Learning401 is a focused effort to engage the masses and revamp our RI education ecosystem. Our vision is to create a digital library of powerful learning stories that shift the education debate and give voice to the public who are public education.
More than shining the light (or camera) on powerful learning, we're starting a movement, engaging Rhode Islanders to own their role/contribution and be the change they want to see – as students, parents, educators, employers, community leaders. The result: a more systemic means to engage and gauge RI learning in ways that testing alone cannot, with digital assets to effect local/state policy and inform classroom/curriculum design.
Learning401's goals are three-fold:
Goal 1: ENGAGE & EMPOWER more Rhode Islanders in conversations for improving local education. We do this through learning story "slams" attended by students, educators, families, administrators, policy makers, union management, youth organizations, regional employers and community leadership. People are invited to share on open mic their most powerful learning stories, painting an illustrative picture of what Rhode Island learning is and can be – in ways that test scores and grade point averages cannot. These stories empower both the storyteller and the listener to build on what works such that systemic change doesn't become the responsibility of public service leaders (policy makers, administrators, educators) alone, but rather an opportunity for change owned and operated by We, the People.
Goal 2: INFORM & INFLUENCE curriculum, classroom, and school design, while also serving as a lever for influencing local and state education policy. More than inspiring all the lives we touch to make more of a good thing, we're capturing stories on video and creating an online story repository (with metatags by topic) for use in curriculum, classroom, and school design, while also serving as a lever for influencing local and state education policy. Equally important to what we're capturing digitally, is how: pairing digital media mentors and communications strategists with RI students from area high schools and universities. Our growing network of Learning401 student and mentor ambassadors isn't just capturing the stories that inform and influence RI education; they are the story, walking as they are talking, being the change they want to see.
Goal 3: BUILD BRIDGES, STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIPS essential to transforming RI education systemically. Systemic change isn't about planting seeds, but rather transforming the "soil," the relationships that are essential to improving RI education. In Spring 2013 over 100 students, educators and community leaders attended Learning401's pilot launch in Providence, to include Commissioner Gist, Providence Teacher Union President Steven Smith, and various members of the Providence Student Union. Learning401 has been shifting the education debate ever since, bridging the most polarized perspectives and forging partnerships with RIDE, PTU, PSU, Annenburg Institute/Child & Youth Cabinet, various youth organizations, schools, universities, and filmmakers. More than garnering support (financial, sweat equity), we're growing a network of local school/community Learning401 ambassadors that span the state. And this is the essence of Learning401: creating a safe, nonpartisan forum wherein storytelling is the vehicle for systems change, sparking rich conversations around what learning IS and CAN BE – and publishing these stories digitally to inspire more of a great thing.