Restart Education – the idea download has begun
“There is a prophecy that one day, a group of special people called eduwizards will arrive and create new ways for us to facilitate education and learning.” So begins the video which describes Restart Education, a partnership between the Romanian-American Foundation, TechSoup Global’s TechSoup România, the Resource Center for Student Organizations (CROS), and Microsoft România, which tries to harness the power of technology to develop new ‘user centric’ tools for Romanian education.
Restart Education follows the success of last fall’s “Restart Romania” challenge described by TechSoup Global Europe’s Chris Worman on the TechSoup Global blog here and here (and in Daniel Ben-Horin’s Huffington Post blog here).
It began at the Imaginarium
On February 25-26, enthusiastic youth gathered in Bucharest at the National Museum of Contemporary Art for a 2-day “Imaginarium” to brainstorm ideas to energize education. Blogger Graham Attwell attended and described what he saw:
“The event was designed as a mixture between an unconference, a workshop and a game with some 100 participants, mostly young people. The first session was devoted to exploring a model for the future of education developed by the CROS NGO. In the second session, the groups or ‘tribes’ brainstormed ideas for new applications to support learning. That resulted in some 169 ideas which were then grouped together and, on the second day, participants further developed their ideas and made a short pitch...”
Civic engagement and seven finalists
All the submitted ideas were shared on an online gallery -- 86 projects, presented to an online community of 5,500 people, with more than 45,000 unique visitors to the site.
A jury of 8 people then reviewed the entries: Alexandru Ghiţă (Educativa), Cosmin Alexandru (AIESEC România), Ciprian Stănescu (Institutul Aspen România), Cristian Lupşa (Decât o Revistă), Radu Moţoc (TechSoup România), Roxana Vitan (Romanian-American Foundation), George Pristavu (Microsoft România), and Traian Brumă (Resource Center for Student Organizations (CROS)).
Seven finalists were selected and paired with hackers – student teams which designed web solutions tailored for each idea.
The seven finalists were:
Atelierulparintilor.ro (Parents’ Workshop, a platform for the ‘cheerful, harmonious education of children and parents’)
Comoara din muzeu (The Treasure in the Museum, an online & offline ’treasure hunt’ to encourage youth to visit museums)
TimeBank Romania (a platform which creates a barter of knowledge and time among a community of ‘enthusiastic amateurs,’ connecting people who want to learn with those who can teach (e.g., a financial planner with a computer geek))
Seedbit (a platform providing innovative fundraising ideas for campaigns and special events benefitting education)
DupaOre.ro (a platform that maps all the online and offline opportunities for youth to use their time after school wisely, including hobbies, internships and volunteer service)
Aducativ (a platform to encourage a passion for learning beyond school, as well as to prepare youth for the job market)
StudioLEX (a platform presenting videos, ‘mindmaps’ and presentations that make legal information accessible)
And then the three winners
On May 19, over 300 guests attended the awards gala in which three projects were each awarded US$5,000 each. TimeBank, StudioLEX and The Treasure in the Museum were congratulated by U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein, along with representatives of the Romanian American Foundation and Microsoft. Watch the video of the event on YouTube (and click the 'cc' icon in the lower right for captions in English).
“The idea download has begun” says the Restart Education site, and will continue in September with new Restart campaigns in Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Watch for them on this blog.