ITP Thesis Week 2009
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May 8

Your Web, Your World☺

Donna Cameron

Using free Google Web tools, "Your Web, Your World" is an ITP thesis project that promotes a virtual vacation club, "Club Dream Vacation". Club Dream vacation is a geography and social science educational tool for all classroom groups, including Special Education, K-5. (click on ITP)


By Donna Cameron, 2009 ITP Thesis Candidate in computer and web technology, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Abstract: The virtual vacation club, "Club Dream Vacation", is an education project which supports using Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Docs to create an imaginary dream vacation in the public school classroom/ computer lab. Club Dream Vacation uses the free Google web ware to promote a better understanding of the Earth and it's geography, of the ancient art of maps and mapmaking, of the Earth and its diversity of communities, of the Earth and a shared experience in the community of the participants. I hope that, through this, the importance of technical literacy will become a priority in our schools. Club Dream Vacation is a new project designed to improve geography and social science skills of children in the classroom, K-5. The project is run in a school computer lab, possibly as a geography lesson or a social studies lesson. The Project Director is Donna Cameron, faculty, NYU TSOA Special Programs. The project advocates teaching children in this context about the web, the earth’s geography, geagraphy itself as the study of humanity to the earth and life on earth, their own dreams as earthlings, their future and present selves. It asks participants to plan a virtual vacation in several well-defined sessions of 1 hour each, and is designed to be tailored to meet the needs of the particular school in which it is run. Unlike many computer lab projects, it advocates making a product- a vacation scrapbook in this case- and downloading it from Google Docs upon completion. This gives a student the potential to share at home, with mom and dad, and amongst themselves in the classroom or the lab. In this way, it promotes technology literacy and inter and intra generation communication with new technology and consumer web browser tools.

I studied I.Q. testing and its history and current application in a social justice internship for the Chimes Foundation in the Fall semester of 2008. This study fascinated and challenged me. On a personal side, I was seriously injured in 2005 and was made to use a wheelchair to protect my ambulatory prospects for the rest of my life. As an artist, I have always been inspired by pushing the limits of my tools. As an educator, I am very concerned by the lack of use of free web tools in classroom instruction. In fact, most educators (many of my age group) do not have the knowhow to implement the web and its amazing tools, and not by choice- they were not available to us before the 1990s. I truly feel that technical literacy should be available and on some levels a mandate for educators in our time.Technical literacy for all is the impetus for my decision. My time in a wheel chair made me acutely sensitive to special needs students and to the statistics of unemployment among the developmentally disabled- 78-80%. In many ways, this is a foundation for affirmative action program to enable more fair hiring practices for the socially, developmentally and physically impaired. I have also noticed that some persons with autism were great at keyboarding- it was something they loved to do. With proper training and community awareness, this could be a place for them to segue into a job in data retrieval. My research last semester showed me that this was true.

My target audience is the individual and group participants in Club Dream Vacation, or my students.

User Scenario
1. Choose your dream vacation

2. Determine how you will get there.

3. Choose the specific places to visit
and things to do, make an itinerary.

4. Make your daily vacation schedule, make a calendar.

5. Create your online photo & narrative journal; download it
to your desktop; send it to family and friends.

"Your Web Your World, Club Dream Vacation" is what it is made of and this philosophy is also the game (lesson) plan.

The web is a social networking tool, which can catalyze change anywhere. It’s a shared experience. But, is the best experience to share, rather than purchase and hoard? As the Brooklyn fifth graders demonstrated to me in my pilot run of Club Dream Vacation in April, 2009, this is the natural human urge- to come together on a good thing and share.
Technology literacy is essential to quality of life in the 21st century. It should be made accessible to every person. Like the opportunity to receive an education, it is an inalienable right.