The MacArthur Foundation in the US funds some very interesting digital media and learning initiatives. Last month, they released this video featuring those involved in developing and using the very cool YouMedia space at the Chicago Public Library, which opened in July this year.
It’s an example of how young people’s use of digital media can be factored into libraries. The way they’ve set up the library space recognises the importance of social connections between students and leverages their digital interests. Connie Yowell from MacArthur Foundation says that at the library the students will find ‘extraordinary resources on anything they may be interested in but now they can create produce and make things as well’.
Nichole Pinkard from Chicago Public Library adds that the point of YouMedia is not just about making young people into movie producers and music producers but enabling them to become ‘fluid in use of technologies so they can use them to engage in public conversation and public discourse.’
Locally, it’s great to see the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa get an award at the LIANZA conference this month. Interesting stories on their website about the impact that providing free broadband in public libraries is having on the community and on the use and development of library services.
I’ve been talking with colleagues about models for digital resources for learners. We have a curriculum with new priorities for learning; we have technologies challenging traditional publishing formats; and we have students who’ve adopted some of those technologies for themselves. These developments should mean big changes for educational publishing.
A few ideas then. Resources for students need to:
engage young people’s cultural and social practices
provide opportunities for transformative learning (a shift from filling students’ heads with facts to strengthening their key competencies)
build teachers’ capability around the seven ‘actions that promote student learning’ (pp34-35 NZC).
Publishers producing resources need to:
commission, write, design and curate across the range of media and in multimodal forms (avoiding treating web as an extra add-on to the publishing process)
plan for and predict likely interaction (how will young people want to interact? debate amongst themselves? engage with us?)
contribute an editorial or curatorial role that influences and creates community (set framing questions? bring people together?).
What do you think?
Learning is always a social experience for learners and their teachers, whether the artifacts involved are chalk, books, ICT and/or other minds. However, in an era when key competencies are at the heart of our curriculum, I think we can look to ICT to support transformative learning in ways that print simply can’t. Digital resources and software (especially, but not exclusively, social software) make available new opportunities for students to do things with their knowledge. Content is a means to this end (doing things with knowledge), not an end in itself.
An example … what learning could we make available if the fabulous Journal of Young People’s Writing were a blog? Instead of publishing completed student work in a fixed format, we could publish student work with great potential – with a great opening, a great ending or great dialogue. Invite writer David Hill to critique and explore. Invite other students to comment and illustrate. Invite graphic artist Ali Teo to respond to the illustrators. Draw comparisons and contrasts with work by other writers. Turn the existing model inside out by exposing the workings that are past and hidden by the time classrooms receive the print version.
There’s a role for the publisher: curating students’ work, modelling cognitive and social processes, influencing teachers’ pedagogical practice (including their own classroom blogging practices), responding to the interests and strengths that students bring to the project …
I’m the first to let my mind wander when someone talks metadata to me, but Digital New Zealand has converted me to its power. I posted recently on this initiative from the National Library. Well, DigitalNZ was officially launched this week by a talent National Library team and their content partners and collaborators, who should be rightly chuffed with their achievements.
To top the release of the Coming Home search widget and the remixing tool Memory Maker, DigitalNZ has released an open API that lets developers build services over the metadata that DigitalNZ has harvested from its content partners in the culture and heritage sector. To understand how this works, click on the fabulous diagram above, which explains it visually much better than I ever could in words.
An example of the kind of tool that’s possible (one that the DigitalNZ team ‘prepared earlier’) is the customisable search builder, which lets users design their own mini search engine to search for New Zealand content on a subject of their interest – volcanoes, disasters, ANZAC day, and so on.
Wow! You can see the educational uses immediately. Pop a search on your wiki or website relating to your class’s inquiry or project – learners will be guaranteed quality New Zealand content on that topic.
To continue a theme in recent posts on culture and heritage, you may have noticed a smart new widget in the right-hand column of this blog.
To mark Armistice Day on 11 November, the Digital New Zealand project, led by the National Library, has released two new internet tools that connect New Zealanders with digital content about our country at the end of the First World War.
The widget on Lunch Box – the ‘Coming Home’ search widget – lets users search digital content held by a range of museums, galleries and archives (the widget aggregates metadata – the items themselves are still hosted by the individual content partners). It’s being tested by DigitalNZ’s content partners, and Lunch Box is stoked to be one of the test sites (see the list of other test websites).
Even better – you can embed this search widget in your school’s website, wiki, intranet or blog by grabbing the code from the DigitalNZ website. (If you can’t add the search widget to your site, then you can link directly to a hosted version of the search.) What I love about this is that DigitalNZ has recognised that providing services on their website is one thing, but letting users add the tools to their own spaces and places on the web is even better.
NZMuseums is another new website launched recently (back in September).
It’s a directory of 400 museums (with locations, opening hours etc) and it showcases the collections of 50 of these. NZMuseums also includes photos from 120 museums and thousands of objects of all collection types.
One of the site’s aims is to make accessible content previously unavailable on the Internet and to provide a web presence and electronic catalogue for many of our smaller, volunteer-run museums.
The site promises other things in time – events, virtual exhibitions and more collections. Good to see the museums sector thinking about catering to online visitors as well as physical ones. The attention generated by the live webcam footage of the dissection of a colossal squid at Te Papa has hopefully proved the value and reach of online audiences to our cultural institutions.
The business of this blog is the business of my job: software and digital media for learning.
I work for the e-Learning Team in the New Zealand Ministry of Education, and I manage a bunch of projects that contribute to building and sharing a picture of what effective teaching practice looks like using ICT.