Digital Marketing of Opera

Activities in our house revolve around theater and music. There’s always a play rehearsal, choir practice, voice lesson, dance class, etc., on our schedules.

A current project for our family revolves around an opera about Lois Lowry’s book, The Giver. The Minnesota Opera and the Kansas City Opera commissioned an opera written for young voices. It’s an ambitious project. The content isn’t easy, nor is the music.

How does this relate to anything techie? The Minnesota Opera is currently doing fundraising for the project. Besides the regular types of fundraising, they are using a newish tool called Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an amazing idea that makes use of social media and grass roots efforts. The point of Kickstarter is to raise a large sum of money by reaching out to people – often people not included in major fundraising efforts. This money will be raised through donations of $10, $25 and $50. The project is spread on social media – via Facebook, word of mouth, etc. The hope is to have projects go viral so lots of people pitch in money for great projects.  (Here’s the Opera’s Kickstarter project. Kick in a few bucks!)

This project even demonstrates the power of visual storytelling. Check out a few of the videos – you get to hear the voices of the kids, the director, the composer, and more. The images, the voices, the music. These all tell the story in a way not possible in just words. To top it off, kids did much of the editing and storyboarding of these videos! (They’re really good, too!)

Project 365

20120321-212805.jpgWhile on vacation last week, I grabbed a few of those MacWeek magazines in the airport…. a little geeky light reading for the plane. One of them mentioned an app I’ve seen discussed in the education circles: Project 365.

My daughter (an avid photographer and teen-age iPhone user) and I both downloaded the app and got started. I found it to be an interesting exercise while on vacation. Some days I took lots of photos, so the choice of one was difficult. Other days, I had to remind myself to stop, think, and take a picture of something that summed up the day.

Now that I am home, it’s even harder. What is it about my day-to-day life that is photo worthy? What do I do that sums up the day? It’s only been a couple of days, but so far I seem to be looking for outdoor shots to capture the change in seasons (an unseasonably early spring.)

Both my daughter and I are finding this a fun experiment. We each find very different things to document, which in itself makes this a worthy experience. We enjoy sharing our choices and talking about why we selected something. It is making both of us look at things in new ways, and to seek out the “special” in the humdrum of daily life.

Why post about this here? As a parent, I am happy to have found something to share with my daughter that we both enjoy and allows us to talk about something. I enjoy looking at her photography, which is far better than mine.

How could you do something like this in a classroom setting? Is it educational? I can see many ways this could be used in a specific class or as a bigger assignment. Most kids have some way they could photograph some moment of their day. What a great opportunity to teach about responsible photography (no pictures of anyone else w/o permission, etc.) It could lead to writing assignments, blogs and more.

I know I’ve seen Project 365 on other education technology websites, so just looked. Sure enough, Richard Byrne just posted about it with the awesome idea of this being a way for kids to build up a copyright free library of images to use. posted a bunch of ways to use it.

I’ll check back with you in a year to see how it went!

Reading 21st Century Style

Enjoyed interacting with a book with my nephews today, 21st century style. We read/watched “Big Little Brother“on an iPad. Kevin Kling’s narration is awesome and entertaining. The boys enjoyed figuring out which toys would make noises and move.

This isn’t to say that they don’t enjoy print books – we read lots of those, too.

It’s Everywhere!

I’m on vacation in sunny Palm Springs. How ironic that the CUE conference is being held this week at the Palm Springs Convention center.

CUE is the California association for educational technology, or Computer Using Educators. Looks like a big conference – there are a couple interesting keynote speakers:

  • Marco Torres is a teacher/technology director/professional filmmaker  in LA who has had success using technology to empower minority students.
  • Diane Ravitch is a history of education professor in New York who has written recently about the crumbling of education. She is also an outspoken critic of NCLB and charter schools, and a vehement supporter of teachers.

I won’t be attending any of these – how odd. These keynotes are very temping….. but vacation is vacation!

Stop Stealing Dreams

Do check out Seth Godin’s recent education manifesto, “Stop Stealing Dreams.”

There are many quotable quotes, but here’s just one, about multiple choice tests. Frederick Kelly created multiple choice tests in 1914 as a way to literally assign factory workers.  He said:

In the words of Professor Kelly, “This is a test of lower order thinking for the lower orders.”

Yup. And we still do it.

Slow Going

Saw this article on Twitter today (from the Iowa City, IA, newspaper, I believe) about how the adoption of technology in schools is “slow and uneven.”

“If (educators) could realize the value of technology, I think that would contribute greatly to the amount of learning that could be done,” [Adam] Canady said.

Adam is a high school senior.

The article discusses a number of reasons, including a school system getting stuck in a rut of always doing the same thing; funding priorities; and the need for a culture change.

I disagree with the expert quoted as saying teachers are afraid of technology because they feel they will be replaced. I certainly don’t see anyone successfully integrating education technology ever saying teachers will be replaced. It’s quite the opposite. Most people advocating more tech integration say the success of the integration depends on the teacher.

I certainly do relate to this article. I work with schools and teachers all day that are committed to integrating technology for the good of the students’ education. Then I set foot in my kids’ schools and am told students can’t use phones, teachers don’t post assignments online, etc.