Do-It-Yourself Education

At this month’s Net Tuesday (May 3), we’ll explore the social web of self-directed learning, community education, and online knowledge sharing environments.  What does all this mean for the future of education and how can we use it for social good? 

In addition to gathering at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, May 3 at the Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street, we plan to live-stream at least the first part of the evening at, and support a Twitter backchannel (hashtag: #phlnet2).

New services, such as UdemyPeer 2 Peer University,Lynda.comKhan Academy, and The Open Textbook Initiative, have emerged recently to offer unprecedented learning and teaching opportunities, challenging previous educational assumptions.  These and others are listed in our growing resource list.  Add your own discoveries to the list, or comment on ones already on the list.  Let’s share our own knowledge about all of these resources to help us share our knowledge!

This event is geared towards…

  • nonprofits and others who want to learn about new ways to: a) satisfy learning needs of their staffs and clients, and b) help their staffs or clients share their knowledge and expertise with the world.
  • techies who want to learn about some cutting edge educational applications that can be used and repurposed for various needs
  • citizens who just want to learn about some amazing new educational opportunities for self-improvement (via learning or teaching).

The evening will have two main parts to it.  First, a panel (details below) will lead a discussion of the emerging resources, technologies and social patterns that are helping people share knowledge in new ways.  Then, you’ll be able to check out many of these online services for yourself, with your own laptop, or one from a cart of laptops provided by Philadelphia OIC’s mobile computer lab (NOMAD).   

Our panelists will include :

Bob Goodman is currently Director of Information Technology Services at the American Friends Service Committee (, having formerly led IT operations in large, distributed organizations, including GE Aerospace and Pep Boys.  For many years, he has been a pioneering advocate for Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), which he teaches as an adjunct professor at Drexel’s iSchool.  Bob has a particular interest in creating learning organizations, and in making innovative use of new technologies and services to enhance individual and organizational learning.

Erich Smith of Philadelphia OIC (  is the program director of the Digital Initiative which focuses on bridging the digital divide in Philadelphia.  The Digital Initiative consist of three programs, which include the Open Access Lab (free public computer lab), the Blended Classroom (online/offline classroom for adults preparing re-training and/or college), and the NOMAD (mobile laptop carts used for citywide computer training workshops).  He is currently developing an Open Textbook Library for the Blended Classroom and the Learning Opportunities Center that will be replicated statewide.

David J. Rosen (joining via video conference) was Executive Director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute/SABES Greater Boston Regional Support Center at the University of Massachusetts ( from 1986 to 2003. Since 2003 he has been a full-time consultant on education projects for adults and out-of-school youth in the U.S. and abroad. He is a member of the National Coalition for Literacy, and a Board Member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education. A long-time adult literacy education advocate, he moderates the electronic discussion list and blogs for the National Coalition for Literacy (

This should be an interesting, informative and useful evening.

Image: Gideon Burton (Flickr Creative Commons)

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