I really couldn’t think of a title for this post … I wanted to share a quick story about the Digital Commons project we are currently working on. The Digital Commons is an initiative to provide a common set of tools at all locations of Penn State that enable students to create digital artifacts in a supported way. Too often we (we being administrators and instructors) have these expectations that all our students can easily envision and create digital media. I mean if you look at some of the reports that people like Pew Internet and American Life Project provide you may get the picture that every single person under the age of 25 is capable of creating content that will be shared at youtube. While it is true that there are a whole bunch of these kinds of kids running around our campuses it is just as true there are a whole heck of a lot more who can’t. Just reality.
The Digital Commons is an attempt to help promote and support the notion of being digital. We work hard to encourage faculty to allow evidence of learning in the form of videos, blog posts, podcasts, and more but when they assign it we just sort of assume the kids will just figure it out. Most of the time these kids do, but they do it on their own machines with substandard software tools and without access to things like digital cameras, green screens, lighting, etc — and forget about any education as it relates to things like using lighting, production, planning, or even copyright. That’s where the Digital Commons comes in — it provide more than the equipment, it provides a framework. It is a killer project that has potential for real transformation written all over it.
We are working really hard to install five of these studios across the Commonwealth of PA this Summer. That is tough — there are more factors at play here than are imaginable. Communicating the potential and requirements to each campus is very difficult given the time and geographic challenges. Today we made the first attempt at doing that … instead of getting in the car and visiting each campus we ate some of our own dogfood and used Adobe Connect Pro (you know, Breeze). We have a killer ACP setup here at University Park so we paired it with a call in line and delivered the hour long briefing to multiple campuses from the comfort of one of our conference rooms. I couldn’t be there — I was scheduled to be off site having a meeting at a local restaurant … the place had wifi, so I got there early and pulled out the MacBook Pro. I simply plugged in my earphones, fired up the browser, connected to the ACP meeting, and dialed the conference call with Skype. It was nothing short of amazing — the technology worked and the briefing went exceptionally well. I took a screen cap of the whole thing:
The Digital Commons project is one to watch … I will be sharing more as it all becomes clear, but this is one that we feel very good about. By providing a common platform at all locations there is so much we can bundle under the overall umbrella. Things are off to a very good, but very demanding start. Stay tuned …