What Was That Learning Island Game Online Line Runner

Social experiment: “A site was lit up by line runners: One person posted a message asking people to reveal the web domain they’d just bought.

We sometimes think that the whole New York media food chain would collapse if it weren’t for the “literary exchanges” that bring people together — which, not surprisingly, are often related to each other.

Today was no exception.

I took a side gig in learning game seeking for my column at the New York Post a few months ago. Reading the short articles and groups became just as fascinating as stories and interviews with star writers. Like, say, the time George Orwell’s many survivors remade his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

It’s why I love the web, especially when I’m out of the office. My spare time often happens at the office, or at home, but in those moments, when I’m thinking — as I was at the end of the night — about what the great writers of our age had to say, I end up on a site that houses thousands of posts reading what the people I care about have to say.

The memory of this encounter will live with me, a challenge because the site I’m referring to is a not-for-profit organization devoted to teaching teens and adults about science and technology by offering print-formative classes with writers whose work they inspire.

Since I’m so addicted to what they say, I called up founder Laura Jolley to ask her what was that learning island game she teaches? And I’ll admit: it turns out she is someone I might get to meet someday.

Jolley is a science teacher and former high school teacher who spent time as a reporter at both the Post and the Times. A loves writing. Beyond science and technology, she is known for her weekly science advice for the Post. It is a thank you note to a godmother who passed away while teaching at Stuyvesant High School in 2002. Since then, she has kept New York well informed with her daily posts.

But back to the idea of asking the post’s authors to create a learning exchange.

“I thought about one or two people I would choose and would use a collaboration-based platform to ask them to work with me. The results I got were unexpected and exceeded my expectations,” she explains.

The six writers selected by Jolley — all of whom were completely unexpected to her — wrote two-minute, flash, and/or Tumblr-based blogs. “I had to choose 12 posts. They posted on it for months. Some were long, some short. Some appealed to me, some didn’t. Some were high tech, some low tech. But they were all interesting,” she continues.

As these writers and her were working together, she was also writing posts about them for the Post. It wasn’t until she edited the post on an iPad the morning of the event that she discovered they were thinking out loud together.

“I called my publicist and explained what I was doing, she told me my parents would be attending, and I had to tell them something big,” she remembers. “I told them I was going to ask one of the people I had asked to a story-making challenge. I also told them I was an education writer who was covering middle school science and did science writing on a regular basis.”

That people cared so much that the Post could have a good conversation about them — and as my associate Jim wrote — was an incredible coup for the Post.

It’s also something she was happy to have completely out of her hands. Jolley gave the Post permission to report on the event, and to show the world what they can get accomplished through collaboration and viral writing. She also agreed to follow up with each person individually via phone calls after they had returned from the event.

She also knows who she is, and that she is someone many people will now be remembering — and perhaps, reading — next year on a learning island of the same name in Northern California where there are learning island courses on subjects that I, as an audience member, might not think I care about.

Read more about what Laura created on her LA camp and read Post commenter responses at PeopleMagazine.com.

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