1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
Our project used a variety of information tools to conduct the equity leadership activities and to create the web site including scanners, digital cameras, Microsoft Office, PhotoShop, and Dreamweaver. Howerver database technology and online communication tools proved to be the keys to success throughout the project.
We created a database to organize the information we collected. Some information (i.e. career description, gender ratios, salaries) was obtained through Internet sources and inputted directly into the database. Other information was obtained through primary sources (i.e. presenter info and leader profiles) and collected using HTML forms and Cold Fusion Scripts. We used ColdFusion scripts to create dynamic HTML pages for our site and add interactive components to every section of our site, including ways for a global community to add resources, practices, leader profiles, and more. One of the most innovative uses of this combination was when one student figured out how to use the male/female percentages entered into the database to dynamically adjust the size of blue and pinks gifs thus creating self-generating graphs.
Our project explored many different online collaboration and communication tools found on the Internet. We started with online workspace provided by VISMT for online learning. We expanded to more globally accessible tools such as Yahoo Groups, Yahoo Chats, and Web Logs. We were in the middle of an online chat about equity on the morning of September 11. We used WEB LOGS all year long to document our progress. See http://www.xanga.com/nc02cyberfair . We finally selected Community Zero to create an online community for equity leaders around the world. We trained members of our projects to lead and moderate online discussions. We also experimented with broadband technology using Interactive Learning Network www.viln.org to hold conduct online meetings and interviews using video conferencing.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Throughout the project, students were ambassadors for their school, CyberFair, and technology, and for a more equity-conscious world. We used every opportunity we could to promote our cause “Creating Awareness Regarding Equity” and “Understanding Nontraditional Ideas Through Education.
Students who were veteran Cyberfair participants recruited participants from other parts of the state using online collaboration tools (ranging from chats to web logs). Towards the end of the project, satellite technology was used for video conferences. By the time the project was done the North Country students had introduced their peers across the state to 1) online technology 2) equity topics 3) Cyberfair and community web projects.
Student leaders also involved both younger students and the community by adding an equity awareness activity to the annual Junior High Career Fair. They designed a contest that encouraged presenters to include equity information in their presentations. They also created an online form for presenters to provide additional equity information. Some of the younger students have asked about the types of classes they can take in high school to pursue their interest in technology and actually signed up for our classes.
We used several media to reach out to our community to create the Equity Leaders profiles included in our project. These interviews were conducted face-to-face, on the phone, and via email and satellite technology. Each contact not only spoke well of our schools and their use of technology, but contributed to a more equity AWARE world around us.
Six students participated in a student panel about getting girls involved in computer classes at VermontFest 2001 (a conference for Vermont educators). Also, we submitted proposals to present our project at three other conferences including the National Education Computer Conference. All three have been accepted.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
Our project was designed to have immediate impact by UNITING people who CARE about equity.
1. Students and community members have already learned the value of using online tools to hold conversations about equity. We provided an avenue for different and diverse insights to be shared. Shy members sometimes found their voice in these forums. 2. Equity awareness has increased in younger students. When a junior high girl questioned a sign on a bulletin board that discouraged equity, we knew we were making a difference.
3. Equity awareness has increased among our peers. The heated online chats and discussions demonstrate that our peers have heightened awareness about equity principles as a result of our work.
4. Equity awareness has increased in the community as we have conducted interviews in the community to include equity information in their career fair presentations.. 5. Students that we have mentored have already been inquiring about which classes to enroll in to pursue their interest in technology and some have enrolled. 6. More boys are starting to become involved in conversations about equity. Prior to our project, the dialogue was primarily held among women. 7. We have increased the number of student equity leaders in our schools 8. By making our web project interactive, we have provided a place for a growing collection of equity resources, quotes, and interviews . 9. We have been able to share our insight with many others. Our student panel about “girls in computer classes” at a statewide computer conference filled the room. We have submitted proposals to participate at three more conferences, including the National Education Computing Conferences.
10. We believe that the web site will continue to make an impact as we reach more people using both face-to-face and online discussions.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Our project included our community in several ways.
Many thanks to the classroom teachers who piloted VISMT’s Internet Technology Equity Project (Jenn Fribush, Jane Donahue-Holt, Nancy McDermott, Stuart Cornell).
Many thanks to the students from the centers who participated in this project.
Many thanks to the men and women who support or participate in nontraditional activities/careers for their gender. They not only serve as role models for us but also provided us with much valuable advice during our interview process.
Many thanks to the presenters of the North Country Junior High Career Fair. Not only did they provide information about careers during the fair, but many filled out our online form to provide us with equity information as well.
Many thanks to the junior high team (Ms. Storrings, Ms. Larose, and Mrs. Majors) and their team of students for allowing us to add an equity perspective to their career fair and for joining the team of student equity leaders.
Many thanks to all who join our online community and keep the conversations about equity moving both on line and in their communities.
Many thanks to all who contribute to our Interactive Web site by submitting interviews, advice, and resources.
Many thanks to Web Designers, Jack Ryniec (Notch Web Design), Tammy Sink (Cyberfair 2001 Winner) and Keith Willey for mentoring us on the design elements of this project and to Deegan Stubbs for his good proofreading eye.
Many thanks to Kathy Johnson, Director of Equity Initiatives for Vermont Institute for Science Math and Technology (VISMT) for supporting this project and other statewide equity initiatives and to our project advisor, Lucie deLaBruere, VISMT Technology and Equity specialist for directing the Internet Technology Equity Project.
Many thanks to our community sponsors for supporting our site and our students.
Many thanks to the community of students for their hard work on this project.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
The project was filled with discoveries, lessons, and even a few surprises along the way. We discovered that even though we have come a long way towards increasing gender equity in our society, that there is still a long way to go. We discovered that the online communication tools help people feel more comfortable and open when discussing sensitive issues such as equity. The screen names make it hard to know if you are talking to male or female participants. This helps it feel less like a GIRLS vs BOYS discussion. It helped focus on the topic instead. We discovered that this is not a “GIRL’S ISSUE” and that boys and girls can UNITE towards improving gender equity in our communities. When we first started our project we were focusing on the lack of girls in computer technology class. The boys didn’t see their role in this type of discussion. Broadening our discussion has allowed us to join forces and understand each other better in creating CARING environments that encourage equity.
We found that there seems to be more non-traditional activities and careers for women than for men. However we discovered that it is less acceptable for a man to pursue a nontraditional gender equity than it is for a woman to do so. We discovered that conversations about equity CAN make a difference. They create an Equity Lens for participants to view the world through. Most people want to remedy inequalities if they exist, our project helped point out these inequities.