Why is the
|How to Create an internationally recognized web resource using 15 year old computers|
|The Multiple Pedagogical Uses of Web Authorship|
Viewing the site as of December 1999 it is hard to believe that we used Tandy 1000 computers originally installed at the John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx in 1983 to build this resource.
The Tandy uses 5 1/4" double density disks which are becoming hard to find. The motherboard contains 8088 chips which predate the 286 computers. In those days any computer lab was considered a luxury.
We anticipated a new lab in the Autumn 1998, but my students and I were eager to log on to the Internet to participate in the ThinkQuest contest. We could not wait for new machines so we jumped right in with our antique computers. These machines do not have a mouse, Windows or even a hard drive.
We were able to create graphics with a DOS based drawing program called PC Crayon. The keyboard controlled cursor gave us the required precision we needed to create the web images. A shareware program called Iconvert was used to convert the resulting drawing format, into an Internet compatible GIF format.
The morphing sequence was created with RMorf, a Public Domain program which costs one dollar.
Our Principal Gino Silvestri had a phone line installed in our classroom. Through the kind donation of a Compaq 386 from the KRC Corporation we were online.
We use Professional Write, a text processor to write the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) to create the web pages. My student team leader Khoa Chau was familiar with java applets which he used to create the online quiz.
Since we wanted our site to be accessible with all browsers, including Netscape version 1.0, (since that is the Browser we must use), we needed to learn how to use Perl Scripts to insure participation in our quiz taking activity to those using older browsers.
My students researched the work of da Vinci and discovered that he wrote music. We digitized the music and present it on our site with wav and midi formats. Our site is accessible to the hearing impaired. Hand signing animations provide links to hard of hearing resource links.
We did not wait to get the most up to date equipment and were able to create a worthwhile educational experience for all students. Together, we learned how to integrate multimedia, graphics and animation through a rigourous and intensive deadline driven most ambitious project.
Was it worth the effort? Our interactive guestbook was signed on August 28, 1997 from a visitor from Mongolia. Since that time, our guestbook has been signed each and every day what has become a most welcome and rewarding continous chain of support from educators and students representing over 60 countries and 46 states across America.
Our site has become part of the Getty Museum of Art in January 1998 in their opening Digital Experience. We became SemiFinalists in the GII US Education Awards and MidLink Magazine contines to feature our site. Global SchoolNet Foundation has seleced our site for their Teachers Choice for the Month of March. Our Mona Lisa Lesson Plan was picked up by Encarta and is now part of their Lesson Plan Collection. Global School House has published an article about our site in The Well Connected Educator on June 2. We were published in the Weekly Reader Galaxy in October 1998.
We continue to evolve with our Contributions from the Field. Rina da Firenze author of Mystery of the Mona Lisa provided new information which allowed my students to conduct their Scientific Investigation.
Teachers enrolled in my Internet training workshop contributed educational curriculum resource links with their newly created pages. The workshop was funded by the Bronx Superintendency.
Through our da Vinci dissemination we presented workshops at the Make It Work Conference, supported by AT&T in partnership with the New York City Board of Education at the Grand Hyatt, and at the School Tech Exposition at the New York City Hilton Hotel, where my students presented Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling? in the Classroom of the Future exhibit.
The Getty Museum to the Vatican, Identification of Leonardo's Portrait of the Unknown Musician and seeing the model of Leonardo's Bronze Horse
Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling is an internationally recognized evolving student centered, student partnered (Borlange Sweden and the Bronx, New York) web site visited by over one half million in the past 3 years, originally 20 pages, the site has grown through visitor contributions, search engine leads and primary source researcher links. Not only has the development of the site enriched the participating whole school communities but also enhanced and expanded the interactive proactive web engaged circle of citizens, librarians, music lovers, artists and philanthropists.
Our cross cultural ascension... /13681/data/museum/promote.htm#getty
The driving teaching methodology for the evolving web site authorship is the student inquiry driven approach.
The web site itself offers a genuine real life dynamic ground for students to pose hypothesis and research questions which they can then follow through on, utilizing web resources.
Hence the student team members, who under my guidance had secured our place in the Getty Museum in January 1998 pointed out that given the origin of Leonardo, the Vatican Museum was a natural place for our project to be presented. But how to secure our link? The students used a search engine to find the Vatican Museum's Web Manager's address to satisfy their own inquiry. As a outcome of their own success in meeting their inquiry goal the students identified an article on the web which detailed the planned construction of a bridge in Oslo Norway based on Leonardo's bridge design. According to the description, the bridge would look like an archer's bow. "How could this be?", my students wondered. One of our online contributors, sent in a postcard of the bridge, which was digitized. A link to this article was effected when the Codex Comes to Kennedy, student created a design in his scientific journal based on the Mona Lisa Bridge. Here the web site served as a center and nexus for community arts cultural inquiry, reflection and creativity.
Cultural web product centered research also inspired participant inner city high school students to read and research Leonardo print materials. One of them identified Michael Gelb's How to Think Like Leonardo on Amazon.com. Within the work, Michael Gelb included background material on Leonardo's drawings of a horse model. This model was never realized in Leonardo's lifetime, but ironically the horse model was in production by the time the student read the work. (April 1999). The site team wrote to Mr. Gelb to secure permission to use the text of his article on the site. Once the text was up the producers of the Leonardo da Vinci Horse Inc. provided a link to our project on their resource page, a very selective resource. Not only was the site team given the link, but were also invited to the celebration of the completion of the horse (June 1999) which in turn prompted them to reflectively commemorate the event. The Japanese artist Nina Akamu who actually realized the bronze is pictured in our gallery.
It should be noted that all of these site evolutions were student driven inquiry centered and authentically evolving from a dynamic student created web product.
None of the above were in any way top-down teacher directed mandated or pre-conceived curriculum project. \ The student peer reflection, satisfaction and rewards in maintaining and expanding the site were largely derived from adult community and distance peer feedback and discussion rather than instructor dispensed project grades. Students were functioning as actual contributors to the web.
From the museum link inclusion to the horse, the cultural arts development of our site has been continually informed by our visitors who emailed coach Steve Feld. One of them Lynda Catherine Sunjik said she was a student of Renaissance music. She noted that listening to Leonardo's music on this site
(a discovery of ours) prompted her to write to us. She inquired about Gafurius, a contemporary of Leonardo's. She wondered if they were friends. As correspondance with her continued, the identity of Leonardo's Portrait of an Unknown Musician was revealed. Franchino Gafurius was the musician whose identity has been hidden for over 500 years!!
Sometimes inclusion in revered significant cultural resource comes in and of itself, unsolicited by our team, just as a consequence of the growing stature and visibility of the site. On November 2, 1998, Giuliano Gaia, the Webmaster of the Milan Science Museum, sent the team a most welcome email. "Hi, We have linked to your interesting site in our Leonardo section at the National Museum of Science and Technology of Milan."
Sometimes site development comes from web based television technology graphic arts partnerships. The team, identified to Ovation TV and Steve Mencher had contacted them as a result of their exposure from the Incredible Art Department site as the featured Site of the Week. He sent preview broadcast video tapes of a program titled Museum on the Mountain. The Bronx High School students got an opportunity to create artwork showcasing their ideas for the Miho Museum but also initiated a dialogue with Japanese peer counterparts on cross cultural attitudes about schooling and values. As a correllary to this project they also created a Shangri-La Gallery and a Cultural Tour of New York City.
When Ovation TV ArtsZone asked the students to create Arthur C. Clarke inspired graphic arts they included and articulated in text and images, connections between the 15th Century futurist and flight visionary Leonardo and the 20th Century Mars Millennium author and media voice Arthur C. Clarke. Indeed one student even symbolically placed Arthur's eyeglasses on Leonardo's Mona Lisa.
As we review the rich continually burgeoning development of our project, it is obvious that through the inherent inquiry driven and interactive capacities of the web authorship, Leonardo's Mona Lisa mystery has touched the Millennium with its futurist past visionary linked perspective. It is astonishing and exciting to brace ourselves for continued web authorship advances and adventures.
Come share this cyberspace ongoing open navigation with us.
Gelb, Michael J. (1998). How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. New York, New York: Delacorte Press Steve Feld Computer Graphics Instructor at John F. Kennedy High School can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org