Co-working has had an enormous impact in the management and real estate worlds, as we’ve discussed before. These co-working spaces promote interdependent thinking through a “rich relationship” environment. The academic equivalent is what we call “Co-learning,” which may come to have as large an impact in the educational arena. Co-learning is transforming the way we educate here at Workspace, and has the potential to do so everywhere.
Sounds good, right? But some of you might be asking, “What exactly is ‘Co-learning?’ and how does it work?” Well, it’s a big part of what makes Workspace Education so different and revolutionary, so we’d like to tell you more about it.
“Co-learning” refers in part to the way our learners and parents create their own courses based upon what the learners are interested in, which are then taught by the mentors and parents. Our course content itself is created by our members working together, and this kind of creative spark only thrives in an environment which inspires newness and ideation at all times, as it does at co-working spaces.
This level of curricular creativity helps each family create the perfect, customized learning pathway and content for each learner, which is really what sets Workspace apart from other learning models.
There’s another connection to co-working here, too. Workspace also has a fully-outfitted office section where parents can lease a cubicle and do their own remote professional work while they are not teaching or mentoring or coaching. So in this sense, Workspace actually is a co-working space, as well as a pioneer in Co-learning.
Though this may sound a bit like a learning co-op, we need to clarify. Just to be clear, Workspace isn’t a co-op, and neither is Co-learning Co-ops and schools essentially are platforms for offering coursework. While courses are taught and learned here – we now have over 112 of them – coursework is not the full extent of what we offer, nor even our reason for being. Our space instead offers the environment which inspires ever more new courses and directions to be explored, just as a co-working space offers an environment where new ideas can be shared and grown. In each case, a dense neural network emerges from a creative and interdependent framework and enables a startup mindset. This approach works perfectly within our unique 32,000 square foot facility filled with technology and creative labs.
At Workspace, we’ve created a culture and place that sparks new ideas, fostered from the energy generated by Co-learning. It is like an incubator for educational ideas, an agile, open-sourced learning community that fires innovation. For example, we have already nurtured three micro-schools and new ideas are gestating all the time.
Through evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the universe has adapted and become more complex within an ever-expanding framework. In order for that to happen, there had to be a nurturing environment or scaffolding which enabled both the initial spark and also the continued iteration. Workspace is that scaffolding for the future life of learning.
As we add more families, so we add more and more courses and experiences. Co-learning helps free, engage and inspire the potential of every member of our community leading an ever-more diverse educational ecosystem.
As noted, our core goal is to empower families to make the ideal custom educational path for each learner. The only way to radically personalize every learner’s journey and to unlock every member’s potential is to have an environment which enables constant new sparks of creative life. That is what we have created here at Workspace.
It is that environment that leads to a symbiotic, limitless, ever-more-complex educational organism, again similar to co-working spaces and incubators. Indeed, we even have a Design Thinking program called “Spark to Launch,” embodying this entrepreneurial focus.
At the same time, our Co-learning model is not purely theoretical. Our learners get a real education which is both limitless and permission-less. They choose from the endless open source options available a la carte online, from anywhere in the world. Parents can bring in any educators and choose any curriculum they like. If they can imagine it, the Edteam helps them make it a reality, maximizing choice with professional support to help parents narrow down their choices. This too exemplifies what we mean by Co-learning: Everyone in the community works together to make each learner’s education better.
While the term “Co-learning” is new, the concept has been around for a while. As noted recently by David Brooks in the New York Times, Jane Addams was on a similar path at Hull House, 120 years ago, building a social platform to weave individuals into a learning community.
The need has always been there. Now, the combination of cloud-based open- source technology and the desire to reform education have made Co-learning both possible and necessary. We believe it can be education’s “Fourth Way.” Workspace has brought the concept into the 21st Century, and now you know why it has such a vast potential to fundamentally change the way our children learn.