MindCET Fellows – An Interim Review

MindCET Fellows – An Interim Review

MindCET Fellows – An Interim Review

This is a “part-way along” post. A great deal of work still remains to be done, both in the months left till the end of the first intake’s program, and next year as well. However, now that we have opened registration for candidates for next year’s program, it’s a good time for an interim summary.

MindCET Fellows – What did we try to do?

The MindCET Fellows Program was conceived out of a belief that, in order to achieve innovation in the EdTech field, the kind of innovation that breaks paradigms, is creative, original and… innovative, it is not sufficient to set up an incubator for startups (as cool and bright-eyed as they may be). We also need unmediated interaction with those who are at the forefront of educational activity – the teachers themselves.

Partners, not Trainees

One thing was clear to us: this would not be an online in-service training program.

It would not be an in-service training program – because teachers have to be partners: they have to lead initiatives and create things on their own. They will learn a great deal over the course of the year – all of us will – but the learning has to be through action, through leading a project that they feel is theirs. And it won’t be online – because if you want to bring about change, workshops on “how to do a better PowerPoint presentation” are just not enough. That’s not to say that, over the course of the year, the teachers won’t receive lots of varied tools to help them integrate technology more extensively and meaningfully into their learning processes, but this will be a side effect of their familiarity with the world of EdTech, which is constantly innovating.

And so we started, about ten teachers from across the country, with each teacher (or pair of teachers) leading an EdTech initiative.

What did we develop?

MindCET Fellows are part of MindCET’s technological incubator, and over the year have been working closely with the startup companies that grew out of the second intake of our Garage program, with two differences: first, the Fellows were aimed more at implementing the initiatives in schools, and less at creating a commercial product; second, unlike our startups, which focused on Learning, that is, the learning process which takes place largely outside of school, our teachers naturally were more focused on Schooling, the use of technology as a learning tool, alongside the teacher within the school environment. A description of the initiatives by the MindCET Fellows deserves a completely separate post but, in a nutshell, they encompassed: a laboratory for learning civics through the use of virtual worlds; a technological environment for finding partners for online learning; a scenario generator for experiential learning in the humanities; a support environment for research-based learning in text-rich subjects; a website for including meditation in learning; and much more.

What have we learned?

We learned how to put together a startup: How to turn an idea into a product, what the Lean Startup method is, and how concepts from the world of design fit in with the process of product development (Design Thinking), how to identify the problem that we are trying to solve, and how to check who else is affected by it, how to make an initial product for users to test, and how to construct a clear, convincing presentation. We participated in workshops, lectures, and dozens of meetings with the people behind EdTech startups, and we completed two 36-hour marathon sessions with programmers, designers and user experience specialists.

We learned about EdTech, and what it is: What are the leading trends in the area of technology and education? Who are the leading players in Israel and overseas? How do we integrate the world of digital games into education? What are eBooks and what will they look like in a few years’ time? What are the coolest and most successful EdTech tools in the world? What is project-based learning and what is adaptive learning? What is Big Data and how does it influence education? Can technology predict students’ success? And so on. We also heard lectures and participated in two conferences on the subject of technology and education.

We learned about creativity, technology and web culture: What is crowd-based wisdom, and how is it reflected in
the internet? How does the culture of the web affect learning? How can we and our students come to express ourselves creatively, both on the web and outside it? We met with artists, intellectuals, and internet specialists, and took part in creative thinking and web culture workshops (among others, we hosted Hanoch Piven, Daniel Landau and Ido Kenan).

Sounds cool?

We have just opened registration for the 2015 MindCET Fellows Program. Submit your application for the program now, and next year you might become part of our team of selected teacher innovators.