100 and counting: Silver Lining for Learning

by | Wednesday, April 06, 2022

March 11, 2020 (a little over two years ago), just around when the pandemic had forced educational institutions across the globe to shut down and transition to remote learning, my friend Yong Zhao reached out to Chris Dede, Curt Bonk, Scott McLeod, Shuangye Chen and me with the question: “What would happen to our global and local educational systems, if the Corona virus outbreak lasted for a year?”

That initial email culminated in a web-series called Silver Lining for Learning, that just had its 100th episode this past Saturday. Scott McLeod and Shuangye Chen stepped away after a while – so the show is now hosted by the four of us (Chris, Curt, Zhao and myself).

Hosting this series has meant that pretty much every Saturday for the past two years we have met and engaged with issues relevant to education, either with each other or with invited guests. In this process we have had an opportunity to speak with some amazing people – educational leaders, innovators, administrators, deans, researchers, students and more. These conversations have touched on a wide array of topics, including but not limited to: student autonomy, remote learning, novel learning organizations, pioneering curricula and programs, innovative ways of teaching, new approaches to education policy, ground-breaking technological inventions and more. Our guests have come from all over the world: Italy, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Bhutan, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Korea, Israel, Malaysia, Nepal, Spain, England, Costa Rica, Thailand (to list a few) and of course the US. And we now have over 100 hours of original programming (available for free through the website).

Over time we have developed a small but devoted following, people from across the world who watch us live on YouTube, and participate in the chat with each other (and the hosts). Many of their comments and questions end up in the show, enriching the conversation. For our 100th episode we reached out to a few of our regular viewers and invited them onto the show, some of whom we had never met or seen. It was great to meet with them and put names to faces. Thank you Dodzi Amemado, Lydia Cao, Gerald Fussell, John Heffernan, Priyank Sharma and Danty Yin (and Shuangye who rejoined us as host).

Speaking personally, it has truly been a privilege to have been a part of this series. It has broadened my horizons and knowledge about educational issues across the globe. It has also allowed me to meet and engage with some amazing, committed, passionate educators and educational innovators.

It has also allowed me to keep up with my design skills since I also designed (and maintain) the SLL website, create unique graphics for each episode and edit the videos (and that includes creating the intro-outro for our videos). Incidentally, the first version of the intro/outro (that we used for approximately 50 episodes) was, musically and visually, somewhat dark and foreboding, in keeping with the insecurities that we all felt at the start of the pandemic. Over time, as the show broadened in scope to provide a more positive view of what is possible, I created a new intro-outro sequence seeks to capture this new more optimistic flavor. That intro/outro was lightly re-edited starting with episode 100.

One of the most fun parts of the being the “in-house designer” is that I am tasked to create a “signature” graphic for each episode. So over the past 2 years I have created over 130 such images, not just for the episodes but for guest posts and more. A “poster” with 100 of these is given below. I recommend clicking on the image to see a higher resolution version, just to see the variety of guests and topics we have covered on the show).

Click to see a higher resolution version (opens in a new tab)

Finally, a huge shout out all our guests for giving us their time and sharing their expertise. And of course, thanks are due to my co-hosts: Chris, Curt, Scott, Shuangye, and Zhao. This has been an amazing journey and I am deeply grateful for their energy, input, camaraderie, knowledge and friendship. Thank you.

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