So eventually students started showing up and debating and discussing with us during those meetings. And we thought, well, we might as well just formalize this thing. We're basically discussing the roadmap for the school. And the students were like, it's like a club because it happens in the afternoon.
So we're like, sure, let's call it roadmap club. Why not? A roadmap club meets Fridays 1:30. And that just became a weekly ritual. We just do that now. And that's been a thing since.
- Indra Sofian
Our guest today is Indra Sofian, the cofounder fo Sora Schools, an online project-based-learning high school.
In this episode, we catch up after our first chat 2 years ago. Then the school was just starting, now there is an innovative yet mature high school operating entirely online. It is the first digital-native high school I have studied closely, so I wanted to dig into their entire operating system. We discussed how they motive learners, how they structure their academic standards, how students select the skills they need to master, the projects they design and complete. How the Sora team designs incentive mechanisms so that students navigate through a sea of skills and standards at an accelerating pace, a bit like a video game.
In our discussion, we cover:
- (Constrained) freedom to learn. Students may lose themselves if granted complete freedom to self-direct. It's maybe best to offer a curated, constrained learning experience, still with a lot of choice. Indra's UX background makes me think of school leaders as UX designers.
10:56 - We find that students want a lot of autonomy and flexibility and also control over ho w they're learning and what they're doing, but they don't mind if we provide the support system and design the constraints around them and saying " Okay, this is generally what you have to learn, you can generally design how you learn it and the pace at which you learn in the way you demonstrate a mastery application of it and so forth.
14:27 - We allow students a lot of flexibility in how they demonstrate mastery. It could be a paper, it could be a video, it could be a project, it could be an oral presentation. It really depends on the student.
17:19 - Hey, 1:30 next Friday. We're discussing some upcoming changes that we're working on again. So be there." We talked to the students and we did it again. And over time that just sort of became a ritual. We just thought, oh, let's just keep meeting with them, telling them about the various changes we had to the school. Eventually students started suggesting their own initiatives, they thought "Wow, like, why can't we see all the skills", being able to see everything that they were learning and see the scope of everything. So eventually students started showing up and debating and discussing with us during those meetings. And we thought, well, we might as well just formalize this thing. We're basically discussing the roadmap for the school. And the students were like, it's like a club because it happens in the afternoon. So we're like, sure, let's call it roadmap club. Why not? A roadmap club meets Fridays 1:30. And that just became a weekly ritual. We just do that now. And that's been a thing since.
29:34 - I think one of the biggest challenges that we're facing as a school right now is learning how to work with students, not just a different interests, that's one element of a student's education- just catering to the various goals that they might have, I think a much more subtle area of improvement is working with students of different autonomy levels and levels of independence and self management.
Here are some resources mentioned in our discussion:
- Virtual School is the Future, by Garrett Smiley - https://soraschools.com/virtual-school-is-the-future/
- Redesigning School for Students To Thrive - https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/village-globals/redesigning-school-for-ij6_CO4w1z-/
- MTC Mastery Transcript® - https://mastery.org
Where to learn more about Indra:
Where to learn more about Enrollhand:
Our webinar: https://webinar-replay.enrollhand.com