The Kickstarter Blog

Now Trending: Alternative Education

Not that long ago, a Kickstarter project told us "Don't Go Back To School." Instead, the author proposed the idea of self-taught learning, profiling dozens of fascinating creative folk — programmers, historians, designers, and engineers, among them — who had built successful careers through the independent accrual of knowledge and skills. It certainly does seem that the future is bright for the homegrown intellectual (or architect, or business person, or journalist, or...) and a slew of recently launched projects on the site are helping point the way. On their own, each provides an interesting and alternative take on traditional education, but all together they provide a snapshot of the myriad ways technology, community, and creative minds are coming together to teach each other new, cool things — whether that be building robots, debating politics, or just cooking a good meal. Check 'em out!

Trade School: Learning Spaces That Run On Barter, by OurGoods.org

Trade School started three years ago as a project among friends, but has since grown to global proportions. It's a barter-based classroom system where anybody can teach a class, and money never changes hands. Instead, students can offer their own skills: original art, homemade food, graphic design, gardening advice, or whatever else they've got. So far, they've hosted classes on "everything from squatting the condos (in exchange for a kombucha mother and research help) to making butter (in exchange for herbs and music tips)." 

Roominate: Make It Yours! by Maykah Inc.

Roominate is an educational toy aimed at inspiring the next generation of female technology innovators. Composed of wooden building pieces and DIY circuit components, kids are invited to use their imagination to design, build, and wire unique and interactive homes. Girls can make restaurants, pet shops, hospitals, or their dream home (maybe that includes each of the aforementioned),  but the DIY circuits mean that buzzers will really buzz, lights will switch on, and ceiling fans will churn. The toy's creators hope this exciting, interactive environment may just inspire girls to start building bigger things one day.

Bring It To The Table, by Julie Winokur

Bring it to the Table is a participatory online platform aimed at bridging political divides. Through a series of interactive webisodes, the series invites people from across conservative, liberal, and whatever other lines to speak openly to each other with direct, honest questions, and encourages viewers to really listen to what's being said. What you hear may be surprising, at times even shocking, but — more than anything else — is guaranteed to enlightening.

Panna: A step-by-step video cooking app for the iPad, by David Ellner

Panna aims to collect the best recipes designed for the home cook from the world's best chefs, and provide them for subscribers on a monthly basis. They'll be divided into handy categories like "Weeknight Meals" and "Classics" (lasagna, anyone!?), and the list of contributors already includes industry greats like Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill in Chicago, and Anita Lo of Annisa in New York City. And with meticulously created, step-by-step video instructions to follow, you'll finally be able to master those simple, but crucial, techniques like how to roast the perfect chicken, or how to caramelize that onion just right. (Because, let's face it, even if we don't need to know how to make a killer eggs benedict, it sure makes life  a whole lot more delicious.) 

The Watt? An Energy 101 Primer, by Focus the Nation

The Watt? is an interactive e-book to provide comprehensive, accessible information about where our energy comes from and where it goes, in the hopes of helping a new generation tackle our growing environmental and economic challenges. "Consider it a user's manual or primer or resource guide," the authors write in their project description. "Or maybe it's a 21st Century textbook. We're creating a complete and comprehensive Energy 101 education, in language and charts and graphics that we all can understand." By providing readers with a resource to reference their energy use, they hope to help people make more informed decisions about their small, everyday habits, and thus build toward a better future for all.

Educational Colorimeter Kit, by IO Rodeo

Colorimeters are extremely useful analytical devices commonly used in labs to measure the concentration of a solution from its light absorbing properties, but it has a wide-range of other fun and educational uses like testing water quality or measuring the activity of an enzyme over time. The Colorimeter Kit is an affordable, easily assembled, open-source version of this instrument made especially for teachers, students, and DIY scientists (like you!).  Once you get going, a suite of specially designed software helps you track, map, and share your data, making the experience fully interactive and pretty darn fun. 

There's still tons more to learn, of course, so be sure to check out our Staff Picks page for other cool projects. 

Comments

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      Creator Yoga on May 27, 2012

      Great Post ^_^

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      Creator Gregory Lamar on June 5, 2012

      No mention of Skillshare (http://www.skillshare.com/)? It seems like the epitome of a democratic, individual learning online platform no?

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      Creator Cassie Marketos on June 5, 2012

      For sure, Greg! The above list is composed of current Kickstarter projects, however.

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      Creator John Coleman Vidrine on June 14, 2012

      In a sense the author of "Don't Go Back to School," is 110 correct if not more. Teach yourself. Some 11 years ago I found myself in a predicament. No job and I'd moved to a foreign country-Cali, Colombia. What was I to do? I started working at a well known English institute and was there some 2.5 years-never in my life had I been so poorly treated. Being from Louisiana I probably had the most horrendous accent in the whole place. Being a person who ad-libs and likes to be himself, I didn't fit in. Each and every class I was nervous to say something wrong or teach something incorrect. I worked for years on my pronunciation-which is still a little Louisiana-and my grammar-I still need a good editor-so that I could bring to those that were depending on me the best available, the best I could deliver. Frankly, I didn't want to be a fool in front of them and I am still conscience of such. Right away, I saw what many people needed and what hindered them, and used my own techniques, and it worked-before you say the next word I know what should come out of your mouth. Sadly my employer didn't like my methodology and we mutually parted company. It was during this time some 8 years ago that I started writing short stories using single syllable words-the basics of phonics. It was my belief and still mine, as well as, other real educators of the English language, and other languages, that if a speaker of a non-native language has mastery of pronunciation and intonation of the target language, they will excel quicker and have more confidence to express themselves. I myself grew up in a household that spoke French, but was never spoken to in French, only English. Reason was both of my parents grew up in the 30's and 40's. In those days children got the end of a rod for speaking French. They felt that they didn't want me to suffer their fate. I could never learn French and my English was deplorable. My mom bought me phonetic flash cards and the World Book Encyclopedia, along with the Children's addition. My old French grandmother taught me to read and I loved it. I could read before I was 5. Getting back to my students, I remembered my past and incorporated it in my classes. I then wrote my work because teaching just words was a boring task for me and my students. My program consists of 45 tongue twisting stories, and I hope to see my dream fulfilled here, by getting backing and seeing my work completed. Live your dream and work for it. Persistency and Consistency. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a private school who wants me to write and design an English program for their school. I am not coming home without a commitment of both parties. Remember I self-studied and please ignore my punctuation. Cajun Cole May today be the best day of your life.

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      Creator John Coleman Vidrine on June 14, 2012

      David Ellener needs to ask me for some of my real Cajun recipes and techniques. I'd be glad to give a helping hand and in return only a genuine, thank you. It is a good idea and I would be more than happy to help in any way I can to make it the bomb.and he be successful at his endeavors. And David, I am a Chef without the title, and if you don't believe me just ask Patrick Bruiel one of the most re-known chefs here in Colombia. Peace Bro.

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