As we head into the new school year, I wanted to promote several awesome opportunities for students to tackle current issues and make their voices heard … and build their digital footprints and ePortfolios in the process.
Aikuma Project – For the past couple of years, I’ve co-facilitated an oral histories project for my school district to preserve the stories from a little known chapter in the Vietnam War: the Secret War in Laos. And that is how Robyn Perry, a recent graduate from Berkeley’s School of Information, found me. Robyn and Dr. Steven Bird are committed to preserving vanishing world languages. In Googling “Mien,” she came across the Time of Remembrance website. We’ve connected several times via Google Hangouts to talk about ways a K12 school district and two university researchers might support our mutual commitment to preserving the stories – and languages – of the Mien refugees, many of whom have resettled in the Sacramento area.
Part of Steve and Robyn’s work is the deployment of Aikuma, a free Android App for recording and translating spoken language. The app allows you to make your own recordings, share them, and translate recordings into other languages.
A special feature of Aikuma is its voice-driven translation mode. Hold the phone to your ear and listen, and interrupt to give a commentary or translation. The phone records what you say and lines it up with the original. Now the meaning is also preserved.”
I’m hoping to encourage Mien students in my district, to interview and record their parents, grandparents, and community elders and then contribute these primary resources, recorded in their native language, to the Aikuma project. There is a very good chance that in the process of interviewing Mien refugees, besides preserving history, culture, and a possibly vanishing language, students will also learn about the viewpoints of individuals whose stories might not otherwise appear in their textbooks. Equally important, they will be practicing digital and global citizenship.
KQED Do Now: Would You Welcome Refugees to Your Community? – I’m a big-time fan of KQED’s stellar program for engaging students, via twitter, in shared conversations on both local and global topics. Given the current Syrian refugee crisis, I cannot think of a more timely way to empower students as digital and global citizens who are informed on the issues and challenges faced by refugees.
KQED provides the background resources and the structure for posting diverse opinions, thereby providing a virtual student toolkit for building active citizenship skills.
Digital ID – How about a Digital Citizenship PSA Challenge to jump start conversations in the new school year on what it means to be a positive, contributing citizen in all the communities to which our students belong, both face-to-face and online? With a December 15 deadline, there is still plenty of time for students to create and submit (through you), a PSA (up to 90 seconds) on issues of challenging cyberbullying, building digital footprints, respecting intellectual property, and protecting online privacy & security.