Ben Owens discusses his non-profit “Open Way Learning” and the book he co-authored – Open Up, Education! – 339
Ben Owens discusses his non-profit “Open Way Learning” and the book he co-authored – Open Up, Education! How Open Way Learning Can Transform Schools. This is episode 339 of Teaching Learning Leading K12, an audio podcast.
Ben Owens is an education strategist and coach with experience helping schools create the cultural conditions that allow authentic, localized innovation to thrive in their own learning communities. He specializes in working with schools to retool their approach to collaboration and the free exchange of ideas and resources by applying the core elements of the open source movement – one of the primary drivers fueling our innovation economy. This “Open Way Learning” approach allows teams to develop, remix, adapt, and sustain a culture of authentic innovation that nimbly responds to the just-in-time needs of each student. Such innovative approaches include competency-based learning, project-based learning, distributed leadership, design thinking, true personalized learning, and high-quality STEM teaching & learning – all implemented with fidelity and sustained for the long term because they are rooted in the DNA of a school’s culture (instead of being short lived fads).
As an engineer who spent a 20-year career in manufacturing locations across the US, Ben saw first-hand the essential need to rethink student success so that it was less focused on siloed curriculum and test scores and more focused on the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed for students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. He left the corporate world in 2007 to do something about this by becoming a public school teacher in Southern Appalachia. Ben taught physics and math for 11 years at Tri-County Early College and in that role was able to work with a dynamic team of peers to craft and scale an engaging approach to student-centered teaching and learning that blurs the lines between what happens in school and what happens in the real world.
Ben is the co-author of “Open Up, Education! How Open Way Learning Can Transform Schools,” a book that makes a compelling case for why our schools must be more open if they are to truly prepare students for a rapidly changing world. He was the recipient of the 2017 Bridging the Gap Distinguished Teacher in STEM Education; the 2016 North Carolina Center for Science, Mathematics, & Technology Outstanding 9-16 Educator Award; a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council; a 2014 Hope Street Group National Teaching Fellow, and a former “Community TA” for the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. He is currently an Open Organization Ambassador and is a National Faculty member for PBLWorks, the world leader in Project Based Learning. He and his wife live in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.
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Length – 54:38