PIs: Rogers Hall, Kevin Leander
In this Cyberlearning: Transforming Education-funded EAGER Project, the PIs are carrying out first steps in understanding how to use the archives of cities to draw inner-city youth into inquiry and expressive activities in the context of documenting the interesting history, geography, civics, and so on, of the places they live. The work is being carried out in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a collaborative effort of Vanderbilt University and city of Nashville, represented by The Country Music Hall of Fame and The Nashville Library System. The project uses what is known about how people learn to inform the design of technology and pedagogy in support of “place-based education” — education that takes advantage of the place where learners live to promote learning and sustain their engagement. In this approach to place-based education, learners are taking on the curatorial practices of museum and library curators and using those practices to learn both the history of their city and also how to synthesize across information sources and express themselves in ways that are engaging and educational for others. New knowledge is being created about youth authoring and its potential for promoting learning and also about bringing the wealth of interesting city and cultural archives to the people who live in a city and its visitors.
Social media and “curation” applications have drawn the interest of many youth. The PIs in this project recognize potential in these technologies and in the interests of young people in curating collections for promoting learning of history, civics, geography, and other content and at the same time learning to synthesize across information sources and express themselves well. They envision a technical and socio-technical infrastructure for a new kind of informal after-school learning environment in which technology provides structure and aid as learners explore the archives of their city and compose compelling narratives to teach others, and social and interaction structures (the pedagogy) empower learners to engage in telling the stories of their city. The work is timely, as the tools that bring location-aware media together with mobile, personal information devices are becoming more capable and sophisticated at a rapid rate. The tool designs and pedagogy that are created through this project and follow-on projects will be applicable to supporting youth initiatives, both formal and informal, throughout our country and internationally.