A Learning Network for Berlin

There’s a **long road ahead to bring Europe’s “start-up darling” Berlin up to par with learning & and the web.** Digital literacy and simple computational competencies are often lacking; and there’s no indication yet that Berlin schools will step to fill the gap.*

There’s an **important “out of school” role to play with Berlin’s tech-savvy communities and hackerspaces,** together with an existing network of media centers and educational activists.

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To get closer to a vision of what this could look like, 10 educators, tech community members, and activists [met on Wednesday](https://hive-berlin-brainstorm.eventbrite.com/) at St. Oberholz for a community brainstorm.

The goal: **to map current digital literacy needs & offerings in the city, and to scope possible next steps for a learning network in Berlin.**

## Connected Learning ##

One of theories of change driving this discussion is **connected learning**.

[Pioneered by](http://www.itofisher.com/mito/weblog/2012/03/connected_learning.html) UC Irvine researcher Mimi Ito and the MacArthur Foundation, connected learning is about **re-imagining education in the information age.** It leverages today’s technologies to meet youth at their interests and passions, realized through **hands-on production, shared purpose and open networks.**

I personally find this model very promising, as it centers on:

* actively producing, creating, experimenting and designing
* valuing the interests of young people to steer their learning
* cross-generational collaboration
* harnessing peer culture
* linking the school, home and local community in an open network
* and honoring academic achievements.

While the steps we are taking now are small, there are a number of successful learning networks to draw inspiration and mentoring from. Among them [Hive NYC and Hive Chicago](http://www.hivelearningnetwork.org/), as well other models at work in [Pittsburgh](http://www.sproutfund.org/sparkpgh/) and other cities.

## Berlin: a network for making & learning together ##

What could such a network look like in Berlin?

Imagine:

* Visit the [Pergamon Museum](http://www.smb.museum/smb/standorte/index.php?p=2&objID=27&lang=en) and get an introduction to new methods in archeology and how to scan for objects underground.
* After unearthing a digital file of a buried statue from the museum’s learning center, you head to [Open Design City](http://opendesigncity.de/), where you pick up the basics of 3D scanning and printing. You print off a copy of the statue based on the museum’s files.
* Your class had a workshop earlier that year in the [Wikimedia Germany](http://wikimedia.de/wiki/Hauptseite) community space. So you know the basics of wiki-editing and online research. After digging through articles, you pull up an ancient inscription to go with your statue.
* Go around the corner to [lasernlasern](http://lasernlasern.de/), who helps you etch the inscription into the statue using lasers.
* You’re really proud of what you made and want to tell the world. The nearest [media learning center](http://www.jugendnetz-berlin.de/ger/adressbuch/jugendnetz-berlin/001mkz_db.php?navanchor=1010053) is a few minutes away. You bring your statue and some photos, and a volunteer helps you set up a blog and a gallery.
* They tell you about [Coder Dojo](http://thecorknews.ie/articles/james-surfing-wave-global-interest-coderdojo-3616?page=2), a youth-led initiative to learn code, which has it’s first event in Berlin next week. You sign up, eager to make a game about hunting statues and cracking ancient codes.

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## Needs & Offerings ##

At the meet-up, **we mapped what we already have to offer and what we need.**

It was exciting to see that collectively, **we have more to offer than we have needs.** Lots of important skills at the table (teaching web development, film-making, media theories, entrepreneurship, and more), as well as connections to subject-matter experts, **a nation-wide network of education activists, meeting spaces, hardware, time, and even small funding to get started.**

The [full list is here](https://events.etherpad.mozilla.org/hiveberlin), and please feel free to add if you something to offer to the network.

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## Next steps ##

We decided we needed to **test our thinking by running an event.**

An event is a concrete way to 1) try out partnerships, 2) gauge local interest, 3) experiment with the curriculum, and 4) have fun.

Together with [Fabian](http://www.fabian.mu/), I’m drafting a lightweight scaffolding for a youth **pop-up event** this summer. Chris Lawrence from Hive NYC has [written an excellent piece](http://explorecreateshare.org/2012/05/16/what-the-heck-is-a-hive-pop-up/) about how to run one of these events, from which we’ll certainly borrow many ideas.

If you’re interested in:

* **Hosting a learning/hacking station** (1-3hr, fun small activity that teaches a skill)
* **Offering a space** (large, open space holding 50-100 participants)
* **Volunteering** (the more, the merrier!)
* **Recruiting young people** (We’re old. Where do we find young people in Berlin?)
* **Spreading the word**

Then please **join us on June 20 for a planning meeting.** Location & time to be determined.

You can **follow #hiveberlin** for updates and also **ping me (@thornet) and Fabian (@fabianmu)** with ideas & questions.

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* For a truly impressive example of a local school thinking in new ways, check out [Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum](http://www.ev-schule-zentrum.de/index.php?id=424).
* Images by [JonLimCA](https://secure.flickr.com/photos/52869095@N02/)

3 comments

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  1. Chris Lawrence · May 18, 2012

    Awesome post Michelle! Let Hive NYC know how we can help.

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