Rebranding the Hacker

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Hack Learning Series

Rebranding The Hacker

Most people treat “hacker” like a 4-letter word. The hacker is looked upon as treacherous or manipulative. Some people think the hacker is a thief. Is it possible to rebrand the hacker? I, for one, certainly hope so.

Remember the little girl in the original Jurassic Park movie? Her brother called her a computer geek, because of her advanced tech skills. She snarled at him, as any sister would, and said, “I prefer to be called a hacker!” If you know the movie, you understand that without her hacking abilities, she and many others might have become raptor food.

She understood things in a way others didn’t. This is the persona of the legitimate hacker. She is someone who sees things as other do not. She looks beyond, furrows her eyebrows, cocks her head, and contorts in uncomfortable-looking ways. Then, she tinkers, tweaks, and rebuilds. This is the rebranded hacker–a powerful force who can change how we learn.

Enter the Hack Learning Series

Hack Learning Series books are written by the rebranded hacker–educators, authors and presenters who are regarded as top experts in their profession. The books and their authors investigate problems from various angles, and they tinker, tweak, and rebuild, until the problems are solved. Even better, Hack Learning Series books help you solve big problems with simple ideas, called “hacks.”

Not your usual books

Unlike typical education books that may be overstuffed with research, statistics, and the next trendy abbreviation, Hack Learning Series books are light on research and statistics and heavy on practical advice, based on years of experience and a willingness to take risks. The books are insightful, inspirational, and written in a conversational tone that all readers will enjoy. In other words, Hack Learning isn’t your Ph.D thesis. It’s more like Chicken Soup meets EdWeek. Here’s what you’ll find in each Hack Learning Series book:

Recognizable Series Titles

Hack Learning Series books begin with the word “Hacking,” as in Hacking Education or Hacking the Common Core or Hacking Assessment. The concept behind Hack Learning Series books is this: Take something that has built-in problems–education or standardization, for example–and hack, or reshape it.

List Format Subtitles

Most Hack Learning Series books are divided into 10 hacks, so subtitles typically begin with the number 10. For example, 10 Quick Fixes for Every School or 10 Ways to Captivate Reluctant Learners.

A Blueprint for Successful Implementation

This isn’t philosophy class. HLS hackers provide remarkably simple strategies developed by people who have actually experienced the problems about which they write. Each book in the series contains these parts:

Introduction: Our Hackers shed some light on the the theme of the book, basically the topic: Education, Assessment, Digital Literacy, Common Core, etc. You get a brief overview of the issues and a snapshot of the hacks.

10 Hacks: Structured like chapters, each Hack is one solution. Each Hack contains:

  1. brief summary of the problem
  2. an overview of how to “hack” it
  3. a step-by-step blueprint for implementing the hack
  4. pushback and how to overcome it
  5. a brief case study

Conclusion: Each book wraps up with some reminders of what’s most important in the book and encouragement to help you start “hacking” tomorrow (you won’t find any 5-year plans here).

Hack mania: When and where you can get the Hack Learning Series?

Here is the plan for the first wave:

  • Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School (our flagship book), will arrive June, 2015, courtesy of Times 10 Publications.
  • Hacking the Common Core: 10 Strategies for Amazing Learning in a Standardized World (Times 10, November, 2015)
  • Hacking Digital Literacy: 10 Ways to Globalize Learning at Home and in School (Times 10, February, 2016)

This is a glimpse of hack learning. So, what do you think? Can we rebrand the hacker?

Disclaimer: This post is shamefully self-promotional. I am the editor of the Hack Learning Series and a contributing author. Hopefully, you’ll still want to check out the books and helpful videos at

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
  1. Kenneth Tilton

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