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November 26th, 2012
Education is not a simple concept anymore. Like a massive volcano about to erupt and transform the teaching terrain as well as the global learning atmosphere, the fires in education are igniting key issues we need to address as a society: education for whom, when, and where? Who deserves to get it for free or at a discount? When should we take into account economic status, nationality, ethnic background, gender, special needs, and learning styles? Where should learning take place: in the classroom, in the cloud, at home, at work? And how can we best leverage the highly collaborative, personalized, and affordable opportunities new digital technologies offer learners?
Conversations about transforming education wax more explosive every day and cover the gamut of what were once the ABC’s of a centuries-old schoolhouse system: How do we standardize the evaluation of everything from educators to students and degrees? Are MOOCs a moment in time or a truly sustainable business and learning model? Do for-profit interests enhance access or drive up student debt while narrowing the value of education as a consumer good?
These issues are central to the Big Ideas Fest, where together we collaborate on ideas that might help shape the future of education. Like the inventors, artists, and patrons of the Renaissance in 16th century Italy, we now have the opportunity in 21st century Half Moon Bay to help create an education renaissance, one that offers more people the chance to learn, create, and share knowledge. And like the Renaissance, this transformation can lead to a more humanistic and connected world.
Big Ideas Fest – now in its fourth year -- is a work in process. All participants – or BIFniks – learn to take their ideas and through hands-on design workshops, prototype them to work in the real world. Last year, inspired by the Silicon Valley model of fostering startups, we launched an incubator to increase universal access to knowledge that is agnostic as to whether the innovation is driven by an individual, a non-profit guided by a social mission, or a for-profit. Simply put, our Big Ideas in Beta Incubator is creating a cadre of edupreneurs, that is, design-thinkers in education who are driven by solution-making as opposed to dwelling on what hasn’t worked in the past.
Our goal for all participants is to build a class of BIFniks who have an extraordinary impact on the world—whether through an idea that transforms the students in one classroom or one million learners throughout the world, or just by changing the individual practice of a single educator. This is what past participants have told us makes this conference different from any other, and why we say, “These are three days that will change your world.”