#warshipbootcamp – a view from Able Seaman Brewer

bootcamp 1Scott Brewer from Art Processors attended our recent #warshipbootcamp – here’s what he had to say…

Over the 27th and 28th of August I was invited to attend a workshop held at the Australian National Maritime Museum to discuss education. Really we were there to discuss the possibilities created by a new pavilion being built to honour the Royal Australian Navy and based around the three largest warships held by the Museum: the Daring class destroy, Vampire; the Oberon class submarine, Onslow; and the Attack class patrol boat, Advance. I wasn’t too sure what my offering to the workshop would be, I’ve never worked in education, by trade I still consider myself a software developer (that’s what I put on the customs form whenever I leave the country, although to be fair I definitely manage more than code these days) and I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to provide much insight. To be honest I’m not sure how much insight I was able to provide others, but I can thank them immensely for the insight they were able to offer me.

The workshop itself was split into two days, the first more of an introduction: of ourselves to each other; of the warship project as a whole; and of an overview of where technology is (likely) heading over the coming years. Armed with all of this information day 2 was an opportunity to split into groups and investigate ways that we could use a marriage of technology to the physical presence of the ships to encourage new ways of educating and engaging with future visitors. To achieve this we split into four groups, each focusing on a single part of the new experience (the three warships and a space within the new pavilion).

We were interested in looking at ways the vessels can offer a better educational experience. What really started to become clear to me was the similarities of building a technology platform and delivering an educational experience and some of the benefits that may be obtained by thinking about the two in a similar vein.

At the heart of both elements lies the content. Whether you’re talking about mobile applications or website, you’re discussing different methods for viewing and engaging with content. With education you’re talking about best ways to get children to engage with and learn from content. In both instances while the delivery methods and techniques may fall in and out of favour it is the content that remains constant. The teachers screaming for websites ten years ago, and now crying out for apps will, ten years from now be requesting that their students need the latest method to deliver this content and keep them focused and engaged (and learning!).

So why is this important? For both technology and education it seems vital that over time you can recover investments made into frameworks and methodologies for content delivery. If you’re designing a technology platform and you want to make sure you’re not washing money down the drain you want to be able to make sure you can maximise the re-use of the system in the future. An example will be making sure your data is kept clean in a CMS that is decoupled from the viewing mechanism (web site, app, glass, etc.). Similarly there was a lot of discussion about the breadth of school groups that arrive searching for content, various groups have differing ideas of how to best reach their students. Keeping things nicely de-coupled allows for this to take place. Similarly for education you want to be able to remain up to date and interesting to the students whilst delivering content that itself may not have changed for decades. Obviously the ultimate delivery method for this, and this is what became quite clear during the workshop, is the onsite educator. Their ability to think quickly to alter their course material to suit the pupil can be the biggest difference between a trip to the museum and a great trip to the museum. Technology or concepts will always find it difficult to match this on their own, but they can go a huge way to helping make these experiences even better and that’s the goal of what we’re really trying to achieve right?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own fields that we have a difficult time seeing the commonalities between what it is we do on a day to day basis and what others are striving for in their own work. What became apparent over the course of the workshop was that there is much more in common with how Art Processors encourage people to think about technology and how educators look at education. In both instances we’re using a tool to engage someone with the knowledge trapped inside a physical medium so it shouldn’t be such a surprise to me that a commonality exists between the two fields, hopefully, through further collaboration, we can start to benefit from each other’s expertise to create improved experiences for those we’re hoping to help. As I said, I’m not sure how much insight I was able to offer these experts about technology, but I sure am grateful for the insights they were able to offer me into education. Let’s hope that together they can benefit the people they were aimed to benefit – teachers and their students.

Thanks Scott – your insights into the two days gratefully received! Go here for more about our #warshipbootcamp.