February 13th, 2011
Today marks the mid-point of our crowdsourcing experiment in fundraising on Kickstarter and we thought that was a good opportunity for an update.
We are hearing from new teachers nearly every week who are adopting Smarthistory.org and in the past 31 days (January 13 to February 12), our site has been visited 81,684 times by people in 154 countries. This map shows the percentage of new visitors around the world during the past month (darker = a higher percentage). Free and open education works thanks to our generous supporters.
As of a few minutes ago, 197 amazing people have pledged to Smarthistory and with 22 days to go, we only need to raise an additional $1,028 to make our goal. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, so this project is driving us a little crazy, and we look forward to breathing again when we cross the goal threshold.
January 30th, 2011
The Smarthistory.org Kickstarter campaign launched one week ago and we wanted to offer an update to our amazing contributors and a little kick for our supporters who have not yet given.
First, a huge THANK YOU to all that share our vision for open educational resources (OERs) and for Smarthistory. We see a very bright future for education where problems with access diminish thanks to extremely high quality OERs. In our own field, we see a future where art museums, libraries, colleges and universities no longer produce content primarily for their own students and visitors but instead develop systems where resources are pooled to create more comprehensive resources for a much larger audience of learners.
In the meantime there is our little project, Smarthistory. We are already reaching across institutional boundaries to create historical narratives and hope the crowd-sourced funding model that Kickstarter has pioneered will be the engine for our growth. Maybe, if we are successful, other OERs will take this path.
Our focus now has to be meeting our $10,000 goal since Kickstarter is an all or nothing structure. We have had an amazing week and have already raised $4,455 toward our goal, but if we only raise, for example $9,000, the project doesn’t fund and Smarthistory get nothing.
Most of those reading this have already given and so this is preaching to the choir, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t end with an appeal, please encourage your friends and colleagues to watch our video and support the free and open education that Smarthistory.org offers. Thank you.
October 9th, 2010
The Next Generation Learning Challenges blog asked, “What makes an e-textbook work?” and last night, I responded with the following,
This important question may need a little rephrasing. The textbook is of course not a given, but rather, the result of a particular technology and a reflection of the needs and interests of a specific historical moment. The textbook promised the comprehensive treatment of its subject, accuracy, and a single, coherent, sequential structure.
The web has shown that these premises are limited and our students seem to know this. Perhaps this is because in their experience knowledge seems more expansive, intricate, dynamic, and cumulative and the very notion that a bound and static textbook that purports to be comprehensive is for them, inherently suspect. Diderot’s noble belief that his great Encyclopédie could contain the full extent of “each and every branch of human knowledge” was beautiful and wildly ambitious, but it was an expression of the mid-18th century Enlightenment.
Must we remain bound, even through metaphor, to the print textbook as a model? The economics of print technology required standardized editions that fail to reflect the fluidity of knowledge. We now have an incredible opportunity to invent an entirely new means with which to introduce and interact with a given discipline. Let’s leave the metaphor of the textbook behind us. Instead, open, networked learning should aggregate and respond to discovery and analysis in real time while drawing relevant materials from resources across a spectrum of disciplines. Further, we can include many more voices and create much more engaging models for learning.
Dr. Beth Harris and I created Smarthistory.org, a conversation-based multimedia art history web-book to begin to do exactly this.
Add your thoughts to the conversation over at the Next Generation blog.
August 16th, 2010
We’ve been quite busy of late and wanted to be sure you know about a few short posts that relate to Smarthistory:
Next Gen: Learning Challenges is a partnership of leaders in education seeking to make students more successful. They asked us to contribute a post that engaged the organization’s four key challenges. Find it here.
The Society for Environmental Graphic Design held its annual exhibition design symposium at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills last week and inexplicably asked me to give the opening keynote address. The title was “Innovation in the Way We Learn, Interpret, and Share Information,” and you can get a nice sense of it on the SEGD blog.
Also, keep an eye out for Meg Florian, Smarthistory contributor extraordinaire and currently guest blogger over at Art:21.