On July 16, 2010, the Pearson Foundation, Nokia, and the Smithsonian Institution hosted a second Leadership Summit on Digital Media at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.
The June 2010 Leadership Summit was so successful that organizers found it necessary to turn away nearly 100 people, promising to hold a second summit one month later. The goal of July’s summit was to showcase the work and practice on the ground of digital media specialists and thought leaders.
The Smithsonian-based Leadership Summits are designed to bring museum staff of all kinds together with digital media practitioners and researchers to begin or continue the conversation about how to introduce and integrate new media practices into the museum experience.
The summit featured four speakers, activities that used cell phone computers, and short videos that showcased NLI programs and efforts to document best practices.
Going Mobile at the Smithsonian Museum — Nancy Proctor
Nancy Proctor is the Head of Mobile Strategy & Initiatives at the Smithsonian. She reprised her June presentation, providing a historical survey of how the Smithsonian’s museums have used mobile technology over the years.
Armed with a greater sense of what has worked and what has not, Proctor continued to argue that the material that is produced for visitor experiences must endure over the long term, regardless of which technology is used at any given time. Mobile digital media that personalizes the museum experience, in addition to making it a social one, will be the primary connection mode going forward. This may mean integrating applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare into the visitor experience, as well as making communication between visitors and museum experts two-way. She used the example of the agora – a shared courtyard community – as opposed to the Acropolis or a building that keeps people outside.
Integrating Digital Media in a Philadelphia Public School — Christopher Lehmann
Chris Lehmann is principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is a model school for seamlessly integrating digital media into the classroom. At this high school, students use tools that best match their learning objectives. Sometimes that’s a paintbrush, and sometimes it’s a Google Application or chat room. In the 21st century, Lehmann asserts, students need access to all of the affordances of new media and technology to prepare them for a lifetime of learning and for acceptance into the modern workplace.
Education is project-based at SLA, and digital media applications make it possible for students to follow interests, take more direct control over the pace and content of their learning, and collaborate and communicate with other students. Teachers are facilitators who guide and nudge students to think more critically, strategically, and thoughtfully about how to construct knowledge and pursue inquiry.
Augmenting Reality with Mobile Phones and Place-based Learning — David Gagnon
David Gagnon is a member of a team of instructors and instructional designers in the Academic Technology Department of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He consults and manages the creation of a number of video games and simulations to teach college-level courses as part of the ENGAGE program.
Gagnon is interested in the role of collaboration in the learning process and in designing activities that are integrated into the whole curriculum. He heads up a project called ARIS that allows teachers to use narrative and place-based learning strategies to teach using the new breed of mobile devices like the iPhone.
The Wisconsin educator argues that mobile is a new media form – the most ubiquitous communication technology on the planet as of 2010. What’s interesting to him is that the new breed of mobile devices not only offers new affordances such as location services and multi-touch interfaces, but that they also are capable of containing things we are used to, such as web browsers, podcasts, text, and animation.
He praises the notion of physically contextualized knowledge; that is, knowledge that is tied to space and place. For example, you get a richer experience of a story if you can be at the site where the event happened. Mobile devices can add – through pictures and video, for instance – additional information and context to the place where you are standing. He gave examples of how place-based learning, mobile data collection, physically embedded information like barcodes, augmented reality applications, and games can transform the way people learn about themselves, their communities, and the world. Go here to read Gagnon’s blog.
Noah: Citizen Science and User-Generated Content — Yasser Ansari
Winner of the Joan Ganz Cooney Prize for Innovation and Learning, Project Noah’s (for Networked Organisms and Habitats) Yasser Ansari talked about what he calls “nature deficit disorder” and the need to get kids out of the classroom and re-connected with nature. He advocates using mobile technologies to inspire and make real, citizen science; that is, the participation in data collection and analysis of scientific research by people outside the science professions. A recent graduate of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications program who also has experience in the private sector, Ansari explained that his mission with Noah is to re-connect people with the planet by enabling them to learn about the wildlife around them and to make Noah the common mobile platform for documenting the world’s organisms.
Using a mobile app on the iPhone, a user can grab a photograph of an interesting organism that he or she wants to share or learn more about, select the appropriate category, add some descriptive tags, and submit it to the site, which captures the location details along with some other information and stores it in the species database. Users can reference field guides to find organisms that have been spotted near them and follow missions that have been developed by research groups and organizations.