National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Chooses Apple to Power Digital Learning Environment

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, today, placed itself at the center of the learning ecology by launching a one-of-a-kind project that builds on the influence of technology in our lives. The Digital Backpack will allow visitors at the Freedom Center to embrace social networking technology, digital media production, and wireless computing in ways that empower them to create, distribute and access a shared vision for freedom. “Through this project, we will advance two of our greatest priorities: enhancing the unique Freedom Center guest experience, and extending this experience beyond the walls of the Freedom Center to millions across the globe,” said Donald W. Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of the Freedom Center. This experience is the first of several new initiatives at the Freedom Center that uses technology as the platform for engaging ideas at the core of its visitor experience. It requires guests to form a “production team” prior to their visit, and reserve one of the Digital Backpacks. Each pack contains an Apple MacBook Pro notebook computer, iPod classic with voice recorder, digital camera, HD digital camcorder and tripod. Together, these tools for creative expression become the engine powering visitors’ unique perspectives on societies quest to define freedom. These perspectives are then captured as a digital movie, archived at the Freedom Center, and published to an iTunes channel that the Center is launching in May. The Digital Backpack project was developed with support from KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and with advisement from the University of Cincinnati, College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. Ernest Perry, Freedom Center Chief Innovation Officer, stated, “There’s no other experience like this in the country. It gives voice to the ideas of individual learners, within global perspectives on our enduring quest for Freedom, because of the synergistic power of the Digital Backpack and the Freedom Center’s Wi Fi infrastructure. At 160,000 square feet, we may be the single largest hotspot for free wireless internet access in the region.” Perry added that the Digital Backpack project has four key goals: — Raise awareness of the growing significance of informal learning centers in the 21st Century, — Promote digital equity by cultivating a culture of access and exposure to technology in the urban center, — Enliven the arts and humanities through digital media integration and– Add to regional economic development by growing local talent in high-technology industries. “We are excited to launch this project that will allow students to investigate the importance of freedom in a new and innovative way, facilitate deeper dialogue about freedom issues and provides opportunities to express their view of freedom and share it with the world,” said John Pepper, Co-Chair of the Freedom Center Board.

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