Leonardo links Partnerships to Bridge Digital Divide
by Steve Feld
Leonardo links Partnerships to Bridge Digital Divide
The Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling Partnership addresses the digital divide by linking low income African American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and special needs inner-city Bronx, New York students to multisector learners through use of technology for lifelong inquiry based learning.
1. History of the Partnership
The Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling Partnership was designed to address the specific academic, personal development and digital access needs of the inner city John F. Kennedy Bronx high school students. These needs included the following: academic multidisciplinary literacy- - reading, writing and research; student personal development - - self esteem, poise, self awareness, social skills, managing emotions, goal setting; accessing state of the art internet skills, technology web design, computer graphics, digital photography, technology competencies, and resources for students on the lower side of the digital divide.
The number of partners involved in the Mona Lisa Program are continually growing in number but it should be noted that over a four year history, seminal major partners are:Ovation TV, Mihkel, the Artic Explorers, Anne Bancroft (Minn.) and Liv Arnesen (Norw.) - - www.yourexpedition.com, and The Horse, Inc.
What are their roles?
Their roles are both dynamic and collaborative. In addition to their individual collaborations generating and prompting further partnerships which enhance their own missions. These include corporate, international development, environmental concerns, development of women and girls talents and vision, as well Leonardo Studies.
The Mona Lisa Partnership which was formulated around a ThinkQuest organization call for international partnerships between US students and international peers, began with the shared problem construct focused around Mona Lisa's identity and research into theories about this identity. Students from the Bronx's multiethnic (majority Latino/African American) John F. Kennedy High School identified peer partners from Borlange, Sweden. Jointly, these partnered Bronx, NYC and Swedish peers created the initial pages of the website which reflected, presented and proffered for a multi-sector Internet audience two distinct points of view on the identity of Mona Lisa. Indeed, these two points included two further initial partnerships with Bell Researcher Lillian Schwartz, and author/journalist Rina De Firenze. As an outgrowth of these initial partnerships the quality of website design including the students mastery of coding, and integration of research content into the site prompted the first major corporate partnership with Ovation TV under the facilitation of Steve Mensher. This collaboration involves Ovation TVs inviting the John F. Kennedy students working with their fifteen- year-old Tandy computers to support Japanese peers in a cultural conversation and design exchange focused on the Miho Museum. The exchange involved the computer arts/web design John F. Kennedy student team in reaching out to social studies classes within John F. Kennedy for the text and response to for the Japanese students. It culminated in the development of a computer graphic gallery of designs for the projected museum. Furthermore, another rich inquiry avenue for the Mona Lisa contest of the program was provided by the Ovation TV partner through the initiation of Codex comes to Kennedy/ Leonardo inspired observation journals. Finally, again through the prompting and coordination of student efforts with the Ovation TV Arthur C. Clark research series, students designed their own Leonardo/Arthur C. Clark futurist page, which in turn prompted a partnership with NYC CityArts. Proving that Partnerships produce more partnerships!
From Japan, the Mona Lisa Site set off to Estonia - - another geographic area working from the lower end of the digital divide - - to collaborate with Miksike. The common thematic thread through the two interlaced partnerships was the futuristic studies of Leonardo. As part of the Miksike partnership, which resulted from Mihkel viewing the Leonardo futurist pages done in collaboration with Ovation TV and John F. Kennedy students, translated a space module and provided illustrations for the Miksike Student Factory. Furthermore Mihkel provided Estonian peers who translated Mona Lisa pages into Russian. In fact, a friendship developed between two girls, one in Estonia and one in the Bronx New York!
From Estonia to the cold of the Antarctic, one of the students involved in the Mona Lisa website maintenance team came across information about two women explorers who were currently realizing Leonardo's vision of adventure and exploration - - Anne Bancroft and Liv Arnesen - - www.yourexpedition.com. Her writing for that project led to our Arctic exploration partnership, which produced questions, student graphics and student cyber-journalist presence at the New York City conference of the successful explorers. Finally, it should be noted that the Horse, Inc., corporate partner who developed the successful model of Leonardo's horse from his drawing, never realized as a sculpture in Leonardo's time, was so impressed with the site that they invited the website team and advisor to actually view and photograph the bronze horse model created by Nina Akuma. From Japan, Estonia, the Antarctic and New York, Leonardo inquiring spirit transcends digital barriers of time, place and equipment to link corporate, media, inspirational and non- profit partners.
2. Nature of the Program - What are the short and long term visions, goals and objectives of your partnership?
The long term vision of the partnership centers upon student developed and designed collaboratively partnered website resource development. Just as the Mona Lisa web resource has grown from an original 70 pages focused around the identity of Mona Lisa to a burgeoning multifocused, Leonardo studies interrelated cluster of web projects. So in the short term vision, each partnership and collaboration will either result in additional pages being added to an existing Mona Lisa component in the site menu in yet another novel component to the Mona Lisa site or even the birth of another site. For example, our newest partnership with ET3, the Educational Technology Think Tank resulted in the launch of the Educational Technology Think Tank Website, an independent website promoting the multiple partnerships and activities of ET3, but linking back to Mona Lisa as an inspiring web site and NetGeneration of Youth student model.
How does this program work towards bridging the Digital Divide?
From its inception, when JFK inner city Bronx, multiethnic high school students designed the Mona Lisa website with 15 year old Tandys, it inherently was focused on utilizing even this antiquated technology to bridge the Digital Divide and access students to the state of the art technology research consumer and producer resources, and capabilities achievable through web design. Furthermore, as the program has evolved the participant students have indeed bridged the Digital, Social, Cultural and Achievement Divide, all through web design, technology assisted collaborations, communications, etc. On the upper end of the Divide, they have collaborated with Miho Museum in Japan and Japanese peers from the upper middle class level. On the lower end of the Divide, they have worked with peers from Estonia. Through these projects, student participants, doubly challenged by the Digital Divide, not only because of social economic and special needs challenges, have utilized web design and graphic arts as a lever for attainment of Digital Divide productivity and exhibition. Metaphorically and literally paralleling their leveraging the Digital Divide, JFK Bronx inner city high school students have journeyed in limousines to New York City to attend international press conference of the Arctic Explorers and sat as invited guests at $100 per plate dinners for the opening of Leonardo's Horse model.
How does this partnership facilitate student success?
Inherently, since every student activity and endeavor results in a vibrant, interactive living resource, page, digital graphic, email, and or contribution, it facilitates a broad plethora of student skills, attributes and achievements. These successes include, but are not limited to: web authoring, web building, web design, informational / functional document writing, report writing, reading, speaking and listening skills, internet multidisciplinary skills, attainment of student scholarships in computer graphics, art and web design, student internships with collaborating partners, student leadership / teamwork skills build, student think tank capacities and skills promotion.
What is the overall budget of the partnership?
What is neat and unbelievable in light of an examination of the 300 pages and growing resource that is the Mona Lisa project is, that its budget is but $200 or less per year. That is the amount of money, which Mr. Feld is given as part of his teacher's choice allotment. Of course, in kind and human resource contributions are rich, given the nature of the partnership with international personalities such as Lillian Schwartz and author / journalist Rina De Firenze contributing their time free of charge. Tapes and multimedia resources to stimulate student responses were contributed by Ovation TV, and student travel fees for the Arctic Explorer press conference in New York City were contributed by the Bancroft Foundation. Finally, it should be noted that the student efforts receive, merit or win upgraded equipment, which in turn enhances the quality of their web design as they bridge the Digital Divide to get to the upper level.
3. Program Activities and Management- what activities are being implemented to address the vision, goals, and objectives?
- Web page design, utilizing HTML, Java Scripting, Perl Scripting
- Digital photography / graphic design to embellish pages
- Internet research focusing on identifying pertinent web resources, clipart, etc.
- Maintenance of the guest book, review of the site surveys, implementation of suggested changes, email exchanges with partners, etc.
- The governance structure of the program includes but is not limited to: an advisory committee of major partners including: Dr. Ronnie B. Lowenstein (founder and President of ET3), Rina De Firenze (author of the Mystery of Mona Lisa), Mihkel Pilv from Estonia, and Steve Mensher from Ovation TV.
The partners work together to garner human, financial and material resources necessary to run the program through the use of their formal governance structure, 24/7 email exchange and a team of partner dedicated grants / contributions specialists. This team of specialists consisting of two grant proposal authors for partner's corporate / personal fund raising circle are continually searching for and alerting the advisory committee to new pertinent financial grant opportunities, materials contribution resources, and potential human resources for the program. For instance, this application was identified through that team, as were the Microsoft 2000 competition, the Verizon Online Grant opportunity and other opportunities.
As part of advisor Steve Feld's work with ET3, the Mona Lisa project is going to collaborate with the Net Generation of Youth component of ET3 to identify no fewer than ten grant proposal authoring resources and to develop boiler-plates to present to these funding sources.
What is really wonderful about the Mona Lisa website is that from day one of its inception, it has had an in place process for monitoring and evaluating the partnership. This consists of the guest book, which has been continuously signed each day for almost four years, since August 23rd 1997, and the site's online survey. Through these living daily, locally designed evaluation tools are continually reviewed by the student web design teams and used to reconfigure, clarify, and expand existing website components, pages and resources. These tools helped the website team monitor for working links, identifying new links and at its optimum generate new contributions, expansions of existing website components and even build / design / suggest an additional website. Given the fact that since the inception of the program the John F. Kennedy web design team / assistants have won: numerous Arts Connection College Scholarships, the Microsoft 2000 Challenge Web Design Contest (1st place), presented at Siggraph'99 in Los Angeles and SchoolTech Conference In New York, received ISTE SigTEL International Web Learning Award, the Computer Learning Foundation Grand Prize, NYS Learning Technology Grand Prize Winner, etc. etc.; there is ample evidence that students in this program are making one major step to bridge the Digital Divide through Leonardo's legacy of technology empowered futurist visioning. Technology magic demolishes Digital Divide.
|Mona Bridges Digital Divide||/13681/data/links/summary.htm|
|NEW YORK Times `||/13681/data/links/times99.htm|
|NEW YORK Daily News||/13681/data/drama/raphael.htm|
& Learning Magazine
Presented at the following Conferences
|AT&T Make IT Work||/13681/data/workshop.htm|
SchoolTech Expo |
New York City
|Partners' Page Two||/13681/data/learn/partner2.htm|
|Leonardo's Bronze Horse||/13681/data/museum/horse.htm|
Ovation TV ArtsZone
|Codex Comes to Kennedy||/13681/data/museum/codex.htm|
|Leonardo as Futurist||/13681/data/links/clarke.htm|
|South Pole Expedition||http://home.con2.com/jfkhs/explorers/annliv.htm|
Think Tank ET3