Colleagues and students reading this blog will already be aware that I have a particular fondness for acronyms, so I was delighted to be introduced to yet another one on Tuesday morning. Homago describes three of the ways that teens tend to engage with technology: they hang out (ho) mess around (ma) and when they get really into something they geek out (go) completely. Coined by Mizuko Ito and colleagues in the University of Berkeley in 2008, homago emerged from research they did concerning young people’s engagement with digital media production.
Homago, we discovered, is the philosophy that informs practice at Artlab+ and we had the good fortune to meet with Amy (Manager of Digital Learning Programmes), Dawn (Lead Mentor – Photography, Poetry, and Makin’) and Cody (3D Modeling, Animation, and Character Design Mentor) who showed us around and gave us an insight into what teens get up to when they come to the centre. This video gives a good overview of what a typical day in the centre looks like. Although this one is better for showcasing what they produce when they are there.
The range of resources in Artlab+ was impressive. Although, having said that, it did not seem excessive or exorbitant. Leaving aside the hardware, including, admittedly, some very nice stuff such as Wii Rockband, a 3D printer* and an occulus**, I was actually more taken simply by the sheer amount of space available. I was particularly impressed by the number of tables and chairs to allow participants to work together (very high-tech!).
Teens who drop into Artlab+ have the opportunity to get certification for various multi-media skills and applications and Amy, Dawn and Cody, among others, provide them with guidance and mentoring, sometimes in areas that they themselves are encountering for the first time.
The space provided for a nice range of different possibilities for teens to be creative and they can hang out, mess around and geek out regardless of the other activities taking place there at the same time. I also noticed, at the back of the open-plan area, a performance area with tiered seating, which I also thought was a great idea!
The Wii Rockband and screen were set up in a nice living room style space in the main area and Irish delegation on the US programme were able to indulge in the best Freddie Mercury impersonation we could muster!
So we there you have it: we got to hang out, mess around in a creative and inspiring place. Sadly, however, we had too little time to totally geek out! The morning flew but I have to mention that I hold them responsible for being unable to get Bohemian Rhapsody out of my head ever since!
* 3D printer: check #edtechie on Twitter for the on-going story of the Ninja cloning experiment initiated in Artlab+!
**occulus: best if you get your letter to Santa in now!