imagine way too much—I have to work on this. But regardless, I was pretty happy that EDUPUNK was the subject of a course project like this for emerging journalists, and in Jim, Nicole, and Kevin’s final article they recognize both the potential and limitations of the term, and in many ways place it correctly within the context of a moment. What thrills me most though is that EDUPUNK hasn’t really become the fodder for some cash generating jingle for an LMS commercial or the latest entrepreneurial/marketing buzzword (though the f@stcompany article threatened that in my mind), these Canadian graduate students brought it into an important focus for me, and helped it maintain some street cred by keeping it real and on the ground.
Truth be told, the more EDUPUNK becomes irrelevant or reviled, the more I like it. But at the end of the day it is just a term, and the term can only mean as much as we make of it. EDUPUNK serves as a jumping off point that may (and probably should, or even has already) outlive its importance, and while it has brought me no fame or fortune—it has given me free reign to shoot my mouth off, which is in its own right invaluable 🙂 But more importantly, it gave this group of journalists an interesting way to frame and interrogate the state of education in our moment, and the fact that anyone is still interested in education is not only amazing to me, but a sign of hope. And maybe that’s why EDUPUNK hit a nerve, because it wasn’t just another dessicated and lifeless term like Digital Natives, Digital Literacies, or PLEs, it contained within it the possibility of something both cultural and personal which immediately brings us beyond the usual bland and denatured educational vocabulary that is both inanely descriptive and depressingly prescriptive—perhaps there’s a lesson in that. We need more poets and metaphors, the space is ripe for imagining with a new language and visual frame that builds on both the tradition we have inherited and the popular culture we inhabit. What we need is more folks like Gardner Campbell and Tom Woodward, both of whom I depended upon heavily throughout this discussion—the way these two use language, humor and visual art to frame their ideas is an important model for me, and one I need to work harder and harder on developing. But until then, I’ll keep re-imagining the logic of space in higher ed 🙂