Saturday, December 3, 2011

Crowdsource Me

I've started a new, hopefully 50+ year project, and want to share the journey.  This year I've been thinking a lot about how I want my girls (Emily, 5, Kenna, 3, and Hannah, 0 in February...) to grow up with a love of learning and trying new things.  I kept trying to think about how to model that and engage them in that process. What I came up with is this "Crowdsource Me" project- a lifelong, annual learning adventure in which I'll keep my learning open, transparent, and in public at . I'm excited to get started and I think as I go through it I'll be able to make a lot of connections as to how to introduce ideas like this to our students to foster this same love of learning.

Here is the rationale and nuts and bolts, cross-posted from that new blog space:

This is a learning adventure that I plan on carrying with me until the day I croak.  Every year, around Thanksgiving time, I’m going to put out a survey asking people what they want me to learn in the following year.  Topics can be wide ranging, but may have some restrictions based on how much money I have to spend, how much time I may or may not have, etc.  Once I gather a bunch of ideas of what people want me to learn, I’ll pick 5-8, give my thoughts on each and how I might go about giving them a shot, then let folks vote.  The winner of the vote is the one I’ll start learning about in January of the following year.  I’ll learn all the way through the end of November, when I’ll be crowdsourcing the next topic!
This whole process will take place, published for all to see, on this blog.  I’ll post video, possibly audio, and will write about what I’m trying, what’s working/not working, and reflect as I go.  Depending on the topic or task, I may “pretest” and “post-test” myself at the end of the year.  I’m a big believer in being open and transparent.  All material will be backed up in several places so I never lose it.
Why am I doing this?
  • I think it’ll be a blast to see what people come up with and then give it a shot.
  • I want to model a love of learning for my girls (Emily, 5, Kenna, 3, and soon-to-be Hannah).
  • As my girls get older, I’d love to have them join me (my wifey too).
  • I think open, transparent, published learning is important.
  • It’ll make it easier for people to buy me Christmas presents for the rest of my life….just buy me something to help with the coming year’s topic!  I always used to feel bad for my Grandpa- all we ever got him were peanuts and carpenter’s glue…
  • Maybe some others will give this idea a shot- who knows?  Maybe others will try it, love it, find a subject they love and follow it, learn with their own kids
  • I believe that the more diverse your knowledge and interests, the more creative you will be…the more connections your brain can make to truly innovate.
  • Why not?  Life’s too short not to jump in.
How this came about
I’ve been interested in the idea of crowdsourcing (defined by the ultimate crowdsourced resource Wikipedia as “the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call”) for several years now.  This past spring as I was floating in the pool in my Mom and Dad’s retirement community, I started thinking how cool it would be to, once I’m retired myself, take on an entirely new learning project every year.  Learning to speak Spanish, Learning about Greek Mythology, figuring out how to create things out of wood…just countless possibilities.  Since I’m always crowdsourcing my ideas over Twitter to get new perspectives and input, it was a natural link to think that it’d be cool to let people tell me what I should try, then let them vote on what I’d be learning for the year.  Then I’d document it all via video, audio, and blog posts…
So I shared the idea with my wife and she says….”Why not do it now?”  Not only is she gorgeous, but also brilliant (I married way up).
I also think that all my life I’ve been intrigued by sharing decision points and getting input.  When I was a kid I absolutely devoured a series of books called “Choose Your Own Adventure” (remember those???).  I loved not only seeing the effects of my decisions but also the effects of all the other options within the books.  When I taught 2nd grade, I bought a whole case of these old books on eBay and read them to my students- letting my class vote on which choice we’d go with.  They loved them as much as I did!
So the idea mashed together with old Choose Your Own Adventure Books, being interested in crowdsourcing, being interested in learning, and wanting to model a love of all of this stuff for my kids.  And I’m stoked to get started. :)

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