Does Learninate need a manifesto?

A manifesto is a usually a detailed documentation of complaints or grievances, followed by a philosophical or practical commitment to correct them. It’s also a statement of values and guiding principles for a movement or organization. Observance of Independence Day this week brings to mind one of the most famous manifestos, the United States Declaration of Independence, and raises the question: Does Learninate need a manifesto? Many tech startups have them, and they often provide needed context for the mission of a new company.

In my case, I don’t have strong complaints about e-learning. The people working in this area continually improve and enhance the range and depth of what is available to learn online. At most, I don’t feel satisfied with the extent to which online learning has achieved its potential.

The reason I teach, and the reason I started Learninate, is due to frustration with the conventional model of education. Learners are sorted into classes. Teachers hold the keys to knowledge based almost entirely on having been present in classes in the past. Learning is passive. Teaching to learn is nearly unheard of. Standardization and data are the goals, not the celebration of learning, self-actualization, agency, and the pursuit of curiosity and passion.

The Learning Revolution

The Internet is the perfect medium from which to stage The Learning Revolution, and it is already happening on a variety of platforms. Except in e-learning. Most often, learning online consists of long video lectures, accompanying discussion forums, and sometimes tests. Not much different than school, really. More efficient and convenient, but still based on the old industrial model.

Learninate is not based on that model, and I will be drafting a manifesto in the next weeks. Please comment on this post to add your voice. How can we change online learning to fulfill the promise of democratic, empowered, and creative learning?

Prise de la Bastille by Jean-Pierre Houël

Prise de la Bastille by Jean-Pierre Houël – Bibliothèque nationale de France, Public Domain


  1. Debi Miller

    When you first posted this, my immediate response was ,”Nah.”

    And then I finished the “study” part of the scrambled eggs course. I’ve changed my mind.

    When I left teaching just a year ago, e-learning was still, at least in my school, just tool replacement. Instead of reading a paper text, read it online. Instead of writing with paper and pen, type on your district-provided laptop. I felt like I was ahead of the game by assigning 20% time for students to study what they had a passion for and give an end-of-year presentation, but even then, the research could have been done using books in a traditional library setting.

    After my experience with the scrambled eggs, though, I don’t think that’s your vision for Learninate.

    I hate to cook. Scrambled eggs is practically a staple food. I know how to make them. Grudgingly, because I want to help get Learninate going, I decided to do the course work, make some eggs and post a picture of my eggs. But by the time I finished the videos, I was EXCITED to make scrambled eggs incorporating a little technique from this chef, another from that one. I decided I really wanted to try Gordon Ramsey’s croissant toast and smoked salmon base. I priced the stuff out at Costco. Kind of a lot of money for one person’s breakfast, and I know I would end up pitching most of the food out. So I decided to take it up a level. Invite some friends, maybe former colleagues on summer break. Call it a Learninate Launch party. My friends enjoy wine, so learning about scrambled eggs has led me to learning a little about wine. What does one serve with scrambled eggs on a smoked salmon base? I may have to confer with an expert! And since my friends will be there, I can have one record me while I make the eggs and explain which elements I learned from the course.

    And there, I believe, is the point of Learninate. Not using the computer as a tool for the same old learning, but to inspire learners to use the site as a base from which to launch into some new learning. Willingly. Excitedly.

    And that may be why you need a manifesto.

    Or maybe not. Maybe it’s more powerful – and more to the point – for us to experience it for ourselves.

  2. JOE

    Hey Bart,

    Thanks for including me in this community. I am not sure about the whole manifesto idea, nevertheless I can appreciate your focus on agency and modeling democracy principles in our role as teachers. I am looking forward to being part of this journey with other educators in Learninate. I agree that teaching and learning has to go through a transformation if we are to meet the challenges of being a global citizen in the digital age. I am especially interested in empowering my students to be self directed learners and to be part of a community striving for positive change. Being a teacher of color teaching in an immigrant community there is so much work that still needs to be done for equity in our society. I guess, that is why I am here.