We got a tip to apply to present at a local conference. Here's the ditty we sent in:
With the ever increasing power of the internet and our access tools, self-directed learning is certainly in our future. This movement presents the potential for some great shifts in education today. New opportunities are at hand to collaborate, promote more sophisticated use and to pursue self-motivated interests in a traditional education setting.
We felt that traditional course offerings, especially in "tech," were far too limited. In 2005 a new course called RLab (aka Tech Research) was created to "think different."
Students pick their own project studies here in the RLab. With as many as 20 projects going on in the same room and over 60 per semester things can get quite interesting.
We cast away the traditional structure of a class and promote students to control the duration of their project work here. Explore a topic you’ve been curious about for a minimum of five weeks or, as this course can be taken multiple times, extend your study over multiple semesters. Many students repeat this course multiple times and either extend study projects or venture off into new territory. One student has taken this course five times, extended their study over multiple semesters and worked toward professional level certifications. Students decide.
Following the OpenCourseWare philosophy from MIT, all project work is archived with a journal, syllabus, presentation and examples of work for future generations of students to build upon.
Along the way we explore class themes on how technology is changing the face of learning, literacy, education, news, collaboration, government and our personal lives. Each assignment issued to the class is continually modified by all participants for future classes.
Each student is asked to explore "what makes them tick" as a learner, a presenter, a collaborator, and to develop self-discipline, project management skills and their own "philosophy of education."
Our class discussions have led to a series of proposals that have changed the face of access on campus as well as training, infrastructure design, IT support and discussions on the the shift in education in our future.
We feel like we're on to something. The innovative structure has led to gender equity in classes. Many students that repeat the class multiple times and a high following from post graduates and a diverse depth of project work that crosses many skill levels. The scope of the work here presents some new perspectives on "students with learning disabilities and limited registers of language" as well. We'll show you what we're up to and provide resources to get you started if you'd like to participate. All our work is published under a Creative Commons license. See our web site for more details: