My name is Alyshia Olsen; I am a 20 year old college student from Olin College of Engineering. I am a part of a group of 6 Olin College students (we're in Needham, MA, and engineering students) who has taken a year off to work on an education related project. Our project is called AlightLearning, and this is our project description:
Under the assumption that within ten years, the landscape of modern education will have fully integrated what we now define as new classroom media: video, online collaboration, open source curriculum and other web tools, we hope to pioneer a web software tool that acts as a platform for this new media, bringing the power of the web and its tools to students, teachers and parents in a secure, comfortable and innovative environment. Our goal is to have our free software at a pilot middle school by April 15th, 2009, continuing to develop and coordinate with our users to create a product that other schools want to pilot and use at their schools, while allowing individual teachers to implement this tool in their own classroom.
The six of us have been doing a lot of research and user studies-talking to teachers, students, and parents to see where their values lie and what types of software would be most helpful to them. To add to that, we have an engineering bias which has been reinforced by much of the reading we've been doing on technology in education. This results in a very strong belief on our part that students need to have the technology that they use in their daily lives integrated with the learning environment that they are in. Thus, we would be doing two main things. We would incorporate technology into the learning environment by
1. acting as an aggregator that would bring some very useful web tools to the fingertips of students (things like google docs, digg, and wordpress blogging)
2. giving students a different medium (one that they likely already use in their daily lives) to actively (even passively) learn in.
3. giving teachers a simple and intuitive way to integrate this technology into their assignments
We would also be serving as a platform to increase and enhance communication between teachers, students, and parents. For students, in addition to keeping their schoolwork and study aids/information all in one place online, this would act as a social network in which students, teachers, and parents would be able to communicate. We understand that there are many security concerns with something like this, and we are in the process of addressing exactly how those interactions would need to occur so that security would not be an issue.
We've come up with a lot of ways to do this thus far, and right now we're in a stage where we're further defining ourselves and getting ready to throw out some designs of a few of the core features we expect to have. Keep in mind that all of these features and designs will be tested against the teachers, parents, students, and administrators at a few schools that have agreed to help us out with this project. We're still in a stage where we're very open to feedback and adjustments in our direction.
For a much shorter description, think blackboard/moodle, only
a. web-based so that individual teachers can sign up and use the site,
b. web 2.0 so that the site looks cleaner and is more intuitive - somewhere people /want/ to go when they're online
c. a different slant (which I've explained above), where we don't try to do everything and anything as blackboard does. We want to start out by doing just a few things, and do them well.
Our project, titled Alight Learning, is currently trying to win a competition for $10,000 of startup funding on ideablob.com. You can find us at http://ideablob.com/3975
. We would love your support in the form of a vote within the next couple days, but more importantly we'd love your feedback and comments. Our description on Ideablob is short, and even the one above hardly gets at many of the issues we would like to take a stab at solving, but at least it's a start.
Please comment back with any advice, or anything you think we should keep in mind. Again, if you're as passionate about this as we are, please take the time to vote for our idea at http://ideablob.com/3975