Friday, January 28, 2005

The Lucky Cowboy Chronicles: Loneliness, Learning & Lafayette

The Advertiser runs today a nifty personality piece (or perhaps I should say a nifty dual personality piece --read the story) whose hook is the plan of Firefly Digital's Mike Spears to take some time off to feed his adventurous side by walking the Appalachian Trail.

Of most interest to me, though was the educational framework that wraps around the event. The plan is for this to be a connected solitary adventure. As Spears walks those lonely trails folks will, for instance, be able to monitor his heartbeat from the (really cool) Lucky Cowboy site. (One can imagine one day's Burning Question: "Is Lucky Cowboy up to making it over the saddle tomorrow? Today's vitals indicate.....LC addresses the issue in tonight's blog entry.) As much fun as that is, and as much use as I can imagine classroom teacher's making of the adventure, the fuller story includes the backend content developers of the website, Academy of Information Technology at Carencro High School:
Becnel and academy co-director Joel Hilbun will form a team of students to research, write and implement the Appalachian Trail content for the Web site. Students will compete for positions of student CEO, managing editor, graphic designers and more, Becnel said.
The Academy, from a quick look at its website, appears to go considerably beyond just being a schoolish way to get a leg up on IT work. After putting on my old "Professor of Educational Theory and Technology" hat I have to say that it looks like they've got a good handle on what I believe will prove to be the upcoming next round of crucial educational issues: project-based, activity-oriented education based on students developing useful solutions real problems.

(Wouldn't it be something if Lafayette Parish could get a reputation for being ahead of the curve with progressive projects like LUS' fiber optic telecom utility, an aggressive program of of lowering class sizes, and the Carencro Tech Academy's advanced curriculum all building (and contributing to each other) at the same time?)

The project will be the seed for a larger
Appalachian Trail Encyclopedia with a permanent home on the Appalachian Trails Website. What the students do will have a real use and a long life. It's hard to get more useful than that.

This has got to be a great model for what we all want to see result from the gumbo of Acadiana's ethnicities, the arts, technology, bandwidth, and education. Geaux!

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