The next stage of the Cherokee Nation digital exchange project (see posts below for progress so far) is for MA students from University of Brighton, the two participating Brighton Schools (Blatchington Mill School and Cardinal Newman Catholic School), the Cherokee Nation schools (Fort Gibson Public Schools and Maryetta Public School), and Same Sky to co-produce some digital art and display this at the Brighton Festival Children’s Parade in May 2013 that Same Sky organise..
This is thanks to having obtained some CUPP (Community University Partnership Programme) funding which will enable Digital Arts MA students from the University of Brighton to work with Wired Sussex, Same Sky and the Brighton schools to expand the project. The partners will be working with the school students to create a piece of collaborative art which will be paraded through Brighton where the theme of the children’s parade this year is the Alphabet. The children will be using the Cherokee Syllabary as inspiration to ultimately produce a shared piece of artwork for the wider community to engage with.
To this end the MA students will provide direct support to pupils and teachers as part of an existing course module in social media ‘Virtual Culture & Network Practices’. They would link with Same Sky who would offer the support of artists and access to bespoke workshops for the schools. A wider aim is to develop links beneficial to Same Sky that will help them include use of digital media into the workshops they offer.
The University of Brighton will help guide the school students and teachers in the use of digital media in subject areas outside of ICT. It will also provide new opportunities for schools and the University to work together and learn how technology can be effectively used in the classroom to generate creative learning practices.
We had a fantastic trip to the Brighton & Hove Albion AMEX stadium on Thursday 15th November 2012 as part of the Cherokee Nation Project. We had 33 year 8′s from Blatchington Mill School many of whom had taken part in the launch event in September. The Cardinal Newman students are having a separate visit as the numbers would have been too large for both schools together.
We split into two groups: one group went on a stadium tour to collect photographs on 10 ipads to create short films. The remaining 15 students Skyped 15 Maryetta students using 3 iPads in groups of 5. Similarly, the Maryetta kids had 3 MacBooks with 5 children around each. Each Maryetta student had prepared two questions to ask the Blatch kids and we let them loose! It’s probably fair to say they loved it – the number of kids meant there were no awkward silences and they would have gone on for longer than the 15 minutes we allowed if they could have. The portability of iPads allowed the kids to show off the football pitch and the stadium out of the window and for them all to have a chance to show their faces.
We had intended to use FaceTime instead of Skype but this required having an iTunes ID (need to set up with a credit card) for each MacBook and iPad which Maryetta didn’t have. The Albion iPads did as they use FaceTime a lot. But Skype was fine on both sides of the Atlantic and worked without any technical hitches.
After the Skype session that group had a slightly shorter tour and collected photos for the short films, again on 10 iPads.
The two groups came back together to make the films using iMovie (which the teachers had been trained in at the Albion training session on 25 Oct) which they found very easy to use. They added voiceovers, titles and music and then they showed their movies to each other. It was easy for them to share the 20 iPads between 33 students as they had been working collaboratively anyway to take the photos and ensure everyone was included. The films are being uploaded to the Albion secure YouTube channel and I’ll upload them to Edmodo (the platform we are using to communicate between kids and teachers) as well to share with the Cherokee schools.
To keep the momentum going with the Skyping and to allow the other group to participate we are trying to arrange for Blatch to use the end of their Wednesday ICT lesson (between 2-3pm) to Skype from school hopefully every week. This is being facilitated with Maryetta.
A digital cultural exchange between school students in Brighton, UK and Cherokee school students in Oklahoma, USA.
In the first blog post in December 2011, Phil Jones wrote: ‘This project aims to use digital media to significantly enhance the way that existing cultural exchange programmes between schools are run. The idea is to test and develop ways of using technology to encourage school students from different cultural and historical backgrounds to engage in real time interaction, to co-create content and to use visual and story-telling media, enabling them to build strong relationships through a mutual understanding and knowledge of each other.’
Since then, we’ve had a new school sign up from the Cherokee Nation – here’s a reminder of who’s taking part:
US – Fort Gibson Public Schools http://www.ftgibson.k12.ok.us/ and Maryetta Public Schools http://www.maryetta.k12.ok.us/ Another school, Sequoyah, http://sequoyah.cherokee.org/ a small school which is one of the only ones that teaches students in the Cherokee language is taking part through an after school club.
One of the first things we decided was that we needed time to discuss the project with teachers across the continents, get them talking to each other, find out what technology they were using already and to try to set a framework for the curriculum. We also needed to agree how many students would take part to start with and identify classes and teachers. We didn’t want to be too prescriptive with the curriculum as we really wanted the kids to take hold of the project when it started and to help drive what they would be doing in the lessons set aside for the project. One of the things the Cherokee side wanted from the project was to identify possible teachers of the future to help keep Cherokee tradition and language alive and that came into the mix as well.
It’s all about a digital cultural exchange, and those three words are what sums the whole thing up and it’s important to keep all those things in mind (at the same time!)… we wanted the kids to reflect on their own culture and lives and then think about how they could communicate that to people they might never meet (although more of that later)… and the tools they might use to do that. One thing that needs to be done is to find out what devices and technologies the kids already use and know, make use of them and introduce new technologies to them through the curriculum.
Although the first phase of this year-long project from April- August 2012 has been mostly to set things up, the Brighton schools have had some preparatory lessons in June and July. Year 7 English language pupils at Blatchington Mill have been studying some background about the Cherokee Nation using materials supplied by the Cherokee Nation Foundation, http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org/new/ a charity that supports the education of Cherokee students. They were introduced to the beautiful Cherokee language syllabary and to recordings of traditional Cherokee lullabies and then spent time reflecting on Brighton and their own lives. Then, and here’s the exciting bit, they made short films in small groups to introduce themselves and Brighton to their Cherokee counterparts. They used Movie Maker to do this, which was new to the teachers.
Year 7 History students at Cardinal Newman school had similar preparatory lessons and also produced materials to share with the Cherokee children. They used various technology including Powerpoint (it’s a start) and Movie Maker.
A highlight of the project so far is undoubtedly the visit to Brighton in July 2012 of Andrew Sikora, the US project manager and a star Cherokee student, Corey Still, in July 2012. Corey is currently studying at the University of Oklahoma and is a great ambassador for the Cherokee Nation. He was in the UK to take part in an event with the UK government to celebrate the 250th year anniversary of the “Emissaries of Peace” Cherokee visit to the UK to see King George III in 1762. Fortunately for us, he had time to visit Brighton and we organized visits to both Blatch and Newman schools so Corey and Andrew could meet the pupils and teachers on the project. Corey was a real pro at talking with the kids and we had a Q&A session at both schools as well as meeting senior staff and being taken on a tour of each school.
To communicate across the pond we’ve been using Skype and Basecamp so far. We’ve had a number of conference calls using Skype and had an interesting time figuring out that you can’t do group calls using an iPad if you want visuals not just sound and that one person in the group needs Premium Skype in order for you to all see each other. All the teachers taking part in the project are signed up to Basecamp as well as other interested parties who want to contribute. Use has been patchy but is being revitalized particularly by Fort Gibson school’s teachers who are regular contributors. We’ve shared the initial materials the year 7s made through Blogger and we’re discussing what platform we might want to try out as well – one US schools uses Edmodo http://www.edmodo.com and we’re also talking about Posterous https://posterous.com which none of the schools have used before…
We’ve had a launch event but that’s the subject of another post… More later
A digital cultural exchange between school students in Brighton, UK and Cherokee school students in Oklahoma, USA.
Phil Jones of Wired Sussex writes:
This project aims to use digital media to significantly enhance the way that existing cultural exchange programmes between schools are run. The idea is to test and develop ways of using technology to encourage school students from different cultural and historical backgrounds to engage in real time interaction, to co-create content and to use visual and story-telling media, enabling them to build strong relationships through a mutual understanding and knowledge of each other.
Cherokee Nation school students are provided with iPads at 7th grade. The logic behind giving them access to some of the most up-to-date consumer technology available is (ironically?) to support the preservation and growth of their traditional culture. Apple technology supports Cherokee language text (unlike Microsoft) and Cherokee is a polysynthetic language. This means that is less about text based messages and more about visual and narrative driven communication – areas where technology likes the iPad can excel.
Blatchington Mill is a school which specialises in the performing arts and media. We hope, with Arts Council support, to have the involvement of an artist who can help the school students there develop content for this project. Cardinal Newman specialises in the Humanities and it is through their history department that they will be engaging with the Cherokee Nation schools.
Schools students in the UK are used to learning about other cultures and often schools engage in cultural exchange programmes. By using digital technology to underpin that engagement we would hope to improve and change the nature of that engagement – as well as understanding other cultures, we hope to develop a practical understanding by participating school students in the ways that technology can facilitate and empower arts and humanities skills.