Cultural Heritage Informatics as Connected Learning? Modes, Meaning, and Metrics of Success
Last night, my collaborator and I were featured on the Google+ program Teachers Teaching Teachers to talk all things sound, community literacies, and connected learning. Across the larger broadcast we talked through the many phases of #hearmyhome, detailing how it was at once a grounded project in classroom and community spaces, while simultaneously operating as a networked collaborative that invited participants to earwitness culture and community through eight sonic events. We helped shape the soundscapes of the everyday. In the penultimate minutes of the program, the moderators asked us to consider metrics of achievement. “How would you qualify success for the project?” Eagerly, I started talking numbers. “We had over 100+ unique participants! We saw how modes connected, overlapped, and caused disjuncture in how we came to configure ‘home.’ We had participants across the globe, from East Lansing, MI to Australia.” Reflecting on my response, another language and literacy researcher, Ian, asked me to move beyond the numbers. “But what did you learn?” he asked.
As I reflect on the #hearmyhome project, and the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship in particular, I want to highlight how at a macro level, the projects that emerged from our shared community of fellows are exemplars of connected learning. Refracted through our varied interested in cultural heritage, we designed opportunities for engagement in powerful, relevant, and engaging ways. The affordances of the digital only augmented these visions and aided in the creation and building that occurred. Our learning was participatory, networked, and experiential. At a more micro level, #hearmyhome exemplified that some of the most meaningful forms of learning happen when a learners have interests or passions they are pursuing across contexts of (inter)cultural affinity and social support. The group operated with a shared purpose.
As a model for connected learning design, #hearmyhome offered a way of connecting the spheres of home, school, and community-based learning to leverage the affordances of digital and networked media. We met friends through #CLMOOC, collaborators with the team at #walkmyworld, and even had cheerleaders amplify the project at Sounding Out! In total, the modes, meanings, and metrics of success were larger than the decisions of design and/or series of sonic interactions. Sustained teaching and learning and engaged user participation was the result of making our process open.
As we close out the year here in LEADR, I know many of us would agree that at the core of the work we accomplished this year, our vision was guided by more equitable, social, and participatory forms of learning across our fields and disciplines. Through production-centered and open forms of cultural heritage informatics, we each engaged in relevant, hands-on, and innovative forms of design to fuse our own intellectual interests with digital experiences. Success, then, isn’t the completion and release of our individual projects, or the statistics and benchmarks of how many users, lurkers, and learners visit your site, but the behind-the-scenes process and sustained engagement of open learning.