Cascadian Sustainability Passport Content Development
The initial idea for the passport program original arose from the observation that K-12 teachers would be grateful for content that meets state educational standards. After careful consideration, we’ve determined that web-based content delivery would support a greater range of possibilities with the lowest operating costs. Such a “passport portal” would enable users to create passports customized with their personal information and location, as well as ensuring wide availability of the supporting educational materials.
Online delivery of the passports and learning units will enable customization for each participant and group, including the possibility of embedding “puzzles” that could spur further adventure and involvement in cooperation with other passport holders in the group. Rather than standard booklet pages (as in ordinary passports), include an accordion-fold pull-out section that would have a map of Cascadia, possibly or including maps of watersheds, parks, and public lands.
For example, see www.kingcounty.gov/environment/watersheds.aspx, and www.oregonwatersheds.org/oregoncouncils/willamette-map.
Navigation of the portal could be facilitated by features such as tag clouds ** and Boolean filters, which would enable teachers, students, and community organizations to identify available materials with greater ease. By allowing users to create their own tags and rate or flag materials, such an open-source approach to the development of new learning materials (and improvement of existing materials) has the strong potential to become viral, driven by user needs and interests. Tag clouds (or other tools) designed to emphasize gaps in learning opportunities could help community groups and teachers (or possibly student-teachers) be more aware of where materials and opportunities are needed most. User-generated ratings and comment systems would help to identify the most effective materials, as well as opportunities for ongoing improvement.
We feel there is a huge potential for collaboration with a wide range of public and private efforts. Sharing the task of content development also provides an opportunity for the project to grow faster, as such work could proceed in parallel. Separate user-profile types for teachers, students, and community groups (or other local experts) would channel materials and functionalities most useful to each group. Those interested in merely downloading passports and learning materials need not be aware of all the functionalities available to those who chose to play a more active in the development of learning materials.
Members of a rotating oversight board (designed to ensure a balance of those with teaching experience and those more known for their knowledge of local environments and histories) could be given periodic access to a variety of administrative tools, including stronger reviewing mechanisms and the ability to structure the content development tools (e.g., adding specific learning requirements to the wiki template).
** For example, see Flickr, Technorati, or www.tagcloud-generator.com. Tag clouds could be generated by topic (e.g., ecology, native history), school subject (e.g., biology, reading), or targeted grade-level (e.g., pre-K, K-12, University, Adult). This interface tool could also be used to highlight availability of learning opportunities by date (especially useful for identifying field trip possibilities).)