Cherokee Digital Nation

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.

We have 4 schools that have agreed to take part. In Brighton & Hove, they are Blatchington Mill and Cardinal Newman, and in Oklahoma they are the Cherokee Nation schools of Maryetta and Sequoya.

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.

To support this process, the major e-learning company Epic have agreed to provide mentoring and support to the educators involved and Wired Sussex will oversee the project in the UK.