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News - 31 August 2012

Wired Sussex launches its Cherokee Nation project

The project, masterminded by the Brighton-based membership organisation for the digital sector, is a digital cultural exchange between school students in Brighton and Native American Indian students in Oklahoma, USA.

It aims to use digital media to significantly enhance the way that existing cultural exchange programmes between schools are run and it launches on 19th September. It will test and develop ways of using technology to encourage school students from different cultural and historical backgrounds to engage in real-time interaction, to co-create content and to use visual and story-telling media, enabling them to build strong relationships through a mutual understanding and knowledge of each other.

It has 4 schools that have agreed to take part. In Brighton & Hove, they are Blatchington Mill and Cardinal Newman, and in Oklahoma they are the Cherokee Nation schools of Maryetta and Sequoya.

Cherokee Nation school students are provided with iPads at 7th grade. The logic behind giving them access to some of the most up-to-date consumer technology available is to support the preservation and growth of their traditional culture. Apple technology supports Cherokee language text and Cherokee is a polysynthetic language. This means that is less about text based messages and more about visual and narrative driven communication – areas where technology likes the iPad can excel.

Blatchington Mill is a school which specialises in the performing arts and media. Wired Sussex hopes, with Arts Council support, to have the involvement of an artist who can help the school students develop content for this project. Cardinal Newman specialises in the Humanities and it is through their history department that they will be engaging with the Cherokee Nation schools.

Schools students in the UK are used to learning about other cultures and often schools engage in cultural exchange programmes. By using digital technology to underpin that engagement Wired Sussex hopes to improve and change the nature of that engagement to develop a practical understanding by participating school students in the ways that technology can facilitate and empower arts and humanities skills.

To support this process, the major e-learning company Epic has agreed to provide mentoring and support to the educators involved and Wired Sussex will oversee the project in the UK.

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