Students and Skype as Catalysts for Learning: Ms. Salas’s Students Skype and Learn @ The Unquiet Library

We’ve started off 2012 on an energizing and positive note at The Unquiet Library with two Skype interviews of experts related to architectural design.  What is super cool is that both of these Skype sessions were born out of students reaching out to experts about topics they’re curious and passionate about in Ms. Melanie Salas’s Architectural Drawing and Design II course.

Our first interview was Thursday, January 12 with Lisa Roth of Montgomery Roth Architecture & Interior Design, L.L.C.   Meet the brainchild behind this Skype session and her insights on the value of Skype in the classroom:

Other student insights included:

  • learning about how to select a college and qualities to look for in program related to the field of architecture
  • pathways to careers in architecture
  • what kinds of learning experiences to expect in a program of study for architecture
  • the field of interior design and how study in this area might enhance or shape a career as an architect
  • the importance of learning the culture of a geographic area before embarking on a design
  • Ms. Roth’s approach to the process of architectural design
  • details about specific design projects Ms. Roth’s firm has completed (a student favorite)
  • the cost and security of structures have a diverse range depending on the needs of the client
  • the importance of designing an effective sales pitch or sales presentation for a project
  • applications of what has been learned in class to “real world” architecture

Our second interview was with Danny Abshire of Newton Running.   Students got to ask questions about the design process and learned not only about the logistics of shoe design and Abshire’s story of co-founding his business, but they also received sound advice on dealing with the highs and lows of following one’s passions and dreams.  Students were truly impressed and engaged with Abshire’s energy and love for what he does; many commented it was a valuable and memorable learning experience.

Like last week’s Skype session, the catalyst for this conversation was learning was rooted in a student’s desire to connect with an expert.  Duncan shares how his study in Ms. Salas’s class intersected with his Senior Project and his reflections on how today’s learning experiences have impacted him as a student.  His joy and delight are infectious!

I’d like to thank our students, Ms. Salas, and our experts for their time and willingness to engage in a conversation for learning through Skype and our library.   I’m especially happy that students have not only gained new content related knowledge, but that they have also felt the power of interviewing an expert and that the Skype experience has fueled their passion and curiosity for learning!

Crowdsourcing and Curating Collective Memory, Legends, and Local History with Facebook Groups

About two days ago, I noticed a flurry of postings from my local friends to a Facebook group called, “You’re Probably from Canton, GA (Cherokee County) If You Remember??” in which people were reminiscing about places, people, and traditions gone by in the local town and surrounding communities of Canton.   Out of curiosity, I began perusing the posts in the group this evening and am fascinated by the phenomenon I see happening here:  over 900 members are sharing collective memory, legends, lore, photographs, and remembrances of life in the past of Canton.

People are sharing musings and engaging in threaded conversations around historic photographs, school days, local events that no longer take place, “urban legends” (including one about one of my high school teachers, Miss Mauldin, who supposedly became distressed when she could not find her classroom after a group of mischievous teens pushed the lockers down the hall and concealed the entrance to her classroom), local figures, traditions, and cultural institutions of life in what used to a be fairly small north Georgia town.  Most of the memories center on life prior to the 1990s, a decade in which a population explosion changed the physical and cultural landscape of the community in many ways.

As I am browsing through the posts this evening, I can’t help but wonder what libraries and educators could take away from this kind of phenomenon of crowdsourcing collective memories; I’m intrigued what an ethnographer might also be able to take away from this collective narrative as well as individual narratives that are shared in this public space.

  • How can libraries and educators harness the power of social media to help people build a rich narrative?
  • Whose voices seem included and what groups might be absent from the conversation–and what might that in and of itself tell us about the culture of the community?
  • What can we learn from the stories that are shared in a medium like this and how could this be a medium for multiple voices telling the history, the story of a shared place?
  • Could we view this Facebook group as an alternative or emerging form of text?
  • What can we take away from this kind of narrative to inform our understanding of digital storytelling and digital composition?
  • Is Facebook a medium for curation, and if so, what are the benefits as well as challenges for using it as a curation medium?  How might libraries weave narratives from a group like this into a larger digital text using a tool like Storify?
  • What qualities engage and compel people to contribute to this conversation?  I saw numerous comments along the lines of, “This is fun!  I could do this all night!” or remarks about the number of hours people were devoting to sharing and reading the posts and comments in the group.   Clearly, people are experiencing flow in this learning and shared story space–how can libraries and educators tap into the power of shared storytelling and construction of local history/memory?
  • How is this group functioning as a site of participatory culture?
  • Do groups like this encourage people to use social media who may be reluctant to join a social network or who may not feel a sense of agency or desire to participate in social networking?
  • What motivates people to establish and engage in sustained participation in groups like these?

The Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement

 http://www2.high.org/main.taf?p=3,2,1,7,1

Introduction | High Museum of Art Atlanta

An amazing and poignant new exhibition opens this weekend at the Atlanta High Museum of Art: “History Remixed—The Road to Freedom:  Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968″.   This exhibit will be on display until October 5 before it moves to the Smithsonian in November.  To read more about the photographs in this exhibit and the photographers who captured these historic moments, try these terrific articles from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

This special collection of primary sources tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement through photography.  What a wonderful opportunity to learn about this pivotal chapter in American history!

Here is how the High Museum of Art describes this special exhibition:

The exhibition features work by more than twenty photographers, with recognized names such as Bob Adelman, Morton Broffman, Bruce Davidson, Doris Derby, Larry Fink, James Karales, Builder Levy, and Steve Schapiro. Also included is the work of press photographers and amateurs who made stirring visual documents of marches, demonstrations and public gatherings out of a conviction for the social changes that the movement represented. Key photographs include Bob Adelman’s Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, 1963; Morton Broffman’s Dr. King and Coretta Scott King Leading Marchers, Montgomery, Alabama, 1965; Bill Eppridge’s Chaney Family as they depart for the Funeral of James Chaney, Philadelphia, Mississippi, 1964; and Builder Levy’s I Am a Man/Union Justice Now, Memphis, Tennessee, 1968.

Supplementing the photographs are archival documents, newspapers, magazines and posters from the period. These complementary materials demonstrate how, in the hands of community organizers and newspaper and magazine editors, photographs played a pivotal role in shaping public opinion. Documents such as Rosa Parks’ fingerprint paperwork and the blueprint of the bus on which she protested are shown alongside related photographs for the very first time. Also included will be several contemporary portraits, by photographer Eric Etheridge, of the young men and women who challenged segregation as Freedom Riders in 1961 and who are now senior citizens. All the photographs and documents in this exhibition will be accompanied by descriptive captions and an audio-visual component to provide deeper historical context.

Two significant groups of photographs in Road to Freedom have recently been acquired by the High. A portfolio of twenty-eight photographs by Danny Lyon, a leading photographer of the Civil Rights Movement, was given to the High Museum by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., in 2006. Turner acquired them directly from Lyon in the 1990s, when he was hired as a photographer on the TNT movie Freedom Song about the 1960s campaign for voting rights in Mississippi. The portfolio includes photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Representative John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy and other movement leaders.

The second is a group of thirty-three vintage photographs by Washington, D.C.-based freelance photographer Morton Broffman. In addition to working for several major publications, Broffman was the photographer for The Cathedral Age, the magazine of the Washington National Cathedral, for more than twenty-five years until his death in 1992. He was a campaign photographer for Senator Eugene McCarthy, who ran for president in 1968, and took numerous photographs of the Civil Rights gatherings in Washington, D.C, artist.  and in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. His collection includes images of marchers and movement leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Representative John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy, Joan Baez and James Baldwin. The photographs were given to the High by the Broffman family in 2006 in honor of the artist.

 

The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults

A few months ago, I blogged about the Georgia Archives Digital Vaults, but have you seen the National Archives Digital Vaults?  Many thanks to Sandi Adams for pointing me to this FABULOUS resource! 

What can you do with the resources in The National Archives Digital Vaults?

  • Create a movie
  • Create a poster
  • Search by tag or keyword
  • Collect primary source documents and images for a project

For lesson plans and ideas, go to the Educator and Student Resource Page at http://www.archives.gov/nae/education/.  In addition to great resources for teachers and students, teachers can find wonderful guides and handouts to use with students that explain primary sources and analysis worksheets for an array of primary sources, including written documents, photographs, maps, cartoons, sound recordings, posters, and motion pictures. 

Go to http://www.archives.gov/nae/education/tool-box.html to access these materials!

You may also want to read this great blog post by Glenn at the HistoryTech blog at http://historytech.wordpress.com/2008/04/12/digital-vaults-social-networking-for-primary-sources/.

This is a resource that can make history come alive for students!  We would love to collaborate with you as a teacher and develop a project or research unit that incorporates this treasure trove of primary source documents.   Please let me know if you would like to explore ways to incorporate the digital archives into your instruction!

Living History: Two Cool Finds

I came across two items this morning that you might enjoy if you are into history, stories, or archives.

First, I stumbled across this wonderful Flickr collection entitled “Mom’s World” by Joey Harrison.  This collection chronicles his mother’s recollections (she provides most of the narratives) and photos of life in Grand Rapids, Michigan between the late 1940s —2007.  If you want to hear first-hand accounts of life from this time period, you must check out the photos and narratives…his mother is sharp as a tack!  What a wonderful way to preserve history for your family and the general public!  Fascinating stories, amazing photography—definitely something you will enjoy.

Secondly, the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran this story this morning about a historical collection of rare newspapers donated by Nell McGruder to the Atlanta History Center.  If you are interested in north Georgia history (particularly Cherokee County), this is a great story!  I only wish the Atlanta History Center had the money to digitize and upload the images of these rare newspapers to Flickr a la Library of Congress!  Perhaps they may eventually go to the Georgia Archives? 

While reading The English Patient in 2004 for a course with Dr. Mark Faust at UGA, Dr. Faust wisely observed that history is really a series of stories and accounts, not necessarily objective facts that are black and white.  I think primary sources such as these affirm that view.  It makes me a little sad to think that I never perceived “history” as story until I was a graduate student!  I think more people might take a interest in history and its study if they thought of it as story rather than a series of disconnected facts.

I hope you enjoy these resources!  Let me know what you think!