Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the 'Project New Media Literacies' conference at MIT.
The event was part conference, part professional development and ALL PR and outreach for MIT's Project NML in the Comparative Media Studies department. More specifically they wanted to plug their new tool, The Learning Library.
Having discussed Scratch as a lab this week, it's probably best to begin with a short video clip I took (thanks FlipCam) during the talk given by Henry Jenkins:
(he is explaining Scratch when the clip begins)
Ok, so what is the learning library, in my words? As Jenkins comments in the video, it basically attempts to create a platform for 'remixing culture' where students, teachers and parents could (in theory) participate by contributing original media, links to media online and 'challenges' that progress like a slide show, prompting the viewer to contribute comments or submit media connected to the theme. The way to understand 'challenges' best would be to go to their site sign up, and navigate the 4 challenges all users are required to complete before being fully active in the library. The purpose of completing these 4 tasks, it seems, is to familiarize the user with fair use and copyright issues in pop culture media appropriation, remixing and sharing, an awareness of how the library functions and, of course, to solicit content submission/remixing & reflection by users.
To be fair, the day wasn't entirely a plug for Project NML and MIT tools/resources: as a result of the hyper-informative mode of conference participation, I found a lot of resources. I have never been so overwhelmed by information flow at a conference as I was at MIT--they had a NING page for participants to join, a Twitter feed with updates and comments/reflections and encouraged us to actively contribute during and after the conference.
So far I've noticed people continue to post and participate--but the participation during the event was what was really unique for me: I was getting resources from workshops in other rooms via the Twitter feed, while listening and taking notes in a different workshop room! For example, while talking about 'mapping in participatory culture' I found a great resource for Fair Use/Copyright on the Twitter feed.
I kept notes both on a live blogging attempt here on the EdLab page, as well as with Google Notebooks. These record the 'big chunks' of information that I found useful at the conference.
So why does any of this matter? Because this inclusion of culture and media in educational practice is just one of the ways to better address the students in schools today. Their project questions are: how are students, learning and institutions different today? I have to share this next clip in connection with my personal opinion that blocking sites from school firewalls is not only unfair, it's counterproductive to their growth and development as learners:
I'm still working my way through the 4 required 'challenges'--which I will complete in the next week, as I want to submit my own challenge to share with other users on the learning library. I have a series of media texts I want to use to create a challenge, and I'll talk more about 'remix culture' in that post.