Hacked Learning

Image: ‘hack my creativity 1
hack my creativity 1
Found on flickrcc.net

I have been hearing a lot about hacked design recently.  You may be confused with hacking we associate with computer systems but this requires taking an already design object and changing it to fit another purpose. Or as the Hacked Design Blog explains it, “Hacking is user initiated product intervention. The idea is to take an object and optimize its function through an alteration that was not intended by the manufacture.” Blogs and websites are popping up like the Ikea Hackers community where people share their ideas and how they have repurposed furniture and designs.

I wonder what it would look like if we took this view of education and decided to hack learning? I hear schools that say, “We do Walker Learning”  or “We are an inquiry based learning school.” But it worries me how limiting it is to put learning in a neat little box.  Imagine if blogs popped up talking about how I used this aspect of design thinking and mixed it with this part of project based learning and repurposed it to meet the needs of my students? What if schools started to say we are “hack schools.” We choose learning based on our students?

So how do we define hacking?  We often think of it as something illegal and wrong.  But if we think of it as taking something that had one purpose and mix it with other tools, resources and thinking to create some new and even more functional.  The RSA suggest hacking has evolved from, “audacious breaches of private electronic systems, through to one which increasingly invokes a broader range of stunts and sabotages of convention.”  Once again you may have thought of sabotage as something negative, to ruin.  But what if we think of it as an ‘obstruction of normal operations’ and that is what we use in hacking learning.

Imagine if rather than looking for the perfect “thinking” or “learning” we hacked learning to produce the best opportunities for our students at that given time, in that context and in that environment. Rather than putting a label on learning we actually get to the bottom of what is important at that precise moment in that child’s learning.

Actually I know that this is already happening. Teachers willing to take a risk, to see things as they should be not as they are, are breaking the learning design rules to create new opportunities for students.  But I would love to see more of it.

2 thoughts on “Hacked Learning”

  1. Once again you manage to cut straight to the heart of the matter. There is no one way, no right way to learn. Being a learner means many things to many people. To often in education we try to find the magic answer, the way that is better than all other ways. The only magic answer is that there is no magic answer. The questions we should be asking are … what is my purpose? What will best help me get there this time?
    Off to check out the Ikea Hackers community – might learn something.

  2. Hi Margo,

    Thanks. I agree the personal level of learning is huge. And we should never underestimate it. We hear words being thrown around like accountability, mandated, not negotiable. These are all about controlling someone’s understanding, not learning. And learning can be achieved more using your questions so thanks for sharing.

    And the Ikea Hackers is worth a look. People are so creative!


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