Image Credit: Bubble Gum Bin by Anna Bullus
That was the whole brief for my first project in graduate school, VCU Brandcenter. Our teacher gave us the project guidelines: come to next week’s class and present something interesting about gum in 60 seconds. Then he left.
At first, a lot of the students had a hard time figuring out how to get started. “Did he mean chewing gum? Or, your gums? What are we supposed to create?” After getting over the initial hump and realizing we had less than a week to finish, people started to collaborate, brainstorm, and share their ideas with each other. The next week, I witnessed some of the most creative projects I’ve ever seen. One of my classmates presented a 60-second video about his love of chewing gum, another created a sculpture from the gum he chewed over the past week, and another classmate tried to break the world record for biggest bubblegum bubble. He made a valiant effort.
A simple word, gum, was the only guidance we needed to work on a project that tested our creative limits. There were no tests of textbooks. Our teachers spent little time lecturing and more time guiding and mentoring us. We collaborated with other students, iterated and improved until our final presentations.
We learned real-world skills through the process of completing a hands-on project. We learned by collaborating with others. We learned by doing.
Last April ‘11, we launched Skillshare with a very clear vision to change the face of education as we know it. Over the past year, we’ve focused on our offline, in-person model with great success — today, we have over 5,000 teachers on the platform in cities all around the country. Our top teacher, Avi Flombaum, made over $25,000 in June alone (yes, $25K in one month). Our top student, Suyash Ramineni has taken over 89 classes for less than $3,000 (and teaches one himself). And our community has surpassed the entire student body of the University of California college system.
Our team comes to work every day to answer one question: “if you had to rebuild education from the ground up for the 21st century, what would it look like?”
We embarked on a mission to create a better way to learn real-world skills. We spent the last year teaching dozens of classes and attending hundreds of classes ourselves. Based on these experiences, we set out to design a philosophy of what we believe a learning experience should be.
We learned that there’s a major difference between education and learning. Education is what someone tells you to do. Learning is what you do for yourself. The traditional way of education forces square pegs into round holes. It’s a one-size-fits-all solution that forces people down a predetermined path.
But, what could education look like if it were many-to-many? Where students taught each other and teachers were students? What if you designed a learning experience around passion, real-world skills, community, collaboration, and creativity?
Based on these principles, we started to shape an education philosophy called Collaborative Learning – learn by doing with others. It starts by replacing lecturing with doing, teaching with facilitating, and competition with collaboration.
Today, we’re excited to announce that Skillshare classes will now be available globally with the launch of Hybrid Classes.
Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of Skillshare classes that anyone, anywhere can take – these ‘Hybrid’ classes combine project-based online learning with in-person workshops, and embody our philosophy of Collaborative Learning.
We still believe that in-person, face-to-face collaboration is the essential key to any good learning experience and it’s the common thread between all classes on Skillshare. In addition to Hybrid classes, students will still be able to learn in person from a local teacher, just as they have been doing on Skillshare to date.
How Hybrid Classes Work
- Real-world projects. Students learn through a hands-on project by doing, making and collaborating.
- Less lecturing. Teacher acts as a facilitator by designing a project, curating resources, and providing feedback to students.
- Online Discussions. Students can ask questions, share links, and get feedback from other students around the world.
- In-Person Workshops. To foster a collaborative learning experience, students will meet in-person to collaborate and work on projects together in their cities.
I’ve been teaching a pilot class on “Launching Your Startup Idea” over the past 6 months to hundreds of students all over the world. Some of my students have been featured in Mashable, The Next Web, and others have gone on to run successful companies.
Today, we’re launching with some exciting classes from Fred Wilson’s “How to Be in Business Forever: A Lesson in Sustainability” to I Spy DIY’s “Statement Jewelry Making” to Chef Eddie Huang’s (of Baohaus fame) “Defining a Throughline For Your Creative Pursuit“. We invite you to enroll and learn some new skills!
The world’s most abundant human resources are knowledge and skills. It just needs to be shared and made accessible to every single person on this planet. Skillshare will continue to build a community of teachers and students who have a passion to share real world skills through collaborative learning. Together, we can create a better world for our kids’ kids’ kids.