I read this.  Which led me to this. That then caused me to google “Architecture of Participation” to find Tim O’Reilly’s post titled as such.  Which then caused me to think about schools, classrooms, learning… the things I always get caught up with in my brain.  I take off on this concept in a way I’m quite sure was not intended by the initial user, but here goes.

So.  Architecture of Participation.  When I aim to describe my teaching style and classroom space, I use some squishy language that never seems to properly communicate what is going on.  I think that creating a space where participation is paramount is a critical piece of the puzzle that I am trying to put together.  An example of this is how I approached The State of the Union this year.  The goal of having a conversation during the State of the Union was specifically related to participation.  However, I don’t mandate use of one version of participation over another… students could choose to participate in a ‘walled garden’ with Moodle, or wide open with the #sotu #sla conversation on twitter or not at all (digitally).  All students were sent home with a SOTU Bingo Card of their own making and the goal of taking some notes.  There were multiple levels of participation.  Students could jump into the conversation in a variety of ways.  Some chose not to do anything digitally but rather join the conversation during class the next day with their notes.  There were varied and multiple entry points to participate.

As another example of this architecture of participation I offer Citizenship Homework.  Each quarter students are tasked with some goal to complete out in the community.  Quarter One is to go to the polls on Election Day and interview a voter.  Quarter Two is to attend a public meeting.  Quarter Three is community service.  Quarter Four is their choice of any of the previous three options.  The practice is to participate in their community as a citizen.  I feel strongly that people are more likely to understand their community if they participate in it and think that the Citizenship Homework moves in that direction.

Untitled from Stephen Holts on Vimeo.

On a broader scale, I am hoping that this networked and participatory learning carries on well past the classroom and embeds itself as a part of the student as citizen.  Modeling a variety of entry points to take part in the conversation, participate in the community and build networks of understanding are goals I have for my classroom environment.  The tools that serve this are as old as a meeting notice and as new as twitter.  Blending the old with the new to serve an evolving role of participatory citizenry… that is part of my classroom’s ‘Architecture of Participation’.

What ways does your learning environment invite participation?  What are the varied means for participating?  How do you make welcome the introvert in this participation (that one’s for you Tony)?  What do the lessons/activities look like?