We are proud to share with you our new educator guide. We have previously shared much of its content with our community – for example, via our FAQ, Dialogue Toolkit, Educator Forum, introductory videos, Google+ Hangouts and our social media channels. But we thought it would be helpful to have one point of reference for educators – in a format that can be printed out as a desk copy as well as quickly accessed online. Special thanks go to Susie Blair, a research assistant on our project, for pulling the different elements together into a coherent, elegant document. Please note that this is not a static document and will be revised and added to over time. We welcome feedback and suggestions for future iterations.
Here are some ways in which we hope the guide might be helpful:
- Helping to onboard those of you beginning your first Out of Eden Learn journey: there are instructions, for example, on how to register a class, upload an avatar and navigate your way around our website
- Explaining the underlying educational philosophy of Out of Eden Learn
- Offering practical advice on how educators might organize a video conference with another class, for example, edit posts, or find additional ideas and resources.
The task of creating an educator guide has been an ongoing project that various people have worked on. I have to confess that I was the major roadblock in terms of finding the time to get a final version written and organized and out into the world. But the fact that we recently resumed working on it after a hiatus meant that we noticed some interesting shifts in our framing and practice over time. Here are some changes that stand out to me:
(1) We are less Paul-centric. While our Out of Eden Learn community is of course tightly connected to Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk, we have made tweaks to our materials and footsteps so that they are less about asking students to be “just like Paul”. In addition, we have incorporated non-Out of Eden resources such as the Everyday Africa Instagram into our curriculum and have started to introduce the voices of Paul’s guides. You can expect to see more of this trend in the new materials and revisions we will be rolling out this spring
I think this is a natural evolution as we realize the broader potential of what we’re doing and have had time to expand our points of reference. We are also more attentive to the potential drawbacks of students overly focusing on Paul. Increasingly, we would like students to realize that Paul’s view of the world is one perspective among many and that other people can and are doing work that might fall under the banner of ‘slow journalism’ or telling untold stories – including the students participating in Out of Eden Learn themselves.
(2) We are more attentive to supporting dialogue. In earlier iterations of our curricula we paid particular attention to the activities that we were asking students to do, assuming that the interaction among students would somehow take care of itself. As my colleague Carrie James’ recent blog posts about our dialogue toolkit show (click here and here), there is a great deal we could be doing to support students’ interactions – and we still have a lot to learn. In any case, we have now infused our dialogue toolkit moves throughout the different parts of our footstep instructions and hope that educators are emphasizing the importance of thoughtful, considered dialogue to students as part of their learning on Out of Eden Learn.
(3) Building educator community is a top priority. Various sections of this guidebook pay attention to the importance of building educator community. While the importance of this aspect of Out of Eden Learn has been on our minds for some time, I think we have made some important strides – such as making more resources and opportunities for educators to connect with one another available. Indeed, we hope you’ll see this Educator Guide as a manifestation of our commitment to support our educators in the work that they do and to continue to improve their experiences with Out of Eden Learn. Enjoy.