Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog Digital One-Room Schoolhouse; Summer Camp

By Anya Kamenetz

Two models I’ve come across in my travels:

A woman named Rochele Hirsch came to my talk at the Carter Center and passed me a 1-page summary of her proposal for a “Digital One-Room Schoolhouse.” The next day I ended up tossing around the idea at TEDxAtlanta onstage in the Q&A with Gever Tulley of the Tinkering School and Michael Levine of the Cooney Center (Sesame Street digital learning folks).

Basic idea: home school kids in small neighborhood groups using digital resources to expand the virtual boundaries of the classroom while preserving a strong community feeling and peer-to-peer relationships.

“- 14 kids (multi-age) in a neighborhood classroom (walk to school)with
– 2 “Learning Process Facilitators” (not “teachers”) whose job includes connection with students — and ensuring they are learning, that the equipment is working well for them, that they are paid attention to in a learning environment.
– Distance Education provided, multi-media, interactive teaching/learning through the computer with EXCELLENT teachers/lecturers and an EXCELLENT curriculum: The student moves as rapidly as they can or want to through the required basics — and then on to advanced work as they choose — with constant feedback, reinforcement and “extra” opportunities.
– Phone-center “tutors” (all over the country) who are available to answer questions and engage the thinking process either through the phone or through chat as the student is moving through the education module.
– Older students provide tutoring to younger students as part of their own learning and reinforcement
– Parents are more involved — because they are close by to the neighborhood “distance education classroom” and would be conspicuously absent if not involved.
– Further socialization can be accomplished through arts / music / sports — with modules on one-two days / week — with larger groups
– The school day runs longer (say 8 to 6:00) — to support family needs, study time, exercise, extra optional studies and socialization.”

Summer camp is another awesome educational model for kids and adults. It’s immersive, a strong community, tailored to a single passion. I had amazing experiences taking college level courses in three weeks at “nerd camp” as a middle schooler. The Tinkering School is a summer camp for playing with power tools, learning about physics, and making and repairing things. I also got an invite from ITP at NYU yesterday for this:

“For the first time this June we are inviting non-students, working professionals, to come to ITP on weekends and evenings to make stuff, hear speakers on the cutting edge, collaborate with people from diverse disciplines…It’s a mash-up of an artist residency and a summer camp for adults…We’re creating a flexible structure, an Un-University, that will be responsive and supportive to the group we select. The structure is based on “unconferences” such as foocamp or barcamp, where presentations and discussions form in response to participants’ interests and projects. ITP’s facilities––its faculty, resident tutors, and equipment––will be at your service…During the school year ITP is a two year graduate program in the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU where students from both artistic fields and technological ones explore innovative possibilities. On our web site we say we are a Center for the Recently Possible.”

They are asking me to post a session–what do you think?

Visit to comment.

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