August 30, 2006

Getting Dynamic

  Our Dynamic Earth 
  Originally uploaded by beck_cox.

The past two days have been really energising (read: busy) working on the beginnings of two very different and very large projects. One of them kicked off with a meeting at East Lothian HQ with Dr Krista McKinzey, who is coordinating a new Scottish Executive partnership between the outreach services of the superb Our Dynamic Earth (pictured) and the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick. Also offering an interesting insight, and confirming that new technologies and marketing are insatiable bed-buddies, was Lynda Dalgleish from the Seabird Centre.

Both places have been school visit fodder for many years now, have pretty and well-visited (and one-way) websites. Their education services are second-to-none for those who choose to visit the centres. However, Krista and Lynda have both seen the power of new technologies from what is going on in East Lothian and want to make that educational opportunity spread beyond their doors and into classrooms wherever they are.

The best route I felt was to couple their existing web presences with something more sociable. If I want to know what the Seabird Centre is really like I don't want to speak to a tourist guide half as much as I want to speak to one of the wardens who looks after the birds on a daily basis. I want to see the photos from his mobile phone camera the minute a basking shark passes by. Better still, if I'm taking a group of kids there I want them to be able to contribute to a corpus of 'expert' work with their photos and audio recordings. It's Sonic Postcards, blogging and podcasting stirred and set to bake...

The possiblities then became apparent as I Flickrd the simple basking shark example live onto the web for Krista and Lynda: they have existing partnerships with nature reserves and science museums all over the world. This would not only provide a means of sharing information but would allow them to become the brokers in inter-school linkups on themes.

"Wouldn't it be great to chart basking sharks as they move from the north of Scotland down to the warmer waters?" Well, with a Technorati watchlist that's exactly what we did, from Shetland to Cornwall via the Isle of Skye, over a period of a couple of months of blog posts (just flick back three or four pages). For the Seabird Centre, which links up with other organisations to track nature and environmental issues, this is a simple way of tracking information as it, quite literally, moves around the planet.

We're going to help Our Dynamic Earth and the Seabird Centre to try these things out with real live kids before coming to a conclusion on just how much more beneficial this is, but I, for one, am really looking forward to learning lots myself.

Update 1: Wes reports on a nature deficit disorder mentioned in Edutopia - are nature and technology imcompatible?

Update 2: TES article on a great use of mobile phones in an art gallery setting.


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Hi Ewan,
This sound like an amazing project, different children from different schools recording on different days could leave the children with a realistic amount of data to analyse at a later date.
The possibilities for long term communication and collaboration would make your head spin. I know you will keep us up to date with relevant urls to follow and I am really looking forward to doing so.

It is a really exciting project, I'm really looking forward to working on it with you and Dave Gilmour. I think Krista and Lynda were blown away by the potential offered through collaboration across the web. It was really encouraging that Lynda and Krista viewed working with children and education as the way forward. Good meeting Ewan!

Lynda and I are very excited by the enormous potential of this project, and I think it will be an amazing resource for both the children and teachers I visit with the ODE - SSC outreach programme. I look very forward to working with you all soon - thanks again for all of your very generous help and expertise!

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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