Chicago History Museum brings a permanent exhibition into the classroom with this e-learning tool designed for grades five through twelve.
“What would you do for freedom?” is the question posed to Facing Freedom site users once they arrive. The Chicago History Museum explores this idea in great detail at their permanent exhibition of the same name. They turned to Mightybytes to build an online extension of the Facing Freedom experience that supports classroom learning of exhibition topics.
The primary challenge was to build a flexible enough system to accommodate learning communities and an expanding array of educational content while also visually supporting the permanent museum exhibition. We created wireframes and assisted in defining project specifications, and provided technological expertise.
The Facing Freedom website is color-coded to match portions of the permanent exhibit. Content for the site is broken into four primary categories:
- Workers’ Rights: An exploration of freedom-related issues and specific events as related to workers’ rights and unions.
- Armed Conflict: Discussions and content centered around armed conflict events, such as the civil war.
- Race and Citizenship: Content driven by issues of race and what it means to be a U.S. citizen.
- Public Protest: Explores how activism and public demonstrations bring about social change.
All Facing Freedom content is controlled by the Chicago History Museum team, so they needed a system that was easy to use, update, manage, and allow them to communicate with users. After initial discussions about using a learning management system, we built the Facing Freedom project on a Drupal platform.
Key features include:
- Discuss History Today: A section where experts explore themes in historical context and incite and moderate questions and discussions for students.
- The Facing Freedom Collection: A collection of curated photographs, objects, documents, audio files, and videos from each of the stories within the site.
- My Freedom Collection: A custom media collection builder that allows students to create and share their own unique collections based on site content. Students can also add a text description to their collection.
The project underwent extensive pilot testing during the alpha and beta release phases with teachers partaking in the testing process for an entire month prior to launch.
The site has only recently launched and is scheduled for a full roll-out to schools in the Chicago area Fall 2011. Stay tuned for more updates on how this engaging educational experience gets brought from the museum to the classroom.