Digital media and widespread communications technologies present exciting opportunities to re-envision how young people learn about their environment and institutions. Mobile devices and wearable technologies can merge the best parts of classroom and experiential education. In this vision, the whole city can be a classroom, helping students to explore and take ownership of their world.
With the emergence of pervasive digital media and networked communication, the way today's youth access information, create and share knowledge is changing dramatically. At the same time, young people are interacting with their institutions and governments in new ways. Working with the city of Brescia, Italy, the MIT Mobile Experience Lab organized a workshop to envision how these trends might be guided to generate innovative educational strategies.
Embedding electronic media and WiFi connectivity into the urban fabric enables a number of opportunities to rethink how information flows through a community. New forms of communication become possible, which can foster learning, knowledge, and social inclusion. With such ubiquitous access to information, opportunities arise to promote social sustainability and cultural enrichment.
The workshop generated four concepts. The Brescia 2.0 system proposed to use a web application and traditional public transportation facilities augmented with technology to provide connectivity, representing data in interactive and accessible ways. The EcoPets concept sought to raise public awareness about the environment by using public media to exchange and visualize data. Reconfigured Bus proposed to entice students to use public transportation by making the riding experience more enjoyable. Finally, Eco-wearables, if implemented, would allow youth to track their environmental footprints in an attractive and immediate way.