To prepare students to become lifelong learners, creative problem solvers, and successful communicators who are prepared to live and work in today's technological society.
The Community Discovered is a five-year project that links technology and the arts with other subject areas to transform the education of K-12 students. The focus of this project is to develop constructivist curriculum models of engaged student learning using technology and the resources of the Internet. Conducted by Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Nebraska, The Community Discovered project builds upon and extends the impact of the Art and Technology Integration (ATI) Project, conducted by Westside and the Grand Island Public Schools. The ATI project received a two-year grant from the Excellence in Education Council, funded by Nebraska state lottery proceeds.
The Community Discovered expands on the mission of Prairie Visions: The Nebraska Consortium for Discipline-Based Art Education, at the Nebraska Department of Education. Prairie Visions is a consortium of nearly 100 Nebraska school districts, the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska University system, three Nebraska art museums, and other arts and education agencies. Prairie Visions is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education, the Getty Education Institute for the Arts, and the Nebraska Art Teachers Association.
Nine Nebraska school districts will participate in a full range of project activities. Four districts were selected initially. In addition to Westside Community Schools, these include Grand Island Public Schools, Winnebago Public School and Lexington Public Schools. Omaha Public Schools will participate starting the second year. Nebraska City Public Schools will participate starting the third year. Smallfoot Public School, Maple Grove Public School and McCartney Public School will participate starting the fourth year. Educators across the U.S. will be able to access project resources and receive assistance in using them through the Internet. Consortium partners include three state art museums: the Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, NE), the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden (Lincoln, NE), and the the Museum of Nebraska Art (Kearney, NE) working collaboratively with the National Museum of American Art (Washington, DC), the Getty Education Institute for the Arts (Los Angeles, CA), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC), and the National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson Hole, WY). These museums provide a rich resource for educators to access and incorporate into their curricula.
The Community Discovered project has five goals:
Five related activities are designed to enable educators within Nebraska and nationwide to participate in a variety of ways:
Essential to the success of the project is Nebraska's educational technology infrastructure. Key features include Nebraska's statewide electronic educational network, NEnet, and the growing number of direct Internet connections made possible by school districts and educational service units. The project evaluation provides guidance throughout the project; conducted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha in conjunction with West Ed/Far West Regional Lab. A three-tiered advisory board provides input and feedback from the perspective of stakeholders, leaders and partners. The National Advisory Board consists of a diverse group of professionals with links to the educational community through their work in the arts, technolgy, or related fields. The Community of Friends Board is made up of local parents and professionals who are influential in effecting decisions regarding our schools and whose work links them to the project at a local level. Each participating district has a Community of Friends Board with input to their district and to the overall project. The Council of Administrative Partners consists of representatives from each of the consortium partner organizations, working collaboratively to provide direction to the operations of the project and to provide feedback to the evaluation team as stakeholders.
The Community Discovered Project is working to transform education by promoting constructivist curricula through integration of the arts and technology in core subject areas.
Why constructivism? "Education reform must start with how students learn and how teachers teach.... After all, the construction of understanding is the core element in a highly complex process underpinned by what appears to be a simple proposition. It sounds simple enough: we construct our own understandings of the world in which we live.... Each of us makes sense of our world by synthesizing new experiences into what we have previously come to understand... we construct understanding through reflection upon our interactions with objects and ideas. Learning is not discovering more, but interpreting through a different scheme or structure" (Brooks & Brooks, 1993; p. 4-5).
Advisory Board Co-chairs:
J. Robert Kerrey, U.S. Senator; Dr. Elizabeth Broun, Director, NMAA