A Marketplace of Ideas, Images and Information
As technology becomes increasingly important to how we teach and learn, Occidental College is pioneering bold new approaches to education and collaborative learning on campus. The new Global Crossroads project, created by Second Story Interactive Studios, is a large-scale environmental installation driven by content created within an accompanying web application, is an exciting example of how Oxy is using digital media and technological innovation to bring its student body together.
The Global Crossroads is an integrated system with two distinct components: A custom web app that highlights the research process, reveals how arguments are developed and constructed, and urges students to learn from and build on each other’s efforts; and a stunning 50' x 30' wall of sculpted glass with reactive LED lighting and ten embedded displays that showcase the depth and dimension of the students' work.
This system aims to reinvigorate the familiar educational processes of inquiry and exploration and to provoke collaboration across varying disciplines. As they work within the web app to create “projects” based on either a thesis or a provocative question, students can view their work in a number of ways, from outlined lists to maps to more visually organized canvases. Content in Global Crossroads is drawn from current events, lab or archival research, and coursework. Discussion is responsive to campus events such as lectures, colloquia, and performances and is augmented by streaming feeds from contemporary mass- and social-media sources. Academic content is supplemented by announcements and by updates about Oxy events and curricula.Each view allows the student to see their argument and overarching narrative structure from a new perspective. The interface also allows users to work together on projects, access content submitted by others, investigate new areas of interest, and interact with fellow contributors, strengthening Oxy’s broader sense of community.
While the web app drives the creation of student projects, the media wall, used to highlight particularly thought-provoking projects, exposes the importance of visual and digital literacy and storytelling techniques. Its distinctive form factor imposes thoughtful and deliberate constraints on how work can be displayed, encouraging students to think creatively and consider new ways to visually present their ideas.
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