Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Our Stories

There is a very important project that has just been launched, sponsored by One Laptop Per Child, UNICEF and Google, called "Our Stories" ( www.ourstories.org ).

From their website:

About Our Stories

    ...How would you like to be remembered?
    ...What was the saddest moment in your life?
    ...What is your proudest achievement?
    ...When did you first fall in love?
Answering questions helps us frame the stories of our lives. As we speak, we become storytellers. As we listen, we hear echoes of our own lives and discover new worlds through others. By empowering storytellers and interviewers around the world to record and share their voices online, Our Stories™ aims to create a virtual archive of stories of everyday life.

Our Stories was founded by UNICEF , One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and Google, and to help collect, preserve, and share online the stories of the world's people and their cultures and communities. The OLPC initiative, partnered with existing UNICEF projects, gives children the tools to interview, record, and share the stories of their parents, grandparents, and others in their families and communities. The focus during this phase is on children in developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia where OLPC computers are available. Eventually, children and others will be able to share and access recorded stories directly through the Our Stories Children's site .

Our Stories is also committed to providing access to people's stories from around the world in their native languages. You can also hear stories collected by the Museum of the Person in Brazil, and by UNICEF from Ghana, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Uganda. And we anticipate adding stories from Argentina, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and other countries soon.

You cannot currently upload your own stories. However, they plan to have systems in place in the future to allow all people to upload their own audio interviews to share. In the meantime, the site says, "join our community now by listening to our current collection of stories found on the Find a Story page. And take advantage of our interview guides to start capturing the stories and lives of those around you."

Ishmael Beal, author of the memoir A Long Way Gone , has recorded a message on this website, available at: http://www.ourstories.org/ishmaelbeah.html.
I have read his book and found it sad and shocking, but worth reading. As a 12-year-old growing up in Sierra Leone, he lived a life not unlike a typical American pre-teen, listening to hip hop and hanging out with friends. When civil war comes to his country, however, he is surrounded by death and is forced to survive by becoming a soldier, plied with drugs and sent on killing sprees. The violence is frequent and not for the squeamish, however, it is a remarkable true story of a boy overcoming great odds.

Children's rights, cultural tolerance and storytelling has been a focus for me over the past few years--as you can see in the projects I created:
The Our Stories project will give a voice to children all over the world. It is also an amazing model of the EEV key elements.

Be a Video All-Star

From the Discovery Educator's Network: (Joe Brennan):

21st Century Connections is once again inviting K-12 teachers and schools to make a 2-3 minute video on why digital learning tools are important in educating today’s students. There will be 1 grand prize and 3 runner up prizes in each of the three (elementary, middle and high school) grade categories. The 1st place teams will receive a Lenovo laptop and 25 licenses for the Adobe Digital School Collection. Runners up will also receive copies of ADSC. In addition, winning schools’ principals will win a trip to a 21st Century Connection event.

They have also put together a nice list of things you can do to create a more polished video. Regular readers know the drill: planning, lighting, preparation, sound, a variety of shots, and plan some more. Deadline for submissions is midnight January 31, 2008.

P.S. And in addition to or instead of entering the contest, wouldn’t your school board like to see a few well crafted video minutes from the students on why digital tools are important in their learning?