Community Learning Programs in Melbourne

Two nights ago after work,  I wandered over to the State Library of Victoria, a place I hadn’t visited for some years.  It was looking a bit worse for wear in my opinion or maybe I was just becoming a grumpy old woman for noticing the dirt and rubbish that side of town.

It was early evening and Melbourne workers were scrambling to get home while students sat on the steps outside the library munching on fast food before they went back in to continue their studies.

A lone seagull desperately flew around the head of one of the statues trying to land on its head.

I was here to attend a Melbourne Knowledge Week panel of people who created start-ups around community learning events called Learning In the City.

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In its fourth year, Melbourne Knowledge Week has various programs and events around the city.  Our city is home to infrastructure and key organisations which are thought to characterise a knowledge city.  You can find out more about it on the website here.

The panel consisted of community learning providers who were all start ups and have been providing learning in some form or another.

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We Teach Me

I have had the pleasure of connecting with We Teach Me through my work to see if their product can have some corporate application for peer-to-peer learning programs.  The platform allows anyone who has a subject matter expertise to plan, co-ordinate and conduct courses on any topic.  Teachers can use this product to easily create, manage and promote courses.  Similarly, learners can enrol, connect and create their own curriculum of learning based on their own personal needs.

In fact, last night, I did my first We Teach Me Course on Evernote 101 run by Megan Ilema (@Megsamanda) so I guess I not only learned about Evernote but I got to trial We Teach Me dashboard on a real event.


At the Evernote 101 Workshop playing with Skitch

The Creative Performance eXchange

Peter Spence talked about the events they offer at the Creative Performance eXchange. It’s an inter-generational forum where people talk and share ideas.  Although I hadn’t been to any of these forums, I understood these to be a gathering of people from all walks of life, of all experiences, from a wide industry and background who get together to talk and in so doing, learn from each other.  On the panel, Peter talked about how left brain we all are nowadays and how we have a lot to learn from children, women and the arts.  My understanding of his message that in today’s society we are simply too busy, too structured and focused and as a result we have lost our humanness, creativity and connections.

Laneway Learning 

I chatted with Mark who was one of the founders of Laneway Learning and found that we had a connection over organic chemistry.  We regaled stories of white lab coats, beakers and morphine derivative compounds (Please, no Breaking Bad jokes).  Studying towards a PhD and doing this on top of their studies, they founded this group that runs short after-work classes in Melbourne that are cheap, accessible and by the looks of it, fun.

Although I haven’t done a workshop yet, it’s on my list to do one of these – or even bring along a group of work colleagues one night.  Rather than go for a drink after work at a bar, why not go and do a fun class together?

I complained that I couldn’t get on a 3D printing class online on Twitter and thankfully, they offered another suggestion with The Robots Are Coming.

I was sold on the name. What a brilliant name for the business AND they have a night where you can print Dr Who themed artwork!   I quickly shot an email to my brother, the left brained electrical engineer as something like this would appeal to his nature so now we’re talking about doing a class together!

(The last time we were in school together would have been in primary and high school but I reckon these classes would be a lot more fun than our childhood school days).

School of Life

School of Life “Good Ideas for Everyday Life” is based on Alain de Bottom’s School of Life where you learn how to deal with the hard hitting questions in life.  This scared me admittedly but I know it’s something I will need to face.

Questions like, “How to Have a Better Conversations”, “How to Be Confident”,  “How to Face Death”…yeichs.

School of Life reminds me of the conversations that we have around our family dinner table. They say that one must never talk about sex, politics or religion at the dinner table but it seems that for Greeks this is certainly not the case. Everything is up for grabs and it makes for exciting dinner conversation where people yell, complain, cajole, argue, laugh, cry, moan about these topics over a moussaka and plenty of retsina.  However, somehow I don’t think the School of Life presents their information in such as robust and loud way as I have been accustomed to.  Regardless, they provide a place where people can be comfortable discussing these heavy subjects.

Overall, my main take on this panel and my experience of community learning events is that they provide a great way for people from all backgrounds to get together and learn something new and from each other.  Courses aren’t long, expensive or convoluted. There is no accreditation, certification or qualification.   The factors that made these events popular was that people were learning from each other, they were actually ‘doing something’ and the teachers were passionate.

Stephen Heppell had written about what makes the Best Learning Moments and it seems that community learning events follow these.

Last of all, another start up was mentioned  and they were Smiling Mind . As someone who loves to meditate (simply as a way to calm my mind), we chatted about their product and service which provides mindfulness meditation.

I went home, downloaded their app,  listened to their meditation and promptly fell asleep. Clearly, a real winner for me.

Just so you know, I’m not being paid to mention these products and services – just like to share because they may be of interest to you.

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
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1 Response to Community Learning Programs in Melbourne

  1. Thanks for sharing Helen. Loved the Smiling Minds program!

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