On Saturday, May 21st, Eyebeam hosted a design charette for local educators to offer their feedback on the OurNet workshop series. The workshop was again hosted by Erica Kermani, Dan Phiffer, and me, with additional support from Jessy Jo Gomez, Eyebeam’s new Youth Programs Associate.
This daylong workshop began similarly to the workshops that we have hosted with students. For our first exercise we handed out construction paper, markers, and crayons for the teachers to "draw the internet." This was a freeform exercise — no wrong answers! — to guage people’s expectations and level of understanding of internet infrastructure. Interestingly, the educators were very abstract in their drawings, usually represented the internet as connected lines — networks — even though many of the teachers understood how the internet works. But the exercise was a great ice breaker. The teachers provided helpful feedback about the best ways to communicate technical concepts to students and what grade levels this information is best suited to reach.
Materials from the student workshop hosted in April 2016.
Since our first student workshop, the materials we use for the string exercise has improved. Erica and Jessy Jo had the great idea to print out the tags for people playing various roles like ISP, USER, or BACKBONE. We also started using envelopes as “packets” to travel through the network. Participants playing USERS could choose from various laminated images of things like a pizza slice or picture of a cat. They would fold the image inside the packet and send it through the network to another USER. The teachers enjoyed this exercise the most because it was a hands on approach to the internet and it didn’t even require any digital technology for us to conduct it.
We received valuable feedback in the form we sent to educators after the workshop. Here are more responses to questions from our survey:
Our next step is to publish zines for OurNet. We are working on the text and have commissioned an artist to illustrate the text. We are also working on a collaboration with Machine Projects that will be an OurNet workshop hosted this fall for both parents and students.