The New School – Technology Thoughts

Notes from South by Southwest

We’re proud to be on the leading edge of educational innovation at The New School. As new research is conducted and published, we want to be a part of that conversation. One of The New School’s Co-Founders, Elizabeth Strickler, Associate Director of the Digital Arts Entertainment Lab at Georgia State University, recently spent some time in Austin, TX, at SXSWedu, the part of the SXSW family of conferences that focuses on education.

Elizabeth’s post from SXSWedu is below. In it, she’s thinking hard about the technology that our students are going to use, and how they are going to use it.

On the Right Trajectory

Before the excitement and crowds of SXSW Interactive, Film and Music Conferences descend upon Austin, there is a more sober and smaller (but exponentially growing) conference dedicated to education, SXSWedu. For four intense days, technology and software companies look to disrupt education with dazzling innovations, while educators reimagine their curricula, students and teaching philosophies in conjunction with these innovations.

All of this great energy focused on teaching and learning was exciting, overwhelming and deeply inspiring. There were fabulous examples of how to structure project based learning from engineering academies, innovation centers and education engineers. Deep discussions on the future of work and the sorts of traits and skills a happy and successful person in 2020 would need. Excellent advice and demonstrations on how to start and sustain a makerspace and encourage hands-on learning. One of my goals was to solidify an approach to technology in the learning environment for The New School.

The main themes throughout the panels, lectures, workshops and twittersphere largely embodied the Maker Movement Manifesto of make, share, give, learn, tool up, play, participate, support and change. What I learned reinforced and helped us refine the way we expect technology to be used at The New School. And, it turns out that the traits we value and hope for our students are the exact same traits we desire of the technology they use: flexible, connected, human-centered and secure.

Flexible because the projects we work on will change.  And the devices and technology will change too. Often. The technology students arrive at TNS with will be as varied as the students. So our approach to technology must be flexible. We will encourage efficient and useful tools, which will be as variable as our projects. Flexible technology and a flexible approach to technology enables making, learning, playing and changing.

Connected to the cloud and internet so our students can reach their data for anytime, anywhere learning. This allows the student to be mobile and able to work “in the field”. Social so our students can collaborate on projects with their peers, mentors and community partners. Connected enables making, sharing and participating,

Human centered means that the project comes first and the technology is the tool. With a design thinking approach to projects, using empathy, creativity and rationality, our technology will service our students. Putting solutions ahead of the technology will enable: giving, supporting, and making.

Secure because students must know they are in a safe and secure place if they are willing to experiment and fail. Even if our students have to create the encryption codes themselves, we are dedicated to end to end security as this is an increasingly important skill for the future.

TFI New Media Fund

Well, we just submitted our application to the Tribeca Film Institute’s New Media Fund with a public platform of our Cross Stitch Project, entitled See Me. We have a great idea and are a perfect fit, but getting the grant is a long shot. The good thing is that we are now in a great position to apply for the Power to the Pixel Pixel Market.

“The TFI New Media Fund provides funding and support to non-fiction, social issue media projects which go beyond traditional screens – integrating film with content across media platforms, from video games and mobile apps to social networks and interactive websites. We’re looking for projects that activate audiences around issues of contemporary social justice and equality around the world and demonstrate the power of cross-platform storytelling and dynamic audience engagement.”

Cross Stitch Project pilot has started – next, funding

Using new media technology, The Cross Stitch Project is connecting teenage girls from Calcutta, India and Atlanta, Georgia to share ideas, creative and design skills, learn global enterprise and cross-cultural communication skills.  The students will design and produce garments and with the proceeds support secondary education and vocational training for girls in Calcutta’s slum communities.

Our primary goal is to raise awareness about the global issues of gender and economic inequity in education and generate funds to support grassroots organizations working in India to keep impoverished children in school.

Our secondary goals reflect the needs of the two communities involved:

United States goals:
•    Generate global relationships
•    Foster service in public schools
•    Provide first hand cultural studies education through the arts
•    Encourage global feminist solidarity
•    Empower young people to fight gender discrimination
•    Raise funds for and participate in grassroots social change
•    Support advanced workshops with professional interaction in public schools

India goals:
•    Provide first hand cultural studies education through the arts
•    Improve English skills through direct interaction
•    Provide technology skills training for marginalized young women
•    Bridge the digital divide through media workshops and computer skills training
•    Generate global relationships
•    Build feminist solidarity and empower young women to fight sexism
•    Raise awareness about gender inequities in Indian education and support change in the community

The Bengali Detective

picked up (or remake rights picked up) at Sundance

The Cross Stitch Project

We are leaving for India again to set up the Kolkata portion of the Cross Stitch Project. To read more about our cross-media documentary and educational program, check out

This week’s In Media Res – Transmedia: New Platforms

Follow this week’s theme I organized featuring:

Monday October 11, 2010 – Janet Murray (Georgia Tech) presents: Inventing New Conventions for Digital Storytelling

Tuesday October 12, 2010 – Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California) presents: Harry Shum Jr: Dancing With and Without Glee

Wednesday October 13, 2010 – Chuck Tryon (Fayetteville State University) presents: Learning from The Elders: Crowdfunding, Transmedia, and Documentary

Thursday October 14, 2010 – Christina Dunbar-Hester (Rutgers) presents: 646-833-0759

Friday October 15, 2010 – Jeff Watson (University of Southern California) presents: Games of Nonchalance

Transmedia: New Platforms [October 11-15, 2010]

Transmedia: New Platforms [October 11-15, 2010]

Education through Empowerment doc has begun


powdered chalk rendition of the goddess of education, Saraswati


I just returned from 2 weeks in India working as a producer/camera/pa/accountant on our documentary. The project took many twists and turns and continues to do so as Phoebe, director and Charlene, cinematographer are still winding their way through all the places poor children reside in India. Follow us on this travel blog

The story of empowerment through education is still solidifying, but we will announce our project in early November 2010.