Tuesday, November 27, 2007

E-kids’ college: afternoon session

What we did this afternoon was for the students to interview some of the Museum's scientists about what they do and their personal and professional interests. Mark and Amanda fielded many questions about their work and how they got interested in their field of work.

There were some really provocative and interesting questions from the students. One lovely one was How do we know what people know and what people don't know? Mark answered that by reminding us that all the answers aren't always to be found on the internet and that there are really cool books that you can use too. They also asked What was the most interesting thing they had discovered? Mark discovered a new species of wallaby, and Amanda's friend also discovered a new species of fish. Other questions were: What is the most weirdest and wackiest thing you've ever done in your job? Any scary experiences? Where's the most interesting place you've been to? Thanks Mark and Amanda, I know I learned more about you two who I usually see every day! Now I understand more about your passions and why you got into doing what you do. Amanda reminded us to hang in there as it may take some time to get some paid work.

The discussions have been really productive, some ideas that emerged at the end were that they:

  • don't want to use mobiles for accessing internet as they are too hard to use (with small keyboards, etc), the screens are no good and they don't have a mouse to use, although when I asked them about whether they'd like to use some kind of mobile device throughout the Museum to gather content they were really keen
  • suggested that we have a blog with question of the week that they can email in
  • would like to have a section on the website where they could leave a comment/feedback about their experiences and see what others have said
  • really wanted to talk to scientists via some kind of video link, where you log in and talk to them in real time online
  • felt we should be uploading video content both to our own site and YouTube (they admit their views on this had changed over the day)

The day finished with us going on a tour of an area that the Museum is thinking about turning into a new media space. And after that we thanked them, gave each school a certificate and finished!

Thanks so much for all your efforts as we now have a goldmine of information we can use when developing our new website and other digital technologies.

1 comment:

Ondine said...

As one of the 'helpers', I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the day, considering that I had NO idea what it was about until it started! The kids were excellent communicators, once they warmed up, and the breadth of their knowledge was amazing. They were great in the informal discussions I had with them (we got way off-topic, but fascinatingly so!).
Some points to consider for next time:
*Needed more of an icebreaker to start with for each table – it took till after lunch really for the kids to get more chatty and relaxed. Obviously, not all kids want to do this and that should be fine too, but I found even the shy ones were getting in there by the end of the day.
*More online time for each child to showcase one thing they like/dislike – could favourite all these and gather at end of day – they were just itching to show me.
*I think they got a little bored with the activity looking at a site, bc there was not much room for all of them to get at the screen/keyboard. I realise that we don’t want them getting too immersed in it, but if each one had a short time to find, briefly demonstrate/comment, and then favourite, a site, that would be quite interesting.
*Less of us adults banging on about how ‘little’ we know and how ‘much’ they know – I think this is quite a clichĂ©, adults today are also sophisticated computer/internet users and have very particular knowledge relating to their work practices (e.g. searching for particular high-level information) and also in their leisure (eg social networking)
*Kids might know a lot about the technology, but this can be quite shallow and broad-based – they skim across the top of things and love following trends, but may not have depth in some fields (e.g. copyright et.c.) that adults need/have.
*I think we set up a false dichotomy of us ‘silly old people who know nothing’ and the ‘funky young things who know everything’ – the kids are aware of this too.
*I was quite comfortable chatting with them about what I knew and they were equally comfortable admitting things they didn’t know or actively disliked about the web/computers eg some said they needed a break, had to get away from the computer, it was all ‘coming too fast and furious’, they hated spam, they made the same distinctions I would between work and ‘play’ et.c.
* Kids tire of hearing adults running themselves down, In fact, I’d venture to say that it makes us look a bit unprofessional! They want us to be honest, but not too self-deprecating, it looks a bit wussy.
*Not sure if viewing the allocated space for the new centre worked – my group seemed a bit nonplussed, and were prob more fascinated by the stuff in there (ie the bird specimens, cabinets, people etc) – I wasn’t quite sure what we were supposed to do there either.
But in general, a very valuable experience for all to find out more about how kids really think about and use the web.