How an NFT club provided an opportunity for middle schoolers to explore web3
In January 2022, at the height of the crypto and NFT buzz, I decided to do something radical at my middle school. I started an NFT club. At our assembly, nestled between the chess club, yoga flow, and “Sew Awesome,” I put up this slide to pitch this club to our 100 middle school students.
Afterward, I anxiously waited for the sign-ups or the possible lack of them. My initial fear was that none of the students would be interested in doing this. I knew there were a few students who knew of crypto from my investing club in the fall. I had also overheard a couple of students mention the “right-click save” phenomenon. I still wondered to myself if there were enough middle schoolers interested in spending a half hour every week talking about jpegs.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about experimenting in education. This was based on ideas I discovered in the book Two Beats Ahead. In this book, the authors describe experimenting as the act of “daring to suck.”
As a musician turned educator I am very comfortable trying new things and then seeing what works, iterating, and discarding the elements that aren’t benefitting student learning. I have discovered that this “relentless commitment” is a key skill in teaching. However, it can also go against the natural instincts of many teachers to backward plan in order to design perfectly constructed learning experiences.
Interest in the metaverse spiked and waned during 2022. A Google trends chart shows a decrease in interest starting in the spring of 2022 after a peak at the start of the year. Much of that interest was driven by Facebook’s announcement of its name change to Meta in the fall of 2021.
What do fireflies have to do with education, society, and the future?
The Firefly Problem
In a recent episode of “People I (Mostly) Admire,” host Steven Levitt interviewed applied mathematician Steven Strogatz. Strogatz was explaining the phenomenon of the pteroptyx, a Southeast Asian firefly that will synchronously light up along the mangrove forests throughout the year.
The future of education will be humans partnering with artificial intelligence to co-create. I prototyped this partnership by building a multi-day lesson plan using a chatbot. Through this collaboration I was able to address the following needs that are common to many education professionals:
Using time more efficiently
Incorporating problem-solving and creative thinking
As a musician and educator, I source a lot of insights about my craft from the world of music. One recent insight came from an interview with John Frusciante guitarist in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He discussed how his guitar playing on the album “By the Way” was influenced by Eddie Van Halen. This helped me realize that instruction focused on content loses the magic of what is hidden.
This week marks my 1 year anniversary in web3. My web3 birth was on 11/10/21 when I became the owner of the ENS domain dagan.eth. Unless you count the ethereum I purchased to exchange for the domain, it’s the first token I ever purchased on the blockchain. The transaction hash is:
This is part 3 of a series of articles on the emerging concept of ed3. As a curious and creative educator, my goal is to thoughtfully examine how web3 technologies will impact education in our changing world. Before I dig into this final piece of the ed3 puzzle I encourage you to read my first two articles on this topic. The first article introduces the idea of ed3. The second article lays out why ownership of student identity is important in this emerging ecosystem. This final article will speak to pedagogy and equity.
This is part 2 of a series of articles on the emerging concept of ed3. As a curious and creative educator, my goal is to thoughtfully examine how web3 technologies will impact education in our changing world.
At the conclusion of my last blog post article, I closed with two questions that educators need to consider as we transition into the web3 space. One was about ownership, and the other was about pedagogy and equity. In this piece, I will focus on the following question: How decentralized technologies allow learners to own their education?
I have been immersing myself in ed3, an emerging concept incorporating blockchain technology with education. In a Mirror.xyz article From Web3 to Ed3 – Reimagining Education in a Decentralized World, educators Atish Mistry, Blair Rorani, Scott David Meyer, and Vriti Saraf define ed3 as a model in which “learners own their education – validating their knowledge with decentralized technology.”