One day I was sitting with Mariah Villarreal and we were talking about open education initiatives. She mentioned wanting to do something big on the topic, she had been talking to Mark Barnett about it as well. Various ideas were thrown out and next thing I knew she was planning OpenEDJam.
As an informal member of our collective (the best kind), Mariah has a track record of pursing her interests in activism and education not just through research papers, but outside the classroom. She currently works for FIRST as an Americorps member and in her free time studies open education solutions. Her friendly persona and ability to work well with others has led her to develop a good network in the open education field.
Since the initial inception OpenEDJam has developed into a full on conference with a planned 150-200 attendee 3 day event.
The collective has offered to help promote and develop media for the conference. For us, it is important to help each others efforts to take ideas and make them big. Mariah is setting an awesome example and we are very proud of her efforts.
And so what is OpenEDJam? Well this wouldn’t be a CMC post without some video. We helped put together a call to action video which can be viewed below:
In the summer of 2013 we were approached by the Institute of Texan Cultures to help them with one of their projects. They had scheduled a Smithsonian art installation about Native Americans and skateboarding. Working with local students they developed a program that engaged local and national patrons through student made videos.
We helped them develop out a way to have a virtual skate boarding environment. We talked about conceptual ideas, solutions they had researched (which were costly). In the end the convergent media collective ordered a pair of XBOX Tony Hawk skateboards and began testing them. We actually held a skateboarding game night where we had people stress test the skateboards for durability. We tested the ease-of-use of the game on people of all ages and sizes. Luckily, the skateboards held up well and we managed to take photos while documenting the testing process.
We then took the boards down to the Institute of Texan Cultures they were well received by the staff and curators. Here is a short video of them giving it a try for the very first time:
Ultimately, the Institute of Texan Cultures were able to contact Tony Hawk representatives and gain permission to use it as part of the installation.
This was a great stepping stone for everyone involved in the consulting experience. Students, community members and professors alike, all learned about the process of developing solutions. One thing we have learned as we have progressed as a collective is our ability to adapt to our collaborators needs. We tend to have general knowledge of technology solutions for cultural projects, but we also recognize that further in-depth research is important. The need to get projects done quickly and thoroughly has helped us all in our own endeavors. The staff members of the Institute of Texan Cultures received first-hand experience with the cutting edge rhizomatic think tank that is The Convergent Media Collective.