"If children have interest, then education happens" ~ Arthur Clarke
First week of March was dedicated on teaching, learning and learning to teach :)
Hive Athens Pop-Up event
Personally I dedicated most of my time helping the WWF workshop about the "Earth Hour", where Popcorn Maker was used to make some great videos, but I found the time to have a quick pass through all activities.
It was a crash test for both Hive and local Mozilla community and I think it went pretty well. The facilitators did a great job and we may succeeded on planting the seed for a new generation of webmakers :)
Most of the workshops worked really well. I have the feeling that there was an engagement problem with the most physical ones. The facilitators were actually making more things than the participants. Just a reminder for future events. Connecting the activities with the web really helps, since the kids are getting in the process of creating something that would be out there in public for ever.
Additionally I think that one of the most important things about these types of events is that you must make sure that the kids will have the chance for following up with the activity. For instance the kids that created a comic strip using Thimble can keep hacking on that when they get home, or try to tell another story with other tools or other means. The point is that they got in the process of storytelling, learning (and realizing) that we live in a read/right world. I don't think that this level of learning process took place (for instance) at the Lego Mindstorms workhsop, since it's almost impossible for the kids to take or just publish what they made and there is not an easy way for a follow up (Legos are expensive and there is no relevant community that can help them after the event).
My personal rules/advice for these learning activities would be:
- Web. All this process and all these activities are not about Web per se, is about Literacy. Web has probably become the largest public resource and the almost de facto medium for telling stories and sharing them with the rest of the world. Tying these activities with the web help all the participants better understand that they can be more than a consumer. Having your side of the story public out there makes that clear. And just like Wikipedia, even the slightest contribution is making a difference.
- Ability to follow up. Well... if you manage to keep the first two rules, this would be easier. Also don't do this alone. Find cultural and educational organizations in your area that already create content or have youth activities. Find relevant communities.
I don't have words to describe that :) 40 Reps for all around the world gathered in one place to exchange ideas and gain experience on how to teach the web, organize similar events, inspire more mentors, etc. Great to meet all these energetic people in person. I surely now feel more confident on running more learning and webmaking activities.
British Council School Lab
The final day we got the chance of testing our skills in another event at the British Council, where kids (at an age range of 12-17) were given the challenge of creating a video about a (scientific) topic using the web (and thus Popcorn Maker). It's amazing how kids can always find a way to surprise you and hack the whole process in to a more creative path :)