DIYbio and Authentic Learning

“Kay’s dad has got recessive gene that she may have, she doesn’t know if she has it has it, so she is genotyping that gene in herself in her closet, and she’s going to figure out if she has it….”

If you are thinking of doing some authentic instruction in biology, you MUST, repeat, MUST watch this video on DIYbio and the biohacking movement.

The DIYbio Community – Presented at Ignite Boston 5 (2009) from mac cowell on Vimeo.

I cannot imagine a more compelling way to engage the future biologists of the world than to show them this video and to encourage them to come up with their own projects (or to join up with someone else’s project). The “standard” approach to biology (first, memorize some stuff, then do some lab work that has been done one million times before and check your results against the key, then maybe by senior year do some original research) weeds out many of the exact people biology needs — hackers, creative types, problem solvers. While it might seem that biohacking and institutional education are incompatible, this is by design, not definition. And we can change the design. After all, that’s what hackers do, right?

On a related note I came across this while putting together the instructional design sourcebook. I’ll talk about the sourcebook more later — it’s a project based on my belief that teachers need a browsable resource that ties networked learning pedagogies to specific classes, organized by discipline (I know for us that might sound ridiculous, but thee is some discipline tunnel vision holding us back, we can either deny it or address it, and denying it is not working). I am desperately in need of some innovative instructors in the sciences who can provide me with syllabi of innovative courses, or descriptions of unique net-enabled, student centered processes or techniques they are using. Please mail me at mcaulfield at keene dot edu. I’d be including them in this beast I am assembling for our faculty.

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