#RL2013 1: Community Centred Learning – the chalkle┬░ experience

Chalk by Simon James via CC license on Flickr

Last night I attended the first Reality Librarianship session for 2013 offered by Heroes Mingle – a partnership made up of Sally Pewhairangi (@sallyheroes) and Megan Ingle (@megingle). This is my impression of the main points of the talk ­čÖé The italics is me; the rest is my summary of the talk.
This talk was:
Community Centred Learning ÔÇô the chalkle┬░ experience
Jo Ransom(@jransom) Te Takere Horowhenua Culture & Community Centre

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Quick Facts

  • chalkle┬░ started in Wellingon in 2012
  • Te Takare has been open 8 months
  • Te Takare started offering courses through chalkle┬░ from May 1, 2013

How did Te Takare become involved with chalkle┬░?

  • The council wanted to build more than just a library
  • The library needed to find a tool to deliver community education
  • Horowhenua has quite an elderly population, so people with a lot of experience to offer
  • These people are equal providers and consumers of knowledge
  • Heard about chalkle┬░ at NDF 2012 which was a perfect fit!

It’s important to work with the community, not just ‘do’ stuff.

What is the chalkle┬░ model?

  • Participants sign up to be a teacher, learner or both!
  • It relies on community knowledge and engagement; the courses offered will vary depending on the community.
  • A different model of learning that relies on local experts
  • Face-to-face classes
  • Low cost – from free to $10+ (really depends on the course)
  • Values include open source, community engagement, collaboration, sharing

A community getting richer…

What is your relationship with chalkle┬░?

  • chalkle┬░ is a franchise
  • Training and a manual is provided
  • chalkle┬░ also manage online registration & payment and take a small cut for admin costs
  • Ongoing relationship between delieverers as well; learn from each other & identify best practice models/courses
  • Also have one library staff member who works exclusively on the chalkle┬░ courses

Do you have more learners or teachers?

  • Got feedback on what people would be interested in learning in planning stage
  • People are very keen to both teach and learn!

Where do you hold the classes?

  • Everywhere!
  • Local college
  • Library
  • Any community space really

Everywhere is a classroom

What role does the library play?

  • The library plays an integral role in coordination
  • Been particularly overwhelmed with requests for ‘digital literacy’ – was holding 1 hour sessions which people could book and ask for help with anything
  • Picked some of the most popular digital literacy topics – particularly about ereaders and ebooks – and put them into chalkle┬░ classes which were fully booked!
  • Recognizes the demand that drives the classes

Chalkle┬░ helps the community as a whole become stronger. It is an extension of what the library already does.

How do you market it?

  • Newspapers
  • Mail-drop
  • Posters
  • Word of mouth
  • Aware of digital divide, so use other means to draw people in

What sort of age groups do you have?

  • Usually around 40-60 year olds (but typical of this community)
  • Could also be the people who see this marketing

What are the maximum/minimum size of the classes?

  • It depends on the topic, venue, and perhaps the tutor

How do you do quality control?

  • Chalkle┬░ works with the tutors and gives them tips from the manual
  • The tutors learn from bad experiences
  • People recognize Chakle┬░ is about people sharing, not ‘teaching’ so they are both forgiving of mistakes and generous in their reactions

Any challenges you are facing so far?

  • It’s hard for people to believe it is free and comes from altruistic motivation for good of community
  • People get scared by the term ‘franchise’ and worry that it might be all about making money
  • We challenge this misconception by demonstrating how good it is
  • We walk the talk and make it work

I asked a question about how Jo thought that Chalkle is both similar to and different from MOOCs.

How are Chalkle┬░ classes similar to and different from MOOCs?

  • Chalkle┬░ is face-to-face, connecting people, exchanging information and knowledge.
  • Not online
  • Key thing is community engagement and the face-to-face model.

So in a sense, I suppose you could argue that they are not similar at all; they are completely different models of teaching – face-to-face versus online – but I believe the philosophy behind them is the same. Both Chalkle┬░ and MOOCs are about bringing education to the communities and making it free to learn. Both are part of a larger movement towards the freeing of information, and the breaking down of barriers to education. The world is your classroom, and I think that both of these contribute to this vision.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this session a success – I’ve learned a lot, and got plenty to think about. I can’t wait for the next session! So if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for the next sessions.