Michael I. Strait
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
901 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20004-2037 USA
v: (202) 879-9649
f: (202) 783-1036
Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Creation of new ideas, products, or services; Local commitment to network-based activities; Volunteer contributions of time and energy; Partnerships between public and private sector
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
Video; Documentation; Computer graphic images, such as GIF files; Other (listserv archives)
For the last two years, and again in May of 1993, the Capitol Children’s Museum will serve as the Washington, DC host site for the annual KIDLink celebration of an ongoing global dialogue of kids from 10 to 15 years of age.
This story began in 1990, and it is far from over. It’s a story about how the Net can create a space for volunteer contributions of time and energy that literally would not be possible otherwise, and in so doing enrich the educational experience of children, draw together otherwise disparate members of a local community, and serve the long term goal of multicultural understanding on a global scale. For me personally, the story began with a message, probably received from Bob Carlitz’s Kidsnet list, about something called Kids-91. A Global Dialog for Kids 10 – 15. A couple of names and addresses were given to contact — Odd de Presno in Arundel, Norway and Nancy Stefanik in Washington, DC., so I did.
It is worth emphasizing here that this simple opportunity to connect with others of common cause irrespective of global geography, is not just an obvious value of the Internet — it just couldn’t happen otherwise, at least not on anywhere near the scale of this and other like stories.
It was an elegantly simple idea: get as many kids as possible engaged in a global dialogue about themselves and the things that are important in their lives. Kids enter the dialog by answering four questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I want to be when I grow up?
- How do I want the world to be better when I grow up?
- What can I do now to make it happen?
After responding on-line to the four questions, kids engage each other in dialogue in Kidcafe about anything and everything that interests them. Adults who want to help with access, planning and coordination of special events, etc., have related on-line discussions.
By the close of Kids-91 in May, 2600 children in 31 countries had participated. The adults who helped to make it happen numbered in the hundreds as well, from as many different places. The end of year celebration of Kids-91 took place on May 13, in the form of a global chat using all available technologies to link up as many kids in as many ways as possible on that single day. With the help of Chris Grotke and Mary Abbajay of the Capitol Children’s Museum, arrangements were made to make the Museum the center of activity that day for kids in Washington, DC, including both local school and community groups and kids who just happened to be visiting the Museum that day.
With phone lines installed specifically for the event by C&P Telephone, and temporary Internet accounts provided by University of Maryland, kids participated in real-time computer chats, faxed poems and artwork, and visited via videophone with their peers in Arendal, Helsinki, Glasgow, London, Toronto, Honolulu, Cleveland, Tokyo, and a hundred other places. A local private satellite services company also brought their mobile uplink to the Museum so that the activities inside could be broadcast live and picked up by anyone in the country with a conventional home satellite dish. Public broadcasting stations around the country were alerted to the time and transponder so they could pick up and record the feed for later local programming as they wished. It was an extraordinary event by any measure.
During the following year of Kids-92, tens of thousands of kids from over 40 countries participated in the global dialogue, and again the culmination of the year was a (this time two-day) celebration launched from the Museum and other sites around the world. For the May, 1992 celebration, a school site –Stuart Hobson Middle School in DC — coordinated by Stuart-Hobson librarian Elizabeth Teferra, was added to accommodate even more local public school students. For the second year celebration, Internet access and accounts were donated by Advanced Networks and Services (ANS) through their Washington link to Michnet.
For Kids-93 were expect to have even greater participation from kids in the Washington, DC metro area due to our new community network, CapAccess, which gives every teacher and student in the metro area full time access to the Internet. Plans are underway to add additional school and library sites for the final celebration day, along with the Capital Children’s Museum for the third straight year.
CapAccess, the National Capital Area Public Access Network, is directed by Taylor Walsh, who, as a matter of fact, I met through Kids-91, but that is another story….
For additional information contact:
Odd de Presno
4815 Saltrod, Norway (EUROPE)