Seen and Heard: Young people creating digital media
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8 October 2009
Mercure Holland House Hotel, Bristol, BS1 6SQ
Young people are more 'digitally active' now than ever before - producing as well as consuming new media - and this brings with it new and exciting opportunities for both educational and social change, as well as some significant challenges for educators and providers of young people’s services.
The 2009 Futurelab conference explored the opportunities and challenges for young people in becoming digitally active, and the implications for the professionals who work with them. The conference included three challenging and provocative keynote presentations, involved young people themselves presenting and discussing initiatives that have supported them as creative media producers and active citizens, and provided delegates with insight and guidance into working with young people as participants and producers in new media culture.
Below, Lyndsay Grant and Mary Ulicsak report back on some of the sessions from the conference.
Creativity, learning and a digital culture - Pat Chapman
Director of Schools at Creativity, Culture and Education
Background to CCE
Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) has taken on board Creative Partnership’s work since 2002. It is a national organisation funded by the Arts Council, but also receiving funding from independent sources. CCE run two main initiatives: Creative Partnerships and Find Your Talent.
They promote the transformational nature of creativity and cultural interventions in education, involving young people, parents, schools, artists and artistic organisations as partners to achieve this aim.
In terms of thinking about the relationship between technology and creativity, listening to the learners’ voices is central, and it is important to think about how we can work together with young people to make the most of the creative opportunities offered by technology.
Why is creativity in education important?
Creative learning in education is important because it can re-engage, excite and spark young people to learning. Creative approaches to education can help young people learn creative skills and behaviours required for the rest of their lives, enabling them to be active decision-makers, risk takers, problem-solvers, imaginative, reflective and engage in dialogue with others with diverse values.
Creativity is important for learning, especially those young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). It is also fosters participation, relating to the understanding of one another’s values and empowering people to have a say in matters that concern them. Creativity is also significant in promoting community cohesion in the face of rapid change, particularly in deprived communities
What do we know about learning, digital technologies and creativity?
The popular image that all young people are digitally engaged is not true: 32% of all homes do not have broadband, and there are particularly deprived areas where two thirds of young people have never used computers or handhelds outside school. Chapman also claimed that young people were deserting social network sites as older people moved in.
What is already happening?
In an insular, parochial school with a poor reputation in Yorkshire that serves a diverse community, young people are producing their own radio programmes for parents to find out about what's happening and coming up in children's school life. This creative practice has engaged both learners and their parents.
The ‘Arts Beyond the Classroom’ project has sought to engage parents and children from deprived communities in London with the cultural offers of the city, improving the engagement of parents and children in learning. This programme has even engaged the 'hardest to reach' parents, who are leading the next phase of the project with teachers stepping back.
What are the challenges?
Seventy-five per cent of digitally excluded people are also socially excluded – this is a problem we need to prioritise. While there is much focus on ‘closing the gap’ between high and low achievers at school, it is as important to consider the gaps of access, opportunity and imagination.
We need to carefully consider the most appropriate technology and media to use for creativity and learning – this is likely to include a rich mix including both cutting edge and bog standard tools.
From Mountain to Sea - Anna Rossvoll
Curriculum for Excellence Officer, GLOW
The presentation was prepared in PREZI with imported art work from the digital scrapbook seraph. Every school in Aberdeenshire has a copy. The images themselves are a combination of child generated work and those from the year of the homecoming, where Scots are encouraged to return to Scotland. It is the page for the Mountain to the Sea group who use Glow. It appeared to be an image of castles, mountains, and down to the sea in a collage style format.
Anna works for Aberdeenshire Council - the council governs a large rural authority (it is possible to travel for 1.5 hours between meetings), with 17 secondary schools and 156 primary schools. These are divided into clusters according to location.
In the current strategy group they are developing a policy document that includes entitlements for the students. Each of these has an associated image that appeared somewhere in the presentation, and some were discussed.
Glow is an exciting and challenging initiative across Scotland. It aims to provide an intranet across all schools for staff, students and parents. Due to the nature of the materials logins are restricted to those in that geographical location. As part of the project primary schools have flip cameras and microphones that enable them to load images to the intranet within seconds using the associated software. For example, for the visit of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, was filmed by the students and on the intranet before she left the school.
In the project it was quickly identified that staff needed support and face to face training. Thus they spent six weeks developing support material and then went to work with Year 6 students – who never looked at this material and just ran with it.
Anna gave a few examples of how the entitlements are fulfilled and recorded. There is one saying primary students will have an outdoor experience. As part of this a bunch of primary students spent two days in a forest, taking pictures, finding fairy people, making them houses, having a ceilidh etc. (Trips are always two days, the first for exploring, the second for being creative.) When they got back they made characters from images they had taken using smart boards to cut out and build stories around them. She demonstrated how easy it was to make a character from one of the pictures and showed us part of a story, including how to make a character dance.
Under the strawberries logo, which stands for health and well being, she described the Wii fit pentathalon. Which is more than just practicing on the Wii’s but involved the students making tickets, getting the music, banners, and even making a podium for winners.
As this is the year of homecoming in Scotland, they’ve tried to use the materials and sites that are being publicised and are underutilized. One example is Duff House – which is a picture on the Mountain to Sea group. Older students were taken there and as part of their trip saw the portraits. They then worked with an artist to create their own pictures, and then bought these to life using Crazy Talk. These characters were then used to give the history of the house, including the fact it had been bombed in the Second World War. See the clip “Crazy Talk at Duff”.
Another technology use is putting Nintendogs in primary schools – where students share consoles which encourage discussion. They’re about learning through play.
They have Wee musicians using Nintendo Wii and Wii music – they have bands of four and they have to rehearse and jam, as well as having a choice of instruments – including bagpipes, and they even conduct orchestras. Anna also emphasised it wasn’t just technology; they work with the Scottish orchestra to give students a balance of real and technological experiences.
On another out of school experience a group of younger primary children went to the seaside. The first day was spent exploring and taking pictures, the second day was spent making stories.
- Funding was available
- Glow bug – the children were leading
- Technology leadership programme for secondary schools so utilise out of school skills.
- It did not require the production of step by step guides but there is a need to make sure teachers use it
- They should not constantly be retraining staff – there needed to be sharing within staff
- Share ethos for staff and parents so they share experiences.
They are aware that so far they’re primary based but want to work more in secondary but it’s harder to fit in the secondary framework. The difficulty was that staff had a vision of the curriculum which was not always compatible with Glow. Although it worked really well to the third level where the focus was on a broad education – Anna wasn’t sure where that equated to in English system.
“Kids should sparkle and have a fabulous time”
Questions and comments
- Learning should be active, and the benefit is showing how it is created – it certainly shouldn’t be top down.
- When do you reach the tipping point so that staff share? Glow has been in action for two years, and only recently has been used without being asked – teachers need a purpose to share.
- What’s the base philosophy of Glow? To give the best outcomes – it’s not driven by technology but by what they want their students to experience.
- In Scotland they’re trying to produce a creative CPD. So far two national events have had a Glow presence. By having creative CPD they’re hoping that teachers will be more creative in their classrooms.
- What is the role of parents? They always check with parents before introducing equipment like the Nintendos. It had been piloted with parents without any content, which they were fine with – it was the teachers who worried there was no content initially. Parents are very keen to have a presence on Glow – “they’re knocking the door down”.
- How much material is shared? The Mountain to the Sea Glow group is the most developed. But all schools can share, usually in their clusters, so you can see Burns Night at one school for example.
- Who has intranet access? No access outside of the area due to MIS information.
- There appear to be wonder-filled activities for primary schools – is it the same for secondary (as it’s not in England)? It is possible, but it’s dependent on the staff. You can’t just slot Glow into existing practices hence having to change the curriculum and structure, one initiative is by having same staff responsible for primary and secondary students.