Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crowdfunding, Indiegogo and Kiva

This week I am hoping to launch my first "crowdfunded" campaign on ( You may be asking, "What is crowdfunding?" Well, it's when you use the power of social networks to raise money for an issue or project. Many people point to Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a hugely successful crowdfunding effort, as most contributors actually only donated small amounts of money ($5-10 each donation).

In my case, I am hoping to raise money for a school field trip. As with many districts, ours took a budgetary beating this year and funds for trips, some clubs and sports dried up. I won't let that stop me, as I believe the most important learning in school often happens outside its walls. I teach a STEM course called Project Lead The Way, in which my students learn a great deal about design. It's my goal to take my class (along with our school's Art class) to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to see their Architecture and Industrial Design exhibit. Additionally, we plan to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The art teacher and I performed a rough calculation - for the bus, admission to 2 museums for 42 students and 5 chaperones, it will cost approximately $2000.00. I think the experience truly will be priceless, as this will present a unique and potentially inspiring opportunity for my students (many of whom are embracing a love of design) as most have not ventured outside of their hometown, Red Bank.

By setting up an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, we hope to utilize another avenue to bring money into our district (when we sorely need it). The campaign will run between 30-45 days. I will post the URL once the campaign goes active.

Along these lines, I saw a wonderful TED Talk the other day. The presenter, Jessica Jackley started a website called Kiva, which specializes in microlending ($25.00 at a time). This allows peer-to-peer lending around the world, letting charity cut out the middle man and do the most work. In some cases this means loaning a poor family enough money to buy a goat or improve their business or home. It's an amazing concept and worth learning more about. Here's her TED Talk:

Here's the link to

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This Should Be The Last of It

OK, OK, I'll shut up about the end of traditional universities. After this post. I posted my views on my Facebook page recently asking for people's thoughts on the matter and this is what my friend (who has his doctorate) posted:

I remember when MIT placed their entire curriculum online for free a few years ago. I thought, how odd - they are giving away knowledge! But then I realized knowledge is not the real product of Universities. Their product is an Ivy League diploma and the network of Ivy League alumni that students (and parents) are buying into when they pay those ridiculous tuition fees year over year. Over time, if the people in positions of power/influence are from Open Source Universities - then there will be a higher value placed on these degrees and there will be a bigger incentive to go this route vs. a traditional brick and mortar route. I am pulling for the Open Source model - I believe brick and mortar Universities are some of the biggest rackets around!

Well said, my friend!
Speaking of open source universities, here's something you should check out. Well, two things actually. First if you don't know about TED, it's a conference which takes place annually that brings together brilliant thinkers in countless disciplines to share revolutionary ideas. 

So many brilliant presentations here to watch, and they're all free:

I use them to inspire my design students and also to show my AVID students excellent examples of public speaking and presentation.
Which brings me back to my other thing. I had always heard about Khan Academy and had seen a few of its tutorials on the Unofficial Khan Academy channel via my Roku box (which signifies the end of cable/Fios TV, but that's for another post), but Salman Khan's presentation at TED really impressed me. It's worth checking out if you believe that the future (which is right now) of education is online/virtual:
While you're at it, use your Google or Facebook login to join Khan Academy and explore the variety of tutorials available:
Check it out and let me know what you think or if you're already using Khan Academy (especially in your teaching practice). I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Friday, March 4, 2011 - It's a Start

Per my last post regarding the impending recalibration of the bricks and mortar university model, I perused the site mentioned in the article I cited:

It seems pretty interesting. For a $99 monthly fee, you can take unlimited courses (with a $39 per course fee), or you can take an entire freshman year for $999.00. Credits seem to transfer to a number of different institutions (both traditional and online).

Could be a nice, affordable way for college bound students to get all those pre-reqs out of the way in an affordable manner (and on their own schedule). Check it out...