This page presents additional information about the Vital Syllabus project, in the form of answers to “frequently asked questions”.
1: Incentives for users of the project
Q: Why will people (students of all ages) want to engage with the content in this project?
A: Ideally, because they find that contents provides:
- Compelling answers to questions that they already have in mind
- A positive, credible vision for how a significantly better future can be attained
- Enjoyment and inner satisfaction, as they gradually develop a sense of mastery of key skills and principles
- Material which they can repurpose for their own projects, including teaching their own students.
2: Incentives for contributors to the project
Q: Why will people want to contribute material to this project? What will motivate them to spend time reviewing its content, offering feedback, filling gaps, and improving what’s already in place?
A: Ideally, because they share with the core team behind the project:
- An understanding of the critical importance of the project
- An expectation that momentum can build, as more people become involved
- An appreciation that there are ways in which they, as an individual, can make valuable contributions
- A desire to make an active substantial difference to the future of the world.
This is similar to the reasons why people contribute to Wikipedia or to open source software projects.
Note: there are no monetary aspects to involvement in the Vital Syllabus project. The material in the project is designed to have zero access cost. However, involvement in the project can bring reputational benefit.
It’s an open question whether the project could be aided by the operation of some kind of tokenomics scheme.
3: The kind of assistance needed
Q: What kind of assistance would the project most appreciate?
A: The project needs to start gathering and organising links to good quality resources – that is, links to videos, documents, or other online material – resources that address areas mentioned in the syllabus. These resources should be:
- Accessible: available without any payment or other obstacle
- Clear: easy to understand
- Engaging: inspires and keeps the attention of viewers
- Focused: addresses the topic in the syllabus, rather than lots of other questions
- Authoritative: has good reason to be trusted.
People can help the project by suggesting any or all of the following:
- Resources that should receive priority recommendations in the Vital Syllabus
- Resources that should be created, to address gaps in the recommendations
- Processes to review and validate resources that have been suggested
- The overall structure of the content
- The appropriate mix of definition and diversity – that is, how much variation should be included
- Ways in which the project can acquire greater impact – the sooner, the better.
4: Becoming involved
Q: How can people become involved as a contributor or a supporter of the project?
A: One option is to use the #education channel in the London Futurists slack. That channel has been created specifically to support the Vital Syllabus project. Add your initial suggestions or feedback as a message in that slack.
See here for information on how to join that slack and, if you need it, an invitation link you can use.
Another option is simply to use whichever connection mechanisms you are already comfortable with: email, social media discussion, etc.
In all cases, the involvement can start small – for example, suggesting a video to be included in one of the syllabus topics areas. All being well, the involvement can build up from there.
5: Project risks
Q: What could cause this project to fail – to fall far short of its potential? And what is being done to manage these risks?
A: See here for a general analysis of why projects often fail.
In the case of the Vital Syllabus project, key risks and their proposed mitigation include the following:
- No sense of progress – Hence the need for a roadmap of intermediate deliverables, and regular communications about progress made
- Good material is drowned out by material of lower quality (the signal is lost in the noise) – Hence the need to conduct continuous reviews and to establish clear standards
- Material of greater importance is drowned out by material of lesser importance (this is another aspect of the previous point) – Hence, again, the need to conduct continuous reviews and to establish key standards
- A bottleneck obstructs the flow of good material into the project – Hence the application of the agile discipline of regular project retrospectives, and to take time when needed to update the project architecture and processes
- Material is produced but there is little engagement from potential users – Hence the need for analytics for insight about actual engagement, and for skilled marketing and communications
- Confusion over relations with other projects – Hence the need for clarity about potential partnerships and alliances.
6: Initial content
Q: What’s the status of the initial content on the project syllabus pages?
A: During the early stages of this project, a small number of references are being added into the various project pages, as indicators of the kind of content that will eventually fill out these pages.
There is no expectation that these initial examples will all remain in place as the project develops. Each resource added onto these pages will be more carefully validated in due course.
7: Evolving the Syllabus structure
Q: How fixed is the classification of Vital Syllabus into 24 areas and the specified sub-areas?
A: This classification is likely to undergo considerable changes in the months ahead:
- To avoid unintentional duplication
- To split large topics into separate components
- To address omissions.
Further changes may take place at a later stage. This may include the addition of topics whose importance has newly become recognised.
8: Hosting the content
Q: What’s the best location to host the content of Vital Syllabus?
A: For the time being, Vital Syllabus exists on the London Futurists website, with its own dedicated menu structure there.
It may be moved to a new location as and when such a need becomes clear.
9: Learning sequences
Q: Are users expected to start at section 1.1 of the syllabus and then work methodically through to section 24.7?
A: Different users of the material in Vital Syllabus are welcome to approach the resources in different orders. There is no implication that the material on any earlier page in the sequence needs to be mastered before looking at material on a later page in the sequence.
10. Videos about the project
Q: Where can videos about the Vital Syllabus project be viewed?
A: See this page.
11. Project leadership
Q: Who is behind the Vital Syllabus project?
Research Associates of the project include Dalton Murray.
Other members of the core team will be announced shortly.
12. Community support for learning
Q: People often learn better when they experience themselves as being part of a community that is learning together, supporting each other. Should the project seek to establish a community spirit among the different users of the Syllabus?
A: It needs to be explored whether this can be done without losing focus on creating and curating syllabus content.
Some system of user registration will in any case be needed in order to track usage of the site (as a way of determining its effectiveness). That registration could be the entry point to a community of students of the Syllabus.
13. Profile of a typical user
Q: What assumptions are being made about the skills and background knowledge of users of the site?
A: Inevitably, users will bring different levels of skill, listening comprehension, and background knowledge to the site. Over time, the Syllabus will host material marked with descriptions such as “introductory”, “intermediate”, and “advanced”.
But to start with, resources on the Syllabus pages should be suitable for a typical smart 16 year old child.
14. Project-oriented learning
Q: Students often learn skills better when they are needed as part of a project in which they have an interest – rather than reading about these skills in abstract. Can project-oriented learning be built into the Syllabus?
A: In the first instance, combining material from the Vital Syllabus website into projects of that type is something that teachers can do for their own students. The Syllabus project itself will focus on creating and curating individual resources.
However, as the Syllabus website develops, it could indeed host material that describes real-world challenges where combinations of Vital Syllabus skills would be useful.
15. Questions for self-evaluation or accreditation
Q: How will students be able to assess whether they have understood the material in the Syllabus? Is there scope for any formal accreditation following a course of study?
A: These are features that can be added into the Vital Syllabus project as it develops.
16. More than videos
Q: Is a strong emphasis upon videos risky? Should the project raise the priority of creating and highlighting other types of material?
A: Yes, there’s definitely a case for infographics, among other alternative types of format.
Where appropriate, the project will also seek to provide transcripts of videos published, for people who prefer to read more quickly.