I’ve just got back from Stephen Heppel’s annual Be Very Afraid event at the BAFTA building in Picadilly.
The event allows students and teachers from schools, colleges and universities to showcase their innovative uses of IT in and out of the classroom to an audience of policy makers and media.
There were several really exciting projects, but one in particular caught my attention as one of those really simple ideas that has huge potential in all sorts of ways.
Students at Lampton School in Hounslow have created a website that shows profiles of people aged from one to one hundred, with simple facts about them, comments and lifestyle information . To create the site, students at the school had to go out into the local area and interview lots of people – asking what they had for breakfast and where they were born.
What was so brilliant about the project was how many ways it had had a positive on the young people and the community at large. The Year 7 students presenting the project today said they found out loads of things like how the ethnic make up of the area differed by age and how older people they thought were scary were actually nice to talk to. They feel more a part of their local area and told me that there was a greater respect between students at the school and other people in the community.
One of the students told me how he used to get shouted at by one local resident who didn’t like him and his friends playing football so near his house. The students all thought he was scary until they interviewed him for the project. Now they voluntarily try to keep their football game away from his house and no longer get shouted at.
The same project is being carried out in Goa and the students at Lampton are communicating with their Indian counterparts about the challenges they experience and comparing the profiles from the two countries.
The students’ teacher told me that they would like nothing better than to have other schools email them to ask for an account on the website and to start adding their own local profiles of people of all ages. In an era of an ageing population and increasingly rapid technological and cultural change, we all have something to learn from anything that begins to reverse the trend of alienation between generations.
– Louise Thomas